Q&A: Bruce Arena Discusses Roster for October's Decisive World Cup Qualifiers

Upon naming his roster for decisive set of World Cup Qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena shed some light on his selections and the mentality for the team going into this month’s crucial matches.

ussoccer.com: Give us your thoughts on the October World Cup Qualifying roster.

Bruce Arena: "It’s a roster we’ve selected that we believe will give us success in these next two games. We have a pretty balanced roster with experienced players and if any issues arise, I think we have cover in all positions. We need to anticipate some issues with players with injuries, as well as suspensions."

ussoccer.com: Defenders Geoff Cameron and DeAndre Yedlin have returned from injury in time to make this roster. What have you made of their progress?

BA: "Yedlin has been playing now over the past couple of weeks, and Cameron played 90 minutes this weekend, which is a good sign. We’ll see what they look like when they come into camp." 

ussoccer.com: Could you speak about the commitment it will take from this team in order to come away from these games with a ticket booked for Russia?

BA: “The players always give the commitment, that’s never an issue. The issue is whether or not we get the results we need, and I think we’re positioned to do that. When I took the job last November, if you said to me 'you’d be in position in game nine to play a game at home that you had to win, would you take that?’ I would say ‘Yes.’

“In 2017 we’ve had one blip in the Costa Rica game. All the other results went along as we expected, and maybe even an extra point in Mexico. I think if it comes down to where we need four or six points in our last two games, I think that’s fine and we’ll get it done.”

ussoccer.com: Ever since the U.S. defeated Panama 3-2 at the end of the 2013 Hex, the teams have played to four 1-1 draws. In your view, what has made Panama such a difficult opponent since then?

BA: “It’s like any team in CONCACAF and the Hex. The games on the road are difficult. They’re a fairly defensive, physical team. You need the right day in terms of playing well, getting the right officiating, having the right surface to play on. I think all of those factors come into play. The bottom line is that we need to go out on the field and play well, be aggressive to start and get the first goal.”

ussoccer.com: Having coached in these situations before, what is the message you send to your players at the start of this camp?

BA: “Win the game. There are no secrets to this. We’ll have the team ready to play. I think the Orlando community will get behind this team, so we have to go out and play well and get the three points.”