World Cup Quote Sheet: MNT vs. Belgium - Sunil Gulati, Jurgen Klinsmann
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati and U.S. MNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann Address the Media after the USA's Game against Belgium
U.S. Soccer Federation President SUNIL GULATI
On the team’s effort against Belgium:
“A heroic effort. Belgium is a very good team. Two guys from Everton were the difference: Timmy Howard kept us in the game with an extraordinary performance and [Romelu] Lukaku obviously made the difference coming on. Even when we were down 2-0, I thought we would come back, and we had four, five chances. There was so much pure emotion.”
On the Jurgen Klinsmannn’s impact on the team:
“I don't think there’s any doubt about that and I think the players would agree. We’re still building and it’s obviously disappointing not to get a little further here. It’s no longer the case that we’re happy just to be in the second round. We want to advance, the players want to advance and they know they’re capable of it.”
On Tim Howard¹s performance:
“Tim Howard is an important player on our team and he’s expected to make big saves. Tonight he made a lot of big saves, the most since 1966 in a World Cup. That’s what he’s supposed do, that’s his job and he’d tell you that as well. It was an extraordinary performance.”
On the growth of soccer in the U.S.:
“The country was paying attention, and I think we’re building on something. We’re building on something: Bob [Bradley] did a great job, Bruce [Arena] before him – Jurgen is building on that. We’ve got some new exciting players, so there’s progress on the field and it’s especially progress when you think about the number of people at home who were paying attention.”
U.S. MNT head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
"It's a bummer for us ending on the losing side after a game of 120 minutes that gave everything to the fans, to the crowd – a real drama, a thriller. We had enough possibilities to equalize that game and we meant to put it away earlier, but big compliment to Belgium and congratulations to them to move on into the quarterfinals. It was a game that just went to the extreme. We all are very, very proud of our team, of every player stepping on the field today gave everything they had. I think they made their country proud with this performance and also with their entire performance in this World Cup. You have to swallow this for a second, but after a little bit of a break, you have to move on."
On his initial thoughts about the game:
“You can stop them in a certain way. There will be chances on their end but I think we had our chances as well. It’s opening up after a certain time, after an hour and 17 minutes into a game like this, things will open up because the legs get heavy and they’re going to push it to the limits. That’s what we did. We had our chances to win. We didn’t put it in; they put it in at the end. But it’s been a thriller. It was dramatic; it was everything that a football game really wants to have. I think the whole country and all the fans that came down to Brazil can be proud of their team.”
On starting Geoff Cameron and the tactical approach to the match:
“With Cam coming in at this point, we hoped that he would take on (Marouane) Fellaini and that’s exactly what he did. I think he had a very, very good game. It’s a little bit of a different style. I think we had to push it higher up and then find Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey up higher. It worked out well. It was the right thing to do, but at the end when you have the opportunities at that level you’ve got to put them in.”
On the midfield looking tired and saving a substitute until extra time:
"They were all on their limits, every player on the field because the way we played our games with high energy through every game we knew that sooner or later the team will hit the wall. It's just normal. You don't want to give a substitution away too early because maybe another player goes out with injury or cramp. We needed to wait with the third sub a little bit longer and then made it then. All of the players today it just went beyond their capabilities and I told them in the locker room that they should be very proud of themselves, and take a lot of positive steps back home after this World Cup."
On the injuries and DeAndre Yedlin stepping in:
"What leads to injuries is fatigue. What leads to injuries is playing on the highest level with the highest intensity that you've never played before. We did a really excellent, amazing job, until this point today having 23 players. We had Jozy coming back but it was a little too early for that. I think our staff did a tremendous job preparing our team for the extreme conditions in this World Cup. You always have to expect at some point that a player, or two or three going down. And that's why you build someone behind him, and we built DeAndre Yedlin behind Fabian and we knew, OK, now it was his turn. The way the kid played tonight and previous occasions there was just no fear at all and doing very, very well. It is a completely different level that we experienced here. A lot of players are not used to going every four days on the highest level and then extra time. That's what we prepared them for and I think they did themselves proud. "
On Tim Howard:
"This was definitely an amazing goalkeeper performance. There is no doubt about it. He should be very proud of himself and we are proud to have him with us. Tim played tonight just phenomenal, he was outstanding. He kept us a long time in this game. We knew that going forward sooner or later we would have our chances, but he had an absolute amazing match tonight and you can just give him the biggest compliments in the world. "
On Tim Howard keeping the team in the match:
"The longer he keeps you in the game the more you hope let's get some breaks and go forward and find our own chances. The more the game went on, the more chances we created. That's what you want to build on the back of Tim, getting back in the game and then finding opportunities to score.Those games are decided by little, little things. Thanks to Tim we had that possibility throughout 120 minutes because he kept us in there."
On Julian Green:
"Julian was growing at a very fast speed in the last seven weeks, and we guided him through that process. If the occasion [to put him into a match] had been there already we would have done that. I knew that the moment would come today, but then the injury to Fabian early, issues at other positions delayed it and delayed it because when you go into extra time you want to make sure you're not making the third sub too early. We knew that he was ready. I told him before the game watch the No. 2, read him, have a specific eye on him and he knew that he might get this chance today. It was just phenomenal how he came in and scored that goal and gets us back now and then we just need a little bit more luck to get the second one and that was not the case. It's fun to watch that kid grow."
On the impact of the team’s dual nationals:
"We're looking for all Americans around the world. No matter what dual background they have. We have more coming through and that's just part of globalization as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago."
On the difference between the U S., Germany and Belgium:
"Here and there, I think it's a little bit still the mental approach. We have to learn more and more. I think that we are in that process to take our game to the opponent no matter what their name is. Here and there, we wait just a little bit too long to start our game. We told them from the beginning that we're trying to create. We're going to win the one-against-one battles especially in the midfield and create in our own end. There is still a little too much respect on our end when it comes to the big stage; why not really play? It is something that we have to go through, I don't know how many years it takes. I think it is a process that the players need to realize that you have to take it to the opponent. Don't back up so much. I'm screaming my lungs off on the sideline to push them higher up the field. I think that this is something that we just need to get out of our minds that we start to shift the whole game further up, even if it's against talented teams.
On the team's progress in his first three years:
"I'll leave that up to you. It's kind of your job. I think that we worked tremendously over the last couple of years. I said at the beginning of the last couple of years that I continue on the foundation that Bob passed on to me which was a very strong foundation with the great job that he's done. I found ways to introduce new, young players into our program and develop the game on every front of it. If it's on the younger level, it's on the senior level, on the organizational side, wherever it is, I think we've done a lot, a lot of work those couple years. Now it comes to a point where you have to swallow a game like this today and have to find a way to move on. Obviously we're excited about some young players through the ranks, some young players that maybe were not there yet but we know now what we have with them. We are excited with building a next Olympic team cycle which is huge for us going to Rio de Janeiro in two years. We have a very exciting competition two years from now with Copa America in the United States. The way that the people, the fans, embraced the team and the sport in the last couple years will only continue to grow, especially with a league that is getting stronger and stronger and with the competitions we have ahead of us next year with the Gold Cup, then Olympics and Copa America, and then hopefully the Confederations Cup and then the four year cycle goes into the World Cup in Russia. I think we've done a lot of work. We would have liked to continue longer in this tournament. There's no double about it there's a disappointment there. It's just normal. We had the chances to put them away and on the other end Belgium had their chances too. I think there's a lot to build on going forward."
On takeaways from the 2014 World Cup:
“We take a lot, a tremendous amount away from this experience. We grew a lot. We now know that we can play eye-to-eye with the big nations. The teams that we faced here are favorites to win the World Cup and we’ve done tremendously well against them. We see a couple of young players coming through the ranks. To see Julian Green jumping on the field and scoring right away and DeAndre Yedlin, we have many other youngsters waiting. After you finish a World Cup, you discuss the future of it and that goes towards the young players that we have in our country and we build the next cycle.”
On looking forward after this World Cup:
"What you hope is that your team really takes this experience and understands now what this level means, what this intensity means, what the pace of the game means and the demands. It's not only just going to training or to go play a game on the weekend. It's about lifestyle. So much comes into this. The experience of the last seven weeks, every little piece plays a role in building a successful team for a World Cup. I think they learned a tremendous amount. I think they all went to their limits. They gave everything they had."