We're pushing to the top 10: Keller
The US goalkeeper feels that his team has bigger expectations because of better players and a deeper squad than ever before.Updated: Jun 01, 2006 11:32 IST
Kasey Keller has the experience of three World Cups behind him (1990, 1998 and 2002), and has played in both the English Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton and, at the age of 36, is enjoying a fine spell in the German Bundesliga with Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Barring an injury, this will be your fourth World Cup - something very few Americans have accomplished. What are your feelings coming into Germany 2006?
I'm excited and nervous. You just want to get the games going. You want to go out and get it done.
Obviously the US have an enormous challenge in getting through Group E with Italy, Czech Republic and Ghana. What you think about the group and what are the keys?
We were disappointed we weren't seeded and that Mexico got the seed above us. With that, we knew it would be more difficult. We knew that the Czechs were in the third bowl (at the draw) and we didn't want them. But we got them. But oh well. If you're going to be successful at a World Cup you have to beat the big countries. We have to be extremely organised and be a better team. Player for player maybe Italy and the Czechs are a little bit stronger than we are. But that doesn't mean a thing if you play better as a team.
How does this group compare to the first round opponents from 1998 and 2002 (Yugoslavia, Iran and Germany in 1998, Portugal, South Korea and Poland in 2002)?
I think it's very similar to 1998, when we had two big European teams and played in a European country. European teams traditionally succeed in Europe. And South Americans tend to win in the Americas. South Korea was an anomaly because it was new and nobody knew what to expect. It leveled the playing field a bit. Now we have two Europeans again in Europe. And then there's an anomaly like Ghana, who are in the tournament for the first time and you don't know what to expect from them. But at the same time we have bigger expectations because we have better players and a deeper squad than ever before. And we're coming off the quarterfinals in 2002.
What are the goals coming into this Cup?
The first goal for any team is to get out of the first round. France was considered a favourite in 2002 but didn't make it out of their group. We can't start talking about (reaching) at least the semi-finals. First and foremost we have to worry about the first round. And that's a tough task.
Where do you think the US team stands worldwide?
We're probably pushing the top 10. Top five would be flattering. But I'd say top 15 and pushing the top 10.
Who should the world be watching out for from the US either now or in coming future?
I don't want to put any pressure on anybody. I want that player to do it on his own. I don't want - oh this guy could be this. I want to hear - this guy is.
What do you think of Major League Soccer and its development?
It's been a major benefit for the national team. It's given a lot more players the chance to play. Before the MLS, a lot of those guys would be selling insurance now.