Coach Bradley speaks
Bob Bradley briefed reporters today on preparations for the upcoming qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras. The U.S. still only has 12 players in camp owing to weekend club matches, but Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein are expected to arrive today. The squad will leave for San Jose on Monday morning and get two days of training in at Saprissa Stadium before Wednesday's match. The U.S. has never won a World Cup qualifying match in Costa Rica, compiling a 0-5-1 record. Here are some excerpts from the conference call:
On juggling rosters for the upcoming World Cup qualifying matches and the Confederations Cup:
"We are excited, but it does produce challenges. We understand that it’s necessary to have a big pool. ... January every year is an opportunity to look at different players, asses the depth of our pool. That comes in handy at this time when you're going from one tournament to the other. There are some possibilities in terms of players who may be able to do both, but we understand the demands of the different clubs around the world and in MLS."
On the nasty fake turf at Saprissa:
"I think for the most part the players will tell you the game is not the same on artificial turf. We’ve been very fortunate in the United States to have good options when it comes to places to play our games. I think we always feel the game is best, obviously, on a very good natural surface."
On playing in a hostile environment in Costa Rica:
"Costa Rica has had great success at Sapprissa stadium. It's loud, we've already talked about the turf, and they're very comfortable there. They have a great confidence. Certainly we are aware that we have never won there."
On the strengths of the Honduras squad:
"They are an athletic team -- quick, strong. ... They have experience. I know Amado [Guevara] as well as anybody. He's still a very gifted player, capable on any day of making some very special plays. They've been together as a team. They've had some ups and downs, but i think if you look at their games throughout the qualifying there's a realization on their end that this is a great opportunity for them."
On playing before a potentially pro-Honduras crowd at Soldier Field:
"Soldier Field has been a great venue for the U.S. national team. Speaking for the players, I know how much they enjoy playing in stadiums where there's atmosphere, where there's a lot of passion for the game. The game in Columbus is a good example. We don't really know at the end of the day exactly how the crowd was split, in terms of the support for our team and the support for the Mexican team. But what we did know is that there were a lot of people there for us, and we hear them and we appreciate what they bring. Whatever it ends up being like at Soldier Field, we know that there's still going to be a lot of the most loyal U.S. supporters there wearing the red, white and blue."
On new Mexican coach Javier Aguirre:
"Whenever a country starts out poorly in the qualifying, when they make a change there’s a lot of responsibility on the new coach, the responsibility to immediately re-establish cetain ideas, what the team's all about. ... Aguirre has never shied away from these kinds of moments. I think that’s the reason that they felt it was necessary to make the change. He’s someone who is not afraid to make tough decisions and put a stamp on the team."
On Jozy Altidore's return from a toe injury:
"Jozy has been in training these last few days. Obviously he has not played a competitive game in awhile. ... I know that Jozy was pleased with all parts of the last camp. He showed a great level of maturity in terms of how he trained every day and it paid off with his performance, first as a substitute against El Salvador and later as a starter against Trinidad. He's come into this camp and picked up on those efforts. The only factor that's still out there is he hasn't been able to play in matches."
On Frankie Hejduk's groin injury:
"I think he is questionable maybe on the weekend. ... Our plan is still to get him in here either Saturday or Sunday. The initial thought was that the groin was probably going to take 7 to 10 days, so we're somewhere in that period."
On Peter Nowak's departure from the U.S. coaching staff:
"We were aware of that development. Peter is a great friend of ours, has been a very imprort part of the work that we have done as a staff. We are very exited for him and his family to have this type of opportunity."