US SoccerUS Soccer

June 4 Press Conference with Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo and Robbie Findley

U.S. MNT Goalkeeper TIM HOWARD:
On what he’s looking to get out of the game against Australia:
“No injuries, first of all. I think we need a good performance going into this game. Our second half performance against Turkey was very good so that’s a positive. If we can build on that and go into next week feeling like it was a good performance, everyone seemed to play well and we’re in a good rhythm, I think that’ll be important. I don’t think the result is too much of an issue, obviously we’d like to win, but no injuries and everyone feeling like they’re getting up to speed would be good.”

On Wayne Rooney’s status in England:
“He’s revered. People think of him as a sporting god, and they should. He’s amazing. Quite simply he does all the things a striker needs to do and he does them well. That’s why he’s considered one of the best players in the world. We’ll have our hands full, and we know that, but I think a lot of the pressure that England is facing is heavily on his shoulders. But those shoulders are broad and he relishes those opportunities.”

On his experience with Australian and fellow Everton teammate Tim Cahill:
“Tim is the ultimate competitor. I always say he’s miserable to play against and that makes him a fantastic teammate. He’s a guy who is very fun-loving off the field, but every single game I’ve played with him at Everton he’s been the first one to take the fight to the other team, to get stuck in, to push and shove and really push the tempo. He gives 100 percent of himself all the time, and it’s great to have a teammate and friend like that.”

On the United States’ habit of playing well against top teams:
“I think sometimes when you play the best teams in the world, they’re going to make the game and create the tempo and atmosphere. That’s just because they’re the best teams and they have the ability to do that. I think where we begin to elevate our game is that we’re comfortable letting them create the rhythm, and then finding our own rhythm within the game. And we’ve done that with Argentina at home, Confederations Cup against Spain last year. They created the tempo but we found our own rhythm within the game, and we seem to be comfortable doing that. When you play the best teams in the world they’re going to have most of the ball, they’re going to usually dominate, and it’s up to you to not play outside yourself. We don’t seem to do that, we understand our role very well.”

On how he’s feeling about the backline and what he’s still looking to see:
“Doesn’t matter how much more work we have to do, we don’t really have a lot of time. But we’re a good, experienced bunch, and that’s what I hold on to. We’ve had a few injuries in the back that haven’t made the last few months easy, but we seem like we’re getting there. I think the second half of Turkey felt really good just as a defensive shape standpoint, that’ll be important again on Saturday. But we’re ready. Sometimes you feel like you’re completely ready and everybody’s playing in rhythm, and then it goes pear-shaped on that particular day. So it’s hard to call, but right now I feel good about the back four, and probably the back six because we have a bunch of guys who can play in there.”

On U.S. fan support and what it means to the team:
“Our last game in Philadelphia against Turkey, and in Hartford against the Czech Republic, they were sold out and amazingly passionate. I think unfortunately the problem we run into is we’re way outnumbered, qualifying games at home feel like road games. So that tells us that the fans are out there, that they are passionate about soccer and ultimately we’d like to have that backing every single game, not just before the World Cup. We have some great loyal fans, and they travel all over to see us, so the more the merrier.”

On his ability to overcome Tourette’s syndrome to become one of the top goalkeepers in the world:
“I deal with Tourette’s on a daily basis, but everyone’s got something they have to deal with, I’m not special because of that. We all have difficulties in life and I think if you work hard enough and don’t complain, don’t make excuses, eventually you’ll get your rewards. I’ve tried to turn it into a positive by believing in myself.”

On the impact on the team of a teammate getting hurt so close to the World Cup:
“I think injuries are a part of it, we understand that. You look all over at the 32 teams, everyone has to deal with different injuries. But we picked a heck of a group here, our 23 is pretty solid, we’re excited about all the guys we have and that’s not a company line, that’s the truth. We all hope Jozy will get better, and we think he will, but we’re not losing sleep over it. We’re confident. The thing with injuries is that you still have to play the game. Injuries happen, you just move past it, and when they recover and the time is right it’s back to basics. But I’m not overly concerned.”

On the chance of the U.S. hosting a World Cup in either 2018 or 2022:
“I’m excited. I’m excited for not only this World Cup, but the prospect of what it will do for this country when it comes, because I’m positive that it will, and we’re excited for it. I’m looking forward to seeing it in our country again.”

On his experience in previous World Cups:
“I think having been here before is an advantage. I think for anybody who hasn’t, the more you can blend out the distractions the better off you are to deal with your opponent in the first game, and the following two, at least in the group stage. That’s my advice, and I’ve tried to paint a picture for the younger guys that really the only thing that matters, and the only way to make this a memorable World Cup and a World Cup team is to focus on those first 90 minutes against England. Anything else doesn’t matter, it’s those 90 minutes and we have to prepare for that. It’s difficult to know where you stand prior to that game, and that also goes for the favorites of the tournament. So we really need to focus on the soccer during that time. I believe in this team and I think we’ll be ready for it.”

On Robbie Findley’s speed and how it is effective for the team:
“Well, it depends on us a lot. It depends how we shape the game, if we’re in a defensive mode and we’re playing a counter attack, then he’s very useful to us. It’s also important for Robbie to show what he can do. I think in the second half of the Turkey game everybody got to see why he’s effective; not only going forward, but I remember plays where he was chasing down forwards towards our own goal. For a defender to see a forward do that is magic. It really sets the tone for the half, for everybody else, there are no excuses for any defender or midfielder if a forward’s chasing back. The more open the game gets, the easier it is for Robbie to show us his qualities. I think that’s a decision for the coach to make as far as who we play against and how the game goes in terms of when we use him and how we use him.”

On his previous experiences in South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup and how it compares to now:
“I had a great first trip to South Africa, not only on a personal level but also as a team too, we got the win and a good couple days and it was nice to get down here a few years ago knowing that the World Cup was coming, and playing in one of the stadiums that we’ll be playing in this time. If anything it’s a very small advantage, that you’ve seen what’s coming your way, but I don’t want to compare the two. It’s a completely different atmosphere now. Not only is the media present in large numbers, but fans will be there too. I remember the stadium wasn’t completely sold out, and I expect these to be, and certainly there weren’t millions behind their TV’s watching the game and following every single play. So it was good to get a little bit of the atmosphere, but it’s difficult to compare the situations. Also the opponents as well. I don’t think both South Africa and the U.S. two years ago were in the same form that they are now, mentally or physically. So it’s still very different.”

On what U.S. fan support at games means to the team:
“Certainly there were a lot of fans in Germany. I remember the game in Kaiserslautern against Italy, it was an unbelievable atmosphere in the stadium. Any fans we can get are great for us, and an advantage to help us continue on the same route we’re on.”

On the success of halftime adjustments for the U.S. against Turkey and how they figure out what changes to make:
“I think preparing for the game ahead of time, you spend more time talking about the tactics and about what the other team is going to bring to the game, and how you can stop that. At halftime I think it’s more or less about an attitude, really. Especially in the Turkey game, I think Turkey came out and played very well actually. I think in the second half, we flipped that and we did very well. We had an attitude, we came out and said, ‘Not only do we want to get a goal back, but we want to win this game.’ I think in the middle of a game, that counts more than any sort of tactical direction or assignment from the coach.”

On how the U.S. and Australia will play to avoid injuries so close to the World Cup:
“I certainly don’t expect anybody to be playing in a reckless manner tomorrow, but the best way to get injured is to go out and try not to get injured. Guys are going to go into tackles, and play hard, but I don’t think you’ll see any reckless tackles or any sort of dirty tackles that would be rewarded with a red card during a game. But it’ll be hard, and there will be some tackles, and there will definitely be some body contact which is good, it’ll get us ready for next week.”

On what advice he’s been given about being at the World Cup:
“There are going to be a lot of distractions, and walking into that first match is going to be an eye opener for guys that haven’t been here. So you just need to be able to block it all out and be able to focus on the task at hand. If we can do that, I think we’ll be successful.”

On the effect Jozy Altidore’s mild ankle sprain has had on him:
“It didn’t impact me much. I’ve just tried to mainly focus on being ready, if I’m given that opportunity to step on the field, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench. Hopefully he gets better real soon, and I’ll just make sure I’m ready to step up if I need to.”

On his lack of experience at the international level and what his play against Turkey did for his confidence:
“It felt good. Whenever you can go out and play like that, it’ll always help your confidence. It would have been nice to get a goal, but I was effective in different ways. It started with the Holland game; I wasn’t as comfortable as I wanted to be but I watched game tape and learned from that, and then my teammates told me to just do what got me here. Be aggressive, go at players and all the rest will come. So I went with that as my main focus in the Turkey game, and things turned out well.”