CARY, N.C. (Tuesday, May 7, 2002) - From the team's North Carolina training camp, U.S. defender Eddie Pope, a veteran of the 1998 U.S. World Cup squad, speaks about team chemistry, Bruce Arena and life at the team's World Cup training camp.
On training camp in North Carolina: "Training camp is going really well. To compare it to 1998, I think team chemistry is quite a bit better. The team spirit is a bit better as well. There are quite a few more smiling faces walking around right now. We're a little more focused and sharp. Those of us who were involved in 1998 are attempting to use that experience to our advantage. The things that we've learned from that experience are being applied in this training camp. The mistakes that were made are mistakes that we don't want to repeat."
"I feel like I have a lot more professional experience. The guys who have been here to build the League and those World Cup runs from before when there wasn't a professional league to speak of, will certainly agree with me on that. The fact that we do have a professional league and that we are able to play on a consistent basis and train on a consistent basis with other professional players has certainly helped this World Cup team. It's helped my preparations and I think its helped a lot of guys like Clint (Mathis), Landon (Donovan), DaMarcus (Beasley) to prepare for this World Cup."
"As far as D.C. United, I think we just have to get back on the winning track again. Sometimes losing can be contagious. I think everyone is still positive there and that Ray (Hudson) has helped the team out quite a bit. Once we get a little more team chemistry and start winning a little bit we'll get on a roll."
On his relationship with Bruce Arena:
"I don't think our relationship has changed too much. He uses the same principles and has the same demands of me as a player. The only difference would be that he has cranked it up again and expects more of me and I'm ready for that challenge. He's a great people person as far as being a player's coach. We've had a good relationship and hopefully it will continue to grow."
On the difference between this year's team and the 1998 U.S. World Cup Team:
"We just have better team chemistry among the guys. Any one guy can hang out with any other guy, even though there are age differences, guys who play in Europe and guys who play over here. I think we have a really good mix and I think that is so important. Sometimes it's as important as the X's and O's happening on the field. That's been a huge plus for us. I think we have to take that into the World Cup, especially for guys who may not start. You have to be positive and supportive and guys have done that."
"It's still exciting. For me, having MLS has been extremely valuable in allowing me to gain more professional experience. The coaches I've seen along the way over the past four years have brought me along as a player. I've learned from mistakes, and I've been coached through them. People have had confidence in me and that has helped me a become a better player."
On comparing U.S. goalkeepers Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller:
"For me, there is not too much of a difference, they are both world-class goalkeepers. I think they are probable the best two goalkeepers in England. All of the defenders feel comfortable with either one of them in goal. I certainly feel comfortable with either one of them in goal. They are both extremely vocal and both are good leaders. They can tell you exactly where you need to go and where you need to be, which helps our quite a bit. They have great vision and can even help place the midfielders where they need to be. They both obviously have great shot stopping abilities. I don't really have a preference, I feel comfortable with either one of those guys back there."
On the opportunities he had to play in Europe:
"Certainly Europe would be an option for me. I think at the time, the whole situation wasn't right for me. There were a lot of circumstances that were involved. I've talked with several guys on the team about playing in Europe. Right now, I just want to focus and concentrate on what's ahead and making the country and MLS proud. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."
Courtesy Major League Soccer.