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Post-Match Quote Sheet: U.S. MNT vs. Latvia

U.S. Manager Bruce Arena

“I’m happy with the win. I think this week our three opponents played us quite well. I think we were pushed to our limits, physically, with the awkward calendar. The games made it real tough on our team. And, today, to have two players almost play 90 minutes and having them play it on Friday is pretty remarkable. So you could see that we had a bit of a tired group out there towards the end of the game but I’m real pleased to get these three weeks of training camp over with and now we can realistically look forward to the World Cup. The friendlies are past us and next time we’re together as a team is in Germany where our complete focus will be on preparing our team for the Czech Republic. We’ll be ready for it. I think we’re moving along according to schedule. All the talking is done. We’ll have to step on the field June 12 and show what we’re about.”

On what he liked from individual players:
“I think we played a really good game. We were a little bit sloppy at times. If we were a little bit better I think we win the game going away. We created a bunch of good chances. Our ball movement was really good. I thought towards the beginning of the second half, we were sloppy for the first 10 minutes and the Latvian team created a couple of good chances. The finishing could have been a little bit better today. But, overall, I think we’ve played well and I’ve been able to look at a number of players on the roster. Everyone, with the exception of Marcus Hahnemann, have played and, really, Claudio Reyna as well. So, it’s been a productive week.”

On what he’s most assured about and concerned about going to Germany:
“You’re not assured of anything. I don’t know if you think we’re assured. We’re assured of nothing. I just think that we kind of have a very good feel for the pecking order of our team and how we’re going to position players for June 12. We’re getting pretty close to that. Obviously, we have to clean it up over the last 10 days. But, you know, we have a pretty good feel for where our team is at, where everyone is individually. We’ve pushed them real hard. We’re going to be backing off them, obviously, in Germany and the concentration is going to be on team tactics and getting better on the ball a little bit. We’ve just really run them into the ground the last three weeks and you can see that a little bit.”

On whether he has any big concerns:
“No, I think the World Cup is an unknown for everybody, whether you’re Brazil or the U.S. All you can do is lean on experience a little bit and move the team close to that June 12 date and have them ready to play. But the World Cup is an unknown. History tells that. We just look forward to the challenge. It’s going to be fantastic.”

On Eddie Johnson:
“Eddie, his last two games were really good. We’ve had a real tough time with him over the last five months and I think he’s starting to break out of it now. Although he didn’t get a goal tonight, I thought he had some real good moments and played quite well. I think they might have missed a couple of calls on him, offsides, where I think he did quite well to position himself to get behind the Latvian team. Eddie did a lot of good things tonight and on Friday, so that’s a real positive.”

U.S. Forward Brian McBride
On the welt on his forehead:
“I thought it was cut by the way everyone was looking at it. I was just glad that it wasn’t.”

On where he thinks the team is:
“I think we moved the ball a lot better in the first half. The movement off the ball was better. I think in the second half we probably pushed forward a little too much, lost a little bit of shape and opened up a little bit.”

On what his expectations are for this World Cup:
“We’re really not going in with expectations, we’re going in with the same mindset we went in (in 2002): that’s getting out of our group and that’s going to be a difficult task. We have to be prepared, mentally and physically.”

On the team’s finishing:
“I think it was really important that we started hitting the target. The goalie made a few good saves, but that was a progress. I think it’s probably a lot better than not hitting it.”

On what the team has to work on:
“We have to work on a lot of things. But, the positive thing is, we’ve been together a while now. We put a lot of hard work in.”

On his goal:
“We talked about it right after the Morocco game, getting more crosses and more balls in the box. The last two games we did a great job of that. The service was excellent. Stevie (Cherundolo) laid a ball in that was perfect. It was right over the top of my defender and I was able to just put it in.”

U.S. Defender Steve Cherundolo
On how he felt offensively:
“That’s Eddie Lewis’ strong point, going forward. He’s comfortable on the ball and hits a great cross. I like going forward too and the game just presented itself to it. There were just chances for us to go forward. There was space and if there is space we’re going to take it and attack it. I think today we did a good job of that and we hope to see more of that in Germany.”

On McBride’s collision:
“It’s unfortunate. In this game there were a lot of clashes, it’s just one of those head to head clashes or with elbows. It’s just one of those things. It looks pretty bad but I think he’ll be okay.”

U.S. Forward Eddie Johnson
“It was tough, the game against Morocco, coming off the bench. With the game so fast, it’s hard to adjust and get your second wind because you have to start at such a high level. That’s something I have to get used to. All it takes is for Bruce to say something. He’s still looking for guys to put on the field on June 12. That’s what he said in the second game. As a player, it goes to your mind, you know, ‘Here’s my chance to make a difference. Here’s my chance to set myself up where I can be walking out on June 12.’ That was my main goal, just to play to my strengths and play the way I was playing when I was scoring goals. In the third game you could see I was more confident and played the way I’m capable of playing. It’s all about confidence and I thought every game was a better performance for me.”

On whether he thinks he’s made a case for Bruce putting him on the field:
“I just wanted to go out there and have fun. If it’s coming off the bench or starting, whatever it is in making the team successful in the World Cup. For myself, I thought I was doing things back when I was scoring goals. I was getting in behind the defenders, being dangerous in the box, getting on the end of crosses, making those runs in the backing, holding the ball up, bringing other players into the game. It was a day where I just felt confident on the ball.”

On how excited he is that the friendlies are over and the team can focus on the World Cup:
“I think it was good. I think these three games that Bruce schedules for us were three quality matches. Each team made us work for 90 minutes plus. Credit to Venezuela, Morocco and the match tonight. They really made us work. I think those games really got guys confident in their play and as a team. As a whole it made us better as far as what was our game plan and what we were planning to do over 90 minutes. I thought everything Bruce touched on the last two games, the team came out and we brought it.”

On playing with Brian McBride:
“Brian’s been there. He’s played in a World Cup, he’s playing overseas, he’s doing well and he’s a good coach on the field. If he sees me standing still, he’s good at telling me, ‘Eddie, make this run, make that run.’ And just watching him play, how he holds the ball up and his strength isn’t getting in behind the defenders, that’s my strength. But sometimes, as a forward, you have to hold balls up and bring midfielders into the play. He does that so well, besides being dangerous in the box. The more runs he makes, the more goal situations he puts himself in. I look at those things and I add them into my game. Brian McBride has helped me out a lot, not to take anything away from Wolffie (Josh Wolff) and (Brian) Ching. It was just a night where we were solid all the way around.”