CHICAGO (Wednesday, May 7, 2003) - U.S. Men's National Team Manager Bruce Arena participated in a ussoccerfan.com Live Chat with fans and media in advance of Thursday's match vs. Mexico in Houston.
Bruce Arena:Thanks for joining us this morning. The atmosphere in Houston has been outstanding so far, and we are expecting a sold out crowd at Reliant Field, so it should be a great game. I'll be happy to take your questions.
tofer:Bruce, how important is a result in this "friendly"? Obviously we all want to continue our recent trend with one of our biggest rivals, but is it more important at this point to be evaluating different players and combinations of players?
Bruce Arena: The evaluation of players takes precedence over a result at this point. Our last game against Mexico was the game we needed to win.
USFutebol09:First off, Bruce, can you please give us an update on the team, and how the past couple of training sessions have gone? Anybody in particular standing out this week?
Bruce Arena: The team is doing well. Obviously in a short week it's hard to evaluate how any particular individual is doing. We'll use the game to evaluate where the players stand.
T-Lo:Your squad is facing Mexico in Texas, What sort of crowd do you expect? Pro-Mexico? Pro-USA? and how much of a difference does it make?
Bruce Arena: We expect a capacity crowd, and it's likely that a majority of the crowd will support the Mexican team. I think this type of environment is good for the development of our team and players.
BennyDee19:With Regards to the tournaments this summer, if possible, what are your plans regarding the personal that will participate? Will you take younger guys to get them experience for the upcomming qualifiers or really take the best possible team reagrdless of age?
Bruce Arena: At this point, I haven't finalized the rosters for the tournaments. However, it's likely that the rostes will be comprised of a mixture of both veteran players and players will less international experience. In my opinion, the CONCACAF Gold Cup is the more important of the two competitions.
Joel G:Hi Bruce. Now that the team has surpassed everyone's goals for the 2002 World Cup, what do you think should be the appropriate goals heading into the 2006 campaign? Thanks and keep up the great work!
Bruce Arena: There's no 2006 campaign unless your team qualifies, so our goal is to build a team capable of qualifying for the next World Cup.
yoguido77:The Nats have the unique problem of having many excellent goal keepers around the world, which is a great problem to have. To get more to the point would it be absurd to think that Brad Friedel will not be participating in any of the tournaments this summer?
Bruce Arena: Not absurd at all. The possibility exists that Brad will not participate in the tournaments this summer. As you pointed out, we have an equally outstanding goalkeeper in Kasey Keller, and a few others, so I'm very comfortable with that position on the field.
WC2014:What are your thoughts about the change in the structure of qualification for CONCACAF. As you know, previously the USA started play in the second round and this time will start play in the first round?
Bruce Arena: I think any process that's fair for all 35 countries is a positive. Therefore, I'm fully supportive on the new format. I don't think the format will impact us one way or the other.
bbird01:I live in LA, and we will soon be opening the Home Depot National Training Center - how will this facility improve the US National Team?
Bruce Arena: It will be a home for all of our teams, and a great venue for international competitions. Without a doubt, the Home Depot Center is a real plus for the U.S. National Team program.
PostMaster:Care to say anything about the reports of a Portugal match prior to the Confed Cup?
Bruce Arena: If this game is confirmed, it will not only be great preparation for the Confederations Cup, but a great opportunity for some of our younger players to play against one of the best teams in the world.
MartinD:I live in Houston and will be at tomorrow's game. How much has Brian McBride's experience in England improved his game? Do you find European experience (assuming they play, of course, and not just sit on the bench) to be valuable for a player's development?
Bruce Arena: Certainly experience in the top European Leagues rapidly increases the development of a player. In the case of Brian, since his tenure at Everton was for a short period of time, that environment did not change his make up as a player in any appreciable measure.
BennyDee19:Edson Buddle and Kyle Martino of Columbus have proven they can be very exciting players, are they on your radar for this summer or is it more important for them to play for their respective team right now?
Bruce Arena: They are certainly on the radar screen. Whether they will be a part of the summer competitions remains to be seen. I believe they are players with a future in the national team program.
Dirk Nanninga:Bruce, after the USA went up 2-0 against Mexico in the World Cup, the Mexicans resorted to some brutal tactics (to put it mildly). Cobi Jones was nearly broken in two on one occasion. Do you expect there to be some scores settled [Thursday]?
Bruce Arena: The U.S. v. Mexico games are always an intense battle. Certainly after the World Cup result there may be some pride at stake for them, but we are focused on getting our team ready for this summer and building towards World Cup qualifying.
REDEVIL_7_11_18:Bruce, do you think it is easier for a player to step into the national team pool when they have been playing in the junior national teams?
Bruce Arena: Playing for youth national teams doesn't really translate to success at the senior level. Keep in mind that youth teams are age-appropriate competitions, and the senior level is played at a much higher level.
BennyDee19:Care to comment on the FIFA decision to extend the World Cup to 36 teams?
Bruce Arena: First of all, the decision has not been finalized. I personally believe that it would be very difficult to efficiently run the tournament with 36 teams.
angelsoccer:Are you going to have Ryan Suarez play in a game for the National Team? If not do you think he might play for Uruguay?
Bruce Arena: Ryan is a player we continually evaluate in his MLS games. At this point in time, he's not a part of our immediate plans.
hern:Bobby Convey has been playing outstanding soccer at midfield for D.C. United so far this season. Do you really see his future with the national at left back or is that just something you are trying out on a limited basis. Is he lacking something that would not make him a national-team-calibar midfielder?
Bruce Arena: First of all, Bobby is a good player and he has demonstrated the ability to play in a variety of positions. All of I've done is given him the opportunity to show where he is best suited to play for the national team. At this point, we're still exploring where his best spot on the field is for us.
Ilya:Express your opinion about the upcoming teams you're facing in the group in the Confederation Cup.
Bruce Arena: Obviously all three teams are proven powers in the game. However, until rosters are finalized it's difficult to comment on the teams we will face. Regardless, I would anticipate that we will face three very strong teams.
BennyDee19:There has been much speculation about the young Freddy Adu, many of us have not been able to see him play. We have only heard rumoprs. What are your thoughts on him as a player and how much potential does he posses?
Bruce Arena: Freddy is an outstanding player for a 13-year old. If he continues to improve, he should have a bright future in the game.
REDEVIL_7_11_18:Do you see expansion for MLS as a bonus when it comes to giving more of the younger players currently in MLS a chance to become starters on a regular basis?
Bruce Arena: Expansion in MLS is good for any of the domestic players, because more roster positions will be made available.
tafly:Can you name any players that haven't been capped yet, that you have definite plans on bringing into camp in the near future?
Bruce Arena: Without naming specific players, I would anticipate that we will see some new faces for the game against Wales in San Jose.
Correy:Let me first say that you've done an outstanding job and that for most of us in the U.S. Soccer community you are the key factor in the success we have seen over the last few years. My question is what your rational is for hanging on to some of the old timers, like Ernie Stewart and Cobi Jones who, while still good players, will almost surely be too old for the next World Cup?
Bruce Arena: Thanks for the kind words. At this point, as we develop the team for qualifying in 2004, their experience and leadership is invaluable to our group of players.
Bruce Arena:Thanks for taking the time to join us this morning. If you're not able to attend the game against Mexico tomorrow tonight, please tune in to ESPN2 and Telemundo to show your continued support of U.S. Soccer. We certainly appreciate your efforts, and look forward to a great summer of soccer for the national team.