USA 6-1 Belize

Opening remarks:
“First of all, thank you to a fantastic crowd in Portland. It was wonderful to experience, and the players were curious how it would be. It lived up to the expectations. We took it seriously, and the team was focused and wanted to get the goals, and they did. Therefore we are very satisfied.”

On the performance of Chris Wondolowski:
“A goal scorer always comes on in the moments where he realizes the extra work will pay off, and it pays off for Wondo that he is so dedicated and has such a great attitude. He scored his first one the other day in San Diego and followed up with his next ones. That’s what a goal scorer is about, always hungry and doesn’t change his way. It makes us coaches happy, obviously, and he builds his own case.”

On whether he saw if Wondolowski was frustrated with his previous goal drought:
“I never saw him frustrated. Always a hard-working attitude, giving everything he had. He’s just a joy to work with.”

On starting Wondolowski ahead of Herculez Gomez and other lineup decisions:
“The decisions for Gooch (defender Oguchi Onyewu) and Herc (forward Herculez Gomez) were based on the fact that they’ve had knee issues in the past and we didn’t want to risk anything on the turf field. The same thing with Stuart Holden was that if we need you, you’ll come off the bench when things open up a little bit. There are always situations when it’s not that kind of style in the game and others have the opportunity. Wondo realizes every minute he’s on the field that he has an opportunity, and he better take it, and he did very well.”

On staying patient to open up the game against Belize’s defensive stance:
“It’s the normal development of the game. When you play a team with 10 players behind the ball, it will take time to open up space there. In the beginning they’re fresh there, energetic there and ready to play this tournament, so they close every little space they see. It takes patience, and many other games are the same way. We’ve got to just keep the ball moving around. We’ve got to move off the ball fast and efficiently, and I think once you get a bit of a rhythm and you score the first goal, things open up a little bit. Eventually you will break them down because it’s a game of patience. It’s not surprising that it took the first half and hour to grind in a bit.”

On having more of an attacking mentality with this squad:
“It’s constant work. We want to push the ball up into the opponents’ half, even when we play the big nations. We work every time we get together, we work on those principles. We want to find the strikers where the central midfielders pass early enough, playing out of the back. Guatemala in the offseason or Belize coming into the Gold Cup, you have to always follow those principles and work on them. The players understand more and more how we want to build up with the ball in the midfield to the strikers up front. It’s consistent work and it will continue. We’re just trying to improve every time we’re together.”

On when young players such as Jack McInerney will get their chance in the Gold Cup:
“For players like Jack right now, it’s a tremendous learning curve by training every day with these guys and to see the play in his club level versus the National Team. He’s coming along. We see him, we see his talent, and he’s getting more confident every time he’s getting on the practice field. The Gold Cup is a bit tricky because we can only sub three guys. In the two or three preparation games, you throw him in there to get a couple minutes, but now the rules are only having three (subs) and you want to make sure you have the right ones based on what you see in training, and he’s on a good path.”

On what’s going well in the attack:
“We’re really starting to click. There’s tremendous talent all over the offensive area. We’re just making smart runs and finishing our chances.”

On what it’s like to get a hat trick in one half of a Gold Cup game:
“It’s amazing. It’s a great tournament and I’m honored to get a couple goals and just to get a win though. It really set us up for the rest of this tournament.”

On the difference the past couple games with the ability to find the back of the net:
“I’m confident, relaxed and enjoying it. I was pressing a little too much in the beginning and I don’t think I play my best when I’m like that.”

On being in the starting lineup against Belize:
“I was very excited. Portland has great fans, and I knew it was going to be a heck of an atmosphere. They didn’t disappoint. It was exciting to be out there and I loved it.”

On keeping the attack going against Cuba:
“We have to continue doing the little things – connect our passes, be sharp and continue our movement. When we move without the ball, that really makes us dangerous and hard to mark.”

On what the offense is doing well to increase the productivity:
“We’re creating a lot of chances. We found out in the first 30 minutes against Guatemala that it’s OK to pass the ball and have the ball, but we’ve got to get somewhere and be effective.  In that game when we put crosses in front of the goal we got goals. Tonight, when we put the ball in front of the goal, we put teams under pressure and we get goals. We’re not the biggest team, but we put teams under pressure and we did that tonight and scored some goals.”

On being able to wear teams down:
“It’s important in games like this to keep going. You have a tendency as a professional when you score a goal or two to take the foot off the pedal a little bit and relax. We don’t want to do that. We want to keep going and pushing, and the more we push in these first couple games, the more space that opens up. Teams can’t play like that against us for 90 minutes, so if you keep the tempo high and you open up space, eventually and you can score goals.”

On what it means to be the first MNT players with 50 goals and 50 assists:
“I’m very proud of it. If you pass the ball and guys don’t score, you don’t get the assist. I’m very aware that there are two parts to that. I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping guys score and seeing guys be successful and happy. When it comes in a victory, it’s even more special.”


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