[INTERVIEW] After debuting for his new team Saint-Etienne in the French Ligue 1 opener on Saturday, U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra joined the USA in New Jersey and talked about his national team future, the U.S.coaching situation, and his career in Europe, which started when he left the Chicago Fire for Fulham in 2004.
You just joined a new club, Saint-Etienne, after two seasons with Rennes. Is it tough to leave just as the French season started?
CARLOS BOCANEGRA: I love playing for the U.S. I love being around this group. It’s so special putting on the U.S. jersey. All the support we had during the World Cup is an incredible feeling.
How do you like Saint-Etienne so far?
I like my new team a lot. The move was in the works since December so it was nice when it finally happened.
What’s the main difference between the French league and the English Premier League, where you played four seasons with Fullham?
In England it’s a little more direct. France is a bit more tactically set up.
England is more physical. It seems to be in Europe in general – I hear it from the other guys on the team who play in Germany or Spain or Italy – you get a lot more fouls called in those countries for stuff that would be let go in England. You get used to it.
Do play more left back in France than you did in England?
I played both in England but I play more left back in France.
Are you expected to attack down the flanks?
The coach knows that I’m not really an attacker from the left back position. He doesn’t expect me do to things out of the ordinary but knows what I bring to the table. The coach is happy that I can play in the center or on the left.
Has the U.S. Soccer Federation asked you for feedback about Coach Bob Bradley?
We spoke a little bit briefly, but that's up to U.S. Soccer and Bob. Obviously, today with the Aston Villa thing coming into play, that is a fantastic opportunity. Who knows what Bob wants to do?
Would there be a benefit to having a new man in charge of the national team?
That’s a difficult question. Bob did a really good job with our group. He definitely took us to the next level. These past four years, not only on the field but off the field, he has made it a very professional environment. It's a good place. We know what to expect when we come in here, he has us prepared, and you can see by the results we had and the success he has had as a coach, he has brought us [higher]."
You’ll be 35 by the 2014 World Cup. How much longer do you see yourself playing for the national team?
If the coach selects me, I’ll never turn my back on the U.S. team. I’m going to take it one year at a time and see what happens.