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Quote Sheet: Day One in Korea


BRUCE ARENA, Head Coach

On whether the players have noticed the security in the background since the team’s arrival:

“It certainly has not been in the background, because it is there in front of us all day.  I think it helps make our players feel comfortable.”

 

On the importance of the USA-Korea game:

“Every game is going to be important.  We have to put all our focus on Portugal right now.  After the Portugal game is over, we will focus on Korea.”

 

On his thoughts on the Korean team, based on earlier meetings against them:

“I thought the Korean team was a very good team.  They have great physical qualities and a great work rate.  No particular players stand out, but they are all pretty solid.  As we have followed Korea across the last five or six months, the players have shown a lot of versatility and have played in a number of different positions, so it is hard to single out any one player in particular.  Their back three are very good, their midfield is very solid and they have improved in their goal scoring of late.”

 

On whether it is a good thing to be in such a high-profile group playing against the tournament co-host:

“I’m not sure.  I will let you know after the game.  It is never easy playing the host country.  We are just happy we are not playing South Korea in the opening game, because I think that will be very difficult.  Not that it won’t be in the second game, but I think in the opening game the Korean team will have great support behind them.”

 

On how the players looked in their first training session:

“Our players are doing well.  They are all fit and healthy.  We did well with our travel and we had a great training session today. … You look around at other countries that have experienced a number of injuries, so we are pretty fortunate that we haven’t experienced a whole lot of them.  We have a pretty good and experienced group here, and we are hopeful that by June 5 we will be ready to play.”

 

On the teams initial training goals in Korea:

“Initially it is just about getting our legs back and getting acclimated from the travel and to the weather conditions here in Korea, and then slowly preparing our team for the game against Portugal.  Obviously, as we get toward the end of next week we will be tapering back a little bit so our legs are ready come June 5.  The main focus between now and the middle of next week is getting our legs back and getting acclimated to Korea.  And then the final 5 or 6 days before the Portugal game is to focus on Portugal.”

 

On how the team might “focus” on Portugal (as a follow up to the previous question):

“We need to just be aware of their strength and weaknesses, as we continue to build on our team concept and make sure we have the right starting 11 in that match.”

 

On comparing the current Korean squad to the team the U.S. played in December and January:

“Their playing style is pretty similar and I think their individual performances have improved. But Korea, to me, is still very similar to the team we saw in December and January, with obvious improvements in all areas.  But they are basically the team we did see in those two matches.”

 

On how the team replaces the injured Chris Armas:

“We haven’t decided yet.  We have enough of options in the midfield.  If you followed us the last two games, we played a couple of different players in those two games against Jamaica and Holland.”

 

On how the team is preparing for the heavy Korean rains forecast for June:

“How do you prepare for heavy rain? < laughing > We shower everyday.”

 

 

JEFF AGOOS, U.S. Defender

On the team’s Korean arrival:

“We are excited to be here.  It was a long day yesterday to get here.  We spent time on the island of Jeju back in December, and we are excited to be back.  We are looking forward to this tournament.”

 

On who the team must prepare for on the Portugal team:

“All 11.  They don’t have a shortage of talent.  We know that they are one of the more difficult opponents in the group, but we need to concentrate more on ourselves right now than Portugal.  There will be plenty of time to do that.”

 

On the fact he did not train fully with the team today:

“I have a little bit of a calf injury from the Holland game. But it will only affect me for a couple of days, and then I will be ready to go.”

 

On whether the extra security is a distraction:

“Not really.  I think we have been around some big games and especially with what has been going on since Sept. 11, we have had 6 or 7 months for that type of security to be around us.  We actually welcome it.  We know the Koreans have done a fabulous job to get the security together for us.  We are more concerned with the games than the security.”

 

On whether there are any Korean players they are keeping an eye on:

“The unique thing about the Korean team is that they do not rely on any one player.  They are very well organized and play well as a team.  We can’t zone in on one player; we have to be very careful with everyone on the field for the Korea team.”

 

 

EARNIE STEWART, U.S. Midfielder

 

On the team’s experience in Korea after one day:

“Very good.  The practice field is fantastic.  The hotel is fantastic.  Everything up to now has been very good for us.”

 

On how he ranks Portugal midfielder Luis Figo:

“He is one of the best players in Europe and the world, so he is definitely right up there among the best.  But it is not only him that you have to reckon with.  They have a lot of talent in their team.  They were first in their qualifying group against tough opponents.  They just have an overall good team and Figo is definitely one of the best players in the world right now.”

 

On how the team might have to cope with changing gears between playing Portugal and Korea in their first two games:

“It all depends on the game.  I could tell you right now that we are going to play very offensive minded or we or going to play very defensively, but it all comes down to how the game treats you.  Portugal is the favorite in our group, so going from that we might be pushed back a little bit more, but then again, the game dictates everything.”

 

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