Notes & Quotes from Columbus

Defender Gregg Berhalter, who just signed a contract to play for Crystal Palace of the English First Division, was replaced on the U.S. roster by Frankie Hejduk. Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley suffered a strained quadriceps muscle in Fort Lauderdale and was replaced by another teenager, Bobby Convey. All 24 players on the roster flew into Columbus from Fort Lauderdale on Saturday except goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who joined the team here directly from England. The Mexican team is scheduled to arrive Monday. Sunday's practice in Columbus was closed, but Coach Bruce Arena worked on 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 formations in Florida last week and is reportedly leaning toward the latter for the match, with an emphasis on experienced players. Local weather forecasts for the night of the game have varied in temperature from mid-20s to low 40s with a slight chance of snow early Wednesday. The following are excerpts from Sunday's press conference. Associate Editor Will Kuhns will file similar reports from Columbus on Monday and Tuesday. Head Coach Bruce Arena (On adapting to weather conditions) "Certainly the field conditions are more of a factor than whether it's warm or cold. Wind is the other issue, but I anticipate the field will be in pretty good shape, regardless of the weather." (On selecting Convey to replace Beasley) "It's likely that Bobby is not going to dress for this game, but the young players have a great future for us ... it was a matter of bringing in a left-sided midfielder for a left-sided midfielder." (On Gregg Berhalter) "He wasn't going to start this game. I understand he played well yesterday (for Crystal Palace). I think he needs to get on with his career. If he gets on with his career and does well with his club, he's going to help us. The way he was going over the past six months wasn't good for Gregg personally or for the national team program. Staying at Crystal Palace and trying to earn a place in that team is important." (On Tony Sanneh's situation in Germany) "Tony's not playing on a regular basis or in a regular position [with Hertha Berlin] and it's been a little tough for him. That's why here we've tried to be consistent with where he plays and try to help him move along at the international level." (On Mexico) Obviously a very good team. They've come to Columbus with a lot of quality players, we know that. They're defenders are outstanding in [Claudio] Suarez, [Rafael] Marquez and [Pavel] Pardo -- whoever else they decide to play at left back, whether it's [Duilio] Davino or [Omar] Blanco. I know there's a question mark about [Luis] Hernandez's fitness, but I'm going to assume that he plays. The combo of Hernandez and [Jared] Borgetti or Hernandez and [Francisco] Palencia -- whomever they put up top will have good quickness. In the midfield they've been pretty solid. They have experience in [German] Villa and [Miguel] Zepeda. I know they've played the two Ruiz's [Chima and Victor] a lot lately, but really whatever 11 players they put on the field are going to be a good group. (On differences between this Mexico team and past Mexico teams) "There are similarities, but when you don't have [Cuauhtemoc] Blanco on the field, your team looks different and when you don't have Ramon Ramirez on the field, your team looks different. With Blanco you have a great individual who can take players on and break down defenses, so they miss that dimension. But that's international soccer ... I don't believe that missing two or three players changes your whole team." Midfielder Earnie Stewart (On whether Mexico's injuries increase the urgency for the U.S.) "I never look at it that way. ... If they feel they have injuries, they'll field their best available team with a lot of players that want to play. You never know who's going to be behind Luis Hernandez -- he may want to show [themselves] off in that game. So I don't think it's going to be a big advantage no matter what." (On playing in cold weather) "A couple weeks back [NAC Breda] played in the cold weather like that, so it's not a big change. If the field is soft [temperature] doesn't make much difference. The only thing that's really bad is wind. That's one of the worst things you can play in. I've played in snow a couple times and as long as it snows during the game, it's no problem. Only if it snows before and there's a layer on the field is it a problem." Goalkeeper Tony Meola (On the week in Fort Lauderdale) "It was really good to have the majority of the guys in for more than just two training sessions. It doesn't always happen that way. It made for a good way to catch up with everybody. A lot of times we're catching up the morning before a game ... but now we've got that all out of the way and we can concentrate on Mexico." (On the fans if it is cold) "I would imagine the colder it is, the more they're going to have to jump around and scream and do all those things to keep warm. So maybe it's better that it's colder. We came here for a reason and the reason is that these are the best fans for this particular game and we expect nothing less than our fans making it difficult on Mexico."
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