2002 World Cup CONCACAF Qualifying Preview - USA vs. Costa Rica
BRUCE ARENA, U.S. Men's National Team head coach
On Costa Rica's preparation for the match: "There is the good and there is the bad. The bad, Costa Rica is looking at this match as a must win and they will be mentally ready. The good, Costa Rica will be under tremendous pressure to win and will be a little nervous. The attitude we take into the game is important. If we go into halftime even or a goal up Costa Rica will begin to feel the pressure and that will be good for us."
On U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller: "It helps when you have a veteran 'keeper like Kasey. Kasey has managed to play a number of games with us over the last year and is pretty composed in the back. He is able to organize the defense very well and it helps to have a goalkeeper like him during these matches, especially on the road and during qualifying for the World Cup."
On Ante Razov: "You have to give Ante a lot of credit for the way he played against Guatemala with the limited experience that he has. He had a steady game but will only get better as time goes on. The goal he scored has given him confidence and the more that he plays at this level the better he will get. Right now, our forwards are up and down with injuries. Ante has proven that he belongs here, he as prepared well and we expect a good game from him against Costa Rica. When the injured players return we should have more experience in this position."
On status of Eddie Pope: "Eddie trained today for the first time this week but we will have to wait until Saturday to decide on weather or not he can play."
On host Federation's responsibilities: "There are very few rules on and off the field. It is the responsibility of the host Federation to provide security and protection for the teams and at the same time control their fans. The Guatemalan fans behaved very well and we have no complaints about them."
On fitness of USA team against Guatemala: "It is very difficult for the players to face the conditions that we faced. When you combine the heat, humidity and travel it made the last forty-five minutes really hard."
On USA's travel schedule leading into the Guatemala match: "Everything went very well, from the charter flight, to the hotel and all the little details that they were taken care of by our staff. Guatemala was permitted to change the venue at the last minute and that added three to four hours of travel by bus but it didn't impact the game. The way we traveled only benefitted us, not hurt us."
On Tab Ramos performance against Guatemala: "It was a difficult game to evaluate a player. Those were difficult conditions and he was thrown in a situation where he was only able to play 12 minutes. It was difficult for Tab and difficult for me to evaluate him under those conditions."
On CONCACAF qualifying format: "Going into each match you have to play for a win or tie. A lot of people looked at Barbados as an easy three points but right now they are on top of the group, but one game does not get you into the next phase of qualifying."
KASEY KELLER, U.S. National Team Goalkeeper
On the Guatemalan goal: "It looked a little offside but the way the referee was letting them play they were able to do anything to get back into the match. I didn't get a good angle on the goal but it looked to me that he was offsides and it wouldn't surprise me if he was."
On dealing with Costa Rica's hostile fans: "Especially in goal, you seem to be a target more so than other players. For the most part you just try to take it and use it as motivation to win. This is an important match for them. They expect to get a good result. It is not do or die for them but they need to do well in the home games. Costa Rica has a good team and if you combine that with a hostile environment it makes for a good game."
EARNIE STEWART, U.S. Men's National Team Midfielder/Forward
On fear of flying: "I love to play for the national team. I love being with the team and being at the highest level. I deal with it the best I can. One flight is better than the other. I take it as it comes and try and deal with it."
On changes in the atmosphere surrounding U.S. squad: "I remember playing on fields that you wouldn't even let your dogs walk on. We have come long way. We don't have to worry about travel or clothes and this and that. All we have to think about is playing soccer, which is great."
On sharpness since out of season: "In the season you are a little sharper in the things that you do, and maybe a little more fit. On the other hand I don't think we missed out on too much, but I think we would have benefitted a little bit by playing these games during our season."