A few minutes with Landon Donovan
U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan addressed a wide variety of topics during Tuesday's media session at team headquarters in Irene, South Africa.
With a draw against England, the Americans are very much in contention for a round-of-16 berth. However, "In all likelihood, if we lose [to Slovenia on Friday], we are out of the tournament. That's the reality of the situation. As much as people put into the England game, this becomes a lot more important in that way."
Later, he added: "We haven't always done well coming off a good result and continuing that, and so that was part of the feeling in the locker room that, 'Okay, that was a good start but it doesn't mean anything if we don't get through the group.' "
On the big TV audience back home for the England match: "We're getting somewhere but candidly that should be the standard. It's the biggest sport in the world and we all understood how big this game was going to be and now making sure we don't let down."
How the approach to the Slovenia match will be different from the England game: "When you are playing England, you understand they are one of the best teams in the world and you don't sort of roll the ball out and see who is better because they have better players. You have to be smart. This game we will probably be a little more aggressive and assertive, but at the same time, we are going to stick to the principles that have made us successful over the years."
General impressions of Slovenia: "There is nothing flashy about them. There are not a few players like with England where you go, 'We need to 100 percent stop that player or else we are in trouble.' But they seem to be a very good team overall. They seem like they have good chemistry and they know each other well. They've obviously played a lot of games together. They have played difficult European qualifying and come out of it. They are just going to be solid; they are not going to be spectacular and they are going to be difficult to beat."
Asked what it feels like to be, for a change, a favorite in a World Cup match: "Who says we are the favorites? It means nothing to me."
On the ability to come back against England: "Our team spirit has always been our strongest point. You saw in the England game, a lot of teams go down in the first few minutes like that and they would have crumbled. Our guys stuck together, we got the goal and, in the end, had a chance to win the game. That's our starting point. Defensively we are always very good, and what we will learn from the other night is that we can be a little better going forward. If we are, we are going to have quite a few chances to score goals."
On the team's spirits: "It was not like we were popping champagne afterward. Guys were satisfied with a point but nobody was ecstatic. As much that was made of the England game, we knew that was only the start of the tournament, so we know what that was all about."
On Jozy Altidore: "Jozy has the ability at any time to pull off plays that not only guys on our team can't pull off but a lot of guys in the world can't pull off. Obviously the run and the shot [in the second half] are an example of that. What Jozy has improved at is being a force in other parts of the game when he is not making a play like that: How can he help our team? He did a pretty good job of that the other night. He can still be better."
No one knew what to expect from Oguchi Onyewu, but "I have known Gooch a long time, and one thing that he does maybe better than anyone is he is ready in big moments."
On the Adidas ball: "It's tricky. It's hard to navigate. It's hard when someone plays you a long ball, it's hard to judge where it is going, where it is coming down. It's difficult when you are shooting to hit it properly. It seems like you either hit it perfectly or it's going somewhere far away. As much as the goalies are frustrated by it, the players are too. You've seen a lot of missed chances, a lot of crosses that are mistimed, misplayed that normally would be goals."
Asked if he prefers the older ball, he said: "I'm just old school. I like old-school shoes, old-school balls, old-school shinguards. I like what I know."
Assessing the tournament as a whole and the low scoring after four days: "It seems most teams have played it close to the vest, and that is probably fairly typical for most teams, aside from the top teams, in the first game. You certainly don't want to lose the first game, not only from a point standpoint, but also just from a mentality and a morale standpoint. My guess is things will open up a little more as it goes on."
Vuvuzelas -- for or against? "They are awesome. [He said it with a straight face but you got the sense that he was being facetious.] You can't control it. They are going to blow them whether I like them or not."
On the U.S. supporters: "Awesome. It's hard to compete with the English traveling fans, but my guess is in the next two games we will have a heavy, heavy advantage. Well, maybe not Algeria, but it's just makes you feel more comfortable and at home."
The decision to linger on the field and salute the fans after the England match: "We understand that you have to thank those people for making that commitment."
Would a draw against Slovenia be acceptable?
"A tie means we are still in the tournament, so you have to be aware of that. That being said, we understand very clearly that, if we win the game, we have a very good chance of going through."
June 15, 2010; 10:25 AM ET
Categories: 2010 World Cup , U.S. men's national team | Tags: Landon Donovan, South Africa, World Cup
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