US SoccerUS Soccer

Quote Sheet: Arena, Reyna & Stewart

U.S. Head Coach

On whether he is surprised by the success of CONCACAF in the World Cup:
“Not totally surprising.  I think Mexico and Costa Rica are good teams and I fully expected them to win some games in this tournament.  You never could predict after six games that CONCACAF teams would be undefeated, however I am not totally surprised as where we stand at this point, and it would be nice to see all three teams advance to the Round of 16.”

On his thoughts on Poland as an opponent:
“Well, Poland has a good team.  We saw their run in Europe and it was an outstanding one.  As I said yesterday they have a very dangerous striker in Olisadabe, and solid midfield play, and one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Dudek.  They certainly haven’t played as well as they are capable of playing in the first two games, and that scares me.  Maybe they show up tomorrow and play their best game. That is how we are preparing our team.  We are going to expect Poland to step on the field and play their best game, so we know we have to be ready to play in order to be successful.”

“We expect the Polish team to show up and play well tomorrow night.  We don’t expect anyone to hand us anything in this tournament, and our team will be prepared to win tomorrow night.”

On the differences between a 20-year old Claudio Reyna and a 20-year old DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan:
“I had Claudio at the University of Virginia when he was 20, and DaMarcus (Beasley) and Landon (Donovan) are in the World Cup and have been professionals for three years.  That is a big difference. And that is now hopefully the environment we will be able to continue to give to our elite players and other players down the road, and that will help us close the gap with other countries in the world.”

On balancing the fitness and fatigue of half his team coming off a European season and the other half just beginning an MLS campaign in preparing for the World Cup:
“It is difficult.  You try to find the right balance.  We brought most of our players in on May 1, for the most part, and we were lucky to get Claudio at the time for three or four days before he returned to Sunderland.  Our European-based players, we wanted them in camp to be with the team, to get a little sharper, but at the same to let them relax.  We combined the camp in North Carolina to make it work and pleasure.  The guys golfed every day and enjoyed themselves a little bit and moved forward as a team.  The MLS players we had more of an emphasis on getting their fitness up to a better level and basically in line with the European-based players.  We just tried to move everyone along.  We had a pretty good feel for where they were, and we monitored their fitness to start the camp and we knew toward the end where they were.  We just tried to move everyone along together as best we could.  It’s never perfect.  It is very difficult at times, and I think that is part of the problem that bigger countries have had, because of the rigorous club schedules and it is tough to bring their teams together and find the right forms of fitness.  On the other hand, a country like Korea basically has trained their National Team for three or four months, and they could win a track meet right now they are so fit.  Other countries don’t have that opportunity.  The longer the tournament goes, I think the better the stronger countries will be with the elite players.  If they can survive, as they move forward I think they will get better.  The problem is can they continue to move forward, and we have seen that some of them have not.  It is difficult.  You try and do the best you can and monitor your players, but it is hard when you have half your players abroad and half your players at home to get everyone on the same page.  But hopefully we are getting close to getting there.”

On the importance of the U.S. performance in the World Cup as it relates to MLS:
“It is my understanding that our performance to date has drawn a lot of attention to date in that regard and that only helps our league.  Half of our roster here is composed of players here, so I think it is just a real positive.  For soccer to grow in the United States, our domestic league has to make it.  We are in Year 7 and we are growing.  Not by leaps and bounds, but we are making progress.  I think a good performance in this World Cup will only help our league to move forward.  As we continue to move forward with our domestic league, it is certainly going to help our National Team program tremendously.”  

U.S. Midfielder

On his explanation of the many upsets and surprising results in the first round of the World Cup:
 “It’s hard, as you don’t know exactly what is going on within a team, and some of that is kept behind closed doors.  I definitely think fatigue has played a part in it for some of these teams, with a lot of the players playing in big games year around.  I don’t know if motivation is a part of it or what, but they have the weight of a whole country on these teams.  For us personally, there is pressure, but it is not as much.  A lot of credit has to be given to the opponents.  There are better teams now.  The gap from the best to the rest is closing.  Aside from maybe two games, every game has been hard fought and you really have to work hard to get a result, no matter who it is.”

On whether a birth in the second round in 2002 would surpass the second round accomplishments of the 1994 U.S. squad:
“Yeah, definitely.  This year we had a tough game against Portugal and we played against a great host team, and we still have a tough game against Poland.  I think this group is definitely tougher than the group in 1994, and we had home-field advantage there.  But we haven’t done anything yet.  I think tomorrow that is a question we would like to answer.  So far it has been good, and the team has been working hard and we have a good group.  Our goal now, obviously we have done a lot of work to position ourselves to get to the next round, and that is our aim for the game tomorrow.”

On Poland and his thoughts on playing a team which has been eliminated:
“Any team that qualifies from Europe is one that you have to respect.  It is the hardest region to qualify from, so they were in a tough group, I think with Ukraine and Norway, and they won their group.  So that says enough.  You have to go into the game with the same type of mindset as we did the first two games.  It is going to be a tough game.  They are a strong team, with good player and they are going to be playing for pride.  I remember in France in our last game against Yugoslavia we wanted to go out and win, and yesterday you saw it as well with Nigeria and Slovenia, who both went out on the field to win yesterday even though they were eliminated.  We’ve seen it already and know that just because a team is out, it doesn’t mean anything and they want to play for pride and try and get a result.  We have to prepare for Poland that they are going to play their best game.  We can have a good chance if we have that kind of approach to the game.”

U.S. Midfielder

On his explanation of the many upsets and surprising results in the first round of the World Cup:
 “I totally have to agree (with Claudio Reyna; see above).  It comes down to being fit and in form and fatigue has a lot to do with it. … It is hard to be fit and in form the whole year.  That’s what it all comes down to.  You come to a couple of week stretch where everyone has to be in sync and in form and ready to go.  Right now, some teams have been very unlucky.  France still has arguably one of the best teams in the world, but they were not fit and in form at the right time.”

On the differences between the 2002 U.S. team and the 1994 and 1998 squads:
“I have to go back to everyone being fit and in form.  In 1998, that was not the case, and in 1994 the situation was a little bit different, that group had been together for a long time, but in 1998 we were not fit and in form at the right time.  Just like France this year, except France obviously tied a game, and in 1998 we weren’t that strong and lost three games.  Right now, pretty much, everyone is fit and in form at the right time.”

On the strong support the U.S. has received from American fans in Korea:
“It is always good to be somewhere where there is support.  We have played games and qualifying games where you look around and see one or two flags.  It is nice to be somewhere where there are that many Americans cheering you.  Even against Korea, you look around the stadium and see four or five sections of U.S. flags and U.S. fans and that is always very comforting and very good.  It gives you a lift and a good feeling.”