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Bradley, Gulati Address Draws

The Americans' World Cup qualifying schedule and Confederations Cup group are now in place. So what do the head coach and USSF prez think about it all?

Sunil Gulati, on the possibility of returning to Columbus to host Mexico in a cold-weather setting.....

"We have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks looking at alternatives. Obviously, we needed to know the sequence of games because there are teams that we want to play or don't want to play in specific venues and other venues that are available at only certain times of the year either because of climate or an American football team. Obviously, opening up with Mexico, we were successful in Columbus [before 2002 World Cup] so that would be a possibility, but we are looking at a number of venues across the board. We certainly aren't going to be playing Mexico in Southern California or Texas or Florida for fairly obvious reasons unless of course they agree to play at sea level in Monterrey, then we might be able to talk Bob into playing into one of those places, who knows. (haha) It was half-joking, half-serious. Clearly playing at Azteca has been a big plus for Mexico and it would seem playing in Columbus in February worked out pretty well for us. If the Mexicans wanted to be serious to talk about it, we would talk about it, but we are going, in very strong likelihood, play the game in a venue that is going to give us the best chance of winning. That is very likely to be somewhere where the temperature might be a little bit [lower] and in an area where there's not a large Mexican population."

Bob Bradley, on approaching two qualifiers in early June, the Confederations Cup in mid/late June and the Gold Cup in July.....

"It does create a great challenge. ... Communication with the clubs will be very important. As always, we want to compete at the highest level in the different events but certainly when we won the Gold Cup in 2007 the priority was to have the opportunity to [qualify] and play in the Confederations Cup. Given the way the draw went today, I think our ability to transition from those two qualifiers into Confederations Cup should be fairly straight forward and then we will have greater challenges that will require a lot of discussions to know exactly how to field our best team for the Gold Cup."

Much more in the continuation of this thread.....

Gulati, on the venue-selection process.....

"In the next 10 days, we will have a complete [list] of places that we are going to consider for various venues and will discuss that with Bob and try to internally finalize those venues. There are some fairly obvious places where we have been successful at. Bob has laid out two criteria that are important to him: We aren't going to play on artificial surface, even though in theory we could, and we strongly prefer not to play in a situation where there is temporary grass laid in for a couple days. Large [Latin American] populations will further affect things."

Single fixture dates could impact the decisions, as well, because, for example, it would be a long trip for European-based players to compete in one qualifier in the western U.S.

Gulati mentioned potential candidates such as Columbus, Salt Lake City, Nashville, Chicago, Cleveland, Hartford, D.C. and the Bay Area. Houston and Southern California are also a possibility, depending on the opponent. But "that is not an exhaustive list," he cautioned, saying others would likely be considered.

Bradley, on Mexico's semifinal-round performance.....

"Their previous round changed early on when the hurricane [forced them] to play their first three games at home and I think we see the idea of playing road games in qualifying will always be difficult. The pressure of some of those games and the effort of some of the opponents certainly made their last three games very different. Nonetheless, they were able to get through and advance. Whenever we play Mexico, we know it requires our best effort. We are proud of the type of games we have played against them and we look forward to Feb. 11."

Bradley, on the final-round competition compared to previous cycles.....

"It's hard for me to compare it to four years ago. There were no great surprises in the six teams that did advance, and it means the competition in this next round will be difficult. We understand that and we also know that past experiences in qualifiers reinforce the challenges of playing any of these teams on the road."

Bradley, on where priorities stand on this edition of the Gold Cup.....

"It's probably a little bit early to get specific, but there is a balancing act that always occurs. The rules work in a work that it does mean that the releases are mandated. Nonetheless, we know from all our dealings with not only clubs in Europe but MLS clubs that there is some sense respect for the player, for how games are played, for rest at some time of the all comes into play. There is always a lot to consider and as we get closer, we will do our best to be successful in all areas."

By Steve Goff  |  November 22, 2008; 4:12 PM ET
Categories:  U.S. men's national team  
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Next: Best XI


Great info, thanks Goff.

Posted by: ahelms10 | November 22, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

1/11 in Columbus or Hartford

Posted by: tfoisie | November 22, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

They better not bring a player to South Africa so they can play in the Gold Cup cuz Confederations Cup should be approached as a dress rehearsal for 2010.

Which country will host the Gold Cup?

Posted by: la2stl | November 22, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Gold Cup will be a big opportunity for some players that might be on the outside for World Cup roster spots: Szetela, Parkhurst, Thorrington, Rolfe, White, Bornstein. This tournament is going to be huge for those players just starting to break into the national team player pool.

Posted by: jb75 | November 22, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

A busy summer in 2009 then South Africa in 2010 means that it's even more imperative that MLS reorganizes and trims their fixture list down.

Single table - 28 league matches (2 fewer than 2008) - recognize the international fixture calendar when possible.

Posted by: Kev29 | November 24, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

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