On the Record: Arena & Pope check in from Seoul

U.S. coach Bruce Arena and defender Eddie Pope met the press on Thursday in Seoul, Korea -- six days before the USA meets Portugal in its World Cup 2002 opener.


On the injury of status Kasey Keller, listed as day-to-day after suffering a bruised left elbow: ''I have not spoken to our medical staff today, but our understanding is that it is just a bruise. The X-rays that were taken were negative.'' On whether the injury might affect his decision in choosing a starting goalkeeper: ''If one is injured and less than 100 percent, and the other is not, then yes it would have an impact on the selection.'' On whether the team is conscious of the extra security surrounding the U.S. team in Korea: ''We are certainly conscious of the extra security. I think psychologically it is a plus. The least of our concerns as this point is our safety. I think the Koreans have done an outstanding job and given us the kind of security they feel is necessary and at the same time have allowed us the freedom to go about doing our business in a normal fashion.'' On how much he wants players watching the other games in the tournament and whether the team will watch the opener together: ''We do not plan on watching the opening game together. As for how much I want our players watching other matches, it is as much as they desire. But I donÆt have control over that. ''Sometimes the other games conflict with what we are doing, but I think a lot of our players are very interested to see how the other groups fare and they will be watching a lot of soccer over the coming weeks. I think that is good. ''It gets them involved in the event and helps prepare them mentally for the games they have to face. They can observe how the games are being called by the referees, and observe mistakes being made and other things, so I think it is a good experience for the players. Naturally, I think they will be watching as much as they can.'' On whether he has contact Chicago Fire midfielder Peter Nowak [a former Poland international with Poland] for advance help on Poland [note: Nowak has been labeled a ''traitor'' in some Polish tabloid for assisting the U.S. in preparation: ''I know Peter pretty well. I have not sought his advice at all on the Polish team. [If I did] I think it would compromise our relationship and it wouldnÆt be fair to Peter. Obviously, Peter lives in the United States and knows many of our players, but he has his true ties and loyalty to the Polish team and people. The last thing Peter is, is a traitor.'' On whether he wants to comment on some of the criticism of the official 2002 World Cup ball: ''No. [laughter]. It's still round, right?''

EDDIE POPE, U.S. defender

On the difference in hotel accommodations from 1998 [rural] to 2002 [big city]: ''Obviously there is a big difference. Being in the city you feel more a part of what is going on, and feel more a part of the World Cup. Once it starts, IÆm sure we will feel the fever a little bit more. ItÆs a better feeling, you feel like you are involved and that you are a part of the worldÆs greatest event.'' On going head-to-head against Pauleta of Portugal, their renowned forward: ''We have him, we have Figo and [Sergio] Conceicao we have to go against. Certainly we will all be helping each other out. We know Portugal has a lot of great players. ''We know Pauleta plays well with his back to goal, and he is obviously a good finisher. So we know it is going to be difficult and that they are a great team. As a defender going into games like these, you know things are going to happen that you arenÆt normally used to and it is how you deal with those things that can determine how you do in the game.'' On the Korean team and whether the USA is focusing on any players in particular: ''We have individually and collectively watched a lot of tape on them and weÆve played them twice. WeÆve seen their last several warm-up games. They are a dangerous team as well [like Portugal]. You have to watch the entire team, because you canÆt just focus on one guy. We will be focusing on every single one of KoreaÆs players.''
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