March 22, 2012
By Michael Lewis
CONFIDENT, NOT COCKY
U.S. men ready to impress, qualify for the London Olympics
The United States enters the CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifying tournament confident, but not cocky.
The heavily favored Americans take on Cuba in their opening match LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. on Thursday night (9 p.m. ET).
“I don’t want to say too confident, but we definitely believe in ourselves and in each other,” U.S. midfielder Brek Shea said in a recent interview. “We have good chemistry and we have a good team of players. We’ll do really well.”
The Americans are coming off a series of impressive wins, although their most memorable game has to be the 2-0 victory over their Mexican counterparts on Feb. 29. The U.S. dominated the game against their archrivals, from start to finish.
“That was actually one of our weaker games,” U.S. striker Juan Agudelo said. “I don’t know if it was because it was a better opponent but the two games before that when we played FC Dallas and I scored for the team. We really dominated and it was so fun to play.”
Agudelo, who plays for the New York Red Bulls, doesn’t expect any easy matches. But he does expect the Americans to play well.
“With the way CONCACAF is right now, every single team is good and every game is going to be tough,” Agudelo said. “I’ve never been so excited about a team like this. We’re really going to show some pretty football. Our possession is pretty incredible from what I’ve experienced with them this last camp.”
During the 2008 qualifying tournament in Tampa, Fla. the Cubans were decimated from seven players defecting.
Despite the U.S. being the favorites, coach Caleb Porter did not take anything for granted.
“We’ve seen them live. They’re a very organized team,” he said. “They have some attacking guys that are dangerous. We expect it to be a tight game. They’re going to be organized and disciplined and I don’t think they’re going to open up and run with us. I think they’re a team that’s probably going to sit and counter and in soccer, that makes things difficult but we’re prepared for that.
“We’ve been in games through our preparation where we’ve had teams that have done that so we’re looking forward to the game.”