Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ahead of Gold Cup, coach Arena reflects on positive June qualifiers

June 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Gold Cup, US National Teams, US Soccer

With four points in two games and a resounding point taken away from Mexico, USMNT have come back on track in the World Cup qualifiers. A few weeks before the Gold Cup, coach Arena sums up the month of June and what he liked from his squad. 

On the team’s response:

“I think there’s enough evidence there to indicate that they responded well to a plan that we had in place. When we came into camp, we had an unprecedented challenge ahead of us with playing two games at altitude and having two less days of rest between games than you typically have. We had to have a plan that not only enabled us to have fresh players available to play against Mexico, but also to deal with the altitude for the two games and the two weeks. Overall, I think the players did well.”

On the Hex standings:

“It’s a pretty tight race at this point, and I don’t think we have any interest in finishing fourth. Our goal is second or third place, because I think Mexico is far ahead and it’s unlikely we can catch them. We can be second or third and I don’t really care which way we end up, but we certainly don’t want to be in fourth. Stepping away from this camp, we recognize the home game against Costa Rica on Sept. 1 is critically important to making sure we finish in the top three.

think by the time we got to Mexico City there were some clear gains there where we were able to play that game over 90 minutes and look physically better than we have in the past. The preparation work was probably a factor in us getting a point out of that game.”

On Gold Cup expectations:

I think I said it would be a great year to do those two things, and that’s a pretty tall order. I think we will have a good group of players coming in with a nice blend of some experienced players and some less experienced. They’re going to have an opportunity to show what they’re about, and I think that part is exciting. Anytime you’re in the midst of World Cup Qualifying and very close to not only qualifying, but being at a World Cup a year later, you have to have a competitive environment, and these players will push to positions themselves to be a big part of things moving forward.” 

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