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Post-Match Quotes: USA vs. Ecuador


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Sunday, March 10, 2002) - Following are quotes from the USA’s 1-0 win against Ecuador in Birmingham, Ala. The U.S. Men's National Team returns to action on March 27 against Germany in Rostock.  That match will be broadcast delayed on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. ET and on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET.  The game can be followed live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics at 2:30 p.m. ET.

BRUCE ARENA - Head Coach, U.S. Men's National Team

"What I enjoyed the most out of this game today was that it was not a friendly type of game.  Ecuador came out and played a hard 90 minutes. It had the look and smell of a World Cup qualifier out there. You have to play in games like this. When things don't go right, you have to find a way to win, and I think our guys did that. In our first eight games in 2002, I think we've shown marked improvement."

"We got more out of this game today than we did last week.  It's all part of it.  You need to see different styles of opponents.  You need to be in different types of games to really challenge your players.  I think today was just a great challenge for us."

On which players performances helped their chances for making the FIFA World Cup roster: "We're not selecting a roster for at least five or six weeks.  Certainly, Eddie Lewis continues to improve himself in my eyes.  I think McBride had another good game.  I think Donovan and Armas did well.  I think our back four had a good game, and I was really pleased with Tim Howard getting a shutout in his first game. There were a lot of good performances today."

On the ejection of Clint Mathis: "Mathis again we see the good and the bad in a game like today.  He's still a very dangerous attacking player.  He just needs to be a little more mature in these situations.  I told him at halftime that he had a bulls-eye on his back.  He had attracted himself to the referee, and if he made any kind of play that was questionable in the second half he was going to be sent off, and he was.  He has to learn from this experience because we can't lose players in World Cup games in plays like that. Clint is a terrific player.  He makes us a better team.  He's just got to learn from this experience today."

On whether the team is gaining confidence with each good performance: "I'd like to believe that.  Winning is contagious.  It breeds confidence in players. I think they feel good about the hard work they've put in since January 5, and they see the progress. Hopefully we can mix this group and this attitude with the guys in Europe to make ourselves a real good team come World Cup time."

On whether Eddie Lewis is hindered because he is not playing regularly at Fulham: "He's not going to get games in England.  He hasn't in over a year, and I don't expect that to change. The important thing now is that he gets games with us.  Eddie has helped himself by playing with us.  He's keeping sharp with his club team.  He's working  hard every day and playing with the reserve team.  We just have to keep him active."

On Birmingham as a venue for U.S. Soccer: "I would have to think we like everything we see about Birmingham.  I'm sure it's a venue we’re going to give strong consideration in the future.  Every time we come it’s been a great environment for our team. I give a lot a credit to the crowd today.  I understand there were about 24,000 and for a friendly that's great.  We like Birmingham as a venue and I would think it will continue to be a venue for us down the road."

On the play of the team after the Mathis ejection: "Obviously we weren't going to keep a whole lot of the ball.   I thought we did a fair job of keeping it and being a little bit dangerous on the break.  We had a couple chances going forward.  I think the most impressive part is that Ecuador probably didn't have a solid chance during the second half. Our guys did a solid job defending and showed a lot of composure over the last 35 minutes."

On the differences between this match and last week's win against Honduras: "This is a little different than the last game, playing an opponent that is no longer a part of the World Cup. Their players are like ours, fighting for spots on the roster. That's why it was such an intense game today, with a lot of battles and a lot of fouls.  It was a great game to be involved in."

EDDIE LEWIS - Midfielder, U.S. Men's National Team and today's Chevrolet Man of the Match

"I think it can be argued it was fair result.  I don’t think either team had their best game today, but under the circumstances and the adjustments that had to be made on our parts overall we're happy with the performance."

On whether he was satisfied with his performance: "I'm never really extremely pleased with my own play, but it always feels good to score.  Over the last five or six games I've turned  in some pretty positive performances.  It's no secret that everybody likes to score and everyone remembers the guys who do.  I definitely feel good about this."

On whether scoring the game-winning goal will improve his chances for making the World Cup roster: "Not really.  I think scoring goals helps, but I think Bruce is a very good manager and he's looking for 23 players who work well together in all types of situations. Scoring is a bonus, but I don't think it should be the focal point.  There’s a lot more to a person's play then one moment."

On the performance of the U.S. after Mathis was sent off: "Rather than saying that we deserve all the credit for that, I don't think they did a good job of taking advantage of extra numbers. They kept four at the back and they still had two holding midfielders.  Especially when you're down a goal and up a man, I would have thought they would have committed more numbers and they didn't do that.  As a result we were able to sit in and compact the field very well and not worry about being outnumbered.  I don't remember feeling outnumbered for a good portion of the second half."

Describing the goal, the third of his international career: "They played fairly narrow and they gave us good opportunities to get into the channels.  I think Clint did a good job breaking off wide, and there was quite a bit of space inside.  Basically the guy that was with me kind of cheated and didn't track me, and I think Clint did a real good job to set me up on my left foot."

BRIAN MCBRIDE - Forward, U.S. Men's National Team

"The game didn't really have much rhythm.  You rarely saw a team connect two or three passes.  The intensity was very high.  In turn, I think it got chippy at times and we needed to keep our heads a little bit better.  Sometimes they did too.  Overall, I think it was a great way to prepare for what's ahead of us."

On whether he thought referee Rodolfo Sibrian lost control of the match: "It's not necessarily that he lost control.  There were a few tackles either way.  It could have been eight v. eight. There's different ways of handling it, and I think it was a tough game for the referee to figure out.  He did a good job I thought."

On whether he felt the 1-0 U.S. win was a fair result: "I think it was fair result.  The game didn't produce many opportunities in the flow of the game.  It was more of chances on the break. I think Ecuador would have preferred the opposite.  As a team, we defended well.  It was a very tough, physical match."

On the challenging schedule of matches prior to the FIFA World Cup: "I enjoy it.  I still need to get my footwork down and get a little sharper on the ball, so I look forward to it."

On the intense competition at the forward spot: "Everybody knows that everyone is still fighting for jobs here.  The greatest thing about that is that we're a team.  Nobody's sitting here saying 'I should be doing this, I should be doing that'.  I think that transfers on the field in games like today when you have to work for each other."

TIM HOWARD - Goalkeeper, U.S. Men's National Team

"I was very honored to get the chance to play for my country.  I was a little bit anxious at the beginning, but once I got into it I felt very comfortable.  I'm very pleased that we were able to get the win today, and hopefully I'll get more opportunities.  I just have to keep working hard and keep learning."


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