U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Haiti
Gold Cup Group Play
July 11, 2015
U.S. Men’s National Team head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
Thoughts on the match:
“Thanks to the fans for coming out here. It was an amazing atmosphere, a huge compliment to Haiti for how they played this game. It was a very intense game that could have changed at any second. Obviously it would have been a little bit easier path if the goal was allowed for Aron Johannsson, but overall I think Haiti played an outstanding match and they’re still in the tournament. I told their coach a huge compliment for how they played. They grinded it all the way to the end with us. Obviously I’m happy to already be in the quarterfinals, securing first place after two games is nice to have and I think every player now knows how tricky and how difficult these games are. We had the privilege to make a lot of changes and give almost everybody the experience. Now we also have a privilege to handle the third match the way we want to from a coach’s perspective because we already won the group. It’s very nice and a compliment to the team, but it was a lot of work as you saw.”
On the Gyasi Zardes substitution:
“On one hand, Jozy [Altidore] is still working and it’s a process. We talked about it the last couple days and the work is ongoing. I’m not worried about it. He’s going to come into this tournament and get stronger and stronger with every day in training and every minute on the field. What we were lacking was width in the first half. We didn’t get anything coming over the wings, and obviously Gyasi has this special talent to take people on, and also with speed and the surprise element. Because of these circumstances for all teams to play every three days, we also have to be a bit careful how we bring these players through the first three games because we don’t want to kind of kill them by going every game. We have a very strong squad.”
On the team’s approach to the final group game against Panama:
“The approach is picking up more rhythm, going for another three points, and finishing off the group with three wins. We take that very seriously. We also know we have influence on who is going through, so we are not taking our foot off the pedal there. We will give it a very good game and keep on building confidence and fine tuning elements and improve our game. As you saw there was still some stuff that was not so good, so we keep working on that. It’s a nice feeling knowing we are already first, but it doesn’t mean that we are slowing down now. It should be the opposite – we’ve got to keep raising the bar.”
On the danger Haiti provided and how it was addressed in the second half:
“We talked about it before the game. When you analyze the game against Panama you saw this was a quality side. These players know how to play the game. They’re technically very good, they’re strong players physically, they’re in very good shape and they want to impress here and that’s what they did in the first game and they did it today as well. They are still in the tournament with that game against Honduras. They showed their qualities and we had to come back into that game. I would say after 25 or 30 minutes we had a bit more rhythm and tempo, a bit more urgency in the game and that’s what I told them at half time, that we have to keep on going here with more urgency, more drive towards the goal, more chances and find the forwards faster. The second half started well and obviously the goal calmed things down and from there on things were much, much better.”
On the play of Tim Ream and Gyasi Zardes:
“It took a little bit of time for Tim to get in that game, but in the second half he was calm and controlled and played a good game. It was difficult in the first 20 or 25 minutes because they were all over the place – it was tough for our back line, but totally fine. With Gyasi, it’s a process that we are watching, that we are helping with. He’s doing a tremendous job. He has a lot of talent, a lot of potential and we want to tell him every day, ‘one step at a time’. He has an amazing, positive attitude towards the game, towards his work. He’s not shy of doing extra whenever you ask him something. He has a curious personality. He wants to constantly learn. It’s a real joy to work with him.”
On getting the results but not playing pretty:
“I think it’s a logical element. You have guys coming back from vacation from Europe, Mexico that just recently started preseason and mix them back together with MLS players. We knew it was going to be a little bit difficult in the first two weeks and it’s not there yet. It’s not flowing yet, but you get the results and grind things out in very physical, intense battles like today and against Honduras. That’s a very positive sign for the team. They know they can do better, but now we have six points out of two games and it makes it easier then. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. This tournament being played in July for whatever reason, it’s very tricky for all the teams. It will take every team more time to get into this thing because of the different seasons the players are coming from.”
On where Jozy Altidore is at with his fitness:
“He’s still in the process of getting his fitness to become 100% Jozy Altidore coming back from the hamstring, and it’s not happening overnight. He knows that, we know that. We worked him hard in training and obviously he gets his minutes in games. We know he’s going to score some goals in this tournament, but we also want to be cautious about what we’re doing with him and how we are doing it.”
On the plan for Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey after playing 90 minutes against Haiti:
“I’ll sit down with them and see where they are tomorrow and how fast they regenerate now after this game. The day before the game and maybe the morning of the game we can decide on how we want to approach that. There’s no reason to burn them in that game, but on the other hand it’s nice to keep them in the rhythm, especially with Clint scoring goals. I’ll check with them what they look like tomorrow and also in two days.”
On the play of Aron Johannsson:
“He’s pushing it. He’s developing like many of the younger guys. He had a tough season at Alkmaar, he had a lot of injury issues after the World Cup that took him quite some time, then he got a rhythm and started scoring the last couple of months. The European players need to find a way into this tournament coming from vacation basically. If he’s lucky, he gets that goal. Not if he’s lucky -- it was a goal. This is what he’s about, he has a tremendous instinct in the box. He got that opportunity today, he’ll get more opportunities in the tournament. We have Wondo there as well, always ready to go full speed. That’s what we need from our strikers, we need them to push the other ones – if Jozy’s not there yet, we have Aron, we have Wondo that can get the job done as well. We have Gyasi as an option to put up front, so it’s good for us.”
On the rationale behind changing the back line from last game:
“When you don’t concede a goal, your back line is always good. It was important to see where these players are and for them to get their foot into the tournament as well. We’ll sit back a second and watch the game again and then have a better idea of what went well and what didn’t go well.”
U.S. forward and Budweiser Man of the Match CLINT DEMPSEY:
On the record crowd at Gillette Stadium:
“It’s great to have that type of support. You feel that energy when you’re playing in the game and it’s even better to have gotten victories in both of those games. We have to continue getting better and make sure our performances are a little bit sharper and that we’re able to dominant the games more, but we definitely appreciate the crowd.”
On staying focused after clinching the group:
“Yeah for sure, we’ve got to keep getting better. There are still some things we need to work on, but at the same time I thought there were some good things. We’re dealing with different formations as well and trying to figure out what’s working best for us, but you want to grow as the tournament goes on, you want to be playing your best games when you get to the knockout rounds. It’s good that we’ve gotten out of the group, but we’ve got to continue to improve.”
On scoring his eighth all-time goal in the Gold Cup:
“Anytime you play in competitions you want to do well. I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve been able to score in the competitions I’ve played in, whether it’s Gold Cup, Confederations Cup or World Cup. It always feels good to represent your country and to step up on these occasions.”
U. S. defender OMAR GONZALEZ
On the record-breaking crowd at Gillette Stadium:
“The crowd was unbelievable tonight. It’s the second time we’ve had record fan attendance in both cities. I want to thank the fans for coming out and giving us the support and helping us get the win.”
On keeping the clean sheet:
“For the new backline tonight, we wanted to go out there and keep everything in front of us. We knew we were going to go up a very athletic, fast and technical Haiti team. We wanted to keep them in front of us and I thought we did a very good job. They got a couple chances, but Brad did well to save us on those.”
On winning the group:
“It feels great to win the group, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. We have another game against Panama in Kansas City and we want to finish off the group stage well, hopefully with another win, and move on to the quarterfinals.”
U. S. forward ARON JOHANNSSON
On the attempted bicycle kick:
“I saw Clint get in to the end line and I felt he was going to chip it on the back post and I was ready for it. The ball came, I thought it was a perfect height, but in the end it was just a little too high for me. Hopefully I’ll see it again in another game this tournament.”
U.S. defender TIM REAM
On making his first U.S. MNT start in four years:
“It was nice. I haven’t started a game in a long while now. Coming on for minimal minutes in substitute appearances is difficult for a defender, so to be able to start a Gold Cup game, an important game for us, was fun for me.”
On earning the clean sheet:
“I think we functioned as a unit. There was a lot of communication along the back line, making sure each guy had cover if need be.”
On staying focused in final group game:
“It’s vitally important. There’s no easy game in this Gold Cup, no matter who you play. Going into Monday night against Panama, we know it’s going to be a hard game – they have to win to clinch second place and that’s going to be important for them. We have to come out all cylinders firing, keep our foot on the gas pedal and go into the quarterfinal with a good result.”
U.S. midfielder GYASI ZARDES
On making an impact right after coming on:
“It was amazing to get the call at halftime to go on. To make an impact is phenomenal and to be on the field with that group of players.”
On what the win means:
“It was a very important win. We won the group which is wonderful, but it doesn’t mean we take our foot of the pedal. We prepare for our next opponents.”
On what needs to be accomplished against Panama:
“A win is always our task and what we want to achieve. We’re going to give it our all.”
On how comfortable he’s becoming with the National Team:
“I’m becoming more comfortable. The more I train with this group of guys, the more I step on the field with them, the more I start being myself. I’ll be more comfortable. I hope to continue to grow as a player.”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (July, 10 2015) – The U.S. Men’s National team clinched the top spot in Group A of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup with its win 1-0 against Haiti at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Clint Dempsey buried his second consecutive game winning goal to lead the team to victory.Read more
Not Taking Haiti Lightly
After seeing Haiti pull out a 1-1 draw late against Panama on Tuesday night, there are more than a few reasons for the U.S. not to take Haiti lightly in the team’s second Gold Cup match on Friday night. U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is making sure his team knows them.
“When I saw the 86th minute in that game, I didn’t see tired legs from Haiti, I saw an unbelievably beautiful goal that they scored and they were fighting all 90 minutes,” he told reporters at Thursday night’s press conference. “I think they deserved that tie. They played a very good game against Panama and now they want to surprise the next opponent and that’s us.”
Klinsmann then cited the last time the two teams met, coincidentally at Gillette Stadium six years ago.
“I think there was already a big surprise here in this stadium when they were up 2-1 until the 92nd minute and Stuart Holden scored a beautiful goal to avoid a defeat. We don’t have a positive record against Haiti [the U.S. is 5-6-5 all-time]. There is absolutely no way we’re going to underestimate Haiti, not for one second. We take the same approach as we took Honduras and as Honduras took against us. We are prepared for tomorrow night for all 90 minutes.”
Haiti Roster – European Flavor
Three players on the current Haiti roster appeared in the 2009 draw with the U.S. MNT: defender Frantz Bertin and midfielders James Marcelin and Judelin Aveska.
Twelve players on the Haiti roster ply their trade in Europe. A long-time veteran of clubs in Spain and Switzerland, Bertin currently plays in Greece for Aigianakos. Jeff Louis is a consistent performer for Belgian giants Standard Liege while Jean Sony Alcénat just moved to Romanian club Steau Bucharest.
Seven of the 23 players have ties to clubs in the U.S.: goalkeeper Steward Ceus (Atlanta Silverbacks), defenders Mechack Jérôme (Charlotte Independence), Bitielo Jean Jacques (Kraze United; NPSL), midfielders James Marcelin (Fort Lauderdale Strikers), Pascal Millien (Jacksonville Armada) and Sebastien Thuriere (Charleston Battery). Currently unattached, defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste has also previously played for Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, Chivas USA and Portland Timbers.
Competition Still On For Starting Spots
While the U.S. won’t take Haiti lightly, the reality of the CONCACAF Gold Cup is that there are a lot of games ahead if the team wants to reach the final on July 26 in Philadelphia and the team is still growing. With the team traveling on Wednesday and taking a training session in Foxborough Thursday, Klinsmann left open the possibility that he would shift his lineup from on Friday.
“If there are changes, it’s clear – a tournament you only win with an entire group and number 23 is as important as number 1. Anything can happen, but also with the tricky situation especially now in the Gold Cup you play every three games the group games which is a very short turn around for every team.
We think through that and we still see a lot of competition going on in our own team. There are quite a few 50/50 situations on the table that you can discuss, as every soccer fan can discuss he wants to see that guy play or that guy play. We have those discussions as well as coaches. We want to see them perform in training -- we want to see them put a stamp on their own personal situation and especially when they get to play.
Fond of Foxborough
Foxborough has long been a pleasant place for the U.S. MNT to play as the team has gone 16-2-5 combined at old Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium. Some of the historic results that have occurred just outside Boston include the U.S. defeating England 2-0 in the 1993 U.S. Cup and a 2-1 win against Jamaica in October 2001 which qualified the team for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
More recently, Gillette Stadium has been a familiar venue for the side in the Gold Cup, with the team going 6-0-2 over eight matches. Read up on a breakdown of all of the MNT’s Gold Cup games in Foxborough.
Scenarios for Quarterfinal Qualification
Should the MNT defeat Haiti, it will clinch a quarterfinal berth and will be guaranteed to play in Baltimore next Saturday, July 18. A Panama draw with Honduras in the night’s first match combined with a U.S. win against Haiti would also clinch the group for the MNT.Read more