Youth National Teams: Quotes from U-20 national team media teleconference

U-20 HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID On the tournament and the team's preparation: "We are looking forward to the competition. The team is well prepared and has been together since January 1998. We've had a good series of preparation with trips over seas and camps here in the U.S. We had a very successful CONCACAF qualification tournament, and I was pleased with our team's ability to pick up their play in qualifying, especially after drawing the first match." "We resumed training in January after our players had gone back to their pro and college teams, and we've had some good results since then and some results that I wasn't as happy with. This team will rise to the challenge of the Under-20 champions, I'm very confident with their abilities." "Obviously the importance of any youth championship is to have continued development within our young players. The players that have had the chance to compete at this level, have an easier time moving to the next level, where this type of competition is not a new experience for them. It's a stepping stone in our progress. When this team is done, I think there will be some players on this team getting a look with the Olympic team, but that's really a question for Clive Charles." On security concerns and extra preparation for the U.S. behind the scenes: "We've visited the venues and hotels that we will be using during the Draw and everyone in our group is very confident with preparation, especially with the presence of FIFA. The security being provided by FIFA, which is not much different than a normal FIFA tournament, is excellent. We are very confident with what we've seen in terms of arrangements by the local organizing committee, and the arrangements that U.S. Soccer has made." "We are traveling with a much bigger support staff. We have a doctor and two trainers, and we are taking along a chef...obviously our food and medical preparations are important in staying healthy. We have all the players blood types and inoculations taken care of before heading into Nigeria, and we've been in touch with the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, so we have their support in case of a worst case scenario situation with a medical emergency." "This has not really been a distraction, but more of a novelty of which has had to get which shot in which butt cheek or which arm. It's been part of the preparation. When we go to South America, we have vaccinations as well, so players have gone through this before." On the team's opponents: "England has their own unique way of playing, although the team they sent to European qualifying in 1998 was playing a 3-5-2, and now they are more of a 4-4-2, after having a change in coaching. We expect a lot more aerial battles and directness of play, intensity and pressuring defense. We have to be prepared for that, and hopefully the heat at our playing sites will affect them more than us." "Japan is very active and fit and will pressure us all over the place. And we know that. We will need to be better with the ball and keep it moving, playing one- and two-touch as much as possible. The key is to make them expend energy on defense and not on offense." "Cameroon is a very athletic team, very comparable to some of the island teams we've played against. Both Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica resemble their style. They have very good one-on-one skills and speed that we will have to deal with." "We are comfortable against all of these styles and I feel we've prepared ourselves well against a number of teams that mirror our competition in the tournament. We're ready." "The order of games doesn't concern me. You want to get points in your first game, and we did that in qualifying and I think it is important to come out of that game with points. As far as our goals for the tournament, our goals are to go as far as we can. Advancing out of our group is something we feel we can do, and once you get into the knock-out competition, our chances are as good as anyone else." General comments on some of the squad: "Tim Howard is a very good goalkeeper, as is Nick Rimando. Tim has good size and he utilizes that size well with crossed balls. He is also quick and has good reactions. I think he will establish himself in MLS as a starter eventually, and I think he will get better as he ages. His best years are ahead of him." "Francisco Gomez has a unique ability to hit long accurate passes, and he has good technique and skill and can help dictate the pace of the game for us. John Thorrington has outstanding speed and has the ability to get around people and is a good crosser of the ball. Taylor Twellman loves to get into the 18-yard box and score goals, and he has the quickest release, I think, of anyone on the team, which makes him very dangerous." "Our playmaking role will fall onto different shoulders at different times. With Gomez and Shaun Tsakiris and others mixing it up. We actually expect Steve Cherundolo to do a lot of playmaking for us out of the back. We want him to get into the midfield and mix it up a bit, and not just stay back and worry only about defense." "Our forwards have been playing a 3-5-2 formation, although sometimes it looks like three forwards with players like Thorrington getting forward and looking more offensive than defensive. One of the things I like about our team is that we are fairly flexible." "In goal, we have rotated fairly consistently between Howard and Rimando, often predicating who plays on our opponents. Defensively, we have been pretty consistent with Dan Califf, Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra in the back." "In the midfield, Nick Garcia and Nick Downing have been out there in the field for most of our games. Rusty Pierce plays in the midfield as well, and I'm very confident with all three of those players in that role. Francisco Gomez and Shaun Tsakiris can play in the role of attacking midfield, and on the left side Cory Gibbs and Matt Goldsmith have been effective. And the same is true for John Thorrington and Ryan Futagaki on the right. Between Christopher Albright, Jamar Beasley, and Taylor Twellman, we are set up front, as well." NICK GARCIA On his hectic year of soccer: "This has been a great six months for me. I haven't had much of a break since winning the NCAA title at Indiana. I've been pretty much non-stop. It's a great experience for me, and this team is a great family (the USA). We have a strong bond. It's one of the strong points of this team. We have developed and matured over the years. We are very confident with what we are bringing to Nigeria in April." On playing for Indiana and winning a title and playing for the USA: "They are a lot like, representing my school, myself and my family...winning the title there. But above that, honoring my country is a great, great honor personally. I respect coach Schmid for believing in me, and I am going into Nigeria with my full concentration and to give it my all and try and bring a gold medal back to the U.S." On being ready for the "Nigerian" experience: "I was apart of the 1995 U-17 team that competed in Ecuador, along with a few other guys, so we know what to expect. We've all had a lot of experience with competitions all over the world, exploring different countries and cultures, having different types of food and travel experiences, so we are prepared. We are strong enough as a unit to stick together and fight it out. U.S. Soccer has done everything that they can to prepare us, and we will be concentrating on one game at a time." STEVE CHERUNDOLO On his time in Germany with Hannover 86: "The key for me there is to keep working hard and getting through each day. It's been difficult at times with the language barrier and other things, but I'm learning that as time goes buy it's getting easier. In terms of getting my release, it was agreed on before I signed that I would be competing in this tournament, if I was selected, so it wasn't a problem getting a release, but I know it's going to be tough going back and continuing to try and get in the team." On being ready for the "Nigerian" experience: "We were in Morocco a couple of weeks ago, and it's similar, so we've had a glimpse of what it will be like in Nigeria. I think a majority of the players have traveled the world enough with different teams, so we know what to expect. We have an idea and are strong enough as a team, so it's not going to be problem for us."
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