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World Cup Quote Sheet: Wondolowski, Johannsson, Bradley

U.S. MNT players Chris Wondolowski, Aron johannsson and Michael Bradley Speak about Preparing for Portugal and the Motivation the Country's Support Has Given Them

U.S. MNT forward Chris Wondolowski
On role changes since Jozy is out of the match against Portugal:
“It’s a big loss losing Jozy. He’s been playing really well and is in great form, but I think our roles are going to stay the same. I know for myself and Aron that we’re both going to be ready to play at any minute and just looking for the opportunity and making the most of it whenever we get the chance.”

On the opportunity to contribute on the field:
“Coach Klinsmann has done a great job and all we’re concentrating on right now is Portugal and trying to come up with a game plan; our job is to execute that game plan. So whatever 11 guys are out there, we’re going to stick together and just try to execute that game plan as best as possible. That’s kind of where the whole conversation has been lined up.”

On coming off the bench vs. starting:
“Starting, you’re able to kind of feel yourself into the game a little bit and from minute one, everyone’s going from kind of the same mindset - both sides, both teams. Coming off the bench it’s a little bit different. You’ve kind of been able to read the game a bit. Sometimes they have a little bit of tired legs, you’re fresh legs and your game plan then is to change the game. You want to bring a spark and bring a little something different that might not have been out there since the start. That’s kind of just the mind frame right there.”

On containing Ronald, beyond one-on-one match-ups:
“Well first and foremost, Cristiano Ronaldo is a supreme player. He has done amazing things and especially in this past year, the level he has taken is pretty special. Our focus, we definitely have to stop him, but we don’t want anyone else to beat us. We want to stop the guys that are up front. He came in and he’s dangerous and we have to stop the service into the box. We feel that we have a great game plan in eliminating certain things, but they have certain players all across the side; they’re all dangerous. Right now we’re still just fine-tuning that game plan in how to stop that whole team. We’re not just focusing on one guy because when you do that, there are 10 other guys out there that can beat you. We’re just going out there and got to execute this game plan.”

On how much they’re going to pay attention to the Germany-Ghana game:
“To be honest, we’ve watched just about every game and paid close attention. I think that’s the special thing of this World Cup, each game has been entertaining and valuable. We’ll especially be keeping a close eye on Ghana vs. Germany because it impacts us. Not only for the next day but also down the road as well when we play Germany the following week. We’ll definitely keep an eye out, but to be honest our whole mindset right now is just Portugal and that’s all that we’re really focused on.”

On Portugal missing two starting defenders:
“Truthfully, I don’t think it changes our approach at all. I think that we’ve had the same game plan whether the defenders were in there as well. I know that those are two big guys that they have lost. But I think that our game plan is still going to be the exact same and we’re just going to go out there and try to execute it. That’s been our MO since day one. What we found at Stanford is whatever 11 guys that go out there, we have done a great job of being able to adapt to certain game plans and certain strategies. Our coaching staff does a tremendous job of putting together these plans and we just have to go out there and execute.”

On replacing Jozy Altidore:
“Jozy is a special player. You can’t replace him; that’s like saying, ‘Hey go be Cristiano Ronaldo’. You can’t necessarily replace certain aspects of it, but I think that both Aron and I bring different styles, different sets of skills that are useful and I think that’s what we have to do is incorporate those skill sets and be able to fit into the game plan as well. We’re going to have to do certain things that Jozy didn’t and did do, and we’re also going to have to be able to incorporate our style as well, so it’s just kind of managing those two things.”

On playing in the heat of the Amazon and about Malaria pills:
“You know, it’s going to be hot, but I think we’ve taken the opportunity to get the immunizations down in California so all of that stuff has been taken care of and we will be ready to go and to be honest, you get to play 90 minutes in a World Cup game – it doesn’t matter how hot it is, we’ll be ready. [There have been] no effects from the Malaria pills, we will be ready to go. Again, it’s a World Cup game, it doesn’t matter what’s going into your body or how hot it will be, I think we will be able to give our absolute best.”

On changing tactics when not in possession:
“Well it was a tough situation. Anytime you have the lead, it’s a little bit different. Your style and tactics may not always be the exact same, whether you’re pushing for a goal and I think our possession definitely lacked a bit. I thought we dropped a little bit deeper than we might have wanted to, but I thought Aron did a great job of tracking down the center backs, pressuring them- I thought he did a lot of stuff that doesn’t go into score books. I thought he did that really well, and it is my job, if subbed in the game to try to learn anything I can and right now, I’m just trying to incorporate some of those things where I can – maybe come on and help out any way I can, whether it is trying to hold up possession, or keep the ball, whatever I can do. Just trying to study it right now.” 

U.S. MNT forward Aron Johannsson
On who’s starting and when they expect to find out:
"It’s the coach’s decision. Whenever he’s ready to let us know who’s going to start, then he’ll do it. We just have to wait until he makes his decision."

On replacing Jozy Altidore:
"Both Wondo and I have different styles than Jozy. If either one of us gets on the field then we just try to play our game and try to do what the coach wants us to do. If that’s to play like Jozy, then we’ll try to do that and if he wants us to play like we normally play then we’ll try to do that."

On playing in the heat of the Amazon:
“Chris is probably more used to playing in the heat than I am. That is difficult but we’re training in Stanford for the first couple weeks and then we’re training in Jacksonville, Florida. So, we’re kind of used to humidity and heat. We just have to go there and do our jobs.”

U.S. MNT midfielder Michael Bradley
On expecting Ronaldo to play:
“At the moment we certainly expect he’s going to play. A game of this magnitude, of this importance for both teams, you’d always expect that the best players are going to find any way to be on the field. When you play against good teams, when you play against good players, it’s important to prepare in the best possible way. I think we’ve done that. I think we’ll continue to do that today and tomorrow. We understand what a special player he is, we understand how good of a team they have, but it’s not something that fazes us. We’re excited by the challenge, we’re excited by the moment. We feel like we’ve put ourselves in a good position, but still, everybody is mindful of the fact that it’s just one game. Now, to follow up a good start to the tournament with another result, that’s the only thing we’re worried about at the moment.”

On how Ronaldo separates himself from other players:
“He’s a complete player. When you look at the game today, there’s such a premium on the physical aspect of the game –speed, strength, endurance. He is a guy who checks all of those boxes, and then, when you talk about his technical ability, the way he shoots with his right foot, his left foot, how good in the air he is. He’s somebody who can make a difference at any moment.”

On self-evaluation of his performance during the Ghana match:
“I’m certainly honest enough and hard enough with myself to know that it wasn’t my sharpest night, but unfortunately, they’re not all going to be. On those days its still about finding every possible way to help your team, and I think as a team we realized at a certain point that it wasn’t going to be a night for making a million passes or necessarily playing the most beautiful soccer. It was about run and attack, closing down and making the game hard on Ghana. I think in those ways, every guy on the field came away with really high marks. When you talk about the best teams, there’s an ability to win games in all different ways. So, the first game was a really big step in that regard for us, but we want to feel like, now as the tournament is going on, that we are improving and growing because the teams that are around in the end are always the teams that are able to do that. You obviously can’t pick and choose but still, you never want to play your best game first. You want to feel like as the tournament is moving on, as the tournament is progressing, the team and every guy is continuing to grow and get better and get stronger. It’s important that we start off with three points, because at the end of the day, that was the most important thing from that first game. Now we want to follow that up with another good game and more points.”

On cutting supply-line off from Ronaldo:
“In any big game, the battle that goes on in the midfield is so important. It goes such a long way in deciding who wins the game. As far as playing Portugal right now, there’s two ways to look at it: one is that they lost 4-0, they played 60 minutes down a guy, suffered a few injuries; it would be easy to look and say this is a good time to play. But the other side says that it is, in some ways, a desperate team that is playing for their lives because they need a result. We have to respect that.  We have to understand how much they’re going to put into it. The main thing still is about us. We talked five minutes after the Ghana game ended about being excited and proud of the way we started off but also realizing that one game doesn’t mean anything. If you’re not able to follow up the first game with a good result, then the first game goes right out the window and all of a sudden you’re going into game three needing a result or looking at the other game. There’s enough presence, enough leadership, enough guys who have been around in our group to make sure that we’ve kept a good, solid focus. There’s pride and excitement and energy, as there should be about the way the first game went but at this point, it’s all about Sunday.”

On the Ghana game being physical and if Portugal is better matchup:
“Ghana was a weird game. They’re a team that presents different challenges than a lot of other teams. When you score after 30 seconds, it makes what is going to be a crazy game, even crazier right from the beginning. It’s only natural then at that point that the team that’s winning, even if it’s just a little bit that starts to drop off and protect, and I think we more than anything just struggled to get out of that mode of now protecting. We did such a good job of that—we put so much energy and effort into that, that in the right moments we weren’t sharp enough—we weren’t able to find the right pass, we weren’t able to then give the game a little bit of a pause and to get the game back on our terms. Portugal is obviously a very different team than Ghana. They have a good mix of skillful, technical players, but still guys who physically are strong, are fast, guys who jump well. Like I said before, it’s important to prepare the game in the best possible way. We feel like we have a good idea of who they are, of how they play, what makes them tick. At the end of the day it’s still about what happens when that whistle blows, and there’s no way to predict that. Do we get an early goal? Do they get an early goal? These are the things that nobody has any idea. So it’s just about the overall mentality that says no matter what happens, we’ve prepared in the best possible way and we’re ready to, over the course of 90 minutes, to do anything, and to respond to anything that happens, and be ready to walk off the field with another positive result.”

On growth of soccer in America:
“The growth of the game in our country goes much farther back than four years. Really, from the time that we hosted the World Cup in 1994 – which I believe to this day is still the World Cup with the highest average attendance – the game has continued to grow and grow. You get to a point in 2014 where the World Cup and our team is a big deal in our country. People know our players, people know what’s going on, people get excited to watch the games and support their team, their country. I think as players we can’t ask for anything more. When we were standing on the field in Natal before the game against Ghana and the entire stadium is singing the national anthem, it gives you goose bumps. It’s what you dream of, playing in a World Cup in a stadium full of American fans. To have that stadium be in Brazil, but still full of American fans is something pretty special. When we get back to the hotel and hear about Grant Park in Chicago having 10,000 fans out to watch the game, and friends and family are sending pictures and videos of what’s going on, it can’t help but push you on, because we want to make every person watching back home proud of us and proud to watch our team.”