Post-Game Quote Sheet: MNT vs. Nigeria – June 7, 2014

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and players comment on the USA’s 2-1 victory against Nigeria on Saturday, June 1, at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The match was the U.S. MNT’s final game of the Send-Off Series and the team heads to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN:
On the fans and atmosphere in Jacksonville:
“The reception from the fans here tonight has been something. The players coming and arriving at the stadium and seeing the fans out there, welcoming them, that was quite something. That makes everybody very proud now going down to Brazil knowing that we have the best fans in the world behind us.”

On the match against Nigeria:
“The game was as difficult as expected, especially the first 25 minutes. Both teams were grinding each other out like we will see a lot a few days from now in Brazil. The midfield battles will go all over the field. Every team will be as compact as possible. You won’t see many changes in the first half now, for sure.”

On in-game adjustments and the flow of the game:
“It took us a while to get into the game because we couldn’t keep the ball, the first 20 or 25 minutes, long enough to play out the situation and switch sides. Once we understood to make the field wider, to stretch it, we looked better. We started to have a better flow, better combinations. We started to play more simple.”

On Jozy Altidore’s goals adding to his confidence:
“Obviously it’s a wonderful message to see that Jozy put the thing in the net. It gives him a big smile at the right time now. It will give him a lot of confidence. It’s always a tough period when you don’t score for striker.”

On the process of Altidore working to end the scoring drought:
“The moment comes and you put it in there and then you start to be your own self again, but you’ve got to go through that working process. That’s what I always told him, you’re not getting it for free. You’ve got to go and work for it. He got sharper and sharper, fitter and fitter and we knew that if he gets chances, he will put one in.”

On his emphasis of the team staying compact:
“What we’ve worked on since we started camp is compactness as a whole. Everybody has to work, starting with Jozy up front. Clint [Dempsey] has to tuck in. We have to make the spaces as tight as possible, that’s just the way it is, to avoid any passes through the lines and giving them too many open shots.”

On the midfield trio of Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman and their performance:
“I saw a lot of work that they did, tremendous cleaning up all over the place. We know that’s Kyle’s specialty, to protect his teammates and to run endless miles for his team. Jermaine, in that half position, then has more freedom to go forward so he can switch back and forth with Michael Bradley and knows that there’s someone behind me. I think that worked out really well. We wanted to try out that way and it worked fine.”

On the cohesion of the team through camp and moving forward:
“We are getting ready. We see that the team is making real progress throughout the last three-and-a-half weeks. We see that on the training field every day. We get more and more connected.”

On having a versatile squad:
“We’ll try to build as many cards to play as possible so the opponent doesn’t really know who is the most dangerous one at the end of the day. Step-by-step we are getting there.”

On the current health of the team after the Send-Off Series:
“The guys, right now, after that workload, they are banged up a little bit. But we would have done a bad job if that wasn’t the case. It definitely is good to see that we carried them through, but no injuries.”

On the impact of Altidore’s performance affecting the rest of the team:
“It affects everybody. This is what you wish for one another. You know where everybody is right now and you keep your fingers crossed for all of them. When a sub player comes in you want him to do well and feel confident. Everybody is growing now in his own role within that team of 23 guys. They see that everyone is so important.”

On allowing a penalty in the last five minutes of the game:
“It’s a good lesson. For us it’s important to stay focused and get the job done, finish it off. You can’t give away penalties in the last moments of games. That is good because now we have some video to show them what they did wrong there. There was a mistake and that’s good material to show them. Next time, just finish it off with a zero.”

U.S. Men’s National Team forward JOZY ALTIDORE:
On what scoring two goals does for his confidence going forward:
“To be honest, it makes no difference. I’ve played for this team for such a long time now that I think it’s my responsibility to help the team in other ways; tracking back and being someone that younger guys can look up to. I take that very seriously.”

On Fabian Johnson’s contribution to the first goal and creating opportunities:
“Fabian has been a huge help for us, the way he gets up and down. He creates danger. The first goal was a beautiful team goal. It’s something that we’ve been really training hard at, to create better chances. It was fantastic again today.”

On the Nigeria game preparing the team for Ghana:
“Nigeria is very similar to Ghana. If we can emulate this performance against a team pretty similar to Nigeria against Ghana, we can start the group off the right way. We all want to get out of the group. That’s a goal of ours. I think the opportunity is there.”

On the brotherhood shared among the National Team:
“Something that we’ve worked on since Jurgen took over was making sure there’s a brotherhood. The U.S. team always has that. We’re special for that. I think the team morale and confidence has always been there, this game or not. We always fight for each other.”

On the pregame gift of dog tags from military service men and women and the ceremony:
“This is probably the best gift I have ever got. It means a lot to me, to know that what we do affects so many people and the people that serve our country. They respect what we’re doing and that’s an amazing feeling. It was a special moment for everybody and something I’ll never forget.”

On how he feels after completing the Send-Off Series and training camp:
“Tired legs, but in a good way. We’ve have worked really, really hard from a fitness standpoint to be fit and be strong. Jurgen has stressed that since we started camp. I think it’s going to help us. I think we’re going to peak at the right moment.”

U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder CLINT DEMPSEY:
On winning all three Send-Off Series games:
“It’s important that we keep winning and have a winning mentality. Three wins in a row going into the World Cup. We’ve got players scoring goals, getting confidence. That’s what’s most important is that the whole team is playing well as a whole and that we go into Brazil on a good note.”

On the significance of going to the World Cup with confidence:
“It feels good that we are playing well and our hard work is paying off. It’s still going to be a lot different when we go down to Brazil because that’s the big stage. That’s where it all matters. It’s good to go in with that confidence, with that sharpness and feeling good and having that confidence from those three wins.”

U.S. Men’s National Team defender FABIAN JOHNSON:
On Jozy Altidore’s second goal:
“He’s working a lot. The second goal of his, he used a great first touch, used his body, great finish. He’s a great striker.”

U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder MICHAEL BRADLEY:
On the Send-Off Series and moving on to the World Cup:
“The reality is that these games mean nothing now. You use them for what they are in the moment and you use them to sharpen up, to build some confidence, to get everybody even more fit. But the second they’re over, you move on. The reality is that now it’s all about shifting focus and being ready on June 16 when we step on the field against Ghana.”

On the impact that Jozy Altidore brings:
“Our faith and our confidence in Jozy has never wavered. He’s such an important guy for our team. He means so much. He’s such a good player. On a personal level, everybody’s happy to see him get some goals because we need to score to win and he’s a guy who’s going to help us get goals. The reality is that anybody who ever questions Jozy or anybody who doesn’t see what he brings to our team doesn’t understand soccer. This guy does so much.”

On Tim Howard’s 100th cap:
“Special night for him, no two ways about it. He’s a great friend, somebody who I’ve learned a lot from, somebody who I’ve enjoyed being able to be on the field with on so many different nights. To be able to be on the field for his 100th cap was special.”

U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder KYLE BECKERMAN:
On training and fitness preparation for Ghana:
“My body’s tired. My mind is telling me just to get over it. We really got after it this week. We didn’t take any breaks. It was a different temperature down here. We didn’t do what we usually do leading up to a game where you have super fresh legs. We went into the game with some heavy legs. Our main goal is to be peaking come Ghana, not today.”

On Chris Wondolowski’s similar path through the MLS to the Men’s National Team:
“For Wondo and myself, this is a dream come true. It’s something that we’ve always dreamed of, and when the door opened for us to get a chance to get in with the National Team we grabbed it. We ran through it and didn’t look back.”

On the starting midfield and emphasis on defending:
“We felt, in the Turkey game, that they were able to get into some dangerous spots on us. Our focus this week was to get everybody behind the ball. We are playing against good teams and they are going to have some possession, but if we keep them from being dangerous then their possession doesn’t mean anything. We felt that if we could win the ball, we could expose them with some numbers. We really defended together, we had each other’s’ back, and then when we won the ball we got into some really dangerous spots for ourselves. It felt really good tonight.”

U.S. Men’s National Team defender GEOFF CAMERON:
On the Nigeria win:
“I thought it was a great test for us today. They have a lot of good players. They are a good team. I think it will be similar to what we will see against Ghana. I thought we performed well today. There were a few careless balls and mistakes and they had some opportunities, but I thought defensively we kept our lines tight and kept it compact and made it hard for them to penetrate us through the middle.”

On the anticipation of the World Cup:
“I think we could turn some heads, and that’s our main goal. All 23 guys are on the same page. We’re all working for one another and that’s our main things; leaving it all out on the field and fighting for one another.”