US SoccerUS Soccer

2007 Copa America Draw Quote Sheet: MNT Head Coach Bob Bradley

Opening Statement:
“We excited about our participation in Copa America. I think quite obviously we have been put in a very competitive group. When we decided that we wanted to enter Copa America, we did so with the understanding that we would have excellent games for our players, and I know that will be the case. As you know, we have a busy schedule this summer. Copa America follows the Gold Cup, which will be played in the United States. We have a lot of work to do in terms of putting together rosters, but they are both very, very important events as we go forward with our national team program.”

On which competition is most important, the CONCACAF Gold Cup or Copa America:
“The Gold Cup is still the most important event for us. Obviously, it’s our confederation championship, but the main reason that I think it’s extra important is because winning the Gold Cup will earn us three very good games in South Africa in 2009. Moving forward, the opportunity to try to play in order to get those kinds of games is very important.”

On preparing for the tournament and opponents:
“I don’t think it’s possible to do specific preparation at this time. However, I think that in a general way we play March 25 against Ecuador in Tampa. I think the understanding of the kind of games that we will play in Venezuela, the style of play and all of those things are very important for our players. Obviously the atmosphere and, again, playing in tough environments is always important. In all ways the experiences will be great, but I think that specific preparations are difficult at this time.”

On how he will allocate the top players for these tournaments:
“As is always the case, there are so many different factors that enter into decisions with roster. I think the timing of the Gold Cup also plays in our favor in terms of putting together a very good roster. I believe that the fact that our European players coming out of their seasons, the opportunity to put that roster together may work a little bit better, but as we go forward we’ll want to look into the different possibilities. There are so many different factors that we will want to try to make sure that these two events help us just move forward. We need to get as many of our players in these kinds of games as possible.”

On playing the toughest game first:
“I think it’s a good thing. Obviously, whenever we have the opportunity to play against Argentina we know what we are in store for. Often times when you can play that team first, it gives you the ability to really prepare well for the first game. We look forward to that match up.”

On how he will approach the tournament with the title of interim head coach:
“We have taken the approach that everything that we do is with the best interest of our national team program in mind. We’ve set out so far this year to introduce young players. We’ve set out to look for the opportunities to play in the best games. All of those things are necessary. We will use this tournament not only for the experience for our players but for the experience of putting together a scouting staff; the ability for us to compile good information. In some cases these teams in the past have played with younger players so we will be tested in terms of being on top of who might be there with the different opponents. I think all of that is important because we must grow in all areas, and we understand all of the challenges.”

On going against Argentina and other top teams:
“Whenever we have the opportunity to play against teams like Mexico and Argentina, we are seeing how our players stack up against the best teams. We understand how important it is that obviously we play well, that we are able to compete and still play for results. If we look backward to the last time that we were in Copa America the United States had a great result, beating Argentina, 3-0. We understand that these games are opportunities to show how far our game has come and to highlight our players and give us an opportunity to move up in the soccer world.”

On working with Peter Nowak:
“Peter and I enjoy working together. We always have. We have been able to already establish a good foundation with all of the players we have brought in to the first national team camps and now with the Under 23s. Peter’s experience, his energy, his competitiveness are all things that I think are very, very important. The fact that the two of us not only know each other so well, but have such a great level of trust, I am very, very pleased with how we have been able to start things in 2007.”

On the environment of the Copa America games:
“I expect that the environment is tough and that is based on the passion for soccer in South American and obviously the competition that we will face.”

On getting the releases of MLS players:
“I know that there has already been discussions, and we will work together as we always do. In this initial month I think that we have established some good starting points for working with the MLS teams. I know how much Sunil (Gulati) has put into talking to Don Garber and Ivan Gazidis so I feel like everybody understands that both events are important for U.S. Soccer, and I feel very good about the way we are all working together.”

On how similar the rosters for Gold Cup and Copa America may be:
“The discussions are ongoing. I believe that the two teams will be somewhat different, but we are hopeful that we will be able to, in some cases, have players for both events.”

On Argentina, the first opponent:
“We all felt that Argentina was one of the strongest teams in the World Cup. As a fan, they were great to watch. They have some tremendous players, real stars. Whenever you play against a team like that, the bar gets raised to incredible heights in terms of what every player on the field must do; how they must step up, how they must concentrate. It puts our ability to handle the ball under pressure under a microscope because Argentina is not only a team that is very good with the ball, but a team that understands how to put pressure on the opponent. These are all the things that we continue to need to see from our players so these are important games. In 1996 we played Argentina in the first game in the Olympics, and again if you look back they had an unbelievable team with players that formed the nucleus of their national team for many years. We lost that game 3-1, but I still felt that there were some very good things in that game. Claudio Reyna scored a goal early on, Argentina’s third goal came late, and there was a period where it was 2-1 where we felt we were capable of scoring an equalizer. Again, I think we can all look back at games in the past and understand the challenges and look forward to these games that are coming up.”

On calling players from Europe for the summer tournaments:
“Clearly it will be easier to get releases for European-based players for the Gold Cup. In every situation, we work to develop good relationships with our clubs, with all clubs, both the clubs in MLS and the clubs overseas. We will work to try to see what’s best for all of these players. We understood when we made the decision to be in Copa America that it would also be an opportunity to dig deeper into our pool and to see some of our younger players in these kinds of games. We are fully prepared to put together good rosters for both events.”