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Quote Sheet: U.S. MNT Remains Undefeated in 2006 With 1-0 Win Against Poland in Germany


U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM MANAGER BRUCE ARENA
On the match:
“I was pleased with the win for our team. It was not an easy game for either team. The field conditions were very difficult. I thought our team was a little unsteady in the first 30 minutes but in the last 15 minutes of the first half we settled in. It was one of those games where someone had to take an opportunity and we were the team today. We did well to hold on to the lead. A number of our young players really gained from this game tonight. It was an important experience for our young guys and hopefully we can continue to build as we move forward towards the World Cup.”

On having the opportunity to play in Germany prior to the World Cup:
“I just think playing in Germany, where the World Cup is – that’s important for our players to get comfortable in this environment and certainly getting familiar with the stadium.  We had a team of a lot of young players and I think all these experiences are positive and help them grow as players, and hopefully put us in a better position come June.”

On the play of Clint Dempsey:
“He’s a player with very little international experience. Last year was pretty rough on him at the international level, but he learned from those experiences and he worked hard in the off-season to prepare himself.  He’s had a pretty good run, and he’s grown up.  Like a lot of young talented players, as they continue to get experiences in games of this nature, they grow up.  He’s had a steady climb.  Hopefully he’s going to be a player we can count on.”

On beating a team that has qualified for the World Cup:
“I think it’s good for any team that won today.  Psychologically, it’s always important.  We’ve had a good start to the year. However, we realize that come June 12, 17 and 22, the games are going to look a lot different than the games we’ve played so far in 2006.  We’re making progress, and hopefully we continue to get better.”

On the challenge of evaluating the European-based players with only one game before selecting the roster:
“We’re very familiar with our pool of players.  All of the European-based players I saw tonight, I’m very comfortable in knowing where they are as players, and how to make an assessment of those players. We’ve been at this for a while. We’ve had a long qualifying campaign, and we’ve been together for a long time.  I’m comfortable with our entire pool right now, and pretty familiar with the decisions I need to make.”

On Fritz-Walter-Stadion:
“There are a lot more of these stadiums in Germany.  It’s an outstanding facility.  I know there were a lot of renovations for the World Cup.  We know come the middle of May they are going to be replacing all the fields in the World Cup stadiums.  The stadiums are going to have outstanding fields, and the stadiums themselves are outstanding.  Germany is going to put on a terrific show for the World Cup.”

On what he learned from tonight’s game:
“What we’re finding out is that we have a lot of depth.  There’s going to be some tough decisions we have to make.  We have a number of players that are competing for a number of positions.  It’s not going to be easy for me to select a roster of 23 players.”

On whether the snow was an advantage for the U.S. team because it was at their backs:
“I’m not sure the snow was an advantage for anybody.  We’ve been in California for seven weeks with our domestic players.  I don’t think the snow was that much of an advantage.”

On the support of the American fans in Kaiserslautern:
“It was great.  We don’t get this kind of support in some games in the United States, so we’re really grateful for the Americans who came out in Kaiserslautern to support our team.”

On the progress of Eddie Johnson:
“Eddie Johnson still has a way to go.  This is the most he has played in almost a year.  I think we need to be patient with Eddie as he continues to move forward.”

On whether Eddie Lewis will be the left back in the World Cup:
“Eddie is obviously building a strong case to be our left back.  We’ve been able to play him there for three games and I think he’s done well.”

U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM CAPTAIN, GOALKEEPER KASEY KELLER
On the match:
“It was a good exercise. We had a good team out. We beat a good team in difficult conditions.  Good teams win 1-0, and we did that today. That’s what we’re most proud of.”

On whether he was satisfied with the performance of the defense:
“Very happy.  I had a few things to do, but nothing extraordinary. I know we have a lot of options and Bruce is going to have some very difficult decisions. That’s a credit to the state of the game in America right now; that we’re able to produce a lot more players than we had ever.  Eddie Lewis, who is not playing left back for his club, did very well.  Steve Cherundolo we all know can play very well.  Gooch, Carlos, Gregg – all very, very solid. With people like Eddie Pope and Jimmy Conrad, I feel very blessed with the guys in front of me.”

On the confidence level of the team:
“The confidence level is very strong.  We know we can compete with anybody.  If we keep it tight at the back and get the goals, I feel confident that we can beat anybody.” 

U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MIDFIELDER LANDON DONOVAN
On the support of the Americans in the crowd:
“They came out and cheered loud. If we can get even half of that against Italy in June, we’ll be ecstatic. It’s good to have people that care and want to come support you.  It helps the team spirit a lot. It’s a lot different when you know that people are cheering for you.”

On whether he prefers playing forward for the National Team:
 “It’s a lot harder to play up top at this level.  It’s more physical, not that I don’t fancy my chances.  It’s a different game.  I feel a lot more comfortable playing behind to good front-runners. I think it helps me.” 

On whether he has played in these conditions before:
“Certainly not growing up in California.  Really the hard thing was seeing.  There was a period where you couldn’t see for more than 10 or 15 yards.  It was difficult.  The other thing is you are trying to run with the ball and it keeps popping it, and it’s hard to get your moment going.  It’s kind of a shame because we normally get at them and get some good chances.”

U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM DEFENDER STEVE CHERUNDOLO
On the importance of the team playing with the European-based players:
“It's really important for us to get together here in Europe in one of the venues for the World Cup. It's more important for us to get a victory here so we believe we can beat these teams on European soil.”

On whether he has played in similar weather conditions:
“Yeah, all the time. We train in this during the winter months so I'm pretty used to it.”

On the positives that he can take away from the match:
“The positive is we settled the game down in the second half. I hope the guys realize that, when we settle it down and play the ball on the ground and move it around, we're a pretty tough team to beat. I hope we can bring that into the next game against Germany.”

On how the game changed when it started snowing and after Clint Dempsey's goal in the second half:
"I think the goal was a big relief for us. I think we played a little nervous in the first half. The field conditions were very bad. Believe it or not, with the snow, it played a little better. It wasn’t as bumpy and it went a little slower so it went to our advantage. We kept the ball on the floor and, like I said, with the score, it gave us a lot of confidence and we took the game home from there.”

On the importance of dictating the pace of the game after scoring:
“It’s very important to keep the ball. The worst thing you can do is sit back and defend for 45 minutes because eventually one’s going to slip into the back of the net, maybe two. So, it was a good learning experience for us. We did everything right in the second half and we deserved the win today. Hopefully we’re in the same position in the first round of the World Cup.”

On how beating fellow World cup finalist Poland affects the team’s confidence:
“I hope all the guys realize that we are a very good team, we have very good players, and we can play with any team here in Europe. There are always a few favorites: Brazil, Argentina, Germany, but we can play with just about anybody. I hope this is a big confidence builder for us going into the World Cup.”

U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM DEFENDER EDDIE LEWIS
On how different it is to play at left fullback than in the midfield:
“Obviously, it has not been the position I’ve played for the majority of my career. Coming from such a deep position from an attacking standpoint, holding the line and playing off the centerback’s shoulder is not something that I'm used to doing every week. But at the same time, I’m comfortable on the left. I feel like I have a good understanding of the position. I’ve played with left backs my entire career so I know what kind of balls midfielders and forwards like. It’s something that I feel is an adjustment but, at the same time, it’s something that I’m capable of doing.”

U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM MIDFIELDER CLINT DEMPSEY
On his fourth career international goal:
“It was a great cross by Eddie Lewis. Taylor (Twellman) was fighting hard. It was a loose ball and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I made sure that I put it on frame when I got the chance and it went in.”

On whether he felt the match could slip away at any point during the game:
“Yes, because the surface was real fast and the ball kept bouncing around here and there and getting loose. They were creating chances and any time they were getting crosses into the box you have to be weary of that because anybody can get on the end of it. We have to take our hats off to our defense. They kept their composure and our ’keepers for keeping the shutout.”

On whether he is getting used to the pace of the game at the international level:
“Definitely. It’s always an adjustment. Even coming in from the national team camp in America to the one over here with the European players (is an adjustment). It’s just a different level. You just have to keep surrounding yourself with this type of atmosphere to better yourself. There’s definitely a change of pace and I’m trying my best to adjust to it.”

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