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Berhalter joins teammates as training continues for qualifier in Costa Rica.

Gregg Berhalter
Gregg Berhalter
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Wednesday, July 19, 2000) -- Defender Gregg Berhalter joined the rest of his United States national-team teammates at training at Lockhart Stadium this morning after arriving yesterday afternoon from Europe.

The team fought Guatemala-like weather conditions on the field today as coach Bruce Arena conducted a 90-minute training session, preparing for Sundayís 1 p.m. (ET) road World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica

Each of the 19 players in camp participated in training today, which consisted of an assortment of possession drills and exercises designed to stress quick ball movement. The high-energy session ended with a nine-vs.-nine game on a shortened field.

As was the case yesterday, the team met to dissect videotape following a meal at the hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Todayís video spotlighted Costa Rica in its two Gold Cup matches played earlier this year.

Training will be held tomorrow and Friday at 10 a.m. at the Miami Fusionís training facility in Fort Lauderdale. Following a 9 a.m. charter flight to San Jose, Costa Rica, Saturday, the team will train at Saprissa Stadium at 2:15 p.m.

Frankie Hejduk
Frankie Hejduk
Todayís planned scrimmage against Englandís Nottingham Forest was cancelled.

United States Soccer Federation manager of national teams communications Rich Schneider held the following question-and-answer session today with defender\midfielder Frankie Hejduk.

Question: Can you describe what happened to Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the year last season?

Hejduk: It was the total ideal situation. We had the lead going into the last weekend and were playing a team that was in the middle, or near the bottom of the league. It was away from home, but that was no problem because we had won games on the road leading up to that. We were playing really well, winning games 9-1, 4-1, 3-1. So the team was playing really great and everything was in our favor. Even all the players felt like we had this game in hand, like this one was going to be no problem, and we had the right to feel that way because we were playing so well. A couple of days before the game one of our players got hurt, and it sort of mixed up the team a bit. We have so many players on the team that it shouldnít have made a difference, but it actually did. On the day of the game, we came out super flat and basically had a nightmare. I donít know if it was nerves or what, but you could tell right from the kickoff that things werenít going our way. Then we go out and score an own goal and that pretty much describes the whole game for us. It was a bit unfortunate, because it was our game to lose and we did. It was our fault. There was no reason we should have lost that game, or at least come out with a tie, which would have given us the championship.

Question: What was the transition like when you first moved to Germany?

Hejduk: Well, the move from California to Tampa was nothing ≠- just moving from beach to beach, really. But moving to Germany was a whole different everything. It was a really big change for me. In the beginning I was just so psyched to go to Europe that I thought ĎWell, Iíll adapt to it.í And for the first six months it was cool, no problems. But after a while it kind of wore me down, and I thought maybe I wasnít as ready as I thought I would be. It was a little bit difficult there for a while, but now Iíve come to accept it. Itís not the best living conditions, but the bottom line is that Iím playing where I want at the top level against some of the best players in the world. Am I going to stay in Germany? Who knows. Iím just taking it as it comes and learning from it.

Question: Is the jump from Tampa Bay Mutiny to the Bundesliga as extreme as one would guess?

Hejduk: Totally. Itís not even close. The games are so much faster over there and then you add in the atmosphere and the fans and the professionalism of the players. Itís so cool to see how die-hard the fans are over there and how crazy everyone is about soccer. You get mobbed by people when you walk down the street and everyone knows who you are, and you just donít get that here in America. Itís easy to get a feel for how important the games are to those people. Itís a pretty cool feeling when you go to dinner and everyone knows who you are. You donít get too much recognition playing here in the U.S., and sometimes you feel like the game doesnít get any respect. Then you go over there, and feel that atmosphere, and it makes you want to keep playing the game.

Question: Watching your teammates withstand both the elements and an attack on Sunday, was it hard preparing yourself to come off the bench in Guatemala?

Hejduk: I knew my job going into the game, and I knew I was coming off the bench if I was going to play at all, so I prepared myself mentally for that. In terms of warming up, it took me about one minute to get ready. Coming into a game where you lead 1-0, and the other team is pressuring you and has the better of the game, is difficult because you need a little luck. Unfortunately, we didnít have that luck. I thought we played pretty well, but in the last 15-20 minutes they really came after us. Coming into a game like that youíve got to expect that to happen. Just to get out of there with a point was good, because thatís the way it is in these games ≠- away from home you need a point. Now weíve got to make sure we beat them when they come to the United States.

Question: Youíve been to Costa Rica with the national team before. What can we expect to see down there?

Hejduk: Itís going to be intense. I think itís going to be like Guatemala times 10. The fans down there are crazy for the game, and theyíll be even more of them that there were in Guatemala. Itíll be just as hot, and on top of that, I think Costa Rica is an even better team. Theyíre faster and even more organized, and itís unfortunate for them that they couldnít beat Barbados, but itís qualifying and anything can happen. Again, if we can walk out of there with a point, right on. Then weíll beat Ďem when they come to America.

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