U.S.-Mexico postgame quotes
Here is a combination of a quote sheet from the U.S. Soccer Federation and my own interviews from the mixed zone.
Here is a combination of a quote sheet from the U.S. Soccer Federation and my own interviews from the mixed zone...
Opening statement on the match:
I think we saw a real interesting game. I think we saw – especially in the second half – a very exciting game. It was an amazing learning process the players went through in just 90 minutes. We gave them certain tasks before the game – to play out of the back, for example, which against a high-pressure Mexican side is not that easy.
We obviously gave them all the tasks to join one-against-one battles and win their one-against-one situations. Slowly, we gave them the task to move step-by-step more forward and get more confident the longer they were in the game and put Mexico under pressure.
That's what we saw in the last half hour where I think the players felt more and more confident. All of their defensive tasks were kind of under control and they challenged that Mexican side, which as I said before the game is a very, very good team that we have a lot of respect for.
I think now we can be very satisfied with that performance. There were a couple of very, very good individual performances. It's great to see some young players stepping into this team and being guided by the experienced ones. Michael Orozco, [Edgar] Castillo, the way Kyle Beckerman played his No. 6 role in front of the back four was exceptional.
The spirit and the energy from the experienced ones like Landon Donovan was fun to watch. It was really enjoyable to see how they then kind of expressed themselves. Robbie Rogers comes on and goes at [Carlos] Salcido like he plays in those big games since forever. This is what we want in this team. We want them to express themselves and have fun, and I think that's what we saw.
Leave aside if that was a penalty or not, and leave aside if that was a red card or not. We wanted to see a performance with energy, with excitement and with the goal that the fans really enjoy their team.
On the personal emotions he experienced in his first match:
I have to say I was emotional too. It was an emotional start for me as a person as well because it is something special that happened in my lifetime. I've lived in this country for 13 years and lived abroad most of my life, in different countries in Europe. It was a special moment already before the game, listening to the anthem and feeling the energy in the stadium and the energy from the players.
Unfortunately, I'm too old to play so the second-best solution is coaching, but I really enjoyed it.
On the second-half improvements made by the team:
I think that the task in the first half was really difficult: to keep the defensive shape, to keep that high-pressure Mexican side away from goal. I think that besides that surprising goal which was more like a coincidence than a real goal, they didn't really have real chances. That was a real good defensive job that the team did in the first half.
What we were lacking in the first half was putting pressure on them, going into their half in the final third and creating chances. We knew that Edson Buddle was working his backside off and getting tired. We analyzed the players over the last 30 days. Some of them don't have 90 minutes in their legs yet. Some of them are just starting their seasons.
Steven Cherundolo didn't even play a game since the Gold Cup, so we were very careful to see how far they can stretch it and we knew that once we bring in some fresh energy we were also going to get the Mexicans kind of tired. We kept the pace up and we expected them to struggle a little bit towards the end of the game.
I think there are some players that can make a difference here. Landon, obviously, but Robbie Rogers and Brek Shea, they have the qualities to go one-on-one. Those qualities that Mexico have as well, with their attacking midfielders. That is really fun to see. They're taking people on and they're going into the box. That's what changed with them coming in as subs.
On concerns which need to be addressed:
We definitely have to work on a lot of things. Step-by-step we need to get more comfortable with the back four line-up, but that comes game by game. The most challenging part of building a team is always the back four; that's the backbone of your team. We had two youngsters jumping in and it's not their first game but they've never really played that role in those kind of high-intensity games, so that is a challenge.
Obviously, step-by-step I would like our back four to move further up, be more comfortable with it and to connect better with the midfielders. We lost a lot of balls in the position where obviously the Mexicans are very good because on their fast-break attacks they can really kill you. They tried to play out of the back by launching long balls to Edson Buddle. This will come by time.
Also, certainly the higher the pace you set, the more mistakes you make. This has a lot to do with fitness. Once they gain far better fitness – we will monitor that over the next month – we can get them to another level as well. There are many, many areas where we can improve and still I think they really deserve a compliment tonight.
On Brek Shea:
We know the qualities of a player before we call him in. He has the qualities to take people on. He has tremendous pace. He's driving to the goal and he wants to score; he has a drive into the box. Besides that, we want to see how he integrates a move like that, how comfortable he is, what type of character he has.
He fit right in there. It was really nice to see him. It only took a day or two. A lot of them who come the first or second time are nervous, which is normal, but then he kind of shook it off and I knew that we can bring him on anytime. We had that in the back of our mind before the game that certain players needed to be changed for getting fresh legs in there and he was on top of the list. It was fun to watch.
On the nameless jerseys and 1-11 numbers:
There is no real concept behind that. There are 11 players out there and the numbers should be from one to 11. The only exception really is the World Cups and the Gold Cups where they get their numbers throughout the tournament.
I think that simplifies it a little bit and maybe people get confused when they see a player with a 98 on the field and they don't know where to put him. For me as a coach that makes things a little bit easier. We know that certain players have a favorite number and we try to accommodate it but I think it fits them better from 1-11 and it's a little bit of a signal that it's a fight going on for those numbers.
They did not have enough time to put the names on. I told them this morning that we have a different way of doing it now. Our equipment manager was a bit stressed out, I apologize to him. He's a good guy.
On future roster selections:
Certainly, our goal is to have them always with us, no exceptions. Because if they are not flying to the U.S. or other European players are flying back to South America to play for their countries, there's no difference.
I made that clear to the players that we expect them in camp every time because they have to defend or fight for their spot. We'd like to double the positions so there's always a challenger behind each established player, whoever occupies that position.
Therefore, we will do everything so that right away when from these players come over for the Costa Rica game - it's a Friday game and they will be arriving Monday in L.A. - they will be full time with us. This is really important, because it's not like we have that much time with the players, especially the European-based players. So we will use every day we can get.
On tactical changes in the second half
We wanted to see a couple of different things. Obviously, José Torres is a tremendous talent coming from the left, with great crosses. He showed amazing skills in a couple of training sessions. But he's also who, when he plays in the middle, can hold the ball. He's very gifted technically.
Our problem in the first half hour was that we couldn't keep the ball in the midfield. We couldn't find those spots and then step-by-step move into their half and control it there. So this was one factor why we moved Torres in - also the qualities of Brek Shea coming in on the left side.
The next step was knowing that Landon was working extremely hard on the right wing, even chasing [Carlos] Salcido down, really having a battle with him. That cost him a lot of energy, and it took him too far away from the box. So we needed the qualities from Landon to take people on, but also be close toward the goal and he enjoyed that.
Once Robbie came on and took his part, he had a little more freedom. He didn't need to run all the way back anymore, because Kyle Beckerman and the other midfielders were doing a good job then. So we need to have those variations, we need to have flexibility, moving people around.
Mexico is a good example. [Andres] Guardado and [Pablo] Barrera and [Giovanni] dos Santos or [Antonio Naelson] Zinha, they constantly move and switch their positions. That makes it difficult for us to chase them down. I think we have players with similar capabilities, and we've just got to train that way and give them confidence, and go from there.
On the goal and the team on the second half:
The team definitely improved in the second half. We attacked, we played the ball, it was totally different. We were more confident in the second half. The goal was pretty simple. Brek [Shea] put a ball to me, and I just had to finish.
On having improved from his previous appearances with the national team:
The more you play, the more confidence you get, and the more composure you get on the ball. Over time, it just comes.
On playing for Jurgen Klinsmann:
I think for a lot of people, it's a fresh start. We know his history of developing young players. He likes to help young guys, and I think he's been a big help with everyone.
On combining in midfield with José Francisco Torres:
He's very composed on the ball. He plays in Mexico, so he knows how these guys play. It was good to play around him, and give him the ball and let him distribute it.
On the difference between tonight and his debut with the national team a year ago:
I was excited and nervous that night. It was way faster compared to the soccer I've been playing. Today, I just got in there, relaxed and did what I had to do. I got a lot of playing time this year, and that definitely helps in raising confidence, and Coach Klinsmann also brings positive energy. He's all about if you mess up, it's not a big deal, you move on.
On the result and performance:
Defensively, I think we did well. We kept the pressure, and we created more pressure ourselves in the second half, creating more chances on the left side. They had two very good saves, and then we scored the goal. Overall, we created some chances and we thought we were dangerous, that was the key to tonight's game.
On playing with Michael Orozco Fiscal and Edgar Castillo:
I felt very well playing with them. Michael [Orozco Fiscal] was solid, his body language was particularly good, as well as his confidence. He made the right passes and when the ball needed to go, he launched it. He won his battles, he's athletic. He was very good tonight.
On Klinsmann's appointment and moving forward:
It's hard, because we all are trying to get to know each other, and there's a new coaching staff. The small details are different, so it will be good to get in for a week and get to know one another even more. It's been good and upbeat so there's a positive feeling. The more we can get together for longer periods of time, the better. That's never easy, so LA should be a good exercise for us.
On the game:
I think it was a great game. The first 15 minutes of the first half were tough, when Mexico came out and played their game. Then we got situated. I think the back line pushed up a little bit and we started to get control of the game. The second half was just the same. We came out and took control of the first 10 minutes, and after that it was a total different game.
On the game after the substitutions:
We have been together for three days, and we've trained twice, so I think we have done a great job. We tried to combine and get some passes forward, and that's what we tried to do. The subs were fresh, they came on and did a good job.
On what Jurgen Klinsmann said to him:
That I had a great game, that the team did very well, that we did a great job, and that I've got to keep working with my club team so that I can get called back here again.
On whether he can envision himself playing more for the national team in the role he played against Mexico:
I hope so. I'm just going to take it one game at time, and hopefully for the next game I'll get called in. If I do, I'll just try to give my all and help the team.
On the team's improvement in the second half:
I think we were kind of a bit confused [in the first half] about how we were pressing in the midfield, and I think we figured it out in the second half. We were able to put a little more pressure up higher and cause them to make some unforced errors, and then we started to win the ball in better positions.
So instead of having to go from a goal kick all the way to try to score, now we were going from half the field. Just some quick one-two passes and we were in on goal. That seemed to pick up in the second half.
On playing for Jurgen Klinsmann:
He's super-positive. He's constantly telling us to express ourselves, he's giving us responsibility, telling us that we're the ones who are going to go do this, and this is our time. It's been really neat. He lets the assistant coaches get really hands-on and help us, and if there's something they want to teach us, or tell us about the game, he has no problem.
He has no ego, none of that. He just has a real positive energy that has spread throughout the team.
On the game and the team's performance:
I thought in the end we deserved to win, but we are really happy with the performance. It took us a little while to figure things out and get more comfortable, but once we turned the tables and put them under pressure the game changed dramatically.
On the changes between halves:
Mexico is a very good team who puts you in very uncomfortable positions defensively. From up above it probably looks pretty simple, but it's very complicated to figure out. Once we were able to break that out, it brought us a little confidence and the game and momentum shifted. It was a much better second half.
On the energy of the subs:
They were great. Juan [Agudelo] was great. Edson [Buddle] did a great job beating up their center backs. Brek [Shea] was good and aggressive and did the things he does well at Dallas. A lot of times guys come in and they're a little tentative, but he did his job. Ricardo [Clark] did a great job as well. I think overall we are very happy with the whole team.
On playing with Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco Fiscal on the back line:
I think they both did an excellent job. They won their individual battles and stuck it out through 90 minutes, which is always a challenge against Mexico. I'm looking forward to seeing them more.
On his own condition:
I was physically beat out there tonight, and there's still a little pain in my ankle and shoulder. It was physically demanding for myself, but any time you come back from injury, you have to just kind of throw yourself in at some point. It just happened tonight that it was against Mexico.
On the confidence given to the team by Jurgen Klinsmann:
He's good. I think he gave the young guys especially a lot of confidence to come in and express themselves, and to have fun more than anything. I thought that as a team, we brought a lot of energy, especially in the second half. The young guys, they did well - they're coming in with a spark and a lot of energy, and they kicked us on, so to speak, in the second half.
On the change in momentum after the U.S. scored:
Yeah, [Mexico] had a lot of the ball up to that point, but they didn't do much with it. I don't know how many shots they had on goal, but I don't think Timmy [Howard] had to work too hard tonight. In the first half, it took a little bit of time to figure them out, with their movement and our new style and structure.
In the second half, we definitely got in their faces a bit more, and after that goal, it gave us a bit of life. We probably should have won the game in the end.
On whether the tie feels like a tie, or a different result:
This time, we feel like if it had been for points, we should have gotten three points instead of one. But we'll take the draw. We improved, definitely, in the second half. We got after them and put them on their heels. So that's something that we'll take into our next game, and to push us along for qualifying next summer.