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July 20, 2010

Bruce Arena

BRUCE ARENA: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm honored to be able to present our 23-man roster for the All-Star Game next week. On a personal note I'm very excited. As Dan had mentioned, this is the first time I'll have the opportunity to participate in the All-Star Game where we're competing against an international club team and a club like Manchester United. There are very few that compare to them in the world. So it's an exciting day for not only our coaching staff, but the players as well.
There are a lot of factors that went into rounding off this roster. I, obviously, had a thorough discussion with Dominic Kinnear, who is in the role as the assistant coach in the All-Star Game and will be really dealing with the team right up until kickoff because I'll be involved in the Champions League game on Tuesday night.
Yeah, there were a lot of things we had to take into consideration in selecting the roster. One is for sure we had to replace Kyle Beckerman who so deservedly was voted into the first 11.
Secondly, we gave strong consideration to the voting process, in particular the votes by the players at MLS and the general managers and coaches. We thought that was very important.
Another factor was the first team was comprised of four L.A. players, three players from Real Salt Lake, and two players from Columbus Cruz. So we did want to give considerations to the other teams in the league because there are so many players deserving of recognition in the All-Star Game.
Obviously in this process we were aware in the end we had left out a lot of deserving players and that's unfortunate. We did also employ some tactical decisions. We want to play in the back four, and the All-Star team selects three defenders as a starting point. So we needed to round off the back group with players that could play in a variety of positions in the back line of four players.
Another factor was our roster was heavy in forwards. With the Commissioner's picks, he selected Brian Ching, and Jaime Moreno, two worthy players of All-Star consideration, and that made us top heavy in the forward position. So we had to adjust our roster accordingly.
So we really had to avoid holding mid-field position, outside back positions and obviously we needed to select a back-up goalkeeper. Keeping in mind the fact that L.A., the L.A. Galaxy play on Tuesday night. Toronto plays on Tuesday night. Seattle plays on Wednesday, and therefore we were unable to select any players from Seattle.
Then the last thing that we really think is important is we want to win the game. So we needed to select a roster that would position our group to win the game against Manchester United. So these are some of the factors that we had to take into consideration. I think that's all I need to say at this point, and I'd certainly welcome any kind of questions.

Q. Was it really difficult to consider anymore Galaxy or anymore Toronto FC players because of the Tuesday Champions League games were they really even in consideration at all?
BRUCE ARENA: To be honest with you, we thought no because we have five players that are playing on Tuesday. We don't know the outcome of the games Tuesday on the players physically, so therefore there would be an unknown Wednesday in trying to piece together at the last minute the first 11 and also the roles of the reserves.
Therefore, if we added more players from the L.A. Galaxy or Toronto and, obviously, we could not with Seattle, that would really handcuff us in trying to piece together the right group of players to start the game and the reserve players that needed to be positioned as well for the game. At the end of the day the bottom line is we want to win this game.

Q. Could you clarify the Seattle situation? From the wording on the lead in, I couldn't quite tell if they were eligible to be named though not play, but I'm hearing from you that maybe since they couldn't play you didn't consider the Seattle roster at all?
BRUCE ARENA: First of all, I think Dan will be able to clarify this. I believe there are 32 players that are recognized as All-Stars in this process by the club.
THE MODERATOR: You are correct due to our collective bargaining agreement, Bruce.
BRUCE ARENA: So there will be some Seattle players that are All-Stars. However, it was virtually impossible for them to play or participate in this game because they have a very important Champions League game on Wednesday. The Sounders believe that game is important as do the L.A. Galaxy and Toronto.
We think the Champions League is a vital competition for our league, and it is the job of these clubs to win on Tuesday and hopefully move forward to group play.
So we had to take that all into consideration, and obviously with Seattle playing on Wednesday, we really couldn't consider their players for this game.

Q. I'm curious if you could tell me about what you've thought about Nick Romandos performance for Real. And how likely it is given your game the previous night that Nick might start the All-Star Game?
BRUCE ARENA: Well, certainly Nick is going to be given strong consideration to start the game, and obviously Dom is going to help me with that decision. We obviously need it to see the condition of Donovan Rickets as he comes out of the game on Tuesday.
I think Nick has had a fantastic year. And I think every coach and player in the league will tell you that he's very deserving. He's been an important part of Real Salt Lake's success. He's not only been outstanding this year, but I somehow we call that he participated in the MLS Cup last year and was pretty good there as well. So he really deserves this recognition.

Q. Can you talk a little about what's going to be going into making starting decisions? Kind of how that's going to take place and what kind of time line? Is it something that's going to happen in the hour or two before the game or will you have the starting lineup worked out a day or two ahead of time?
BRUCE ARENA: Well, I think we will have a starting lineup determined likely before Wednesday. I'm going to hear what Dom has to say about how the players arrive in Houston, and if there are any issues with injuries at all. We have a 23-man roster, so we can afford to wait until Wednesday to make some decisions.
We have enough players available to do that . But certainly the five players that are playing on Tuesday, it's going to be difficult for us to believe that they can play extended minutes on Wednesday. There is a chance one or two of those players may start the game; however, our planning has to to also include the fact that we don't know how much we can use these five players.
So we're really at the first 11 at this point in time. We have to think it includes the other 18 players that are available.

Q. Do you look at the entire roster in choosing the starting lineup or does first 11 selection kind of give you a leg up on the other guys?
BRUCE ARENA: No. I think we have to put a team on the field that makes sense, and place this team in position to win. Dom and I have discussed this. We want to play back four, and there are only three defenders selected. So we know there needs to be some adjustments.
We're not really going to just simply say that any of the players the first 11 have to start the game. We want to look at it and see what makes sense. Obviously you place a team on the field that can be successful.

Q. Every time an All-Star team is selected, there are always guys looking from the outside in. Who are one or two guys that you and Dom may have struggled with in leaving out of the group?
BRUCE ARENA: Well, that's a question I really don't want to answer because there are so many good players. I could easily rattle off half a dozen names to you. We don't want to get into that debate, necessarily. But we've realized that we've left out some good players and that's always difficult.

Q. How much did it have to do with tactics in terms of really finding the guy that's would fit this game as on posed to Manchester United?
BRUCE ARENA: That fit into our question of the initial 11 players we have, minus Kyle Beckerman, plus the Commissioner's picks. So we had to decide to round off a roster that allowed us it to play with a back four.
And the starting points we were a little heavy in the forward position, and we needed to find a couple of holding mid fielders or I should say include a couple holding mid fielders. Have some outside backs as well as, obviously, a back-up goalkeeper at the bare minimum.
So that's how we went along making the decisions to finalize this roster.

Q. The MLS All-Star coaches have a good record with scoring against teams from the very beginning. And just a reminder that Peter Novak with his All-Star team defeats powerhouse, Chelsea. And my question is are you going into some strategy or tactics with the previous MLS All-Star coaches?
BRUCE ARENA: I really don't think that's necessary, although certainly I could learn a lot from Peter, and every time I talk with Peter I learn something. However, I'm very fortunate that this time around I have Dominic Kinnear assisting me in this project.
Dominic coached the All-Star team last year, and he's certainly going to help me in moving the group we have forward to get them ready to play on Wednesday.

Q. Did you watch the Manchester match in Toronto the other night?
BRUCE ARENA: I was not able to. I was traveling to Washington, D.C. so I did not see it, but I'm well aware of this Manchester United team.
They are fantastic, and one of the things I might point out that is perhaps a little bit different than the past encounters against international club teams is that Manchester United is going to have three full matches under their belts before they play the All-Star team.
So we're going to find a team that will be a lot sharper than the previous clubs that participated in this game. And that's going to make our task a lot more difficult.

Q. What I'd like to get is your opinion with the international calendar, the MLS All-Star Game being around the CONCACAF Champions League suggestion, we know there were issues going into the World Cup break that the MLS took. Having said that, the U.S. is really proud of its All-Star Game tradition. What suggestions or ideas do you have with your international experience on how this might be solved to make this run more smoothly?
BRUCE ARENA: Well, I don't think this particular date is an issue with the international calendar as much as it is the MLS's picture schedule is obviously different than the rest of the world. It's something that I think we've all been well aware of, and I think the league will continue studying ways which they can find perhaps a better day to host the All-Star Game. And that is a process that I think is ongoing.
Next year without the World Cup, this date will perhaps be a lot easier into certificate into the schedule. So that's an issue that I know they're handling at the league level. I really haven't spent a lot of time trying to sort this out and looking at this schedule to find another date that perhaps is much more convenient than the one we have right now. Dan can comment on that as well.
THE MODERATOR: Actually just briefly from the league standpoint it's something that we do evaluate each and every year. We do also work very closely with CONCACAF but with all the competitions going on on right now, certainly league play first and foremost, CONCACAF Champions League, Super Liga, and the All-Star Game, and we have to factor in some times the international opponent and availability.
That said it will be something that we evaluate for 2011. And in the future you could see the MLS All-Star Game going back to a weekend. Certainly no promises there, but it is something that we are evaluating.

Q. Would it be something, and this is something you can pipe in too, Dan. Would it be advocating a postseason All-Star Game where teams would not be in danger of risking their players in the middle of a season or at important tournaments like the CONCACAF Champions League?
THE MODERATOR: I'll answer that briefly, Bruce. We look at all the possibilities, but right now our focus continues to be on a mid season All-Star Game. But it is something that we'll continue to evaluate.

Q. Just wondering your thoughts about going up against Sir Alex Fergusson, and have there been any occasions in the past where you've gotten to chat with him or see him work up close?
BRUCE ARENA: I've had the honor to visit with Sir Alex in the past as he a National Team coach. At one point, I can't recall the exact year, Tim Howard were playing with Manchester United and I'd go over and sit there with Sir Alex and discuss issues with the U.S. National Team and observe Manchester United practices.
I had a working relationship with Sir Alex. He's a legend. He's arguably the most successful club coach in the history of the game. It will be quite an honor to be on the sideline with him. It's exciting for the players and fans as it will be for myself and Dominic Kinnear. And Dominic's also first in the United States to have status as well as the players.

Q. Can you talk about Jonathan Bornstein and bringing him into the team, and what he has. And certainly as you're looking for a fourth defender, he certainly seems to fit into that role?
BRUCE ARENA: We all know Jonathan's an excellent player, and did a great job in the World Cup. Before to have a defender who could play at both left back and center back, that is the reason for the selection.
I think very few people question his abilities and the kind of year he's having and the World Cup he has. So I think he's a great addition to our roster.

Q. What sort of minutes do you expect from your guys, Landon and Edson and Omar in that game considering the schedule you're staring at coming up?
BRUCE ARENA: I think it's difficult to try to predict now, Nick, because we have to get through the game next Tuesday, which is going to be a difficult one. We need to see if the players come out of the game without any injuries and how they deal with the travel. So that question probably will not be answered until next Wednesday.

Q. How do you feel about just your presence on the outside flanks, the mid fielders that you selected?
BRUCE ARENA: Well, we have a number of players that can play there. Landon was voted in as a forward on this team. But certainly Landon can play there, Derosario's excellent in a flank position. Pappas is very good in that spot, Davis, so we have a number of options.
So I feel comfortable about the players we're going to wind up with on the flanks, and we have some excellent play makers in Morales and Ferrar.
So we have a real good group of players and I'm real excited to have the opportunity to work with them.

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