Opening Statement: “I’m just very proud and excited to represent this program as well as the 50 years. It’s a very storied program. It’s got some of the top collegiate players, some of the top U.S. Internationals, iconic players. Had some of the top teams, our 1987 team going to the national finals, it’s also their 30-year anniversary. It’s just been a lot of work, but it’s been very necessary to honor all these individuals and all these teams in the appropriate manner. It’s all culminating on Saturday with the retired jersey ceremony at halftime, the announcement of the All-50 team at the walk-out, and I’m just very, very honored to be a part of this. I think one last thing I’d like to add is how cool it is that George Logan being the so-to-speak grandfather of the program and being the initial coach, his assistant was Chuck Clegg who took over, and then I was Chuck’s assistant and took over, so in those 50 years only having three head soccer coaches all of which were within the same family. It’s a very neat storyline and it’s a very, very historical program and we’re very excited to have this celebration.”
On the former players that will be in attendance Saturday, and the ones he’d want competing on his team: “I would love if I could get (SDSU alum) Eric Wynalda on the field, if you’ve been watching our issues with scoring goals. I would take Eric right now. I think we got one goal on our last five games, so there’s no question that I think Eric could help us out and he couldn’t do any worst, to be honest. In all seriousness, Eric’s going to be trying to get here, I don’t know if he’s going to be able to get here for the Alumni vs. Alumni game, but he will be here for the ceremony at halftime on Saturday. Kevin Crow, who was a two-time all-American here, also a two-time Olympian, turned down the World Cup team actually in ‘86 and I think ’90, but Kevin will be here. Our first all-American ever is going to be here, Peter Goossens. Kyle Whittemore, our all-time leading goal-scorer and point-getter is showing up. Marcelo Balboa is not going to make it, unfortunately, he’s got a broadcasting event in Miami. Cle Kooiman is in Spain on a coaching education course. We’re going to represent Alan Kelly posthumously.”
On if Tally Hall will be there on Saturday: “Yes, Tally Hall, two-time All-American, two-time All-Star in the MLS, two-time MVP for two separate teams in the MLS, so thank you very much for reminding me of one of my favorites.”
On the U.S. Men’s National Team missing out on the World Cup: “I think that it’s an extremely disappointing time for us in that. That is not a situation that any of us should accept and be okay with. We are not coming out of Europe, not coming out of South America, we should qualify for CONCACAF every year and could probably do it a lot of times with secondary teams. I’m disappointed, to be honest with you, that (former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach) Bruce (Arena) stepped down. I think that he would have been a very good candidate for us to go through, but in that, there have been many teams of great stature that have not made it. The Dutch team will not be there. France back in the day did not make it. Germany struggled in a European qualifier. So this is not unheard of around the world, but at the same respect, a lot of these teams that I’m discussing aren’t coming out of CONCACAF, against one at the bottom of the table and one that was playing with probably two or three of their best players not on the field. It was a disappointing night in general. It was unfortunate that we got put in the position, that it was such a significant game that late. You’d hope that we would have qualified by that point already. Soccer in itself is a very difficult game and teams can do those types of things. But we put ourselves in that position, we had our own fate and our own destiny in our own hands and it is absolutely disappointing. There’s two L’s to look at: we can be losers or we can learn. If we learn, we reevaluate and we make some changes, I think it will be a beneficial thing for us because I think sometimes you can learn more from losses than you can from victories. And I think there’s going to be some very interesting news coming up over the weekend that will actually mirror what we have going on.”
On his team this year and losing to No. 11 Stanford, 5-0, earlier this season: “On the lopsided situation, in my first year, we played the No. 1 team in the country, UCLA, and lost 5-0. That’s the last time we lost 5-0 in my 20 years here. So that’s a very unique moment. It was 1-0 at half and candidly, in that game at eight shots to eight one of the balls was saved off the line, our forward beat the goalkeeper and was ready for the tap-in and their defender made a big play. Another header went right across the face of the goal and our player just missed the tap-in and at that moment, eight against eight with those three chances, it was 3-0. So there are situations that say very clearly that we are very much in it. That’s the two-time national champion I’m talking about. We’re not far away, but yet there’s a reality and a pragmatist as I am as a coach to say that, ‘how do you say you’re in a game when it’s 5-0 at the end?’ Now, you look at most of the other games, they’re one-goal games. It’s a very good team that I have. I still believe in them very strongly. The effort that they had against UCLA (a 2-1 overtime loss) was phenomenal and very difficult to do when you are having the season that we’re having when we’re all, candidly, disappointed. So to answer your question, I don’t think we’re far away, but there are a lot of things that we’re missing in order to get ourselves to the spot to say that that statement’s true and we actually go out and do it.”
On if this season is hungover from how last season ended in the NCAA Tournament: “A hangover, I wouldn’t say that. Unexpected, disappointing: Those are the two adjectives I think I’d utilize. We lost five senior starters and we truly believe that we had everything inside our program to simulate or replicate what we did last year, there’s no question in our minds. Things took place in between those five seniors where we have a young man that’s a freshman all-American who’s not capable of playing the rest of the year and was playing at 75-85% at his fittest this year. That’s a freshman all-American at the center of the pack. Then one of our young men decided to try to go the pro route and he would have certainly been an All-Pac-12 center midfielder this year. So now two Pac-12 center midfielders are not in our group, with five senior starters out. Then a young man graduated in four and decided not to come back and he was a significant player for us off the bench and he certainly would’ve been playing for us. Then our starter currently at center midfield has a pulled hamstring. So you look at some of these things and it’s just a difficult year ultimately, and it’s not an excuse and there’s never going to be excuses played in our program, but that’s the reality of what we’re facing this year. So hangover, no. Unexpected, yes. And there’s no way that Aztec Soccer ever looks at a 4-9 season and goes, ‘Yeah, okay.’ We’re disappointed. But the locker room’s not lost, the physical effort is there on the field, they executed the game plan to almost a T on Sunday night (in a 2-1 overtime loss at UCLA), and the goal was scored and put on the top three plays at ESPN, so we’re still getting good press somehow.”
On how much of a boost the ceremony on Saturday could give the team: “We were talking about that. I wrote a message on the board last night for them to come into the locker room this morning for practice and read it. We talked about it and all games are important, but some just mean more. And this one’s going to mean more. This is going to be bigger than the 2017 team, this game is not just about us. This is about the history of this program. Much like that Santa Barbara game earlier in the year, there was greater significance to that than just 2017. Santa Barbara knocked us out of two of the three tournaments I’ve been in and that team is not liked by many of our alumni. So there is some extra incentives in that regard, but along with those statements this is who we are. We practiced hard this week, we never tire, we never quit. We’re going to outthink, outwork, outcompete teams and that’s who we are. That’s our identity and regardless of the significance of the match, it being more meaningful or not. We have to go about training the right way and the standard is the standard and those are the things that we are going to do and identify ourselves with on Saturday night.”
On USD head coach Seamus McFadden’s retirement this season, who was part of SDSU’s coaching tree: “He not only played for George Logan, Seamus McFadden is one of our all-era team selections. He was not just a player here, he was a significant player here. He holds a venerable status in the players that I’ve mentioned. Seamus has my full respect and great admiration to what he’s accomplished. To be over there for nearly 40 years, it’s one thing to have longevity, the other thing is when you go to finals and you go to Final Eights and you win countless WCC titles, he’s also a wonderful coach. So that’s one of those areas where you look at a player’s pedigree and it translated. He’s done amazing things at a small school and has competed against the best in the country year in and year out during his duration. I’ve got great respect for what Seamus has done over there and I’ve got great admiration also on what USD is doing to honor him in what is going to go on Sunday night (for his retirement ceremony), but also let him kind of swan song himself onto the bench, (USD associate head coach Brian) Quinn being the new head coach."