US SoccerUS Soccer
Landon Donovan

Post-Match Quotes: USA 1, Panama 0

U.S. head coach BOB BRADLEY:
On the team's effort:
“It was a really good team effort - a hard game for sure - but in all ways I thought that the mentality of the group was looking for ways to win. The first half I thought, in stretches, we had a pretty good rhythm with the ball. The second half was harder. Panama did a good job keeping things very tight. Now you have to look for different ways to win the game. Defensively we were solid, and I thought we put a very good play together to score a great goal.”
On playing with 10 of the same starters:
“We talked as a team and felt that we had a good game against Jamaica and that it made sense to build on that. In that situation the team felt good about what took place and that this was a good way to do things. Landon has had a great attitude about whatever is best for the team, and it’s a great thing to know that when you bring a player on the field he can make a special play like he did with the goal.”

On Freddy Adu’s first Gold Cup appearance:
“From the start of this camp, Freddy has made progress. So the opportunity tonight was earned on his part. You could see him getting sharper. You can see confidence coming back. We had him on the bench the other day with the thought that he could come in at a certain point to help and the timing for it tonight worked. He was a nice part of the play that lead to the goal and it’s important for him. He’s earned this opportunity and I think everybody in the team feels good about that.”

On the game play against Panama:
“We wanted to control the game, we wanted to move the ball quickly. They’ve done a good job being behind the ball, keeping things tight, so the ability to now find ways to get through takes a while. It’s part of the game. Again, we were looking for little openings, trying to play the right ball when advantages come but also doing it in a way so that if it doesn’t happen right away you feel like it will happen and you keep going.”

On the team improving throughout the tournament:
“When you come into these types of tournaments you grow along the way. You certainly grow when you lose and you look hard at certain things. I think that’s been important. The first round is always about advancing and using the games to figure out where you are. I think we’ve gotten better from start to finish. There’s a good level of confidence, and it’s a strong group that has been through this before. If something doesn’t exactly the way that we want, we understand and that is part of it.”

On if this has been the toughest road to the Gold Cup final:
“It’s a competitive tournament. Honestly, they have all been tough.  The games come quickly, there is travel, and we knew coming into it that that’s what it would be like. We’re lucky that we have a number of guys that have been through it before and so we’ve earned our way to the final and so for a second we can feel good about that but now obviously everything will be aimed at being ready for Saturday.”

U.S. midfielder and Budweiser Man of the Match CLINT DEMPSEY
On the match:
"It was a frustrating match in the sense that it was real tight. We found it difficult trying to get the ball in between lines. They were a very organized team. That’s why they are in the semifinals. I think we showed our quality in being able to grind out a result even when it wasn’t our best game, and now we find ourselves in the final."

On the goal:
“It was a great ball from Freddy [Adu] to open up Landon [Donovan]. Once Landon gets in those positions, he normally finds a player. All I had to do was try to put myself in a position that he could find me. I felt far post was the way to go. He hit it hard and low, and all I had to do was put my foot on it. That’s why after the goal I tried to go and celebrate with him, because without that pass there was no goal.”

On playing in his home state of Texas:
“This is where it all started for me in Texas, in the small town of Nacogdoches. Being able to represent my country is something I dreamed about as a kid. It means a lot to be able to come back to Texas and play. It always feels great. The most important thing is that we are playing in a semifinal here, and that made it a little bit sweeter.”

On celebrating the goal with Landon Donovan:
“In the first game he got an assist as well to Jozy [Altidore]. This was his second assist in the tournament. He’s been playing non-stop for a long time and doing it consistently at the highest level. He’s a top quality player. He’s a guy you always want next to you in a big game, and he proved his worth tonight by being able to keep his calm in that position in the final third and being able to find that pass. I just wanted to show my appreciation to him for being able to find me in that spot and get the goal that put us in the final.”

U.S. midfielder LANDON DONOVAN
On the game:
“The game was a little difficult. We did a pretty good job of creating chances playing against a really good team. Your role as a substitute is to make an impact. Freddy and I were able to combine well and make the play that won the game.”

On whether team has improved since the loss to Panama:
“We are playing a lot better. Sometimes it’s good to get a wake-up call. We’ve said all along that this tournament is a marathon. You can’t get too caught up in one result or one performance. You have to keep getting better as the tournament goes on, and now we find ourselves in the final with a chance to win it.”

On the goal:
“It was a good play. We got out of our end well. I made a run forward and I wasn’t sure that Freddy saw me, but he played a great ball. My first thought was to hit it first time to Clint, but I saw the defender back off so I wanted to be aggressive. I ran at him, and Clint and I made good eye contact. I knew if it was going to get there I had to hit it hard. Clint made a great play to get his foot on it.”

On whether he was surprised to be a reserve:
“Not surprised at all. Bob and I spoke about it all week. Throughout the years we’ve always been very open and honest with our communication, so there’s nothing left to the imagination. We spoke about it and agreed that the team played very well the other night. I’ve certainly been the beneficiary of playing well, the team playing well and you staying in the team. It’s been that way my whole career. We were on the same page, and I wanted to make sure that when I came in I could make an impact.”

U.S. goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On facing Panama:
“We knew it would be (difficult). Most of the games have been like that. We’ve had to probe and pick our chances and draw the game out a little bit and it worked again. We were good in possession of the ball, we tired them out, made them run and it paid off.”

On Clint Dempsey:
“He’s a big, big player for us. We ride him a lot and he is an emotional motivator for us. He plays hard every day in training. He’s a great guy, he’s a brother to us. He’s a big player for us, he’s a big player for Fulham and he’s been playing very well.”

On Landon accepting a role off the bench for two games:
“Again it’s been great. We’ve banded together. It’s hard to make those decisions as a coach. It’s hard to accept certain roles. As a tournament goes on it takes every guy. It takes sacrifice, and it will all be worth it if we raise the trophy on Saturday. Landon’s been great. He’s a leader on this team, a guy that we look to put in good performances. It just happens that the last two have been off the bench, but he’s a top star for us.”

On the team’s performance:
“We played together with a lot of heart. We picked and probed. We were able to keep the pressure on them. I think Saturday will look like a different game. Finals always do. Semifinals seem to take a different shape always. But we’re looking forward to it and we’re motivated.”

On shifting the back line after the second game:
“Sometimes the coach just wants to change things up. Lichaj on the left has more legs than me. He can get up the line a little bit. He can be a threat in the attack as well. We have that balance. I can go back out left as well if we need it. Fortunately for me I can play both positions.”

On Eric Lichaj’s play:
“He’s a good player. I’ve seen him before. He came sometimes on the right I think in previous games. He’s an athletic kid, he’s strong, he’s hard in the tackle. He does well with both feet he’s had a good tournament.”

U.S. midfielder FREDDY ADU:
On getting the opportunity to play:
”It was very important for me, personally, and very important for the team. I haven’t stepped on the field for the national team in over two years. To get a chance to be out there, I was very happy and very fortunate. The goal as a substitute is to get out there and bring a lot of energy and make a difference. It worked out well.”

On the pass that led to the goal:
“We’ve had some similar plays in training. Landon is a player that knows the right runs to make. I had seen him before I got the ball, and had to put the ball in his path and I knew he was going to get there.”