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Post-Match Quotes: U.S. Men's National Team 2, Panama 0


U.S. Manager BRUCE ARENA
On the long year:
“I want to thank the players that represented the U.S. team this year. We had a tremendous year. I want to thank U.S. Soccer for their great support and my entire staff. We’ve been on the road the entire year. It has been a difficult year and we’re exhausted. I can imagine how the players field.”

On the game:
“It was a good win and good experience for a lot of players. I’ve been told that we finished first in the group, which is nice, but wasn’t critical. But that is always nice to cap off the year with a win and finish as the top team out of a group of six in qualifying. That’s a great accomplishment for our group. We had a fantastic year here at home with the five wins and the 15 points, which is the name of the game. Great year.

“Tonight was a good match. Two teams looking to develop some young players and tremendous game for those players. Very nice goal by Kyle Martino at the start of the half and it was good to see Taylor Twellman score a goal because I understand he is supposed to be a goal scorer, so it is nice to see him score one in our jersey. It is a good start for Taylor in that regard and hopefully he has many more to come."

On the importance of seeing players like Tim Howard in camp and games again:
“It is important. It is not only important to see these guys on the field, but it is important to see them off the field. Getting reacquainted with Tim again … we watched him in training a little bit to see where he is at compared to some of our other goalkeepers. We know that Tim is a very good goalkeeper and one day he is going to be the number one goalkeeper for the U.S. team and whether that is next year or years down the road, it is apparent that is going to happen at some point. I’m happy we got him some games. Hopefully he can get back to Man U. and get on the field a little bit more because that will certainly position him to be an important part of our team next year.”

On whether it is troubling that he is not starting in England:
“It probably troubles him more than it troubles me. Obviously to continue to move forward as a ‘keeper he needs to play games. And hopefully that will happen.”

On the team:
“I saw a wide variety of players, obviously our entire back line. We started eight new players from the game on Saturday. Since the game against Mexico, we’ve seen a wide number of players play. And it is all a positive experience for me. I wanted to have a look at Justin Mapp, who I haven’t seen before, we got Dempsey back again, and I thought Brian Carroll played extremely well in the midfield. It is good. I just think it is a real positive because we have two objectives next year. One is clearly to make our team better and prepare for the World Cup. Secondly it is to continue to move our domestic players along. We’ve had an early start on that because of the fact we qualified so early. I had the opportunity to see a number of players and I think that is important. Hopefully some of these players emerge and compete to get on our 23-man roster next year.”

On whether some of the players on the roster were competing for a spot in the next round of qualifiers, too:
“My focus is on 2006. That is the objective. I would assume a player like John Spector, if he is not a part of 2006, he would be a part of 2010 given the fact that he is 19 years old. It is a little bit of both, but my focus is on 2006.”

On the play of Jonathan Spector:
“A solid game. His first 15 or 20 minutes weren’t his best, but once he settled in he played pretty well.”

On whether he thought there were any disappointing performances in the recent stretch of games:
“Well there are some but in terms of individual players that is not information I like to divulge to the press. I think there were some really good performances in Guatemala, but in Costa Rica there were very few. After Eddie Lewis and Pablo (Mastroeni) it wasn’t a particularly strong performance on our part. But tonight there were a bunch of them. Again, I think anytime we are able to give these kinds of players experience in World Cup qualifying games it is a real plus. We just benefited a lot from these last three games.”

On where the U.S. needs to improve:
“Everywhere. There is nowhere we don’t need to improve. Just like it was in 2001. We just have to get better everywhere.”

On the strength of the CONCACAF representatives qualified for the World Cup:
“Despite I read people saying the group wasn’t strong… well, the U.S. team was stronger and Mexico was stronger and Costa Rica has an improved team from the last time around. I think the three teams that are representing CONCACAF in the World Cup are improved teams and have a chance to win some games in Germany.”

On the selection of Hamburg as the team’s base during the 2006 FIFA World Cup:
“It was announced this evening that we are going to be stationed in Hamburg. We’re looking forward to that. We’ve made a number of trips there to look at the venue and the hotel and the training facility, and we think Hamburg is going to be a great situation for us as our base camp in Germany, which we will use throughout the World Cup.”

U.S. Forward TAYLOR TWELLMAN
On his first U.S. goal:
“Pretty self-explanatory you know. It is about time. I’ve had a couple of chances called back. In the first half I missed one tonight that I should have scored, so it is nice to finally contribute.  The first one is always the hardest. It has always been that way. Hopefully I can relax a little bit and be a better target forward for my teammates, both here and for the Revs.”

U.S. midfielder CLINT DEMPSEY
On his performance:
“I felt like I was able to do a good job of getting forward, and getting back defensively.  I had a lot of good chances, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to put them in the back of the net.  That’s frustrating, but that’s part of the game, and that’s something I need to continue to work on.  All in all, I have a positive feeling leaving tonight.”

On how difficult it was to play with eight new players in the lineup from the last game:
“At the beginning of the game, it’s a little different because everybody is not used to playing with each other.  Once people settled down and started to relax we were able to string more passes together and create more chances.  In the second half, I think they just got tired and we were able to take advantage.”

U.S. midfielder RICARDO CLARK
On whether he thought this was an important opportunity for him:
“Definitely.  Especially being my first opportunity with the national team, I wanted to go out there and do my best and show what I can do on the field.  It’s all about seizing the opportunity.  I tried my best and did well.  Better than that, the team did well, which was our goal going in.”

On whether he was thinking about his long-term future with the national team, or if he has a shot at 2006:
Of course that’s what I aspire to do: to play in the World Cup.  Maybe my chances are a little slim, but any chance I get to show what I can do at the national team level, I’m going to do my best.”

U.S. goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On getting a result after the 3-0 loss in Costa Rica on Saturday:
“Very satisfying.  I think the Costa Rica game didn’t go well.  We didn’t have a good performance.  Very, very disappointed.  Bruce put a big of emphasis on this game.  We had a lot of young players, and we got the three points and ended up coming out on top of the group.  Going into it, thinking it’s a game that means nothing, and in the end we come out of it with three points, a good performance, and we end up finishing on top of the group.  That means a lot.”

On wearing the captain’s armband:
“It’s an honor, and an honor that I will always remember.  Any time the coach asks you to wear the armband, you do it and you do it proudly.  I was happy to do that tonight.”

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