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U.S. U-17 MNT Talks About Costa Rica

U.S. Head Coach John Hackworth
On what he told the players after the Cuba game:
“I just told them to put this game in the past and that we have to prepare for Costa Rica. The most important thing is that we still control our own destiny. If we win, we move on to the World Championship. I think the players understand that and are confident in their abilities.”

On how the team will respond against Costa Rica:
“These guys have always thrived in situations like this. They were coming off a game where they didn’t play all that well before we faced Haiti and they responded with a great performance in that game. These guys have continually showed great resolve in that way and I’m confident they can do it again on Saturday. They just have to play like they’re capable of, like they play in practice every day.”

On dealing with the pressure of needing a win to get the automatic berth:
“I think these players like big games. They are prepared and now have played two qualifying matches, so they know what to expect. The crowd will be loud and will be against us, but we have dealt with that in other places as well. It’s nothing new for these guys.”
U.S. Defender Blake Wagner
On how the team will respond after the Cuba game:
“After the Cuba game even though we tied we took it as a loss. We just want to bounce back and work on the things that haven’t been working for us. We know we can play better soccer than we have the last two games. We confident we can go out there and do our thing.”

On dealing with the hostile crowd:
“The big crowd isn’t going to be a factor at all. We’ve played in front of bigger crowds, so we can deal with that. With all the fans being mostly Costa Rican fans it will be loud, but I don’t feel like it will have much of an impact on how we play at all. Actually, it may because we tend to thrive in situations like this. We just want to go out there and take it to Costa Rica.”

U.S. Midfielder Nikolas Besagno
On hearing rumors that Costa Rica is saying the U.S. will struggle in the match:
“If that is being said, I don’t think that’s a real smart move on their part. We may have struggled a bit against Cuba, but we didn’t play as well as we would have liked either. Any quotes about us struggling, that is just going to give us extra motivation to beat them.”

On dealing with Costa Rica’s attack:
“This is going to be a tough match and we are going to have to stay focused on our marks during the entire game. They have a good playmaker in the midfield and part of my job will be to know where he is and try and shut him down when I can. Our backline is solid and we know they are capable of making it difficult for Costa Rica the entire game.”

U.S. Midfielder Kyle Nakazawa
On scoring three goals in three straight international matches (including first two qualifying games):
“Getting those three goals feels really good, especially the two in qualifying because these are our biggest games to this point. I haven’t scored many international goals and for it to happen now during qualifying is a positive. It’s always good when you can contribute with a goal, but a big reason I’ve gotten those goals is due to the great passes I’ve gotten from my teammates.”

On what he needs to do to make an impact in the game:
“First, I need to find the ball. I have to basically take what the game gives me and keep it simple. I will try to distribute, be the point of attack and get the tempo for the game. I want to contribute to our offense and hopefully I can score another goal.”

U.S. Forward Preston Zimmerman
On the number of opportunities he’s had on goal:
“In the first game I was battling for a lot of headers and also got some shots on goal that either saved by the ‘keeper or went over. Yesterday was a bit of a different story as I didn’t have as many chances. Basically those chances come and go. Hopefully, tomorrow against Costa Rica I will have a lot of chances because it is a huge, huge game. It will all come down to what I get during the game. I’m just concentrating on scoring when I get a chance.”

On Costa Rica’s defense:
“I know one of their defenders is a big, tall and good in the air. He may be a bit slow though, but they have some speed with their other three defenders. We need to pressure them and hope they crack. If we go at them, maybe we can get them to cough up the ball and get a goal.”