US SoccerUS Soccer

Bob Bradley and Landon Donovan Pre-game Press Conference

On what the team has learned about Brazil after watching the match against Egypt:
“It’s more a reminder than something that we’ve learned. We know their talent. We played them in September of 2007. The way they play remains very similar to that. Many of the players are the same. In particular, the incredible movement of Robinho and Kaká in conjunction with whomever they choose to play up front – in the last game, Luis Fabiano and Elano – so, attacking players who are mobile, creative, and very dangerous.”

On Brazil conceding three goals:
“Brazil is a team that likes to attack. But, don’t be fooled – they defend well. They still do a good job of closing people down and apply pressure. They had a let up in the second half, whether some of that is due to fatigue from having arrived late is possible. But again, as much as they are an attacking team, it is a team that understands how to defend and how to close down. Any time you put players like Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo in front of Juan and Lucio, those are good starting points.”

On lessons that can be drawn from Egypt’s performance against Brazil:
“Egypt did an incredible amount of hard running in that game. They weren’t afraid in the right moments to pressure Brazil and if Brazil beat the pressure, they ran very hard to recover and get back and take care of things. They attacked well. When you play Brazil, you have to be able to attack them as well. In moments when they’re defending with a group of six, there are spaces to attack. The first goal for Egypt was a very good example. They were able to attack down their right side, get behind the space where Kleber had come forward a little bit and that drew Juan out a little bit. From there, they were able to get a great cross and, obviously, a great header. So, there are spaces there from the way they attack and I think Egypt did a good job at that.”

On using a quick player like Charlie Davies to exploit spaces left by Brazilian wingbacks:
“It’s something that we always look at – the spaces that will be there in the attack. We had an idea against Italy where we could find some spaces. We did well in some of those moments. Charlie is one of a number of guys that gives us that option. Charlie is fast and is a player, whether we choose to start him or use him as a reserve, we believe that in certain moments his pace could make a difference.”

On the dynamics of Group B after losing the first game:
“We understand, in these types of competitions, the importance of the first game. But, regardless, the second game will always be key. We’ve given examples of situations where teams won the first game and maybe started thinking too far ahead and ultimately paid the price. We’ve seen examples of teams that lost the first game and still understood there are two more games to advance. The way our group is looking – a point in this game may not be enough. So, you take the game as it comes but, certainly, the idea is to play and find the three points.”

On the challenges posed by Brazil’s midfield:
“Their movement challenges you as a group to stay organized. It’s impossible to follow those players all over. The balance between when to be tied to a man and when to play in the zone, becomes important. Again, we can draw from the experience we had at Soldier Field. That day, actually, Michael Bradley and Benny Feilhaber played together and I think we were able to deal well with that. Brazil, that day, hurt us with set pieces. We understand the way they play and when you get on the field, the ability to react quickly and deal with the talent of Robinho and Kaká in some of these situations is critical. Their ability to come very deep and help their team defend and when the ball is won, to take it from their own end and go on a 40, 60, 80-yard run is incredible. But, our ability to organize is crucial because, as we said, we have to attack but in a way that is intelligent so that when the ball turns over, we can react quickly.”

On preparations for Brazil’s set pieces:
“From the time that we played and Brazil played, until now, there is not an enormous amount of time spent on the training field. But, we have a base for how we do things and as we prepare, we look closely at the players they send forward and the runs that they make. One of the keys to their success on set pieces is the great deliveries that they get. Elano and Dani Alves are guys whose service into the box in these situations is very good. As I said, we didn’t do well enough in that respect when we played Brazil the last time and it will be something that we look at closely and emphasize as we get ready for this game.”

On how the U.S. can apply their game plan against a tough opponent like Brazil:
“Our focus always starts with the way we play. There are certain things we work on all the time in terms of our movement, our ability to find key people in certain spots, and when advantages come, move together as a team. From that, whenever you prepare, you make slight adjustments tactically in terms of where you think they’re strong, how you group players, and what you ask of different guys. So it’s a little bit of both, but I think the starting point is always believing in the way that we go about things.”

On Clint Dempsey’s recent performances:
“Clint has worked hard for the team lately. We’ve used him both with the freedom on the right and on the left side – similar to where he plays for Fulham. This year with Fulham he played a little more on the left as time went on. His ability to find some of those inside channels to get the ball, we work on that all the time with him and Landon, and anybody who plays in those spots. From there, we work on the timing and the execution of plays. Whether or not we, as a team, have one or two games where we are not as sharp as we would like to be in that part of the field, it doesn’t change entirely the things that we work on because those are things that are there all the time. We try to continually work on how we tactically take advantage of the other team and how we can take advantage of our own talent. Then, there’s always the part that, once you’ve established that, you want players to be confident and you want to find a way to have them at their sharpest through what you do at training. That’s the same for Clint as everyone else right now.”

On potential lineup changes aside from replacing Ricardo Clark:
“One of the things that happens with a short turnaround is that you have to assess a lot of things very quickly. You assess physically how everyone came out of the game. You assess the result. You assess the next opponent. I think typically we have made a change or two – not great changes but found little ways based upon all the different factors – to adjust. Those are the kinds of things that we are working on at the moment.”

On if the team plans to attack Brazil as Egypt did:
“It’s the challenge to take the game to Brazil. Brazil will play their game. They will try to attack us. Obviously, that will require good organization and good defending but as we discussed, when we win the ball, there will be spaces. Like always, it will come down to our ability to take advantage of some of those situations and our ability to make plays. Again, with all the different things that get discussed in any game, there are also very simple factors. Giuseppe Rossi and Daniele de Rossi the other day – those are two great strikes. We had a couple of opportunities from similar distances. Michael Bradley had one in the first half. Sacha Klejstan had one. Clint Dempsey had one. So on the day with everything that happened – red card, tactical changes, everything else – there are still plays that determine the match. And we know to beat Brazil, we need to work hard as a team, we need to play well as a team, but we always need some individually great plays.”

On Carlos Bocanegra’s status after training:
“He trained at about 50 or 60 percent and came through that fine. We’ll do a little bit more today and see where he stands.”

U.S. Midfielder/Forward LANDON DONOVAN
On his feelings about perhaps losing a chance to upset Italy:
“Having played in a few tournaments in this format now, the first game is definitely important. But, equally important is our next game and we still have a chance to advance if we get a result tomorrow. We learned in 2006 after losing to the Czech Republic in the first game, only getting a point out of the second game still gave us a chance to advance against Ghana in the third game. So, Italy is gone now. It was a good opportunity but it’s gone and now we have to focus on Brazil.”

On any special preparations to play against Brazil:
“I think historically Brazil is, if not the best national team ever, one of the best. I think everyone growing up has watched some film of Brazilian players or the Brazilian team that is exciting to watch from a pure football standpoint. However, we played them a couple of years ago. Though it didn’t go our way that day, I think we have an idea of how we can play against them and how we can be successful. At the end of the day it’s making plays and it’s limiting their very talented players from making plays. That’s a tall task but we think we are up for it.”

On nerves before games as an experienced player:
“I always get nervous before games. Games like this are exciting so it’s good.”

On which other American players the Brazilians should be wary of:
“You’ll have to watch tomorrow and figure it out. We feel we have a lot of talented players and we have a lot of young players who are getting valuable experience and can help us a lot. We have a good group of guys and when people are called on, they do their job. So there’s not one or two or three people. There’s a good group here that is learning how to play together and progressing very well.”

On his most comfortable position with the national team:
“For me, at the end of the day it’s 11 v. 11 on the field. All it means, where you’re playing positionally, is how you defend on that day and your spots offensively but, when it comes down to it, you are still the player you are. So, I’m comfortable in a lot of places and I know what my job is to help the team regardless of where I am on the field.”

On how the Confederations Cup compares to a World Cup:
“The preparation is fairly similar but you don’t get as much time to be together as you do before a World Cup. Obviously, the format is similar. In our case, the competition is probably a little harder. And the only difference outside of the field, there is not quite the fanfare and visitors and that kind of stuff. There’s hype around it and an excitement about but obviously the World Cup is another level.”

On being able to see the sites around South Africa:
“To be honest, we haven’t had a lot of time to get around. We’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on what this challenge is – this is a big challenge. You don’t get many opportunities like this. We have the opportunity to be together a year before the World Cup and focus on what’s important here. It would be nice to see different cities but that’s not why we’re here.”

On if the atmosphere on the pitch is affected by the lack of traveling fans:
“I thought the crowd was quite good the other night. They seemed like they just wanted to see a good game, which they saw. That doesn’t affect us.”