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Press Conference with Bob Bradley for June 27

U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach BOB BRADLEY
On his thoughts after sleeping on the loss:
“I never sleep well after games, wins or losses. It’s never easy after a game winding down. I usually watch the game over and over a few times and sneak in a few hours, so that’s pretty normal. As a coach you make decisions on a regular basis and you have a process that you use. The process that I use has never changed. I bounce things off of people, I throw things out to see how people respond, I take it all in and ultimately know that I’m responsible for making decisions. When the decisions are done certainly there are times when you look at it and ask yourself if it had worked the way you wanted, but I wouldn’t use the term second guess either because that’s the nature of it. When decisions are made and things go well I never pat myself on the back and when decisions on a given day don’t go as well that’s part of what we do—it’s how the game works.”

On what areas of the team need improvement in the next four years:
“It’s awfully fast after the game just ends last night, but in a national team situation you start the process of projecting what the team can be like in four years. That means that there’s conversations with players, I think in some cases there are players that still can help the team but you’re not certain what that will mean in four years. In other cases you feel like guys have gotten experience and now for them to continue with their clubs to make progress will be critical for success for the national team, and then there’s always the part of determining who are the next set of young players that need to be pushed into it. It’s an ongoing process, one that if you take a normal year in a national team program—everything from the January camp to Gold Cups to friendlies—you’re constantly thinking about how things need to be moved along. It’s not like we’ll start thinking about that today, that’s been on our minds and now we’ll go forward and continue to look at all that.”

Thoughts after watching the game a few times since its conclusion:
“On the night I think that Ghana had three very good chances, and scored twice. Those chances came off of a turnover in the midfield, a goal kick and a ball that was cleared. They did very well to take advantage of those opportunities. For the four games, we were only ahead for two minutes. We were the team that was constantly trying to push the game, and I thought we did a very good job of that. I think on the whole, we created chances. When you’re the team pushing the game, the energy you put into it, the pure commitment to keep going and going is tested. Ultimately when I watched last night’s game, the two thoughts I had are that in some moments when I thought we had attacking advantages, the final pass, the timing of the play, the final touch—some of that wasn’t as good as it needed to be. Yet some of that is a product of guys that have, over the course of four games, physically been pushed. The last part is that, it’s a strange part of soccer but it happens sometimes, is that they scored on their first shot of the game and their first shot in overtime. At that point in overtime, there’s 27 minutes to go, we’ve already pushed the limits to get back to 1-1 and I thought we had a real chance after the first goal to get the second goal and win 2-1 in regulation. There were a couple of good moments, there was one right away where Landon played a good ball across and Jozy took a big touch and their goalkeeper came out and, like a defender, went to the ground and won the ball. It was a very good play. We had the sequence when Jozy played the little ball in behind to Michael and Michael took a hard left-footed shot but wasn’t able to get it enough to the corner. Then we had the one where Carlos played a long ball over the top to Jozy, and Jozy lost his balance and wasn’t able to take advantage. So I thought we had some good moments to finish 2-1, and even in the break between the end of the game and overtime there was a confidence that we were fit and we were pushing things. But once again, when you go back and get behind, that’s a tough one. One more time, especially when it’s already taken so much out of you.”

On trying to pin down the reasons for consistently falling behind in games:
“The best answer that I can give is that there are two sides to it. The one side is just the maturity and experience of knowing sometimes, early in the game, how to manage the game. Oftentimes you don’t win the game right away, but as we’ve seen you can put yourself in a very difficult spot. That can be in any number of ways. One of the decisions you make early in the game are just choices when you have the ball. Do you play the ball forward and move up as a team and know that over time, the game will allow more of a rhythm for passing? Do you start to try to connect some passes? There’s no one answer to that, but each situation requires a decision. So that experience and that maturity would come into play. The second part is that’s just how the game works sometimes. I talk about maturity and experience, but please, it would be important to know that I can watch games of the best teams in the world and see the same decisions. I can see the same things happen, whether it’s Barcelona, Manchester United, Brazil, Spain—this is a function of the game. When someone makes a good play, when someone makes the play to slow the rhythm down and connect a few passes and then speed it up, it can be a great thing. In other moments, if there’s a turnover, it can be a bad thing. If there’s a turnover and it doesn’t end up in the net, it’s probably not a question at the end of the game. So there’s a part of it that says that’s how the game works.”

On the success of this team in the tournament:
“Here’s how I would assess it: I’m not one to try to pat ourselves on the back, I have simple ways of looking at things. When you start this cycle, you try to establish over the four years’ time—the work, the qualification, the training—you want to make sure that when you get to the World Cup, you’re ready. You’re ready when the spotlight comes on to play, to go for it. So the spotlight comes on in this World Cup four times 90 minutes. In those moments, in terms of us being a team and in all ways, from our mentality to the tactical side to the technical side, I certainly feel that part was very good. But you also still recognize, as you look at all of that, the areas that when you put it on the most difficult scale, still need to improve. That will always get put to the test. There are things there that when you look from the inside, we know the group responded well and there’s a lot they can feel very good about and yet at the same time there’s a pretty empty feeling right now because coming out of the first round we felt there was a real chance of doing something bigger. I think we responded well in each case in those first three games, I think we felt we were improving game by game, and the opportunity to take that further was there. We talked about that, but we also talked about how that had to be done 90 minutes at a time. At the end of it all, that leaves us a little bit empty.”

On Landon Donovan’s tournament:
“I think Landon had an excellent tournament, plain and simple. We’ve talked over and over about the fact that this was his third World Cup. I know he personally has reflected on the disappointment of the last time around. From the start of the cycle there were players that had been a part of previous World Cup teams that we knew would have to step up and take bigger roles, and Landon has responded really well to those challenges. I think he has matured as a person on the field and off the field, and in all ways it was important to our team. I think he did himself proud with his efforts and we’re all behind him.”

On preparing for the next match against Brazil on August 10:
“When one game ends, as a coach, you start thinking about the next one believe it or not. When you’re a national team coach, that means you start thinking about the timing of that game, is it a single-fixture date, where does it fall in the calendar of different clubs—so a lot of those thoughts are already running through my head.”

On Michael Bradley’s performance in the World Cup:
“Like the team, I think he gives everything he has in every game. This wouldn’t just be true of him, but there are different ways to size up players. But there are some players you look at and you say ‘This player’s good at this, and this, and this, but somehow when you put it all together and put him on the field it’s not quite enough.’ Michael seems to be in the category, and he’s not the only one in this category by any means, but he’s in the other category where at times you can see all the little things that you think he should be able to do better, but at the end of it all when you put him on the field his commitment to try to do whatever is needed in the game to help his team is pretty clear. One of the things I’ve always tried with players is to get them to understand that that’s what the game is all about—that ability to put yourself on the line and try to do what it takes to help your team win. Like a number of others on our team, I would say that in four efforts he pushed the limits in that regard.”

On the entire experience in South Africa:
“First of all, this is my fifth trip to South Africa. The people here have, in every case, made us good friends. The experiences that we’ve had in South Africa every step of the way have been tremendous. This time around at our base camp at Irene, we appreciate everything the people at Irene have done. It’s been a tremendous place to work during this period. When you come here, from our State Department and the Department of Diplomatic Security, at first you feel so stupid because every time you want to even go to the gym and get away for an hour, there’s all these people that go with you and watch you. But along the way these people become good friends and their professionalism in their job is second to none. Finally, I do appreciate the job that all of the media does. To be here covering our team, when we talk about the game in our country and how it needs to grow, whenever I ever come across something you asked I don’t agree with or I think you can do better, it’s only because I do that with everyone who’s involved with the game in our country. In order for our game to grow, we grow it together. So I’m hardest on coaches, then players, and if you think I’m hard on you I’m sorry but I believe in the idea that in order to get where we want to go, everyone needs to be held to a good standard. But I appreciate it, thank you.”