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Gulati on Gold Cup, World Cup and more [AUDIO]
by Ridge Mahoney, July 29th, 2009 7:02AM

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[U.S. SOCCER] In a teleconference call with reporters Tuesday, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati touched on myriad topics, including the national team's recent performances to the visit of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Click HERE for audio of the Gulati press conference

Here are a few excerpts, headlined by topic:

On what a whirlwind of games and events and competitions the past two months have been:

Gulati: "It's been extraordinary, not only given the team's performances, but in what's been happening on domestic soil, and by that I really mean two things: the number of games that have been played over the last 30 days, between the Gold Cup, between international friendlies, and the MLS All-Star Game [Wednesday].

"There have been some huge attendances, some over 80,000. We've really had a chance to showcase some of our stadiums and in the case of Dallas, a first [sports] event, more than 82,000 people at the Rose Bowl, and in Seattle, in Philadelphia, at Gillette Stadium, in Baltimore, in Atlanta, really across the country.

"With big attendances, along with big TV ratings, we're almost at World Cup level in some cases, with the U.S.-Brazil [Confederations Cup final] game reaching 7 million people in two languages, and the U.S.-Mexico Sunday reaching almost 5 million on Univision, I don't have the English-language numbers yet. So it's really been an extraordinary 60 days and in the last 30 days even more so, finishing with a visit of the FIFA president."

On the disappointment of losing the Gold Cup final to Mexico, 5-0.

Gulati: "To lose by that score to a rival is, of course, disappointing, one that is felt by me, by our players, by our coaching staff, by our fans. At the same time, most people recognize that the only overlap of the players available on Sunday from the Confederations Cup was Heath Pearce, who hadn't played in South Africa. That result is very, very disappointing and painful, even more so when we have the FIFA president [Sepp Blatter] sitting with us and who saw us play in the Confederations Cup. In great measure, we get a chance for redemption very quickly [against Mexico Aug. 12 at Azteca Stadium in a Hexagonal qualifier], something you don't normally get except in a home-and-away series. In this case, I am glad it is not an aggregate score issue.

"The group that played in the Gold Cup, for 5 1/2 games, did very well. I think a lot of people were surprised that we had that much depth and did as well as they did. There were a bad 30 minutes -- a very bad 30 minutes -- but I don't think it reverses or undoes the real progress we've shown in June and July."

On discussions with Blatter about a U.S. World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Gulati: "We're still very much bidding for 2018 and 2022. There are a number of people with the [FIFA] executive committee, certainly the European members, that think Europe should go first. I don't think there were any changes coming out of the meetings we had with [Blatter] and anything he said subsequently."

On the plethora of cities interested in bidding.

Gulati: "We are getting a receptivity that is very different than the one we had in 1986 or 1987 [regarding USA 1994]. Having been part of that effort back then, in many cases we'd have to explain what the World Cup was, when it was, how many games it was. In this case, that is a non-issue. We have got civic leaders, stadium leaders, team owners, politicians very interested in trying to bring the World Cup to their city. People understand what the World Cup is about."

On the new FIFA rules regarding players changing national-team affiliation, and the status of applications to do so by Jermaine Jones and Edgar Castillo.

Gulati: "We've got some concerns with the rule change that was passed, in general terms, in either direction. We are likely to benefit by it more often than the alternative, but the thought that a player could play in the Olympics and theoretically play in a World Cup qualifying game a month later for another country is contrary to really the integrity of the national team set-up. It is permissible under the rules and we will certainly play by the rules, but my guess is that the rule will get looked at again in the next year or two by the FIFA Congress.

"I believe all the paperwork has been submitted to FIFA for his [Jermaine Jones] change of eligibility and I'm not sure in the past couple days if the final paperwork has been submitted for Edgar Castillo .... It's up to Bob Bradley when to bring them in for a look and possible participation."

[Note: Gulati did state neither player's application would be processed in time for the Aug. 12 game against Mexico, and eligibility by October is more likely.]

 



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