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MNT in Europe: John O'Brien Podcast Highlights

In the fourth installment of the "MNT in Europe" podcast series, U.S. MNT midfielder John O'Brien checks in from Holland, where he's set to begin the season with his new club, ADO Den Haag. O'Brien reflects on the USA's Gold Cup championship and how his play during the competition has brought him back into the mix after a lengthy absence from the national team. Catch the entire interview in the latest podcast.

On his return to Holland and club play:
“Things have gone really well. I’ve been able to get in with the team and play a few games. We’ve played a few games against English teams and last Friday I played 90 minutes against Portsmouth. I’m starting to get used to the guys and the way we play. I can’t complain.”

On the adjustment from Ajax to Den Haag:
“The adjustment hasn’t been difficult at all. I kind of knew what I was getting into when I signed for them. I’ve been very impressed with the level of professionalism around the club and the players. There’s not as much money or national interest but in terms of soccer, it’s a good environment to play games.”

On the prospects of the club for this year:
“So far, they’ve been pretty active on the transfer market trying to get some more players. They’re still trying to sign a couple of guys. But we seem to have done pretty well. We have some good midfielders who have joined the club. The defense is pretty much the same as last year. They’re still in the market for another forward, so if they can find that too, that would complete our team and give us a good outlook for the season.”

On Den Haag’s style of play:
“It’s Dutch style, three fullbacks, four midfielders, and three forwards. We play a little more defensively than Ajax because we try to play defensively compact. When we win the ball, we go forward quickly. Ajax tries to possess the ball as much as they can and at Den Haag we like to keep it but we don’t go after teams right away to try to get it back. So far I’ve been playing left central midfield. It’s a position I really like playing. It’s been fun. I’m starting to click with the people around me.”

On playing the home opener against Ajax with no fans:
“Our clubs have a history of fan-clashing. Amsterdam has a lot of events going on now and the mayor said there might not be enough police to ensure the safety of the fans in the stadium, so he denied the game going through. So we may be playing behind close doors in some unknown location in some other city in Holland.”

On the Den Haag fans:
“[Den Haag] has a real passionate fan base, maybe too passionate. They like their football in Den Haag. It’s a tradition there. It’ll be good when we’re playing home games. They’re always standing behind you and encouraging you, so that’s a positive thing.”

“This past Sunday we had our ‘Fan Day’ to get everyone excited about the new season. I was very well accepted there and everyone is friendly and enthusiastic. Everyone is looking forward to seeing me play there. I’m wearing number seventeen. I got there kind of late because of the Gold Cup so I didn’t get to pick my number.”

On playing with the U.S. MNT again:
“The group has changed quite a bit since I’ve been with them last, which I guess was the World Cup. We had two weeks of training before our first game. We all got on the same page quick quickly. It went very smooth. I’m very pleased with how it turned out, especially with winning the championship.”

On his performance in the Gold Cup:
“I think I did pretty well. I didn’t have high expectations of my play, I just wanted to get out there and get some minutes. I definitely did that. I think I contributed to the team by creating things in the midfield. It was good to get a very important goal to push us along in our quest for the cup.”

On the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago:
“It’s a game at home. They have a Dutch coach who I know pretty well since he used to be technical director at Ajax. It’s a game that we really need to get out there and get three points. We want to try to solidify our place in the World Cup and it will start with this game.”

“There’s more at stake than the Gold Cup. These are the games the coach really looks at as important games and he likes to evaluate his players during these games. I want to be a part of the team during the World Cup next summer in Germany.”

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