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Klinsmann and USMNT firmly focused on Portugal

Jurgen Klinsmann

Photo by John Todd/


SAO PAULO — U.S. Men’s National Team fans might still be buzzing about the Americans’ World Cup win vs. Ghana, but Jurgen Klinsmann is urging his side to have short-term memory ahead of a showdown with Portugal.

The U.S. beat Ghana for the first time in three World Cup attempts this past Monday to move into second place of Group G, but Klinsmann wants his players to move past that dramatic 2-1 victory and focus solely on Sunday’s battle against Portugal. That’s not just because the Americans will meet a Portuguese team hungry for points after suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Germany, but also because a win could give the U.S. head coach and his players an early passage into the Round of 16.

“It’s always difficult for the coaches to move (the team) on from an emotional ending of a game and into the next game and always telling the players, ‘Stay on the ground, stay focused, and the next game is even more difficult than the one we just played,'” said Klinsmann. “That’s what we’re trying to do and hope it works out. That’s why we wanted badly to come back right away after the game here to Sao Paulo and make it clear that the only thing we talk about is Portugal.”

Whether Portugal has the ailing Cristiano Ronaldo or not for the match at Arena Amazonia in Manaus, Klinsmann is fully expecting a tougher encounter than his side experienced against Ghana. Portugal have a bevy of skillful players, including Nani and Joao Moutinho, and a concentrated and improved effort will be required of the U.S. in order to grab three more points.

That is another reason why Klinsmann does not want his players looking back at the triumph over Ghana, regardless of how good it felt and how much is being made about it stateside.

“Portugal is definitely a different caliber than Ghana.  It’s one of the favorites actually for that tournament and has very exceptional players,” said Klinsmann. “We are well aware of that, but we are not starting now comparing them with Ghana or whatever. Ghana is way back now, is out of our minds and we’ll try to tell every player enough information on (Portugal) but not overdoing it as well because we still have to focus on our game.

“We want to play, we have very, very good players on our end as well and we have the confidence now to go into that game and say, ‘We’re here, we’re here. We want to beat you. We want to get into the next round’ so our approach is not to go to Manaus and defend a 1-1 or 0-0 or whatever it is. We go there and we want to win this game.”

The Americans have apparently already jumped on board with that approach, especially since upsetting Portugal would lead to an early qualification for the knockout phase of the World Cup if Group G leader Germany also ousts Ghana a day earlier.

“(Monday) night we were enjoying ourselves and everything and now we’ve got to recuperate – our bodies are banged up a bit – and put all of our focus on Portugal,” said midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. “I think we’ll be able to do it.”

The U.S. looks likely to be without its top striker in Jozy Altidore, who underwent an MRI on Tuesday on the left hamstring strain he sustained against Ghana. That’s a big blow to Americans’ cause as they do not have another forward on the roster who can bring similar qualities.

Still, Klinsmann is more than confident that his team can get the job done no matter who is or isn’t on the field.

“We’re well prepared for Portugal,” said Klinsmann. “We watched their entire qualifying campaign, we’ve analyzed all their individual players – like they do about us as well – so that work is all done (and) then you obviously watch that game against Germany, too, we get a couple of information about things that happened there (Sunday) afternoon, and then you do your own thing.

“I believe that we are very well prepared with a lot of respect that we have for that Portuguese team. It’s a difficult situation for them now after that 4-0 defeat, they are with their backs against the wall. That makes it even more difficult to get a result, but that’s what you want. That’s what a World Cup is about. We also have the chance with a win to hopefully qualify already. This can’t get any better.”


  1. HO lee crap. Seriously guys, are we done ripping and taking shots at Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman yet? It’s getting old and they are not going anywhere. We all know they are not God’s gift to the press box during a match or on set after words but GET OVERRR IT. “Lalas is an idiot I don’t know how he is on TV.” “Do you still think Lalas and Twellman still deserve their spot as analysts? Because they are two of the least knowledgeable I have ever seen.”

    Let’s all be real clear here, to all of you who know in your mind that Lalas and Twellman are “soccer idiots”. They have forgotten more about soccer than any of you who get on this blog and rip them will ever know. That’s why they have been on ESPN for years and you are still blogging on SBI without a national forum to show just how knowledgeable you really are. God forbid someone have a different opinion than you do about tactics, form, or a specific match up because if they do, so help you God you will get on the internet and proclaim their ignorance. Like them or not, both guys played professionally for 10 years.(that’s twenty years more professional experience than every single person who gets on here and rips them combined) NOW, that means that a rational individual would listen to their perspective and have 1 of two reactions. 1. Agree with what they have to say on a specific topic and simply nod your head. or 2. Disagree with what they say and chalk it up to a difference of opinion. But for some reason there is a huge portion of delusional fans who listen to their perspective on a specific topic and disagree with them. But for these fans it’s not enough, even though they have seen it posted a million ^@#&@&’ times they can’t help themselves from getting on SBI or YA or OT and posting about how little these two guys, who spent a decade getting paid to live the game daily, know about the game because some dude who watches 3 soccer matches a week and gets on an American soccer blog often has noticed that some of their opinions and predictions don’t come to fruition. It doesn’t make you more knowledgeable about the game by getting on the internet and trashing an analyst, because if they are idiots and know little to nothing about the game, what does that mean about all of us who aren’t getting paid top dollar to be in Brazil and pontificate?

    I am sure I will have a bunch of the haters running to this post to sight insignificant examples of when AL and TT were wrong or sounded “dumb” in their minds. Please, unless you are Jose Mourinho, Fabio Capello, Louis Van Gaal or Sven Goran Eriksson, SAVE IT…jk about Sven lol. But seriously, we get it you don’t like the American hosts. If you can’t add anything more than that just stop posting because you are not bringing anything new to the forum.

    • I like AJ a little better but Wondo may have the experience it take to fight during a game like this… but I will ask…

      why not Clint up top and bring on Zusi or Mix in the midfield…and maybe Julian Green’s speed in the 2nd half to run at their tired defenders…sneaky sneaky…

      I believe we will win…

      • Would love to see Green up top in the 2nd half with Demps. Just his speed/quickness and ability to draw fouls against an undisciplined defense would be welcome.

  2. In re-watching the game yesterday I had two major concerns.

    1. Fabian Johnson was completely exposed on the goal. That play from Ghana is exactly what Portugal thrives on. Bring the ball to the flank and send a midfielder streaming in through the box on a one two combo. Where Ghana attacked our left side, Nani and Ronaldo will attack our right.

    2. Bradley seems to have lost something. It all started in the send off series. Yes he had two great assists but that really distracted many from his terrible play. I think he sees Jones and Beckerman as a defensive crutch. His best play is when he playing box to box. Playing defense, causing turnovers and leading a counter attack. It seems his defensive role has been given a vacation and while many would think this would free him up it actually hinders what he does best.

    • Bradley’s best position may be a deep box to box mid, but JK has looked at our players and determined his best value to the team is to have him more advanced.
      Since we don’t have a true playmaker he’s put our best passer further up the field.
      So he doesn’t end up with 95% passing rate, but with JJ and KB playing their respective roles well, it’s best for the team.

      Ives said on his podcast he’d put any amount of money that MB will play better next game..I’m with Ives

    • I think you’re over reacting especially on point 1…while Johnson isn’t the best defensive full back, even the best right backs in the world have been “exposed” before. It happens, especially against top level opponents, and Andre Ayew and Gyuan are talented players who made a great play.

  3. One thing I’ve noticed this World Cup more so than I remember noticing in others is more underdog teams just taking things at their opponents, without any fear whatsoever of any mystique those perennial powers might have enjoyed. Mexico against Brazil, Australia against the Dutch, Chile against more modern mystique holders Spain.

    Portugal isn’t quite in that same class (but then to some American old-timers, everyone carries some mystique to us). Win or lose, hopefully our guys show the same attitude against Portugal. Play smart, but when we get our chances, go at ’em.

    • Paul,

      Figo was the 2002 Portuguese team’s star. He might not have been at Cristiano’s level but he was an awesome player and he had a more balanced team around him.

      Maybe it’s more accurate to say that Cristiano is such a super nova that the rest of Portugal almost gets neglected. Argentina had that problem with Messi for a long time but this year they seem to have finally built a real team around him.

      Portugal got through qualifying on Cristiano’s back but who did he beat? Another one man team Sweden. Cristiano vs. Zlatan. If that Cristiano shows up then the US will have it’s hands full but if not then the US will have a better chance.

      Regardless, the US will have to take it to Portugal which will be challenging in those conditions. I don’t think this will be a pretty game at all.

      • +1/ There is a minimal chance of a flowing, festival of feel-good football out there on Sunday. Brazil-Mexico will not be happening,

        Portugal has shown how they deal with pressure… not well. They complain, they become selfish, and they will certainly be trying to antagonize our guys, Pepe or no Pepe.

        It will be a war. Rumble in the Jungle is a perfectly good (if overplayed) name for what is going to happen. We are taking a batlle-scarred troupe of warriors to take on an eqaully wounded group of talented crybabies who have their backs to the wall. There are no guarantees, but there is plenty of motivation.

  4. The one thing I am not worried about with Klinsmann as coach, is preparation. I am sure they have the best scouting report he can create. Whether the team has the players to use/exploit the scouting report is a whole other question. I never feel like the USMNT is ever unprepared when playing a game. Execution, well, that comes down to the players.

    • Would probably be like Ghana and just get nailed wave after wave.

      Why the talk about Portugal imploding? Portugal is not Cameroon or Mexico that are going to loose their heads. The 1 hot head they have isn’t going to play on Sunday. I am not trying to make excuses for Portugal but, the first goal was a soft penalty against them, another goal that was a really unlucky blocked clearance on Alves, and they played a man down to Germany. Nani was awful and Ronaldo was double teamed, and that didn’t relieve any pressure off their defense that lost Pepe and Contrao.

      I really do not expect to see an “implosion” of Portugal on Sunday. In my mind them losing Pepe and us losing Altidore is a wash. Losing their goalie, Patricio in my opinion is nothing because their back ups are better. IMO Almedia wasn’t that good, and Postiga or Eder won’t be much of a difference. The big loss for them in my opinion is Contrao.

      • I do think there is a chance of implosion. They are desperate for a win and if they get frustrated early, they might rush attacks, make some poor shot selections, etc. But I wouldn’t bet on it. More than likely, we’re going to have to dig out a result by our own ability rather than have Portugal hand it to us.

      • Good recap.

        I expect us to have to scrap and fight for ninety for a point. But that point is likely to be enough to push us through.

        I don’t want to leave anything for that last game.

    • If there is anything to be learned from watching all of these games it is that none of the teams, except maybe Cameroon and Honduras,in this tournament are easy to beat.

      Iran and Greece for example look awful and may not beat anyone but they both are also really hard to break down.

      Australia was supposed to be USL level and they could have tied or even beaten the Netherlands.

      At this point it’s impossible to know which Portugal will show up on Sunday but I’m sure the US is preparing for their best. After all that was the point of hiring Vogts, who played them in Qualifying,wasn’t it?

    • Even before they lost the two starting defenders, Portugal was rather suspect at the back. Manaus, where the game is going to be played, will have the worst heat and humidity of anywhere the WC is being played. So, I think the US wants to score early, as in the first half, and then hold on. By the last 20 minutes both teams may be running on fumes and you don’t want to be chasing the ball and a lead then. Remember, a draw will probably be good enough. So, start 2 up top and go for the early goal and hold on for the draw. Also, there is some doubt that Ronaldo can go the full 90, another reason to score early as he might not be around at the finish to score a late goal..

    • Gold Cup. Win in Mexico. But oh gee Jurgen didnt magically make Beckerman fast and didnt dump Jozy in a vat of horse placenta.

      4 wins in a row. Not good enough. We did do attacking football in the warm ups. Then Jozy gets hurt in 20 min and Clint is too hurt to be effect. We still win and its never good enough.

      You act like were are Brazil….

      • Desmond,

        “I give him credit for the win but your standards aren’t high enough”

        And you are calling Francois a soccer snob?

        Pretty hypocritical. Spain would have killed for the 3 points the US got from their first game and would not have worried one bit about how they got it.

    • Haha alright, Desmond. Let’s go ahead and break down your response. The youth setup, U-20’s on down, play a 4-3-3, not that a 4-3-3 is the only way to play attacking soccer. In fact, very few national teams utilize this formation anymore because it is somewhat inbalanced. The Portugal game hasn’t even happened yet, so how do you know his gameplan? I won’t say that JK doesn’t manipulate his angle to best suit him and his team, but the facts remain that some of the things he has said have come to pass, and the team has played more attacking and attractive soccer under him than In the past. Lastly, you believe Twellman or Lalas deserve their positions as analysts? They are two of the least knowledgeable former players I’ve seen, out of any sport.

      • If JK plays 4-3-3 vs. Portugal I will buy you dinner.

        Just a joke my friend about Twellman. The boadcast however are at least tolerable now

        GW you fail to see what I am saying because you are drunk on JK Koolaid.
        I am an old man and before my time is up I would like to see us develop a team/nation of real soccer players. This guy said he would do all of that and he hasn’t and he probably won’t
        He should not have the position of TA and Head Nat coach

    • The only thing that counts are results. A good coach also has to be flexible and adjust according to circumstances. Although I strongly disagree with JK”s decision to leave Donovan home, he seems to be doing everything else right.


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