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U.S. REACTION: 'There is more work to do'
February 12th, 2009 7AM

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[USA-MEXICO] U.S. coach final Bob Bradley and U.S. players Michael Bradley, Frankie Hekduk, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Landon Donovan discuss the 2-0 win over Mexico. ...

U.S. coach BOB BRADLEY
On tonight's game:
"It's great to start the final round with a win against Mexico. The all around team effort was good and it's a good starting point, something to build on."

On the wind:
"You can't make too much of a big deal because you can't always win the coin flip, but we did decide that if we had the choice that we would go with the wind to start."

On how his team adjusted to the wind:
"On nights when the conditions are bad, when the wind is like this, it's very important that the team moves well together. You can't have gaps on the field, you have to feel tactically that you're disciplined. Obviously there are adjustments when you're against the wind. The ball isn't going to go as far on goal kicks, you still have to string passes together. You don't want every ball to be up in the air. We talked about all those things, but the major emphasis was just on the way we would move as a team in order to handle the conditions."

On starting the final round against Mexico:
"It's never easy to beat Mexico. They're a good team, they have good players. Our players love these games, the atmosphere. As I said in the press conference the other day, it's ironic that we're playing them first, but everybody was excited about it."

On whether he's proud of his son:
"Right now I'm the coach, it's about the team. When you coach at a professional level there's a way that you want to do the work. There is an environment that you create and you want to establish a high level of being a pro in terms of what the right mentality is. The one thing that happens with Michael is that he gets a steady dose of that, not only when he's in with the team but in terms of the father-son relationship that we've had."

On his family:
"I have three children and I have to say that I'm proud of all my kids. I have a great family and I'm a lucky man. That has nothing to do with whether we were going to win or lose tonight."

On shutting down Pavel Pardo:
"I said to our midfield that we needed to impose our game on them. We needed to make it hard for Pavel Pardo. I think he is a key player on their team, a guy in their midfield who gets people involved and an experienced player. Our idea was that we really needed to understand as a team that if he's so important to them then we needed to push hard and make it hard for him so that we would have that edge."

On the play of his midfielders:
"Our midfield play tonight, their work as a group, was really important and that sets the tone in the game. Tonight is a night where we'll go around and talk with each guy about how they played. I don't think it was necessarily a night where we got our best performances from each guy. But I think collectively there was an understanding of the game that had something to do with Mexico and something to do with the conditions. When I say conditions, it's only the wind. Everything else tonight was great, the field was in excellent shape. The temperature for players was great, but the wind is something that you don't really know how to prepare for. As a team, in a collective sense, how to deal with things and how to move and put pressure on them, it was what you want to see in a team."

On whether he thinks the U.S. is superior to Mexico:
"We played one game in the group. We're excited to start the right way. We never get ahead of ourselves. We concentrate on growing as a team. Obviously Mexico is a very good team and we respect them, but we want to step up every time we have the chance to play them and show what we're all about."

On whether he sees his team in South Africa in 2010:
"We know there is more work to do, but that's our goal and we have the confidence that if we do things the right way, then we'll be in South Africa."

On what his team can improve on:
"There are so many things that we can do to get better. I use the expression sometimes that it's the whole package and how you improve in all ways. Looking at tonight's game, when we had the lead and all of the sudden we were up a man, there is a tendency by some players to start to think that the game is over and now they can do the things that they like to do. As opposed to the mentality that if we keep doing the same things while they only have 10 guys on the field then we can have the killer instinct. As it turns out, it was very late before we put the second goal in. that is an example of something. I won't talk to the team about that tonight because it's important to let them feel good about the result and we work hard as a group when we win."

On the atmosphere of the game:
"It's still a great atmosphere. Our fans are really loyal fans, wearing the red, white and blue. That's something that the players, coaches, everybody appreciates. We know the responsibility that we have for all of them. It's also important to say that there was a lot of green, red and white in the stadium tonight and I think that also is special. The idea that we still feel like it's a pro-USA crowd, we feel their passion and support, but at the same time there are Mexican fans, Mexican-Americans who have the passion for their team, it only makes the atmosphere better."

U.S. midfielder MICHAEL BRADLEY
On how he feels after tonight's game:
"I think everyone on our team was really excited to play tonight. Anytime you can play against Mexico it's great, it's also a really important World Cup qualifier. To be a part of a team effort like that and come away with three points is a great feeling."

On how he feels personally:
"I'm happy we won. We got three points and we beat Mexico so that's important."

On his two goals:
"The first one, DaMarcus [Beasley] served a great ball in and Landon [Donovan] did a great job of heading the ball back across the goal. Obviously there were a bunch of guys there and the ball bounced to me. On the second goal, Jozy [Altidore] and Landon made a great play to get in behind their defense and Landon cut back as I started to move forward. He played a good ball and I took a shot on target."

On whether he will be seen as the most dangerous player against Mexico:
"These are special games, they're fun games to play in. As a player, these are the games we want to play in. In the locker room before the game, we looked at every guy and knew we were ready to play. I don't think it's one guy, it's not just Landon, it's 11 guys committed to do every little thing on the field to make sure we were going to get the result."


U.S. defender FRANKIE HEJDUK
On tonight's game:
"We did our job. That's why we play the game. The boys battled hard. It was everything it was supposed to be. There are so many emotions before the game, during the game and after the game and at the end of the day all the guys fought hard for each other. We were always around the ball and we made it hard for them to play. That was our game plan and Columbus did its job again. The weather came in and the fans were there and it was crazy like it was supposed to be. We're just all excited and it's good to get a win tonight."


U.S. goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On the team's expectations for the final round:
"Our expectations are kind of the same to what they were in the semifinal round. Start well at home and when we go on the road, we want to pick up vital points however they come. We want to really protect our home grounds in the these games, and we did that tonight so it was a good start."

On making an early save:
"It always helps when you have the opportunity to make a save [early in the game]. It gave everybody a little lift and it was a bit of a warning shot. If you can make the save in that situation then everybody is on their toes again."

On captain Carlos Bocanegra:
"When Bob took over the team, he instilled a lot of belief in Carlos and gave him a lot of responsibility. ... He's a really good guy to have as a leader. We trust him and we know he's going to battle all the time."

On the play that led to Mexico captain, Rafael Marquez' red card:
"It was a 50-50 ball and he came in a little bit late and, you know, those kind of things happen in these type of games. I respect him a lot as a player and there are no hard feelings, that's for sure."

On looking ahead in the final round of qualifying:
"I think we need to take it one game at a time and understand that every game [in this final round] is massive and we don't have the luxury of looking ahead. The most important game is the next one, obviously, and in the next series of games there are two back to back. We need to go away from home and pick up some points and then come back and protect our home field."

On this summer's Confederations Cup tournament:
"I've certainly learned from my club career that playing big games like that hardens you, whether you win or lose at the moment isn't as important. Just being able to be in those environments, to test ourselves against those teams will really help us grow for what we hope will be a return trip to south africa the following summer."

U.S. defender CARLOS BOCANEGRA
On younger guys and improvement:
"We have young players in big positions [on the field] and they're stepping up to the plate when it matters most. It's nice to see. The defense can always improve in working together, but it was a good group effort tonight, and I think the midfield won the game for us more than anything."

On tonight's win:
"We knew it was going to be difficult playing against Mexico tonight. In the first game of the final round, getting three points was huge for us. It made it a little bit special that it was against Mexico. Bob stressed before the game that we keep our heads and not give into gamesmanship. Tactically we were organized and I thought our midfield dominated as well."

On the prospects for the final round of qualifying:
"In the last round we got a good tough win against Guatemala away and it started us off with three points. Tonight, we got a good start against a difficult opponent in México, our confidence is good but we're not going to let up."

U.S. forward LANDON DONOVAN
On the game:
"It wasn't the best start and they had a good chance early. We got a lot more comfortable though and started putting pressure on them. We had a few chances and obviously the goal changed things. In the second half we knew that if we were solid and patient that they would open up and we'd have a chance to get the second."

On the way the U.S. played tonight:
"I thought we dominated them through the middle. DaMarcus [Beasley] and Clint [Dempsey] did a great job tucking in and helping and working. Michael [Bradley] and Sacha [Kljestan] were excellent and Mexico had no where to go. Any loose ball we seemed to pick up. We were on top of them, anticipating well, and they didn't really have an answer."



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