Charles: ‘The U.S. will play exciting, attacking soccer.’(Wednesday, April 19, 2000) -- Coach Clive Charles has the United States under-23 men in Hershey, Pa., for the crucial CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament which starts Friday when the U.S. plays Honduras. The two finalists in the six-nation tournament advance to the Summer Games in Sydney in September.
Before heading to Hershey, Charles answered questions submitted by SoccerTimes readers. He declined to answer certain personnel questions.
Question: Could you discuss the goalkeeper situation. Will you be bringing in an "overage" keeper? How many keepers will you keep?
Charles: I won't be using any overage players in qualification, simply because I'm not allowed to. For qualification though, I will have two keepers on the final roster of 18.
Question: Which position(s) would you like to fill with the overage players? What criteria will you us? Are you more inclined to select a player that fills a positional need of the team, or go with the best available player?
Charles: I'm not too concerned with that yet, because first we have to qualify. We'll have a better picture of our needs after the qualifying tournament.
Question: Who do you feel will be three toughest opponents in the qualifying tournament?
Charles: Obviously Mexico is dangerous, but I expect every team that qualifies to be dangerous in some way.
Question: What does Landon Donovan bring to the Olympic team?
Charles: Landon is an exciting young player who brings flair and great technical ability to our roster.
Question: Normally, one pares one's roster down to the required number by holding a camp. You didn't have a camp until the roster was cut to 18 (or 21 with the alternates). So why not just start with a roster of 18 (plus three)?
Charles: The last two-and-a-half years have basically been an extended camp, including a large two-week, player pool camp that we had in San Diego in January. This 18 was selected after that identification and the four games we've played since.
Question: Is there any chance that players not on your 25-player list, might earn a recall to the full team before training camp? What about the interim period after qualifying and before the Olympics?
Charles: Depending on our needs and injuries, players could definitely be called into the camp after qualifying. There's always a chance.
Question: What are your plans for Matt Chulis and what do you think of him as a player? Also what do you think of his situation in Columbus as being an Olympic team player and not seeing much action for his team.
Charles: I can't speak for the Columbus situation. Matt is a very good player, and an injury to another player would be a situation under which he may be called in.
Question: Do you feel it is more advantageous for a young player to skip college and go into the pros to develop himself or as a college coach, do you believe the collegiate experience is more beneficial to a young player?
Charles: Going to college or playing professionally depends purely on the individual talent. If he's good enough, the young man should play professionally.
Question: What do you think of the performance of Pete Vagenas? Is Pete of the right physical size to perform at the international level?
Charles: Pete is an excellent player who I am very high on, and his size is not an issue.
Question: Jay Heaps has also proven himself in MLS, starring for the Miami Fusion. Why hasn't he been given a look by you or Bruce Arena in dealing with international matches?
Charles: I can't speak for Bruce and the full national team, but as far as the U-23s, Jay's age prevents his participation for us except as an overage player.
Question: How well do you think this team can play against top countries like Brazil, England and France?
Charles: I'll know that answer after the qualifying tournament!!
Question: It seems as if our current crop of under-23s has more talented forwards than any of our other U-23 programs have ever had. Do you see more flair in our young Americans than in the older generations and, if so, what are our coaches doing to encourage\discourage more individuality?
Charles: MLS has had a lot to do with the improvement of our young forwards, mostly because they are in a professional environment every day. I think American soccer players in general are better all-around than earlier generations, simply because of opportunity.
Question: How much cohesion is there between the U-23 team and the full national team? Are you concerned with primarily fielding the best team possible given the talent available or do you work with Bruce Arena to develop players for particular national team needs?
Charles: Bruce has made it very clear that I put the best team on the field to represent the United States in the Olympics. He then has his pick of that team for what he needs on the full national team.
Question: Please describe the style of play you plan to employ.
Charles: The U.S. is going to play an attacking, entertaining style of soccer.