Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. MNT vs. Mexico
Sept. 10, 2013
U.S. Men’s National Team head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
On looking back on the last 26 months:
“We managed to bring along a lot of players that show us hopefully a bright future. Even through a negative experience like not qualifying for the Olympics. You still keep close eyes on those kids and we deepened the roster. We have more players now than we had the last two years to pull from where we have the feeling that they’re going to come in, even on standby, and they’ll get the job done with no problem, like you see with Clarence Goodson today.
“Step-by-step, we’re getting closer to taking the game to the opponents. We’re not sitting back and reacting to what happens. We want to take it into their half. Every game is different. We know that, too, but I think we’ve made big progress in terms of tactical variation and in terms of commitment both ways of the game offensively and defensively. Players know it only goes through hard work. It only goes through a lot of effort. Certain things that maybe two years ago they may have wondered what this was all about. All this extra work, extra here, extra there, now it’s just normal. The players come in and they know there are double sessions waiting for them. The players know what we expect tactically. The players know there’s another guy behind them in every position, that if he doesn’t give everything he has the next one comes in and steals his spot. Therefore, there’s more competition and I think if you look at the entire picture they can be really proud of themselves.”
On the challenge of the matchup with Mexico while missing key veterans:
“They’re extremely important. They’re experienced players, they’ve played these games before and they know what these games are about. I told them over the last couple days that I expect their leadership. I expect them to carry us through difficult moments, whatever happens. We had some difficult moments in Costa Rica and they took it on. Landon took it on, Clarence, Timmy, Eddie Johnson with the way he goes into those balls – I told them at halftime you’re going to get another one. You’ve got to just stay hungry and wait for it. You’re going to get that opportunity.
“It’s also important that they understand that age doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they give everything they have and that they’re here to compete no matter what, and they were ready to compete tonight.”
On if qualifying for the World Cup is even more gratifying given the yellow card suspensions and the injury to Michael Bradley:
“Absolutely for the group, yeah. Having one of your leaders not there and going down in Costa Rica two minutes after kickoff. Then the yellow cards that you all saw and we all talked about. It is important that you see them as a group sticking together and being there for each other. That’s what they’ve done, so I think it takes it to another level when you have those moments when they really need to stand up.”
On Landon Donovan’s resurgence and performance against Mexico:
“We’ve always said that Landon is an important part of our team. The things that he went through were his decision. We were totally fine with that, but he also had to understand that he wasn’t getting anything for granted. He had to work his way back, to fight his way back, and that’s what he did. In the Gold Cup to start with, and now coming here, he understands the message that nobody has a spot guaranteed. It all comes down to performance. Every game is down to performance. That’s why we doubled the positions, and that’s why we have a deeper pool now. That’s why they put pressure on every starter. Every game gives us new challenges and he understood that. He’s smart, he understands the moment and what he did tonight was big. Not only with his experience and scoring a goal, also he understood in certain moments to chase back, to help defend and do all the work that is necessary on an international level if you want to succeed. If you have two guys up front that don’t want to turn around and chase people back you’re not getting very far.”
On the psychological importance of clinching Tuesday and not having to wait another month:
“We wanted to get this done as quickly as possible. We were upset with Costa Rica, how it ended, but we couldn’t change it anymore. Once they scored that third goal it was done. It is important, and it makes a lot of things easier for us on the Federation’s side to plan things ahead. We can finalize things for Brazil, we can look at friendly games in November, so it’s definitely important.”
On how special it is to qualify in Columbus specifically:
“The players know when they play in Columbus that they have 100 percent support behind them. It gives them energy, and it gives them confidence. The other thing is that your opponent that hasn’t won here in quite a while knows it’s a difficult situation, as well. It is a psychological game at the end of the day and I think you could feel it in the body language of the Mexican players when they didn’t get a goal. They tried really hard for the first 25 minutes and they got heavier and heavier. You could see the psychological load in their minds that they start to doubt themselves. The first touch wasn’t there anymore for players that usually have a fantastic first touch. So there is a psychological element in place in Columbus and it’s definitely on our side.”
On what the achievement of qualifying means personally:
“It means a lot to me like it means a lot to all of us. To the players, to the Federation, everyone working here in this environment, to you guys as well as the fans. A qualifying campaign is a very difficult road and we knew that. I did that myself as a player, as a coach with Germany, and I had difficult moments. When I went through it the first round I almost didn’t go to the World Cup in 1990 and ended up winning. It is a special moment and we coaches enjoy it the same way as the players do and we’re proud of that.”
U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup:
“Now it’s expected of us, but it’s never a guarantee. World Cup Qualifying is tense. It’s always so tight. We said down in Honduras in February that it’s going to come down to Matchday 8 or 9, which it always does. You can never really breathe a sigh of relief, but tonight we’re able to do that.”
On the crowd in Columbus:
"This is a great crowd. It's become its own monster. People want to come to Columbus and see USA vs. Mexico. Because of the way results have gone the last four times, you almost feel like it's our destiny to win here."
On how it was watching the Honduras game in the locker room:
"Fun. You know we did our job so it was just a matter of Honduras doing theirs. We kind of had confidence they would do it since they were at home. That part was fun and then once they wheeled the champagne in it got even better."
On bouncing back at different points in Qualifying:
"I think we've answered the bell a bunch of times. In Guatemala, in Kansas City, the snow game, playing [poorly] in Costa Rica, we've always answered the bell. I think that's part of this group's resiliency and it's good to see."
On the team putting the result against Costa Rica behind them:
"We were saying that down there in the dressing room. We wanted to win but we didn't play particularly well. It was always about bouncing back in this game. We realized with the result Honduras had in Mexico that a result gets us through. Good or bad you have to have a short memory."
On Landon Donovan’s contribution to the team:
"He's a guy that when he's on the field puts fear in the opponent. We've got some key guys and you can't mark [Clint] out of the game when you have to worry about Landon. It frees up Eddie or Jozy to do their thing. Landon is one of these guys that gives you a 7 or 8 out of 10 every game and he can be counted on for that. That's not easy to come by."
On the development of the team:
"We're young enough at the moment that the next six to eight months we're going to grow and get better. I like the mix with a lot of Mexican-American and German-Americans. It's a lot of young guys with some of us old guys. The mix is right and we just need to mature a little bit more and I feel good about our chances. But we'll see what the draw looks like."
U.S. Men's National Team forward EDDIE JOHNSON
On his goal from a set piece:
"We worked on our running in the box yesterday, on who goes to the first post or second and third. A lot of the focus was going to be on our bigger guys. Clarence made a good run to the first post and Omar checked away. They were more focused on them and Landon does what Landon does. It was an unbelievable cross. I got a head on the first one in the first half and this time I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. I saw the ball was right there and tried to keep it down."
On being a part of the team that qualified for the World Cup:
"I'm very fortunate. This is our seventh-consecutive World Cup. Whenever you can be a part of something big like that it's very special. I’m very glad to be a part of it."
On the feeling of qualifying:
"You work hard for this. All the January camps, all the short camps when European guys come back, it's all about getting better as a team and trying to get on the same page with the coaches. Camp after camp we're trying to get better and establish that identity as a National Team. To get a good result against a team like Mexico, in front of these fans here is a good feeling. It's time to celebrate."
U.S. Men’s National Team forward LANDON DONOVAN
On qualifying for the World Cup in Columbus:
"I'm really excited for guys who haven't been able to experience a night like this. There's no guarantee that any of us are at the World Cup next year, but to be able to experience a night like this in front of a crowd like that where you get to celebrate and qualify is really special."
On Tim Howard's performance:
"He's just solid. He makes the plays we need him to make. They had a couple of times tonight where they broke through and had some shots and he made those saves. The crazy thing about him is those are big saves for most goalies and for him, we almost expect it of him because he does it so often. You just feel so confident, you feel like they're never going to score, and that's a big plus."
On Mexico's performance:
"I think they were understandably under a lot of pressure. We knew that if we kept the game at zero or we were ahead, it was going to play into our favor. Once we got the goal, we could see in their eyes it was going to end in a victory for us."
On the team's success and growth:
"This team keeps doing it over and over. I've only been a part of it for a small time now. The bulk of the credit goes to the guys that have put in so much work but it's real fun to be a part of it and it certainly never gets old. There are so many guys who can step up and do a good job. We were missing a handful of guys tonight and we didn't miss a beat. I'm real proud to be a part of it."
On watching the Honduras-Panama game in the locker room:
"We saw Panama score at the end and got a little nervous, but once they blew the final whistle, everybody's excited to be going to Brazil."
On the atmosphere in Columbus:
"You see it when we came into the stadium. It was rocking already. That's a real atmosphere. That's what we face when we go away and it's nice that other teams have to face it when they come here. We enjoy playing in front of a crowd like that. They certainly boosted us tonight and it was great to do it in front of them."
U.S. Men’s National Team forward CLINT DEMPSEY
On the team's growth and qualification for the World Cup:
"There was a period when we were looking a little bit shaky, but we went on that great run of winning 12 straight. Losing to Costa Rica, everybody starts raising questions again of how we were going to respond. I thought the defense did a great job tonight to keep a clean sheet. We were able to get the right result tonight and qualify for the World Cup. To do it against our rivals is even sweeter. It shows we're continuing the growth of the game here in the States."
On qualifying knowing the World Cup is coming up:
"You're happy. You're going to enjoy tonight. People are going to have a few beers and stuff like that. But the goal is to do well in Brazil. You want to qualify for a World Cup and you want to do well. I've played in two World Cups. One I didn't advance out of the group stage and the other we won the group but lost the next game. It would be nice to do something special in a World Cup so hopefully we can do that."
On celebrating on the field with the fans after Honduras-Panama:
"It was great. The boys were in good spirits. It was good to go back out there, and credit to the fans for watching the [Honduras-Panama] game. It shows their commitment and passion and credit our guys tonight. We fought hard, showed character, and ground out a good result."
"They had that pressure on them and then when they scored it seemed like they didn't believe. It seemed like we kept going and then we got the goal to put the game to sleep. We're happy that we qualified for the World Cup; it's a long journey."
On the squad and players who will be trying to make the World Cup team:
"There's going to be new faces that are going to try to compete for this team. I was like that in 2006; I wasn't part of the main World Cup Qualifying experience. I was able to force my way into the team and some of the other players who worked hard and played in the qualifiers weren't there. The job isn't done now. You have to keep working hard and make sure you're going to be on that team for selection."
U.S. Men’s National Team defender DAMARCUS BEASLEY
On the atmosphere in Columbus:
"Whenever we play here the atmosphere is unbelievable. They're our 12th man and we needed them. Words can't describe how we feel right now. Being able to qualify at home, doing it again in Columbus and the freaky score of 2-0. We feel very privileged to be going to another World Cup and we're definitely excited about it."
On the changes in the second half:
"Fabian came down with a little injury and we had to put [Parkhurst] in. We have full confidence in him to get the job done at right back. At the same time we wanted to keep doing what we were doing and frustrate them. We didn't want to let them dictate the game and wanted to keep the pressure on them. We knew our chances would come and they did. It's crazy we got two goals again in Columbus and it's a great game to play in."
On getting the early goal in the second half:
"It took a lot of life out of Mexico when we scored that goal. It came at a great time and it was a great moment. Landon got another one and all-in-all the game was great. We love coming to Columbus and playing in front of our fans."