PRETORIA (Reuters) - Keeping team morale high clearly is not a problem for United States captain Carlos Bocanegra.
The U.S. kept plugging away until getting an injury time winner against Algeria on Wednesday that sent them into the last 16 to face Ghana — the latest in a series of battling displays from the Americans that has left Bocanegra with no need to be a motivator on the field.
“I don’t have to do that too much with this team. I think you can see it on the field that everyone keeps going by themselves,” Bocanegra told Reuters after Wednesday’s dramatic victory.
“You have to give little reminders but with this team if anything you actually have to pull them back a little bit,” he said.
“We go ‘balls out’ too much and we have to make sure we hold our structure while we are going for it and stay organised. The team wants to go full blast all the time and we actually have the energy to do that,” he added.
The U.S came from behind for draws with England and Slovenia before their last gasp win over the Algerians.
Midfielder Michael Bradley said the team’s “never say die” attitude is something that is at the core of their approach to the game.
“When you play you have to always believe. We had the commitment that until the referee blew the final whistle we were going to give everything we had — I think we did that,” he told Reuters.
“That is the mentality of our team, it is ingrained in us to just give everything for each other when we step on the field and to be committed to be fighters. I don’t know where it comes from,” he added.
Striker Jozy Altidore agreed.
“It’s more automatic than anything, you understand there are going to be tough parts of the game — the longer you stay in the game the longer you have an opportunity to do something.
“It’s never over until that whistle goes — when you have guys like that, who really believe that, then it makes it so much easier,” he said.
Altidore said that the tight team-spirit is the product of a conscious policy from coach Bob Bradley and his assistants to stop any source of potential divisions.
“I think it is a credit to the coaching staff for what they have done from the beginning to make sure that everyone gets along that there aren’t little cliques.
“Just overall how close we are is really important. I think Bob did a really good job with that. It was misunderstood at first but looking back, you understand how important that was,” he said.