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Post-Match Quotes: USA 2, Turkey 1

On the game:
“In terms of what you want from a send-off game, I think today was very good. It was a great crowd. The team feels honored when our fans come out like that. There’s a lot of things on the field to build on, a real good push when we got behind and in the end a good heartfelt win against a good team so, in that regard, we accomplished a lot today.”

On the play of Jose Torres:
“I think all of the players that came on at halftime helped. They brought energy, and in particular, Jose found a very good way, when we’re trying to push the game, of finding spots, getting the ball and getting the ball moving. Similar to the second half against Costa Rica, at that point when you’re behind, we’re pushing Michael [Bradley] to be more active and more mobile and the understanding between the two was good. I thought Jose really played well and was sharp, found the right people and covered all the holes really well.”

On Landon Donovan’s position:
“We feel that it’s necessary to have the ability to use Landon on both sides of the field. If you look back to the Confederations’ Cup last year it was more on the left but it was not 100 percent on the left by any means. He came off a very good stint at Everton where he was used mostly on the right so I think for us to have flexibility, it’s a positive that we can use him in different ways.”

On the team’s execution during counter attacks:
“They’re a good team on the counter. When we were trying to attack certain spots and the ball turned over, they were quick to take advantage of it. Counters come two ways. They come when you think there is an advantage and you’re trying to press it forward, which is an important part of the game, and then it comes when the reactions after the ball turns over aren’t what they need to be.”

On the play of Robbie Findley:
“I would start by saying that the guys that came on at halftime all helped us. We talked a little about Jose and I would say that Robbie also brought energy. He was a threat in terms of getting behind them and going at people. I think he found good spots in terms of getting the ball and holding the ball. I felt that he was sharp and confident which is something which is something we want him to be when he has certain chances to be aggressive. I think it’s a really good half to build on for him.”

On what he told the players at halftime:
“I think it’s important to understand that it’s two very different halves. Whenever you start a game, things need to be sorted out on the field. Often times, there’s a period of time when you just need to play through things and then the game starts to open up and you can take advantage. I think we understood that. We understood how we needed to push the game but do it in an intelligent way. It’s a hot day. It’s humid. So, you can’t push and get stretched all over the place. It can’t be one guy at a time. We talked about those things. Because the whole flow of the game changed at halftime, it worked well that we were able drop Clint [Dempsey] off to one side and find him so that he could get on the ball and be a real threat. The one thing I would stay about the first half is that we had some moments when there were advantages there and we weren’t sharp enough. If some of those plays were better, then maybe we have a different halftime talk.”

On the play of Oguchi Onyewu and his pairing with Jay DeMerit:
“The turnaround from the game against the Czech Republic to today was pretty quick especially given where he is in the whole thing. We felt that 45 minutes made more sense and chose the second half. I think it was a good half from him and he and Jay worked well together. It’s obviously a different kind of half, one where we’re pushing very hard and now there are a lot of plays where as we press Jay and Gooch were in good position to collect balls after we had put them under pressure and now get us back into the attack. I thought they both did a good job in that regard.”

On early defensive breakdowns:
“There are two kinds of lapses. There are moments when there is just an individual lapse. How do you deal with that? Well, work everyday to push players to be sharper. Ultimately, team selection is about the guys you think are in the best form. And then there are lapses that come more as a unit where the understanding isn’t what it needs to be. I think for the most part we’re working through that. We’ve been together a lot and there is a pretty solid understanding on the field. You have challenges. The way Turkey plays, there’s a lot going on in the center part of midfield, especially in the first half. So, you’re asking a great deal of your center midfielders.”

On his thoughts on the camps:
“We planned it out in very careful fashion knowing that the beginning stages needed to be geared toward fitness. We had made a commitment that we were going to pick our 23 after the first game so that team building parts that were necessary before we left could happen. I think that went well. We’ve seen a number of the players that hadn’t played in a while get sharper and fitter during this period of time. And now, you just continue to push things along. I think we accomplished everything that we would have wanted here and now the travel and the first couple of the days, you need to get over that travel. We know what that’s like from last year. Then you have a chance to look at some little details and sharpen up in little ways. Whenever you do that amount of running, there’s no doubt in terms of pure sharpness with the ball at times, that won’t be at its best. But then eventually as you have time to taper off and do some different things, that’s when you want the sharpness part to come back. It’s always that way, you can’t get around it. But all things considered, the players handled it very well.” 

U.S. midfielder LANDON DONOVAN
On the difference in play in the second half:
“I think it took us too long to figure out how to be tactically better. What happens sometimes, when you’re not in the right places in the right positioning, when you do win the ball you can’t do the right things with it. I think our organization was a lot better in the second half and then from there we had a lot more opportunity to play.”

On lessons learned from the game:
“When you go into a tournament like this, the urgency is very apparent. Every game, every goal, every minute is magnified and very important. At the end of all this, to know that we can be down against a good team and have the ability in a very intelligent way to push the game and make it faster and be more aggressive without giving up things in the back was really good for us.”

U.S. goalkeeper TIM HOWARD

On tightening up play in the second half:
"The second half was much better. I think the lapse in these high level games, we punished. We don't shift over quick enough and I think we took for granted that Jonathan went forward. We didn't shift enough and fill the hole and as it was, we had no cover and it was like a fire drill trying to put it out. One minor breakdown will lead to a goal."

On the cohesiveness of the defense:
"It had to be more cohesive because we weren't great in the first half. It was a slap in the face what happened in the first half and they hit us hard. They were getting too many chances, too many good opportunities and good looks that we had to tighten up. It was one of those things that in the second half, we did a really good job of shutting them out."

On taking these lessons to Africa:
"We're going to have to. We have the game on the fifth, another opportunity against another team that's in a tough group. You can't count on the intensity to be too high but it'll be a good exercise for us to go out there and find our speed going into the first match. I think it'll be good in terms of performance. If we put in a good performance that we can feel good about ourselves, then we can go into the first game on a positive note."

On the difference between the first and second half:
“I think you always want to have an idea for how the game is going to go. How the game started, we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be, both in attack and defense. I think the real mentality of our team got us through the first half. We were able to get to halftime, get to the second half and push the game and push the tempo and come away with a really good win.”

On this game leading into South Africa:
“You always want to practice winning and there’s no substitute for that. The feeling of walking off the field, coming from behind, winning a big game in front of our fans, that’s a great feeling and you want to practice that as much as you can. So now, we’re excited. We leave tomorrow and we have a week until we play Australia and two weeks until we play England so I think there’s time still to sharpen up on some things. But it’s been good.”

On all the friendly matches leading up to the World Cup:
“Yeah I think the games we’ve played over four years have been good for us. We’ve played big games in Europe. We’ve played games against all the top teams in the world. We’ve played games in the Confederations Cup and qualifying games, so there’s a real feeling in our team that no matter what team we play against, when we do the things that make us a good team then we can be successful.”

On if Turkey got worn down:
“I would put it in different words. I think that we have the mentality that we’re going to keep going and we’re going to use our fight and our physical qualities and our competitiveness to just keep at it, no matter what happens. No matter if we go down one-zero, two-zero, whether we go up a goal or two, we just keep going and at the end of 90 minutes we’ll see what happens, but the mentality is that we’re just going to keep going.”

On if he sensed a turn in the game:
“I think we were a little bit unfortunate to go down one-zero in the sense that even before they scored the game had started to tilt in our favor a little bit and now they score a goal off a counter and go up. Like I said, there’s just a sense of the commitment and the drive to keep going and it’s a good feeling you come in at halftime and you look around the field and you know that you’ve got a team full of guys that are going to do the same.”

On the play of Robbie Findley:
“It’s important as we move forward that we have guys who can come off the bench and really give us something. Robbie today came off the bench and really made a difference for us, his mobility, his speed, his aggressiveness put Turkey on their heels a little bit.”

On Jose Torres:
“I think he came on at a time when we needed to get the ball in play and move. I think he comes on and finds a good rhythm and is able to connect things at a quick tempo and at the same time then allow me to be a little bit more mobile, a little more dynamic and find some spots forward so I think, Jose, Robbie, Gooch, all our subs, all came on and did a really good job.”

On the evolution of the players on the team:
“I think we all (evolve). It’s no different for me or anyone. When you’re a young player and you’re starting to get games, you’re always trying to get better. You’re always trying to raise your level and take what you do and make sure it counts at a higher level. So, that’s been no different for Jose, for me, for Jozy or for anybody.”

“I think, as a midfielder, in today’s game you want to be the complete package. Whether it’s me, Jose or anyone, soccer nowadays requires that if you play in the midfield you have to do everything. You have to run, tackle, pass, defend, attack, and so it’s up to all of us to keep taking those things and raising the bar.”

On the upcoming World Cup:
“I’m incredibly proud to be able to represent my country in a World Cup. I’m incredibly proud on a day like today to step on the field and play in front of a big crowd in a big game. There’s nothing better than putting on the national team jersey and playing for your country. I know that we have 23 other guys who feel that, who share that same pride, same honor. So now we’re going to go to the World Cup and give it everything we have.”

“There’s a definite confidence that when we’re aggressive and when we do the things that makes us a good team and get after it, we have a team that can make it difficult for anyone. Obviously there’s still two weeks and we want to sharpen up on all those things, but the main thing is having the mentality that when we step on that field, we’re leaving everything we have on the field, we’re making it hard on the other team, we’re aggressive and trying to put other teams on their heels. I think there’s a quiet sense of confidence that when we do that we’re successful.”

U.S. midfielder CLINT DEMPSEY
On the team's character:
"You just got to find a way to make it work. It shows our character that even when things weren’t going well, we were able to try different things and figure something else out and make it work for us . I mean we're still trying to get sharp, we were still trying to get everyone on the same page. Its difficult when all these players are coming from different clubs, different positions and to come here and try to make this team the best it could be. I think we will continue to get better and I think the second half we were really sharp."

About the team today:
"You got to take the positive, we were able to beat Turkey and they were a good size; (they have) a lot of top players that play for some of the best clubs in the world."

On his goal:
“Yeah, it was a good ball by Landon. I was just trying to make the run and it hit off my hip, so I got a little bit lucky. I knew it was going to be a 50-50 challenge with the defender so I didn’t want to go in too hard because I didn’t want to kick the ball away from me and let the goalie pick it up so I tried to kind of absorb the hit as he was trying to kick the ball. I was able to get a good bounce and the ‘keeper was coming out and I was able to put it through his legs.”

On the key to the second half:
“I think that was two things. I think Findley coming on with his pace was forcing the defense to drop back so Landon and I were able to get into those pockets. Also bringing Jose into the game, he was able to get on the ball and I thought he looked very confident and help keep possession for us and it caused them to tire a little bit. Landon did a good job of getting in the pockets. He assisted on both goals, so that was good but that pace of Findley really opened them up as far as they were a little more scared and dropping back and we were able to get into those pockets.”

On winning the game:
“It’s always good to end on a positive note. Then to come out in front of all of these fans and not deliver, that would’ve sucked. It was good for us to beat a quality side and be moving in the right directions towards the first game of the World Cup.”

On the two-goal come-back:
“It is good that we were able to turn it around. In the first half everybody was a bit frustrated, but second half we were a different team. We moved the ball better and we were able to get into the pockets, open them up. I think they got tired, but they’re a good side and they have quality players that play in some of the top leagues in the world, so we take that positive of being able to beat them and we look forward to the next game against Australia before the first game of the World Cup.”

On his effectiveness up top:
“I still think I can be effective from both positions. I didn’t think I was that effective first half. I was a little bit rusty. The ball was kind of getting caught under me a little bit on at least two occasions. In second half I thought putting Findley on and having his pace forced the defense to drop off a little bit and Landon and I were able to get into those pockets. I thought Jose did a good job of getting on the ball and just being confident, forcing them to defend and move around. I think [that made the difference for Landon being able to find the ball too] because they know Landon is a quality player but if there’s a lot of players around him it’s going to be difficult to create. Having more threats, having that pace of Findley forced the defense to stay back a little bit more and then Landon and I were able to get into those pockets as well as Michael and Jose. They were able to get on the ball a little bit more and string passes together.”

U.S. midfielder JOSE TORRES
On the win against Turkey:
"We had two goals in the second half and I think the team came back. We were down 1-0 and we had to change the rhythm of the game and catch up. We wanted to win this game."

On entering the game as a sub and what the coaching staff told him:
"He always wants us to go in to the game and move the ball. We try to get the ball to the forwards. We did a good job of that in the second half."

On the mood of the team after the win:
"It leaves us happy and with a lot of confidence. We know we now have to focus on the game that's coming on June 12. England's a difficult task and that'll be a tough game, but we've shown we can play with any team and beat any team."

On his development with the team:
"I've started to gain a lot more confidence and I feel good. I feel good about my teammates and every day I'm learning something from them. We have a great group of guys and we all get along. "

On learning from experienced midfielders like Michael Bradley:
“He’s a great midfielder, like I said. Watching him play or watching videos of him, he’s always moving. He’s always defending and he’s always hitting long balls. Just watching him or watching Benny [Feilhaber], they’re experienced players. They’re on a different level and I try to catch up on that. I try to videos so I can close gaps, win a lot of balls and win a lot of tackles. I think today helped me out a lot. I think I’m starting to fit in very well.”

On his entrance to the game as a sub:
"Anytime you come on in the second half you want to provide a spark. You want to bring high energy and high intensity and cause problems for the defense. I felt really confident going into the game. The week and a half of training helped and I just felt sharp. It's nice to carry that confidence from training into a game."

On the first goal:
"The ball was bouncing around in the midfield and I was able to get on it and turn. [Donovan] had stepped into the forward position and we kind of made eye contact. He took off and I was able to get the ball over the defenders. He ran onto it and played a good ball across to Jozy. It was good awareness."

On how the game against the Netherlands on March 3, his last appearance for the USA before today:
"The Holland game was definitely an eye opener for me, just the atmosphere and being in that high level game. I re-watched the game and learned a lot from it. I have to say I'm making steps in the right direction but there's still a lot of work to be done."

On not dressing Tuesday night:
“It was either I was staying or I was going home. I just tried to stay positive and I think I had done everything that I could up to that point to give myself a chance.”

On whether he felt he had something to prove today:
“There’s something to prove every time you step on the field. You have to come with that mentality and be consistent doing it.” 

On the difference between the game on Tuesday and the game against Turkey:
"The last game was prior to the coach picking his 23 so I think there was a little more on the line than there was today. Today was more about the result. We wanted to get to South Africa on a good note and we achieved that so we're happy."

On the differences between the two halves in today's game:
"The first half Turkey did very well. They did a good job closing us down and we didn't have a whole lot of the play and didn't string many combinations together. The second half we were better and the game opened up a little bit. That played into our hands, into our fitness and into our speed. Robbie [Findley] came on in the second half and did an excellent job and José Torres did a good job of calming the game down. That definitely helped the game out for us."

On getting forward as a defender:
"Anytime you can get some offensive effort out of your defenders it's putting their offensive players in their own end and they're having to work and run back. Good defending also means playing good soccer going forward and making your opponent work hard going back. Anytime we can do that is an advantage for us."

On the play of Clint Dempsey:
“Clint is a good player. He’s good with the ball at his feet. He’s good at finding little holes. He’s a guy who’s very easy to play with.”

On the second half:
“That’s fitness. That’s what we’ve been working on. I think clearly our legs were with us in the second half and Turkey’s legs went a little bit.”

On creating chances:
“I think we haven’t done a lot of (in training). I think the emphasis early on has been on a lot of running. I think this game was to reward us for all that we’ve been doing, just to be free. Yeah, I thought we were a little rusty at times but I think we came into the game and found our feet well.”