U.S. Soccer Quote Sheet: U.S. National Team Head Coach Bruce Arena
CHICAGO (Tuesday, February 9, 1999) - On Saturday, Feb. 6, the U.S. Men's National Team defeated three-time world champion Germany, 3-0, at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. The victory was the first for the U.S. under head coach Bruce Arena (now 1-0-2 with the National Team) and the first ever against the Germans. Prior to Saturday, the U.S. men had never defeated Germany in international competition, losing 3-4 and 0-3 in 1993, and most recently losing 0-2 during the 1998 World Cup ... Three Americans currently playing professionally in Germany - Jovan Kirovski (Fortuna Cologne), Tony Sanneh (Hertha Berlin) and Claudio Reyna (VfL Wolfsburg) - provided the U.S. scoring on Saturday ... In three matches under Arena, 7 players have earned their first appearance, while a further nine uncapped players have trained with the national team ... The U.S. has not conceded a goal in three games under Arena ... Looking ahead to Feb. 21, the U.S. has a 1-5-1 record against Chile; the teams last met during the 1995 Copa America, a 2-1 U.S. win.
This afternoon, Arena held a conference call to discuss the match and the state of the national team. Below is a transcript:
Asked whether or not MLS is the primary feeder to the National Team: "Right now that is the case. Some countries are heavily dependent on domestic players and leagues... It all depends on the type of soccer culture and the quality of the leagues. As MLS continues to grow, the players get better... Jovan Kirovski and Claudio Reyna are foreign based players that have contributed to the national team program and will continue to do so. Kasey Keller is another overseas player that will play a roll on this team later on down the line."
Asked about the upcoming '99 schedule: "I think certainly the Nike U.S. Cup and Confederations Cup will be important games for the U.S. National Team this year... The Confederations Cup will be extremely difficult. I think we've foolishly angered the Germans. It's going to be a heck of a battle for us in '99... Against Chile we will put a young squad together, and after looking at their (Chile's) roster they will be bringing six starters from the '98 World Cup."
Asked if he was surprised about the 3-0 win over Germany: "I knew before the game started that we would play a good game. It would be easy to say I knew that we would win but I felt good going into the game, and more importantly the players felt good. The team played extremely well and deserved the win."
On Weakness and Strengths of U.S. National Team: "It is to early to make a final evaluation but on the surface we have a lot strength in the goal. We could play any of our five goalkeepers and be solid. Defensively, we are better than I anticipated and a lot of that has to do with Fraser and Brown. We also have Agoos and Pope back there and in time we will be stronger defensively. In Midfield we are getting better. On the right-side, we have Sanneh, Olsen and five other players who can play that position. We are a little short on the left-side - Lewis has been a pleasant surprise. In the middle of field we are getting better. Up front is an area where I have some concerns. We have a couple of forwards but we need to find more. Overall, the team is beginning to take shape and by the end of the year I will have a good understanding of where players stand. We will bring in two or three young players every game to take a look and give them a chance. Right now I am not totally concerned about results but about putting players into pressure situations and seeing how they respond."
On Chris Armas and his performance so far with the National Team: "He has been a very good, competitive player. There isn't much more you can say. He has been developing a great relationship with Reyna and Kirovski; they compliment one very well."
Asked why U.S. Soccer has been successful at the youth and senior levels lately: "We are a lot more competitive than 10 and 15 years ago. We're making positive strides. Have we arrived? No. But we are making progress. There were some assumptions coming out of the World Cup that U.S. Soccer had hit bottom, but I never thought that was the case. Even though we didn't do well in France we have made progress and these young players that we bring in are a result of the progress we have made in the right direction."
On the feeling of beating Germany: "We beat a county that not too many (countries) can lay claim to beating. The night before the match, we told the players that this was going to be a real test for them and that they were going to play against one of the best teams in the world. It was great to see the team come out on top, giving our players momentum and confidence going into a very tough remaining '99 schedule."
On MLS producing National Team players: "There were nine players on the roster against Germany who play in MLS - I am still counting Tony Sanneh. MLS is a good league, not the best league in the world, but we have demonstrated that we can produce teams to compete with some of the best in the world."
Asked if and when more veteran players would be inserted into the squad: "Right now, and in the short term, the younger players will be given the chance to play. It's time to look at the youth and talent in this country."
On Tony Meola: "He has played very well and came into camp with a great attitude. I originally brought him into camp as a measuring stick for Zach (Thornton) and Tom (Presthus). One thing that is obvious is Meola's experience. If you watched the two games (against Bolivia and Germany), he hasn't faced a lot of shots because of the way he organizes the defense in front of him. He is peaking as a goalkeeper right now. We gave him a shot and he has done well."
Asked about how his team took the game to the Germans: "With a team like Germany, if you sit back you will not be successful. I think the one thing that Americans like to do it attack. It's part of their mentality."
CREDENTIALS REQUESTS DUE: Media interested in covering the USA-Chile match set for Sunday, Feb. 21 at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale should complete and return a credential request to the U.S. Soccer Communications Department no later than ... Credential requests may be obtained via the U.S. Soccer Fax-on-Demand system; from the handset of your fax machine, dial 201-363-8773 (request code 8706).