GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (June 12, 2006) - Post-match reaction from the U.S. following a three-goal defeat to Czech Republic in the team's opening match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
U.S. Manager Bruce Arena
“I don’t think we ever positioned ourselves to win this game, giving up a goal as early as we did. The Czech Republic took advantage of every play we offered them today, in terms of the attacking end of the field and had a pretty good success rate in getting three goals. Obviously, the first goal was big. To give that up in the first five minutes of the match put us really behind and allowed the Czech team to sit back and really counter at us. And they did a good job, to their credit. I thought (Pavel) Nedved was the player of the match. Our players played pretty hard but didn’t play well enough. The better team certainly won today.”
On the difficulty of defending the Czech Republic:
“I really think the biggest part of the game was the early goal. For the most part, I thought we defended really well. Give (Tomas) Rosicky credit, that was a great goal in the second goal he scored. The third goal in the second half came a little bit against the run of play but certainly we were opened up to counters at that point in the game. They certainly took advantage of the opportunity.”
On whether the team can prepare for an attacker like Jan Koller:
“He’s a real good player. I thought we did a real good job on him except in the early minutes of the game. For the most part, I thought (Oguchi) Onyewu and (Eddie) Pope did a pretty good job on Koller. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury and may miss the rest of the tournament, but I think for the most part we did well. Again, to me, the big play in the game was giving up the early goal.”
On how he can turn things around against Italy:
“Well, we have to make sure that the Czech Republic doesn’t beat us twice. We have to put this game behind us and prepare ourselves for Italy. We’ll, obviously, observe them this evening and try to put together a scouting report that gives our team a chance to win.”
U.S. captain Claudio Reyna
On what the breakdowns were:
“I think in the first five minutes we didn’t start off right. They got an early goal and unnerved us a bit. Overall, in the first half, I thought we played well. They got their two chances and scored. We hit the post. In the second half we made a few changes, tactically, and I think it really didn’t work out for us. We needed to get more width and we couldn’t get it in the second half. It was disappointing to lose 3-0, but the first goal really put us on our heels.”
On how to overcome the loss:
“Now we have another game right away. We have to win. I think, with all due respect, they’re probably the best team in our group. Italy’s another tough team and it’s going to be another tough game. We have to bounce back right away, put that game behind us and learn from it really quick. We have a lot of guys who had their first game in a World Cup and I think they were a little bit nervous. Now there are no more excuses, we have to play better than that.”
On what he will tell the team as captain:
“We have to look forward now. We have Italy, a great opportunity as well to bounce back and find out what we’re made of. Again, we have a lot of guys who, I think, showed a little bit of inexperience today. But, you can’t be hesitant, you have to be aggressive for the first minute and at times, all over the field, we were a bit hesitant. There’s no excuse for that in the next game. We have to come out because we have to win from the first minute. There’s still a lot of play for so we have to get ourselves together and motivate ourselves because it’s a big game.