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Quote Sheet: Bruce Arena and Claudio Reyna Address the Media in Gelsenkirchen

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (June 11, 2006) - U.S. manager Bruce Arena and caption Claudio Reyna spoke with the press prior to the team's final training session in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, before facing the Czech Republic on June 12 at 11:55 a.m. ET live on ESPN2.

U.S. Manager Bruce Arena
Opening Comments:
“We’ve prepared now for one month and we eagerly anticipate the opening game. We’re facing an outstanding team in the Czech Republic. However, we feel our preparation has gone well. Our team is ready to play, and there will be no excuses.”

On the possibility that Milan Baros might not play due to injury:
“I think we’ll have to wait and see until the lineups are submitted tomorrow, but he’s certainly an outstanding player. However, they have many other options in the attack. Although he’s certainly a loss, they’re one of the few teams in the world that can lose a player like that and still be potent in the attack.”

On getting off to a good start in the match:
“Certainly it would be great to get off to a quick start, however, in games like this that doesn’t occur that often. We want to be prepared from the opening whistle, but I think tomorrow and in many of these games in our group play are going to be 90-minute games. We’ve got to be concentrated and disciplined for 90 minutes.”

On strategy early in the game:
“I think it’s a mentality we have at times. And certainly, there’s no question in our minds we’d like to get an early goal. However, every game is different and we can’t predict what it’s going to look like.”

On forming his starting lineup:
“The starting point is our team. Then, certainly, we take into consideration our opponent. The focus is on trying to piece together the best team we can. As I said, we have to look at what our opponent offers as well and basically have the kind of strategies that need to be in place to neutralize their abilities as well.”

On Czech Republic’s style of play:
“I think they’re posture is very much attacking. They have a style of play from what I can trace from Euro 2004 they’ve been pretty consistent with. I think they are strong believers that they have a good team and they’re going to bring what they have to the field every game regardless of the opponent. There’s an obvious style there and a method to their madness. Certainly their focus is coming at you with numbers in the attack, creating goal-scoring opportunities, and at the other end, they are highly reliant on having an outstanding goalkeeper in (Petr) Cech. So, I think they are clearly focused on what they do as a team and will try continue to try to do that throughout.”

On his memories of being in the stands for 1990 World Cup:
“Well, I don’t have great memories of it. It was just interesting to me. That was 16 years ago and I had very little experience at those levels and really just came as a fan to watch some of my players at the University of Virginia play. In a sense it was embarrassing how far behind we were. We got dominated that day and that’s what I recall – we didn’t belong on the field that particular day. However, give credit to the team as they did rebound and gave Italy a pretty good run and had a decent match against Austria. But that was a day that demonstrated to me we had a long way to go. Hopefully, 16 years later we can have a better showing than we did in 1990.”

On what the last 24 hours are like:
“For me, I’m basically sick of the preparation. I want to hear a whistle tomorrow and get on with the game. Our players have worked extremely hard, so have our coaches. We’re very well prepared, there’s very little to say. Now it’s about stepping on the field and playing, and getting the job done. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

On the team’s goals:
“Our immediate goal is to advance out of group play. We put ourselves in that position then who knows after that. But that is certainly the focus of this team.”

U.S. captain Claudio Reyna
On the mood of the team heading into the first match:
“The team just wants to start (the tournament). Everyone is anxious. The first step was coming down from Hamburg and landing here. Today, we get to see the stadium and the surroundings. Everyone wants to play. It’s that time that everyone has been waiting for the past four years.”

On Oguchi Onyewu’s task of defending Jan Koller:
“Gooch is obviously strong and physical, and he’s come a long way in the last few years as a player. He’s dealt with big players before. Koller is big in the air and he also has good feet, and we’re aware of that. But it’s not really down to one player. I think everyone is making this match-up a big thing, but everyone has to help. There are going to be times when different players make plays against him. (Oguchi) a big force for us and we think he’ll do a good job.”

On Jan Koller:
“It depends on where he is on the field, but you have to be close to him, be in good starting positions as a defender. Everyone around has to be aware when he does get the ball, so you can scoop up the second balls that come off of him. Like I said, I don’t think it’s just his aerial ability, he’s got good feet and he likes to combine and play as well. So, we can’t be taken by surprise and think he’s only a big guy who heads the ball. He’s got good feet, he’s technical and he can play a pass as well. Overall, he’s a good player.”

On what the last 24 hours are like:
“The last 24 hours can’t come quick enough to be honest. The players now just want to play. We’ve done all the preparation, we’ve worked hard and done all our fitness work. Every detail has been hammered out and now we’re just ready to go. I think as a player begin to get ready, which is normal, and for a World Cup everything escalates a little bit. But, the players are also relaxed and watching other games. I think tomorrow morning when everyone gets up, it’s 100 percent focus for everyone, including staff, players, and all the players that aren’t starting as well, to do everything possible to get a good result.”

On how important set pieces are:
“I think the first few games definitely highlighted it. I think at such a high level, that’s the difference between winning a game and losing a game, or getting a draw. I think that’s been the case. There have already been many games with dangerous moments that have come from set pieces and we’re fully aware that on both ends of the field that they decide games. We need to be extremely confident when we have free kicks going against us and likewise going forward it’s a big opportunity to score. It’s always the case and it’s been shown right away to us in a perfect example in the first games so far.”

On comparing the team going into the first game from 2002 to 2006:
“I think the team is ready to go just like last time. I think in many ways we could be a slight underdog or whatever, but the team is focused and prepared. The unit as a whole is together from player one through 23. Everyone knows their responsibility whether they’re playing or not. Whoever is going to be called on is going to be ready. I think Bruce had a tough decision of picking a first 11 because a lot of guys are doing well in training and pushing for spots. It’s nice for us as well because we have options and everyone is really ready to go and knows their role on the team, which is something that was similar to last time as well. I think everyone is more concerned about the team than any individual situations.”