US SoccerUS Soccer

Quote Sheet: U.S. U-17 MNT head coach Wilmer Cabrera Talks About the Draw for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship

U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team head coach Wilmer Cabrera talks about the results of the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship draw.

On his first impressions of Group B:
“I think we have to recognize that in CONCACAF we have to be prepared to play our game. We need to face those teams with respect, but knowing that we have the responsibility to control our own qualification to the World Cup. If we want to qualify, we have to win. That’s it. At this point we know the set up. Now we have to go in with the responsibility for qualifying.”

On what he and the rest of the coaching staff know about Group B opponents Cuba and Panama:
“We played Cuba two years ago and we played Panama twice in a camp in Central America. Panama have sent their teams to Italy in the past for a month or two to help prepare the team for qualifying. I don’t know if they are going to do that with this group, but I know for the past cycle they have done that and had them play in a league over there. They have created a good environment for the Panama players to grow and develop, so they will be tough.”

On how the team will prepare for their most important games, and a potential must-win quarterfinal game:
“We have to prepare ourselves for that. Normally when we prepare for different international tournaments, we know we’re not the favorites. This time, in CONCACAF, we are one of the favorites. Now we have to know that everyone is expecting us to qualify. That’s another aspect that we need to work on with the players. They need to be mature enough to deal with the responsibility and the reality that they should be one of the top teams. Hopefully we can prepare them in a way that takes some of the pressure off their shoulders and they can try to go on the field and play and show why they represent the U.S.”

On what the team will do between now and February to prepare:
“We have played in one international tournament this semester, which was the Nike Friendlies. That was important to show the level and the concentration. We had to fight to get points and try to figure out how the kids would react to playing, resting one day and playing again. They had to manage the mental pressure. Now we don’t have much time, so we have to send them home for a rest over the holiday, just like we all need, and then come back and focus on qualifying. It’s not only the physical and technical preparation to compete in Jamaica, but like I said the mental aspect of being the favorite. We have to do the simple things and take that pressure and try to play game by game.”