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Arena, Moore, Reyna and Donovan Talk About the Victory Over Jamaica

BRUCE ARENA, U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach

Opening Comments: “I know it has been an unusual run on our behalf, but we felt that as we entered this game we were exactly where we thought we would be in this competition.  Our guys went into today’s game with a lot of confidence.  We had a great week of training and obviously the addition of Reyna and O’Brien helped our midfield immensely.  I thought our frontrunners (Landon) Donovan and (Joe-Max) Moore did an outstanding job.  I thought Jamaica played a very good game and they were very good on the counter.  It made for a wide open game, an exciting game.  We created a lot of chances, we were unlucky not to finish on a few of them.  Their goalkeeper makes a great save at the beginning of the second half, but I was proud of the way our guys hung in there.  We said that maybe this is a game where maybe we fall behind a goal or maybe things don’t go well, but over 90 minutes we need to be the better team.  Our guys hung in there and played a good, solid 90 minutes – something we haven’t seen really in about 4 games.”

On the Honduras Upset: “I would have bet my house on the result in Honduras not being the way it was today.  It’s crazy.  You bury people one day and dig them out of the grave the next.  It is an unusual series of events.  We’re real happy.”

On Qualifying as a Whole: “The competition is that you play each team home and away, and that is what we have done and now after nine games we are through and we deserve to be through.  That is the way the competition is run and I am proud of our team.  We look forward to our next game and now we have six, seven, eight months to produce a better team than we produced in 2000 and 2001.  And I am optimistic that we will put a better team on the field in the World Cup next year.

On the Foxboro Crowd Support: “I thank the fans of Foxboro, I think that it was great to be here today and to have this kind of support made a difference.  It was a different atmosphere than we had at the last home game we had and I think that makes a difference.”

On U.S. Soccer: “During this run U.S. Soccer in 2000 and 2001 has been unbelievably supportive of our team and they have done everything possible to make us successful.  You hear stories about other federations, but if we weren’t successful it was the fault of our team and no one else because we were given everything we needed to be successful.  I thank U.S. Soccer and MLS for their continued support.  Hopefully now in the next six, seven, months we will do the right things to get our team better and have a better showing in the next World Cup.”

On if He Was Getting Antsy During the Game: “I really thought that we were going to get the (second) goal.  I thought we started the half in good fashion.  We put the pressure on them.  The wind was  a factor today and having the wind in the second half was a plus.  I thought Jamaica was fatiguing a little bit and we were getting at them in a few different spots on the field.  I thought we were certainly going to create a chance, whether we were going to put it in the back of the net or not is another thing.”

On Penalty Kicks: “We talked to our team about penalty kicks.  I haven’t gone through records, but I can swear we only have had two in my tenure of coaching and we missed both of them.  I think of Brazil where Joe-Max missed and Earnie in the Honduras game.  I don’t recall any others.  We practice them a couple of times, and I told them I don’t really care who takes it, the only thing I care about is that it ends up in the back of the net.   Of course, Joe-Max had the ball, he wanted it, he said he wanted to take it and he was pretty calm about putting it in the back of the net.”

On Notifying the Team About the Air Strikes: “We told them right before kick off.  I think it was fair to tell them.  Our thing was making a commitment this week to become a better team, and we felt that if our country could make the kind of commitment we are making then the game is easy.  This is nothing we had to deal with today.  This is just a game.  If you can’t make a commitment to play for 90 minutes with each other in this stupid little soccer game, then you don’t belong on the field.  … OK, it is not a stupid little soccer game (laughter), but in the big picture if I could substitute a victory today for the lives of the 6,000 people we lost a month ago I would do that.  I know it is important to win and all, but you’ve got to put things in the right place and certainly this is not as important as the events we have seen over the last 3-4 weeks.”

On What it Means to Qualify for the World Cup: “Hopefully it is another step forward.  We still have a long way to go.  Hopefully it helps our professional league.  If we are eventually going to be a quality, soccer-playing country, we have to have a first-flight professional league.   Hopefully this continues to support what they are about.  Hopefully it continues to keep soccer somewhat on the sports page and hopefully it motivates our soccer community to get better.  We have a long way to go right across the board, and we know that.  This is another step in the right direction, I hope.”

On if He Knew the Scores in the Other Games: “I knew at halftime the scores and I knew toward the end of the game.  We told the guys at halftime that the other games are a draw right now.  Our attitude was that if we win this game we are in the World Cup regardless of what happens in the other games. We felt that if we win this game we will do what we have to do in Game 10 to be there.  We had to get 3 points today, regardless of what happens in the other games. That was our approach, but let’s face it:  who would have predicted what happened today in all of these games?  We are real happy, we are not going to look back.  We are pleased with the way this team has responded.”

On Landon Donovan: “Landon Donovan was good.  It was a good combination.  Joe’s not the best player holding the ball.  He’s great running off the ball and working.  Landon can hold the ball, can take players on and is great running into space and all of those things, so it was a nice little blend today.  We went today with a team that is small in nature but a great passing team.  I think the passing in the end made a difference and helped us create some chances.”

On John O’Brien: “We said that if John was healthy he was going to play.  We know John and just haven’t had him.  The last time he played for us was against Barbados.  He just hasn’t been with us.  We have a bunch of young talented players that we haven’t seen for a variety of reasons that speaks well for the future of our National Team program, and John is certainly one of them.”

On Joe-Max Moore: “Joe is a fighter, and besides his skills of being a forward and a danger to score goals: sometimes these games are about rolling your sleeves up and fighting.  If there is anyone I want on my side in a fight, it is Joe-Max.  We knew we were going to ride on his back a little bit.  He gives the effort, and he loves playing here.  It was the perfect setting for him to play.  Watching him play the last six weeks with Everton, he has been very good and very fit.  He tweaked his hamstring on Friday, so he was a little iffy, but he knew he was going to play.  The combination of Joe and Landon was good, and gave Earnie much more freedom to run off the ball."

On Joe-Max Moore’s Hamstring Injury: “It was Joe’s decision, and we knew he would say he wanted to go.  So I just told him I didn’t want a situation where I was going to have to take him out 30 minutes into the game.  But if you know anything about Joe, well if he is 90% then that is a 100%.”

On the USA Defense: “Agoos had a good solid game.  It is the best Jeff and Eddie Pope have played together.   Jamaica is a handful.  Lowe is a difficult guy to match up against, and Fuller had a good game.  Sanneh had the responsibility to deal with Gardner, and for the most part they all did well.  I think David Regis had the best game he has played for us in the last two years.  I give David a lot of credit.  He didn’t play particularly well over our last three games, and he made up his mind that he was going to come into camp and earn that position.  He played extremely well today.”

On Claudio Reyna’s Impact on the Team: “Claudio is a player that can hold the ball and is a good passer.  The players look up to him.  They have a lot of confidence with him just stepping on the field.   He wasn’t completely fit today and was running out of gas a bit at the end.  Claudio’s presence the whole week has made us a better team.  Obviously both on the field and in his leadership qualities off the field.
I give our team a lot of credit for sticking together this week and giving everything they could to be a good team today.” 

JOE-MAX MOORE, U.S. Men's National Team forward

On His Game Opening Goal in the 4th Minute: “Claudio played a great ball into the near post and I was able to beat my man inside.  I just tried to redirect the ball inside the far post and that is what happened.  Fortunately I was able to keep it down and on-goal.  You can kind of tell once it leaves your head if it has a chance and this one went in.”

On Being Stopped from Point-Blank Range to Open the Second Half: “I absolutely thought I had scored there.  He was moving across the goal to his left and I hit him right in the center.  It was a good save.  I knew I would have other opportunities, and we just needed to keep getting good balls into the box and that is what we did.”

On the Importance of Qualifying: “It is so important.  We have so many young kids playing today, and for them to not have a World Cup would be devastating for them.  It is just so important for the progression of our sport in the U.S.”

On Landon Donovan: “He is excellent.  I am very surprised about how composed he is at such a young player.  He looks for the other forwards constantly and is a very unselfish player.  He has a great future in the game.”

On Claudio Reyna’s Presence: “He’s key to our team.  He has a lot of composure in the midfield, and holds the ball well and goes forward well.  He really runs the team from the midfield position so it is very important to have him there.”

On Unexpectedly Qualifying Today: “Nobody really expected this to happen though today.  We were just talking about getting three points and being in position to qualify.  You can’t anticipate Trinidad & Tobago is going to win at Honduras.  There was a little champagne flowing in the lockerroom, but mostly hugs and heart for everyone. ”

On Celebrating with Sam’s Army: “It was great to celebrate with Sam’s Army and our diehard fans.  Those guys are out there singing and chanting game-after-game and they really support us.  It was nice to be able to celebrate a little bit with them.”

On Scoring the Goals that Put the U.S. in the World Cup: “It means a lot to me.  It has been a long, hard year, and I haven’t been in great goalscoring form, but I hope this changes that.  Not a lot of chances have been coming my way, but hopefully that will change.  I’ve got some confidence back and hopefully I can get back on the scoring sheet with Everton as well.” 

CLAUDIO REYNA, U.S. Men's National Team midfielder

On Whether the Team Was Prepared to Celebrate Today: “No, not at all.  Bruce told us at halftime that the other results were still 0-0 and he said ‘We can qualify today.’  No one really was taking him seriously, and we were just thinking about getting three points and moving on to the next game.  But after the whistle, we were huddling around and they said ‘It is 1-0 Trinidad, and Mexico’s already tied.’  I don’t know, it seemed like a joke.  But then all of us were so happy.  It is great to be qualified and going to the World Cup.”

On the Pressure on the Team: “It was difficult for all of us, not just the guys who have played.  A lot of guys were getting criticized and the team was being written off and was on the brink of elimination.  At the beginning of this week we all talked about doing what we had to do to get the World Cup, and we showed it today.  It was great to be back (on the field).”

On Knowing About Today’s Attacks Prior to Kickoff: “Bruce mentioned it to us.  For me personally, it was strange, and it puts everything in prospective.  It’s just a game, you know, and you see what these other people our doing out there risking their lives to defend our country.  It puts everything in perspective and may have helped us come out a little bit more relax, because we realize it is just a game, and that is it.”

On John O’Brien: “I think John O’Brien was great for us today, he got us going, especially early in the second half.  He really played a great game.”

On this Qualifying Campaign Compared to 1998 World Cup Qualification: “The last World Cup campaign we were away at Canada (when we clinched), and it was a matter of time before we qualified.  There wasn’t as much pressure on the team last time, as there was this time.  I think naturally myself and some of the older guys felt some pressure to get the team back to the World Cup.  So it was a relief for me and everyone once we heard that we were through.  It’s incredible.”

LANDON DONOVAN, U.S. Men's National Team forward

On the Penalty Kick Call: “My first instinct was to try and hit a cross, but I didn’t have time to look, so I decided to cut it back. … To be honest, I cut the ball back and didn’t have a chance to dive or do anything.  I just fell and hoped for a whistle.  I did think for a second ‘Was that Tyronne (Marshall)?’, because we are playing again on Wednesday (in the MLS playoffs).”

On Joe-Max Moore’s Penalty: “I didn’t watch it.  I turned around and faced the crowd and waited for the reaction.”