MNT vs. Costa Rica: Post-Game Quotes

Post-Game Quote Sheet:
U.S. Men's National Team vs. Costa Rica
2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup
July 16, 2013

On the game overall:
“I think we saw an entertaining game, a game that we pushed to the end in order to win it. The team really deserves a huge compliment because we could have taken the easy way in saying, ‘We are first anyway in the group and the tie is fine.’ A tie is not fine with us. The team pushed it and grinded until the last minute and deserved another goal. A beautiful combination there, and obviously happy – first place, nine points, and you can see that there’s a chemistry there that’s fun to watch.”

On showing faith in guys such as Brek Shea and Sean Johnson:
“We’re happy for them because they deserve opportunities. A lot of young players coming through the ranks that we saw last year in the Olympic qualifiers, and having that disappointment, or going younger to Tab Ramos’ group, they played in Turkey, tied the World Champions and were in the Group of Death. All these players, we need to carefully build them and help them, and support them when things go wrong. Sooner or later it will pay off. When there is an opportunity like today where there is not much at stake in terms of we were qualified and Costa Rica was qualified for the quarterfinals, it’s still giving them a taste of these important battles, even if it’s for 20 or 25 minutes. Especially for Brek, coming off that game in Salt Lake where a couple of balls slipped away from his feet, he actually had a couple of moments there, two crosses that could have been two goals, and then had bad moments. We’ve got to build them and keep on building them, and give those opportunities whenever possible and making them understand that they only get better through a lot of work.”

On the budding rivalry with Costa Rica:
“It was pretty obvious starting the game that they had a back-five line, pretty compact. They didn’t allow any space there to go through. It will end up in a grind; it will end up in a battle. You’ve got to win your one-on-one situation; you’ve got to sooner or later hope there is an opening moment and break through and score a goal. We said it at halftime that you’ve got to be patient and you’ve got to keep working there and we’ve got to shift over to the other side whenever possible. Stuart Holden did that very well with a lot of diagonal balls, taking them over, getting them tired eventually.”

On Landon Donovan in the Gold Cup:
“Landon with his experience is so valuable for us. He can guide the front line first with Wondo [Chris Wondolowski] up front and then with Herc [Herculez Gomez] coming in. He was always communicating with Alejandro [Bedoya] and Jose [Torres] on the flanks. The ball that he played into Brek is just a perfect ball. His leadership in that moment is very important to the team, and he understands that moment. He’s a player that understands the importance of certain games. There was nothing at stake in a certain way, but I made it clear to the team that it is important because it’s Costa Rica. We want a benchmark, and we made that clear before. We want to send them a signal because we might meet them again in this tournament. One step at a time, but the things that we asked Landon to do, he did them.”

On Costa Rica playing such a defensive game:
“We saw when we got the lineup in that previous game they had played a back-five already. That shows a lot of respect for us. That’s what we told the players. They’re making it really compact, they’re going to sit deep, and they want to counter break us, which they had opportunities to do so. They have quality players that can always hurt you in a specific moment. They’re coming out for a very defensive-minded shape, so we’ve got to find ways, we’ve got to move the ball quickly and wait for those moments when they make a mistake and open up some things. It ends up in a lot of work. It’s good that they have five days until Sunday to recover from that game, but it was worth it to put the extra work in there. It also builds the spirit, it builds the chemistry. They understand that it’s only going to get more difficult. In the knockout stage, you have to be sharp 90 minutes or even longer. If you look at our back line, especially our two center backs, it was just wonderful to see. Michael Orozco [Fiscal] is there like a rock and Clarence [Goodson] with his leadership, pushing that line up and not dropping deep. It helped a lot for the midfielders to get the balls in the upper areas and not too deep.”

On the quality of the pass from Donovan to Shea:
The pass was perfect. There’s no other word for it. It was a wonderful ball into Brek.”

On the play of Stuart Holden:
“Stuart is a work in progress. We started with that after his season was over in England and we had many talks and we said we’d take it one day at a time. He’s a workaholic and he can’t get enough. We’ve got to build him and that’s what we’re doing. Today, going 90 minutes, and even in the last 10 minutes chasing down people, it was great to see. It gives us a very valuable option going forward at midfield. I’m glad about his progress.”

On the play of Michael Parkhurst:
“We observe the players over longer stretches of time. We talk to them whenever they are in camp. If they’re not in camp, we still communicate with them and follow they’re situation with the club teams. We’re there to help. He had a very tough couple of months because he made that big move into the Bundesliga and then couldn’t play because when he got there he was injured and then someone else took the spot and then they didn’t switch anymore. He’s a very smart player, how he reads the game. He has a wonderful first touch. He can chip the ball into dangerous areas over their back line and over their side. Every player on this team has specific qualities, and it’s our job as coaches to put those qualities into the team. We’re glad we were patient with him as well during the May/June period and talked a lot and said you will see it’s worth it, and a performance like tonight proved it.”

On making changes before the quarterfinals:
“We’re in contact with the clubs already. You’ve got to give me a couple more hours until tomorrow because I want to first talk to the players, but we’re going to make some changes.”

On getting the start in goal:
“It felt good to be back out there. Anytime you can represent your country it’s a special thing. To go out there and get a result, and a shutout, was fantastic. The guys in front of me did an amazing job and made my job easier, and we were able to come away with the result.”

On winning Group C:
“That was our objective coming in. We wanted to make sure we got three points in every game of the first part of this tournament and we were able to execute.”

On the save that led to the counter and goal:
“It was just a corner that was floated back post and I was able to get across. I think the guy did well to reach back and get a head on it, and I was able to get a fingertip on it, push it off the bar. Luckily it turned into a break for us. It was huge to come away with a goal and be able to close the game out from that point.”

On how he saw the goal and sequence unfold:
“I was watching it all develop. It was special from my position to see the transition. We talk about being quick in transition to get out to Landon, and Landon to play a ball first across to Brek. Fantastic play by us and we were able to attack on the counter and come away with the goal.”

On the difficulty of playing against Costa Rica:
“It was the toughest game of the group so far, as a test personally and as a team. We knew it was going to be tough. We had to fight and grind, but not every win is going to be pretty. You have to grind out sometimes, and we were able to fight tonight. The guys really battled, and credit to the guys in front of me who did a fantastic job and we were able to come away with a result.”

On winning eight straight games:
“For any National Team in the world, to win eight straight games is pretty impressive, regardless of the competition. To do it in some qualifiers, to do against Germany and then a few games in the Gold Cup is pretty special, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

On winning Group C outright:
“The goal always in the Gold Cup is to win our group and then we go from there. That was the objective tonight. We didn’t want to just get through the group, we wanted to win it, and win it in style. I thought we did a good job. We scored a bunch of goals. I thought we were great defensively tonight. A big one moving forward against El Salvador and hopefully we’re on our way to getting back to the final.”

On the counter that led to the goal:
“This tournament is about 23 players and we’re fortunate enough to have a team where guys can step in and take over when called upon. Sean was great tonight, he made a great save. I saw the ball bounce around. Herc  did a good job challenging it, it fell to Joe [Corona], Joe played me a great ball, and I saw Brek streaking, so I wanted to make sure that I put it in a good spot for him. I know Brek felt bad about his performance the other night, so we were all happy for him to get the chance, score the goal and win the game for us.”

U.S. MNT Midfielder BREK SHEA:
On the victory:
“There were a lot of good moments throughout the game. Costa Rica kind of sat back, we did a lot of things right and kind of broke them down. By the time I got in, I just had an opening and good thing I took advantage of my chance.”

On winning the group outright:
“It’s good to get first place. It’s what we wanted. We talked about it from the beginning. Now it’s over and we have to move on to the next game and hopefully win that one.”

On his goal:
“Sean made a great save and we countered. I can’t really remember who found Landon (Donovan). I just saw him there, and I saw the space and I was going to make the run and hopefully he sees me, and he did. It just went in. I wanted to get my first touch and try to put it in the back of the net.”