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U-17 Draw Reaction From Head Coach John Hackworth

U.S. Head Coach John Hackworth

On his first impression of the draw:
"I think it’s a pretty even draw across the board and I’m happy with our placement in Group C. We played Ivory Coast and Italy about a year-and-a-half ago in France, so we do know at least a little about them. We don’t know much about North Korea, but we’ll no doubt get some information as we prepare for the world championship. Now that we know who we will be going up against, I’m just looking forward to our preparations over the next couple months.”

On having played both Italy and Ivory Coast back in April of 2004:
“I wasn’t on the trip at that time (as John Ellinger was head coach), so I can’t give you first hand knowledge of the games, but I did watch the tapes when they came back. A core of the players that are still on the team played in those games. Italy was very technical and well organized, which will make it a tough contest for us. There’s also a little bit of interest added as our Under-20 team recently was knocked out of their world championship by Italy. On the other hand, Ivory Coast is very athletic team with a lot of individual talent. They might not have a lot of organization, but at times that can be harder to deal with than a team that is organized. They are two very different opponents, but both very good opponents. One good thing is at least it won’t be a surprise for a lot of the guys since they’ve faced them before. I’m sure they’ve changed, I’m sure they’ve shuffled in some new players just as we have along the way. It will be interesting to see what team they bring to Peru.”

On what style of play he would expect to see from North Korea:
“Well, we played South Korea a couple times the past few years and actually ended up facing them in the 2003 World Championship in Finland, so there may be some similarities there. I’d expect very technical and disciplined players that are well organized. They are the unknown factor for us at the moment, but we’ll definitely do what we can to learn as much as we can about their style.”

On having just played Brazil and Uruguay in Brazil and how that helps them get ready for the World Championship:
“The experience in Brazil was absolutely fantastic. We played Brazil first and what can you say about Brazil, they are just a great team. They put out 11 excellent players and this is one of their most talented teams they’ve had at this age level in awhile. They are possibly the best Under-17 team I’ve ever seen in my three-plus years with the national team. We ended up playing them tough, but fell 3-0. We also faced Uruguay and gave up a couple soft goals, but in the second half played really well only to not be able to get one more goal as we fell 4-3. In the big picture of things, this experience was very valuable because we have now seen two of the better teams that are in the tournament and we know what they are about. We’re at least on the level we need to be at this point.”

On the preparations for Peru and determining the final roster:
“We’ve had this process really since June 20 when we had a camp out to The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, and brought in 30 players. From there, we traveled down to Brazil, where we are at this moment, and brought 20 key players. When we get back to the U.S., we will be looking to possibly travel to Holland and play some club teams. Then, before we leave for Peru, we will attempt to set up some more international matches as we handle our final preparations. In terms of the roster, we are just looking for the best 20 players that will help us be successful in Peru.”

On the status of midfielder Quavas Kirk, who broke his foot last April and is trying to make a full recovery before the World Championship:
“The good news is I definitely think Quavas will be ready. At this point, he is still rehabbing the injury, but he did start and play the full 90 minutes in the game against Uruguay. It wasn’t planned that he would play the entire game, but he did a lot better than we had expected with dealing with the level of play. His conditioning was good, but at this point he still has pain and that’s not going to go away any time soon. It’s really just a matter of trying to get him sharp again and match fit, and hopefully when we kick off he will be pain free. He’s doing very well at this point.”