Klinsmann Believes Guatemala will be Playing “Game of their Lives”
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
After injury, illness and a suspension, Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. squad will head into Tuesday night’s match against Guatemala with only 16 field players and 3 goalkeepers. In Monday’s press conference Klinsmann opened by saying the team fully understands what’s on the line when they take on Guatemala.
“Right now it’s all about getting things done, it’s all about tomorrow night against Guatemala,” said Klinsmann. “Beat them, win the group and advance then into a very busy 2013.”
Klinsmann said he wasn’t sure if Guatemala will pack it in defensively or go for a win but said the team will be playing “the game of their lives” to get through to the Hexagonal Round. “The way they played the game against Jamaica, the first 20 minutes they went after everything on the field. But we are prepared for that and respect them. But we expect from ourselves, that we take care of that game and we will be control of that game.”
The U.S. coach made it clear, his team will not be looking for a tie. “You can only win a game if you attack and go forward, and that is what we are going to do,” Klinsmann said. “We are not looking for a tie.”
Team Work and the Inclusion of New Players
It’s been a little over a year now since Klinsmann took over for Bob Bradley as U.S. coach and as promised he has brought in a myriad of players to the squad. While Bradley’s last World Cup qualifying campaign was accomplished faster than any other US team, Klinsmann’s group has still not qualified for the ‘hexagonal’ stage as they play their last semifinal round game. While Klinsmann’s choices have often seemed prophetic: like the inclusion of Graham Zusi, Alan Gordon and Eddie Johnson, there have also been matches where the team has looked a bit disjointed and struggled to find a flow.
“A national team environment is always difficult,” said Klinsmann. “With new players or players who were in there for two or three years like Eddie’s case, how fast can they adapt to the group again? But if you have a good group with a good chemistry it’s not such a big deal. You just do what makes you strong in your club team.”
Time and fine tuning is also important according to the former German international who can speak from his own experiences. He said with time, players can learn each others tendencies better. But he also thinks building confidence in his new players is important.
Klinsmann said it’s always a balancing act and he also relies on his established players to bring the new guys into the loop. He pointed to Michael Bradley who was sitting next to him as an example of an established player who also has the job of helping the others fit in quickly.
“There’s been new faces brought in,” Bradley said. “There’s also been a process of guys who have been around before trying to establish ourselves even more, becoming bigger leaders — better leaders in the group. I think this is a natural process in a team. If you compare that to two years ago the team is certainly younger. So it’s the responsibility of a certain group of players to take more on and to play a bigger role in helping new players – helping younger players as they come in. It’s something we are working on every day. If it’s when we step on the field for training or go through the day or have sessions in the gym. It’s a constant process and no one has lost sight of that. Even when there are difficult times it’s a tight group. A group with a mentality, even if things don’t go our way, even if we have to fight through things a little bit more, that’s not going to put us off. We are going to continue to work at that, improve ourselves and in the process make sure the results are as good as possible.”