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Post-Match Quotes USA vs. Ghana

U.S. Men's National Team vs. Ghana
2010 FIFA World Cup - Round of 16
Royal Bafokeng Stadium; Rustenburg, South Africa
June 26, 2010

U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach BOB BRADLEY
On the match as a whole:
“Once again we gave up an early goal and put a lot into it to get back to 1-1. I thought at that point we had the chance to finish the game. When you go down early another time (in the first overtime period), it’s just a case where you’ve put yourself in that spot one too many times and already expended a lot of energy. At that point it was just trying to see if we could create one more chance, but I think we hurt ourselves by giving up the early goal again.”

On the choice to start and remove Ricardo Clark:
“We go through the same process before every game sizing up options. We felt that fresh legs in the center of the field would be good and felt that Ricardo had, against England, been disciplined in the way he helped plug certain holes, we thought that would be important against Ghana. Took him off in the first half which is something that we almost never do, but I was concerned about the card. When we’re already down 1-0 and now you’re trying to push the game in that part of the field, when you play that role playing with a card is incredibly dangerous. I told him that the decision is solely based on the card. Ricardo, such a good man, said he felt badly about the ball he lost and I said that’s part of soccer.”

On Ghana’s team:
“Ghana’s a talented team. I said yesterday that I thought their coach Milovan Jarovich has done a good job in terms of organizing that team, of course they’ll have a tough game against Uruguay but they’re a team that’s capable of moving on.”

On giving up early goals in three of the four World Cup games:
“It’s certainly something we’re aware of. You try to manage games early, once again in the early part of this game we felt like we were doing a solid job but we paid the price for a turnover. We recognize it, but just talking about it doesn’t always change it. It’s a hard lesson and one we’ll hopefully be able to improve upon.”

On whether the tournament has been a success:
“I think the first thoughts for all of us are simple. We felt that in the first round we showed a lot of good qualities, you get through the first round and give yourself a chance now to go far. We felt that we had that ability and we’re disappointed that we didn’t get past this game and continue to test ourselves.”

On whether the late comebacks just cost too much energy:
“It’s possible, but I think the real feeling is that we put a lot into getting this game to 1-1. I think we had one very good chance when it was 1-1 before regulation finished, Jozy had a good chance. When we talked before overtime I think we felt good about physically where we were in the game, but the fact that we gave up a goal so quickly—I think that’s the time that’s a feeling that there’s not that much time, you’re deep into the game and it’s going to be hard to get it back. There’s a few chances after that, maybe you need a break. I thought on the night there were so many attacking plays that seemed to just miss—the timing would be a little off, the last ball was a little off. Some of our crosses weren’t as good as they needed to be. So I thought there were some plays that had potential, but often times it just seemed it was a little bit off.”

On what U.S. fans should take away from this team and this performance:
“Well, we would thank the fans. The support that we’ve seen here in South Africa, and we know that people across the United States have been behind our team. At the moment, it’s a feeling of disappointment for the team and for all our fans that we couldn’t go forward.”

On whether their performance in this tournament has raised the profile of United States soccer:
“We always understand the responsibility we have as a national team to show how far the game has come in the United States, to fight for respect. We certainly felt that we moved things along with our performance in the Confederations Cup. As we went through the first round, we felt that we were continuing to go in that direction. But it comes down to every match now that gets tested over again, for tonight all we can do is look hard at ourselves and continue to try to move the game forward.”

U.S. MNT Defender and Captain CARLOS BOCANEGRA
On what the team takes from this tournament:
“I know after the Algeria game our emotions were high, Americans’ emotions were high, and for us it’s a bit frustrating because we were right there, right there to push on to the quarterfinals. It’s frustrating as a group because we feel like this is something we can do, and it just didn’t go for us today. We tried to push and push, and I don’t know if we just didn’t have anything left because we’d been pushing so much the entire tournament. Just didn’t go our way today.”

On comparing the feelings of this tournament to 2006:
“I think last time around, the tournament as a whole was not so good for us. We had a great performance against Italy, but other than that we were pretty inconsistent. This time I thought we played pretty consistently, unfortunately that meant going a goal down and having to push almost every single game. But I’m really proud of these guys, to be a part of this team and how everybody pushed for each other and fought for each other. There are no individuals and everybody put the team first and we can hold our heads high and go away saying we left everything on the field and sometimes in sports it just doesn’t go right.”

U.S. Goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On the team’s progression over the last four years
"I think we’ve gotten better. I think that shows in the last month and certainly in the last year with the Confederations Cup. We’ve gotten better but still have a ways to go."

On whether tonight’s game was a missed opportunity:
“It was certainly a missed opportunity because we felt like we were in the game and at times we were the better team, but that means nothing because they put in the performance that won the game.”

On taking control of the game:
“We were on the front foot, I felt like we were on the ascendency when we got the goal. We got a few chances and really pinned them back in the second half which we knew we would. It was just a bridge too far for us. We can’t keep producing these magical moments because you just run out of gas.”

On Ghana’s two goals:
“The second one was definitely hit hard. They took their goals well, they didn’t have many opportunities. Overall, we all could have done better in a lot of instances but they caused us problems so our hat is off to them for sure.”

On the early goals:
“Too often right after the whistle blows we get hit and if you do that enough times you’ll pay for it. We have had the good fortune of not paying for it before, but we did today.”

On the team:
“It’s a good group. We’ve talked about that for four years. It’s a good group, it’s a good bunch of guys who never give up and that’s not a cliché, we’ve proven that time and again. Of course we’re proud and disappointed, but we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and try to figure things out.”

On what he thinks the team will learn from this experience:
“I think it’s about seizing the opportunity when we get it. We had good opportunities, we felt like, in all the games. We were certainly right in the thick of it and I think that’s the next level for U.S. Soccer. Before, it was always being the underdog and I think if you look at the last four games we were right in the thick of them. We need to get to the point where we can start dictating the tempo and telling other teams to get on our playing field.”

On the mood in the locker room:
“It’s quiet, guys are keeping their thoughts to themselves. For me I was thinking about plays that could have gone differently for us or chances we could have capitalized on, but I guess we’ve got to wait four more years to get another shot at this.”

On Ghana’s strong start in the match:
“They started the game, I remember thinking at one point that they were running really hard. The second half slowed down and I think our fitness came out a little bit more at the end of the game, but we definitely dealt with a lot at the beginning. They got an early goal which is what we were trying to not give up. I thought we gave ourselves a lot of chances to win that game, and just didn’t do it in the end.”

On the overall feeling of the tournament:
“I think I’ll probably be more proud in the next couple of days, thinking about what went down over the four games we did have. There were a lot of ups and downs, obviously the way that third game ended put everyone on a high. It’s been a crazy trip, a great experience for me for my first World Cup and I’m looking forward to looking back at these games, enjoying them on video and learning from it as best as I can for me personally moving on as a player. Hopefully in four years we get to come back and do it all again.”

On Ghana’s second goal:
“When you have sharp forwards that sit on your shoulder, they wait for balls like that. For defenders, we have to worry about the ball in front and the ball behind, and sometimes you get caught in two minds or you just get caught in the space and have to react. The athleticism that they have on that team, they were able to react a little bit quicker than us and showed good strength and a good finish.”

On what he takes away from this tournament:
“There’s always disappointment when things like this happen, when great tournaments like this come to an end. That’s natural. But it’s a really special time for U.S. Soccer at the moment, and I think it’s a big responsibility for the players to show that and to appreciate that. There’s a reason the U.S. sold more tickets than any other country to come here. These people care and want to be a part of these environments. If we can try to embrace that as players and try to keep them coming to the stands and coming to these tournaments and supporting us, then that’s going to help us grow as well as a team. But to show appreciation, win or lose, is always the important thing. Today is a day that, even when disappointment is probably at its highest, is the time to show the most appreciation.”

On what he might say to fans sharing the disappointment:
“I think all of us have said all along that the support has been absolutely amazing back home, something we’ve never seen before. Especially the people that have been around on this team the past four years, we’ve seen the atmospheres grow, we’ve seen the fans start to pay attention. We’ve seen people believe in the performances that got us here and that’s a major step in the right direction for U.S. Soccer. We have to continue to embrace that and they have to try to continue to embrace us because we’ve shown that together, as fans and as players and as a country, we can come together and make really special things happen like we did in this tournament.”

On the game:
“Obviously we’re very disappointed. I think the way we went out is frustrating because we played a pretty good game, but made a couple of mistakes and got punished for it. It’s a tough lesson to learn when you don’t get a chance to redeem yourself. I guess the warning signs were there, getting scored on early, and it came back to bite us.”

On whether the energy spent fighting back for three straight games took its toll tonight:
“I actually don’t think so. I thought we were the fitter team and had more energy in the second half and into overtime. But when you’re consistently behind in games, it’s very difficult to get back into it.”

On his thoughts immediately following the match:
“The finality of it is brutal. You realize how much you’ve put into it not just in the last four years, but your whole life. There’s no guarantee there’s another opportunity at that. It’s disappointing.”

On the team’s mentality:
“We had a team on the inside that really believed in each other. We were confident in ourselves, we felt we had a team that on any day could win any game. I think we had our chances today, don’t get the goal to go up 2-1 and then they scored a good goal and that’s a hard thing to come back from.”

On the game as a whole:
“I thought we had the better play, especially in the second half and overtime, but unfortunately we couldn’t connect. That’s just the way football is sometimes.”

On what Bob Bradley said to him after taking him off in the first half:
“He just said that he took me off because I had a yellow card, he didn’t want to risk me getting another one and being sent off.”

On his performance:
“It wasn’t the best performance for me. I had good moments, but unfortunately one of my bad moments led to a counter attack and to a goal. A player of my caliber and my experience should not be making those mistakes.”

On what he saw on the first goal:
“I kind of got the ball stuck in my feet. I think they played it in the midfield and I got caught in my decision making and didn’t react fast enough. The guy stole the ball and it’s unfortunate because it led to a goal. I feel like I let my team down and I take full responsibility on that goal.

On the team’s response that led to Donovan’s penalty kick:
“I felt good about the game after the PK, I think as the game showed we were pressing and pressing and should have had maybe two or three goals but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”