First XI: In the mixer with Twellman

E. HARTFORD, Conn. - This week, First XI pays a visit to the always fun Mixed Zone. No, that's not a night club, it's the place where you are allowed to interview players after national team games. After the U.S. national team's 1-0 victory against Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, we caught up for 11 quick questions with New England striker Taylor Twellman. Keep in mind, the Zone is a frantic place and the players "MO" is to answer in as few words as possible.

11. What's been the key to the Revolution's success this season?

TT: I think it's our continuity. We've got a good group of guys. There are very few egos on the team.

10. Is it just the players, or is it the system?

TT: Well, having Steve Nicol as our coach through all these years of building has been huge. We know what his expectations are. His demands. There are no surprises.

9. I seem to recall in the early days under Steve, Foxborough wasn't the happiest place in the world. Has the environment changed during his time in New England?

TT: I think so. He's created the kind of teams that he played for. Everyone's equal. No one's bigger than the team.

8. Any concerns that this team peaked a little early?

TT: Nah. We hit a little funk in July, but we'll get it going again.

7. You talked about the continuity of the roster. Why do you think this team has managed to stay together for so long. It's not like you guys just rolled up points in the past ...

TT: We have a very good group of American players, and I include Shalrie Joseph in that group. Yeah, in my mind, he's American. It's just a good group of guys and we finally put something together early in the season rather than just waiting for the stretch run. Hopefully it continues and carries us all the way to a championship.

6. How about your own season? Satisfied?

TT: I think it's been good, but that's a result of our team playing well. I play well when the team plays well.

5. You're right up there with Jeff Cunningham and Carlos Ruiz for the goals title. Is that something you can come away with?

TT: The stats come from the team's play. If the team keeps playing well, we'll see.

4. It looked like you finally scored your first national team goal Wednesday night, but you were ruled offside. Did you think you were on?

TT: I am pretty sure I was. When I looked up, the linesman was behind Santino Quaranta and was not even with the line.

3. How frustrating is that?

TT: Very frustrating. It was a brief appearance for me, but at the end of the day I got a look at goal and still get it taken away from me.

2. The U.S. looks like a lock now to qualify. Did you ever imagine a day when the U.S. would qualify for a World Cup without any drama?

TT: I think it's good. After the last World Cup we set the bar high for ourselves. We've got high expectations. So qualifying is just one step along the road.

1. How about your own expectations? You going to be a part of this team?

TT: I'm just trying, fighting along, doing my best. If it's eight minutes I get, then I'll take it, and hopefully the linesmen can be on top of their game, too.

Jeff Bradley is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Send your comments and complaints (200 words or less, please) to Jeff at jbradleyespn2003@yahoo.com and he promises to read (but not respond to) all of them. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com.


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