In the first installment of the "MNT in Europe" podcast series, Eddie Lewis sat down with ussoccer.com to discuss, among other topics, his move to Leeds United in England and how he fits into the U.S. MNT as the 2006 World Cup approaches. Catch the full conversation in the latest podcast, exclusively at ussoccer.com.
On his move to Leeds United:
"In my opinion, you want to give yourself the best challenge you can, and then hope you will rise to the occasion. I was hoping that I could get to a good club, and a big club, that had a lot to offer, was going forward and at the same time wanted me there. And hopefully the club would give me an opportunity to play week in and week out. And I think things came together in this move."
"It’s quite a good team. They’ve brought in a lot of good players. It’s a bigger club, so financially, they’re able to bring in more players and generally better players. It goes a long way in the league. And while money and the best players don’t guarantee success, it’s a real good head start."
On his new manager Kevin Blackwell:
"The manager made it pretty clear to me that they haven’t had a strong left-sided midfielder for a few years. And because of my experience in the league and national experience, he felt that I was the best option for the left side. I think he’s done a good job of getting players that play every position specifically rather than just putting out ten good field players. I think we have ten specifically ruled very good field players and I hope it pays off."
On his style of play:
"As the years have gone by, I think I’ve really started to get a hold of the English style. In some ways, I would even try to fight it to play what I thought more appropriate soccer. But sometimes, you can hurt yourself by doing that. I think last year, and hopefully from here on out, I’ll do a good job of bringing my strengths, what I’ve learned as an international and an American, as well as my experiences here in England together to make something a little bit different."
On the recent Gold Cup:
"It sounded like it was a pretty exciting tournament. I was a little surprised to see us playing Panama in the final but it sounded like they deserved to get there and did really well. I know the U.S. team was a bit banged up by the time they got to the final but I’m glad it all worked out. And hopefully a few of the players got some experience and continue to make this team as competitive as possible."
"It’s a tournament, and as a national team player you don’t get a chance to play in many tournaments. In the middle of qualifying, it gives Bruce a fantastic opportunity to have the pressure of a tournament while being able to use new players. I’m sure he used a few new players and experimented with a few different formations. With less than a year to go to the next World Cup, it gives the team a good chance to get our final look and finish the job of qualifying and start to prepare for the big tournament."
On the increasing depth of the U.S. Men:
"If you were to ask me how the team has changed in my time with the U.S., I’d say not only did we take a big step forward in terms of our level of our performance, but we also added a lot of players to the pool. It’s the best thing that could have happened because there are so many players to draw upon now as well as giving a lot of players the opportunity to go overseas. And it really creates competition, which everyone knows makes a player better."
On potentially playing in a second World Cup:
"Having an opportunity is the key. This time around, I am probably more solidified in the team than I was in 2002, but it really is about where you are going into the World Cup. I still have a full season ahead of me and the beauty of it is that I’ve given myself an opportunity to make that team. And if I do well for my team here and I do well for the national team, I will make that team. And if I don’t, and someone is better, then I don’t deserve to. But I’ve given myself the opportunity."
"The good thing about Bruce [Arena] is that everybody is in a similar boat. Obviously, players have earned their reputation. Every player isn’t playing for his job every game. Bruce does a great job of taking players for where they are at the minute. And if someone is not doing their job, they’re not going to get it, but if they are, they will. I enjoy that challenge and look forward to making the most of it."
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