MNT v. GUA Post-game Quotes

Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Guatemala
International Friendly 
Nashville, Tennessee
July 3, 2015

Thoughts on the match:
“Well first of all, we all would like to thank Nashville and this crowd. What amazing support. What an amazing atmosphere – 44,000 in a friendly at this time when our women’s team will play in the World Cup a few days from now, it was really wonderful to see. A big thank you to everyone for coming out there today.

Result? Nice. Obviously 4-0 sounds really nice. Performance? Not so nice. I’m not happy with that performance. I’m kind of disappointed with a couple things: movement off the ball, speed of play, urgency … things that we talked about before were not executed the way we wanted them to be executed. We were lucky to not get a tie, certainly at the beginning of the second half. If it’s 1-1, it’s a whole different ball game. It looks really nice at 4-0, but we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

On the importance of the friendly before the Gold Cup:
“It was very, very useful. I’m really glad that we had the opportunity to go out there tonight and see where everybody is. We had some very positive performances in some ways and some not so positive performances. We have to talk to the players in a team context and also talk to them on an individual basis and take it from there. We have four days to prepare for a game against Honduras. If you guys had a chance to watch them play Mexico two days ago, you can expect a very, very nasty game from Honduras, a very aggressive and difficult game. We’ll talk through that the next couple of days. We have to step it up. We have to step it up in order to get three points on Tuesday night.”

On issues the team had against Guatemala:
"I think we gave some chances away that we can’t afford at the international level – too easy, just too easy. Also, we didn’t create enough. We didn’t find ways to play quickly with our forwards. The forwards were not able to combine with the midfield, make themselves available, and move off the ball more and to cause more issues at the back. It’s all connected. Every piece is connected and that’s where we have to improve over the next couple of days.

On if he has his lineup set for Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener vs. Honduras:
“We have a very good roster together here and a clear idea of how we’ll approach Honduras on Tuesday night. As I said before, it was extremely important for us to see the guys out there and give them all their minutes. It was important to get a clear picture right away where everybody stands. It’s a very tricky preparation for the competition because our European and Mexican-based players are coming from a break and MLS is in full swing, but also our MLS players had a couple issues. This is what we’ve got to go through, and the next couple of days we’ll get everyone on the same page and face a very tough Honduran team on Tuesday night.

On Clint Dempsey’s goal boosting his confidence heading into the Gold Cup:
“Well for strikers, it’s always about getting the goal. He got the goal. I think that kind of helped and lifted him. We saw that after the goal, he kind of got a better rhythm and he was more mobile, but as I said at the beginning, both strikers – Jozy and Clint – were not really connected for most of the game until the second or third goal came. Until then it wasn’t really the case.”

On individual performances that stuck out:
“There were definitely some players that looked sharp, looked focused, looked in very good shape and knew what was coming up. Coming up is three and a half weeks that’s a grind that will get more difficult every game than the one before. I think Fabian Johnson had a couple very positive runs down the left. Timmy Chandler had a good game. John Brooks is growing. He’s becoming far more mature, he’s becoming a leader. Ventura Alvarado, when he came in, played a solid game. Michael Bradley was all over the place trying to connect the pieces. Gyasi Zardes had a lot of good energy going forward, but defensively we try to teach him, which is a work in progress. There are definitely good things. and there are things we need to work on.

On why Kyle Beckerman and Alejandro Bedoya didn’t appear in the match:
“I needed to see some players. I don’t need to see Kyle. Kyle gives you always 1000 percent. He knows his role. He just proved it in Holland and Germany. I wanted to see different pieces there. Alejandro is still coming from a longer break and still has a lot of work ahead of him physically to get in the same condition as some other guys. We’ll work that as much as we can in training.

On putting his penalty kick up the middle:
“I’ve done it sometimes. Sometimes you can see the ‘keeper cheating a little bit going early. It’s always something to have in your locker when you feel it’s going to be on to try it. It worked.”

On playing his first game following suspension:
“It’s always good to play. It’s always good to be with the National Team. I’m excited to play in the Gold Cup. I want to make sure we win it and qualify for the Confederations Cup.”

On Michael Bradley being named captain for the Gold Cup:
"It’s cool. Michael is a great leader. He deserves to be captain, and for me I’m just excited to be part of the team that is trying to push to win the Gold Cup and be a part of the Confederations Cup. I got to experience being captain during the World Cup, and for me that was something special and I’ll always remember it, but it’s never been a big thing for me to be captain. Even with my club team in Seattle I’m not the captain. For me it’s just about the team and just trying to win and win games and trying to do something special.”

On his suspension:
“That’s something I’ve put behind me. I’ve talked with my teammates, talked with coaches. I’m just focused on moving forward, focused on the Gold Cup and making sure we win it and putting ourselves in a position to make sure we’re qualifying for the Confederations Cup.”

On the team’s overall performance:
“It’s always good to win, always good to get goals, always good to get a shutout, but we expect a lot of our team. We know that we can be better. We know that we’re going to have to be sharper to win the Gold Cup and make sure we hit the ground running the first game against Honduras.”

On what the team got out of the match:
“It’s important to get 90 minutes under our belt, and the result was certainly good. Now we can get ourselves to Dallas and get ready for the tournament. These games are always tricky. The most important thing is to get through it and everybody’s healthy and it’s still a good result. We scored some goals, and we understand that there are some things that need to be better and need to be improved on and they will be.”

On the MNT being the perceived favorite to win the Gold Cup:
“We don’t pay too much attention to what gets said on the outside. We understand that to win this tournament we’re going to need to improve as the tournament goes on, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to do that.”

On being the captain:
“I said before the game, it’s a huge honor. It’s a big responsibility and one that I’m very, very excited about, but who I am and what I’m about on the field and off the field with this team doesn’t change whether I’m captain or not. We’re always lucky with this team that we have a number of guys who come in and are big personalities and are ready to take responsibility: myself, Clint [Dempsey], Jozy [Altidore], Brad Guzan, and encourage some of the younger ones who now have started to get a taste of all this to take a bigger role. There’s a feeling amongst the entire group that we’re in something together and that’s how it should be.”

On his goal:
“I just got the ball back from DeAndre [Yedlin] and then I tried to finish with my left foot. I just tried to finish and the ball flew very well and it was a nice feeling when I saw the ball go into the goal.”

“That was definitely one of my better all time goals. I have scored five goals in my career and four with the left. It was an amazing feeling to score my first goal for the U.S. Men’s National Team. I’m proud that we won this game today and now we have to go to the Gold Cup and move forward.”

On how the game went for the team:
“I think good. We needed like 10-15 minutes to come into the game, but after that I think we played very well together. We had a lot of new players that changed after the last camp, but we got into the game and we played well and we scored four goals, which was very important and we did not give up a goal, so we’ll try to carry those positives over into the Gold Cup.”

U.S. MNT goalkeeper BRAD GUZAN
Thoughts on the match:
“I think all of us as players, we’re not naïve to think that we were unbelievable tonight. We know there are areas where we need to sharpen things up. We know there are areas where we need to clean things up.  In saying that, going forward from here on out it’s about results. I think winning is a mentality – it’s contagious. It was important that we kept that going from two great wins in Europe. Although it wasn’t our best performance, it was important that we found a way to win, which we did. We created a number of chances which was obviously a credit to our strikers and attacking players and on top of it, we did get a clean sheet. Although it wasn’t our best performance, we found a way to get a win. In this type of tournament, you need to do that sometimes.”

On Guatemala’s attack early in the second half:
“Obviously they brought on some good players at halftime and we knew they would at some point. Guys like Carlos Ruiz, [Marco] Pappa, these guys, we know them.  We know what they’re about. They bring an element of quality to their team and we knew the second half was going to be different from the first half, especially with them making changes. We weathered that storm a little bit and at the same time we were able to go down to the other end and score some goals.”

On the team’s defending on set pieces:
“From my point of view we’ll want to look at that and make sure we’re organized. If teams are going to sit back and look to counter and look to get set pieces and fouls and put balls into the box, we need to make sure we’re sharp and organized. If I’m being completely honest, there were times I thought we weren’t as organized as we should have been and we got away with one or two. We’ll definitely look at the video, we’ll iron that out, and from my point of view that’ll be one of the areas we’ll want to look at.”

On the atmosphere in Nashville:
“Unbelievable. I was fortunate enough to come here in ’09. The atmosphere was awesome and this tonight surpassed that. The fans were unbelievable, the atmosphere was great and every time we’ve come here we’ve been welcomed with open arms. Especially with the forecast for tonight, to have the support that we did was phenomenal.”

On his communication with the back four:
“Obviously there are a lot of us that are coming from different parts. Whether it’s European players that are coming off a two-week break, whether it’s MLS guys that are now coming back into the picture. It’s just a matter of ironing out those details. Obviously communication helps, but at the same time you try to understand what guys are about and what their strengths are. You try to play towards certain guys’ strengths and going forward we’ll try to do that.”

On earning the clean sheet:
“Obviously you read the reports from you guys. We went through a spell last fall when we were playing games in Europe and we conceded late goals and everyone was making a big deal about it. For us as players, whether it’s the first minute or the 90th minute, we try to be solid and hard to play against and mentally we have to be focused and switched on to make sure we don’t concede late, especially in a game like this because as scoring goals is contagious and winning is a habit, so are clean sheets. You want to start picking those up in terms of not conceding goals. It’s nice to not have to pick the ball out of the back of the net.”