Quotes from Charles, Olsen and Cherundolo's Conference Call
HERSHEY, Pa. (Wednesday, April 19, 2000) -
CLIVE CHARLES, U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team head coach
On formation, strengths and weaknesses of the team: "We have played with several formations and practiced against several formations. The formation we will play will depend on who we play. The strength of our team is our team. They defend hard as a team and attack well as a team. We don't depend on any one player to carry this team. The important thing is that this team plays well as a team."
On preparations for the qualifying tournament: "There are two ways to look at it. Having not to play so far to get to the final round of the Olympic qualifying tournament has its pluses and minuses. The teams coming into this tournament have played under pressure lately but so have the players on this team. Ben Olsen plays with D.C. United that every team in MLS is trying to beat and Cherundolo is playing under constant pressure weekly in Germany. All the players on the this team have been involved in high quality games with their club teams. The pluses of not going through pre-qualifying games far out-way the minuses."
On how MLS has impacted the Olympic Team: "Whatever success we have we can give MLS 99.9% of the credit. They've all developed way quicker than they would have if they stayed in school. Whatever success we get, we owe it to MLS."
On what to expect from Honduras: "They are a solid team with a strong front-line. They are good in the air and very skillful. They will be a handful for us in the first match, but it is important for us is to do the things we can do well."
On Canada: "Canada is always a difficult opponent to play against. They are well organized and quality team. They never give up and it will be a tough second game against them. The Canadian team has been together for quite a long time; In one of the qualifying games 10 of 11 had played for the coach at the Under-20 level together in Malaysia."
On Joey DiGiamarino's injury: "Joey came in a little tender from his last game with Colorado. After the first practice he [Joey] re-injured his groin slightly. We gave him the whole week off. Before leaving for Hershey we gave him a fitness test but he still wasn't a hundred percent. We didn't want to risk him re-injuring his groin and being out indefinetly."
On Sasha Victorine injury: "Sasha couldn't run at all when he came into camp and really didn't have a chance to heal. Obviously Sasha'a a good player, a quality player. He plays in central midfield and he's shown recently that he can also play up front. But Brian Winters will come in to replace him. We lose Sasha versatility, but Brian is probably a little better defensively. What you lose in one area you gain in another."
On Josh Wolff's recovery: "Medically he has fully recovered. He has got his pace back and looks very sharp. We have brought in some talented players that have done well for us. Really the only thing Josh has to be is patient."
On possibility of meeting Mexico in the semi-finals: "It is something that as a coach, you have no control over and it is something that you have to deal with. The team knows what they have to do and there are no surprises. I have told them (team), in order to qualify for the Olympics, we have to win three games. If we want to win the tournament, then we have to win four games, that simple. The most important thing is Honduras right now. We don't fear anybody but we certainly respect Mexico."
On USAs forwards: "We have four strikers - Chris Albright, Josh Wolff, Landon Donovan and Casey Conor. We have an explosive mix of strength, size, speed and skill with those four players. They are all capable of creating and finishing scoring chances. I am confident with our forwards and in the next couple of days I will have a decision about who will start against Honduras."
On scouting opponents: "Both of my assistant coaches were at all the preliminary qualifying tournaments (Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico). We also have tapes on all the competing teams and we have already seen them at the 1999 Pan-American Games in Winnipeg. There should be no surprises. We know what we are getting ready for and we will be ready."
On how important is it to get off to a good start against Honduras: "Obviously with only two games the first game is going to be huge for us. We'll really put ourselves in a hole if we don't win. It means everything, really. We have to go out there and win the game on Friday."
BEN OLSEN, U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team midfielder
On any pressure to win: "We want to win every game. If it comes down to the semifinals and we play Mexico then we will take that challenge but right now we are looking towards the first game vs. Honduras and will take things from there."
On being away from D.C. United: "It is tough right now to be away from the team, especially with the injuries. However, this is were my focus is, making sure we qualify for the Olympics. D.C. United will get it back together, we are a good team and it is very early in the season."
STEVE CHERUNDOLO, U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team defender
On schedule following Olympic qualifying: "After qualifying I will go back to Germany until May 25. Then I will go back home for a little vacation in San Diego and then go back to Germany in July. If we have a camp for the Olympics I will hopefully be called back in."