U.S. Head Coach
On the injury situation of Earnie Stewart and Claudio Reyna:
“Again, as I’ve said, it is day-to-day, to see how they improve every day. I’m very pleased the way Earnie is moving along. If he is not ready for the game on Monday, I believe he will be ready for the last group game. And Claudio is moving along equally as well, and we are hopeful that he will be ready to play on Monday.”
On the team’s training on Saturday and upcoming schedule:
“We went very light today. We went about an hour and 10 minutes. < joking > As you know, we don’t work that hard anyway in training. But we went easy today, and we’re just trying to get our team ready for Monday, making sure we are fresh and don’t overdue it on the physical side. Our schedule on Sunday is that we will be leaving around 12:30 p.m. for Daegu and will arrive around 1:30 p.m., and then we will train at 5:30 p.m. in the stadium.”
NOTE: The joke above is in reference to many questions from the Korean press about the perceived light training schedule for the U.S. team in Korea.
On his general thoughts on Korea as an opponent for the U.S. in Group D:
“One thing we realized when we got the draw here and started scouting all of our opponents was that they are distinctly different from each other. Korea is a team that has tremendous organization, great athleticism, and great fitness over 90 minutes. They will test us in every part of the field. Additionally, they have developed their attacking play over the past four weeks or so, and they are very dangerous on the break and excellent on restarts.”
“Game two is obviously very important and a very difficult challenge since we are playing the leader in the group in Korea and also the host country. We know the magnitude of that game will be big and the cover will be tremendous. However, we thought the opening game was the same. We know that for each and every game we need to be prepared properly, and we will prepare in the same manner for this game as we did the last game.”
On how the U.S. has prepared for the heat of Daegu, where the U.S. will play Korea on Monday:
“I don’t believe you get any fitter from game one to game two, as a starting point. We have prepared our fitness well in advance. For the past 30-35 days we’ve been in training, and we believe we have done what we need to do to be prepared to play this game. We believe we have a fit team. You can never prepare a team to play in very hot weather. It is very difficult to do, but if you have a good fitness base, you will endure. And that is what we are relying on. We don’t believe we are going to get any fitter from the Portugal game to the Korea game. That doesn’t make sense. We want to make sure we have healthy, fit players on the field Monday to play against a very difficult opponent in very difficult conditions.”
On Korean media reports of anti-American sentiment among some Koreans:
“My impression is that we are allies with the South Koreans, and I’ve been up to the DMZ and I’ve watched our soldiers work shoulder to shoulder in a very friendly and professional manner. I don’t know where it is coming from. Someone alluded to the fact that it had something to do with the Winter Olympics, but we are not aware of any political issues. We consider the South Koreans our friends.”
On whether he has noticed any trends in the World Cup games to this point:
“I’ve seen most of the games. I’ve perhaps missed one or two of the matches, falling asleep in the afternoon a couple of times. It is hard to say what the trends are, except that they haven’t been predictable. I don’t think anyone would have envisioned that this tournament would start the way it has, that the defending champion and odds on favorite to win the World Cup, are both fighting for their lives going into the third game in group play. So that has been surprising. We have followed closely some of the decisions that the referees have made, and it certainly appears that tackles over the ball are going to be automatic send offs. Fouls by last defenders are automatic send offs. Overall it has been interesting World Cup and I’ve said all along that the gap between quality teams from top to bottom has closed considerably since the last World Cup.”
On the inspiration of starting Frankie Hejduk as left back:
“There was no inspiration. He is a good one-on-one defender. And I thought for the game against Portugal we needed to have our best defenders out on the field.”
On whether he thinks the win against Portugal has given the U.S. respect in the soccer-playing world:
“Keep in mind that this World Cup is not over for the American team, and we have two more group games which will really decide where we are now as a soccer playing country. We are very pleased with the opening game and the result, but we are not sitting back and thinking that we are finished. We want to show against Korea and then against Poland that we are a good team. If we prepare ourselves the right way, I think we can do that. And then earn the kind of respect we deserve.”
On who might be the key player for the U.S. against Korea:
“Every game is different. It is very difficult to predict what a game is going to look like, and that is why you train your team to make adjustments and think on their own two feet. It is very difficult for me to predict, first of all, what a game is going to look like, and then secondly, who is going to be our key player. Our hopes are that we obtain three points.”
On his new role as a left back for the team:
"First of all, just being solid defensively as a team has been our main goal from the start, and taking it from there going forward. In terms of being a left back, my main responsibility has been defensively, and all I have to worry about right now is keeping sharp defensively, and if we get a chance to go forward, I have (DaMarcus) Beasley in front of me."
On whether this is the first time he has played left back in his life:
"It wasn't the first time I'd played there in my life. But I haven't played there too often. But, being back there feels fine, like I said, it's not too much different on the right side. Your first responsibility is playing defense and defending your man and making sure he doesn't score or he doesn't get any crosses in. So, pretty much that's the same on the right side. Just the difference is, you've got to be prepared to play with your left foot a little bit more. And in training, I've been working on that at every training, Bruce has wanted me to hit crosses, to make some passes with my left foot, which isn't too much of a problem for me, so it's really not too much of a difference. In terms of maybe going forward a little bit, it's a bit different looking at the field, but in terms of playing it's not so different. And like I said, I've got a great player, (DaMarcus) Beasley, in front of me and we've got some great left-sided players on our team to give the ball to and make sure they can do the offense."
On holding his own against the likes of Figo and Conceicao against Portugal, and whether that gives him confidence looking forward to the rest of the tournament:
"Yeah, whenever you play against arguably two of the best players in the world, and you hold them to a certain extent, you feel proud of yourself after the game but, at the same time, that's what you're supposed to do, that's your job. Yeah, they're great players, but when you step on the field, you believe you're a good player also. So, we welcome the challenge, and I think myself and Tony (Sanneh) and the whole defense and the whole team for that matter, stepped up to playing against such a major soccer power and it just kind of showed the world that, hey, we can play too."
On the response from the players on the great win against Portugal:
"Mainly now we're just thinking about the game against South Korea. After the game, for a short time, we congratulated each other, but that was just that night, and it was just one game and now we've got to concentrate on the next one. That game's behind us, we got what we wanted out of it, which was three points, and now you move on to the next game. We're not dwelling too much on the last game, now we're just trying to just get physically and mentally prepared for the game against Korea."