USA team is set.The captain and the coach of the USA national team met the press in the first media event since the Americans arrived to South Africa.
Both had positive things to say about the first African nation to host the World Cup.
“So far, the organization on all ends has been great and we certainly appreciate the efforts of the Local Organizing Committee, the South African Police and the U.S. State Department, but I think everything has run very smoothly," said Bob Bradley. "The team is excited to get started.”
Though the USA team has been concerned with security issues at past World Cups, including taking the unusual step of traveling during the 2006 World Cup in Germany in an unmarked team bus. However, the team is traveling in a USA-branded bus for the 2010 tournament.
“From our standpoint, we have tremendous confidence in the security around our team," said Bradley. "The level of professionalism is really amazing."
The USA team is staying at the Irene Country Lodge, which is close to both Pretoria and Johannesburg. The Americans beat out Italy, who were also interested in the facility, by submitting their request for the location first.
"Irene is a great facility," Bradley said. "It’s going to give us a great comfort level every day. It’s a place where I think we can really concentrate on our work."
Bradley admitted that part of the USA team's confidence at the start of the World Cup was based on the success the team had in last year's Confederations Cup, where they reached the final.
“We had a good experience here last year. We got a sense for the tremendous passion that people have for the game. We were treated so warmly last year. The stadiums where we play our first-round matches in are all stadiums where we’ve played before, so you come back to a place where you kind of know what to expect. I think that’s always a plus.”
Bradley did not put making the final game of the World Cup out of the reach of the Americans.
“We learned a lot last year and again, that includes, making the final and playing well against a team like Spain," Bradley explained. "That includes taking the lead against Brazil but ultimately the disappointment of not finishing the job. Those are all experiences that I think help us. At the same time, we concentrate first on the group. We understand that whenever you get to this type of event, you need to know how to play that first round, how to adjust from game to game and you need to make sure that you know how to advance to the knockout phase. That’s the first goal.”
The coach was also aware that the USA team will be under immense scrutiny from the start of the tournament.
"So much attention has been put on the first match against England," Bradley acknowledged. "It’s a tremendous opportunity for us. The spotlight on that game is huge. It already has generated amazing interest in the United States."
Bocanegra was looking forward to the upcoming games.
"It’s finally here – we’re in South Africa," Bocanegra said. "We’re excited for the games to start."
However, the Bocanegra explained that the Americans were still looking to improve.
“First off, we need to sharpen up defensively. I think that could be improved on. We’re trying to gel as a team and peak come June 12. The thing that sticks out to me at the moment is to be a bit better defensively and have a better team shape from the back to towards the front.”
Bocanegra said he was recovering nicely from his recent sports hernia surgery.
“I held up well," said the defender of his recent stint in the USA's 2-1 win over Turkey. "I just need to work on sharpening up the last five percent or so. I feel good.”
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