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Klinsmann, USMNT happy with win despite struggles in Gold Cup opener


Photo by Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports


It surely wasn’t easy, it surely wasn’t pretty and it surely wasn’t perfect, but Jurgen Klinsmann is far from disappointed with his team’s performance on Tuesday night.

Despite being far from its best, the U.S. Men’s National Team did just enough to earn all three points Tuesday night in taking down Honduras, 2-1, in the opening game of the Gold Cup group stages. Led by a Clint Dempsey brace, the U.S. was forced into a nervy ending after conceding late, while at times, Honduras looked to be the better team on the field.

For Klinsmann, that was to be expected, as the head coach knew Honduras would present a tough task for his team. Facing a tough opponent in the tournament opener, Klinsmann was proud of the way his side settled down after what was a tough start.

“It’s not going to be all easy, and it was not easy at all tonight,” Klinsmann said after the game. “It was a very tight game. It was what we expected: a very good Honduras side that knows how to play, knows how to create chances, knows how to create problems and that’s what they did. Still, we come out with three points and we have a very good start into this Gold Cup.

“I give them a big compliment with how they played there. The created chances and we kind of had to come back into that game, especially our backline. Both centerbacks needed to settle. We said at halftime to just be calm, just keep it simple, nothing complicated and find your rhythm, and I think the second half was much, much better. “For Klinsmann, that resiliency was the key to the game, the key to earning the U.S. the team’s 13th straight Gold Cup-opening victory.

Faced with an early onslaught led by former D.C. United star Andy Najar, the U.S. was under siege early, as Brad Guzan was called into numerous early game saves as the USMNT struggled to generate possession or chances in the early going.

The chances eventually came, as Dempsey provided his two goals via the set piece. According to Guzan, that’s the mark of a good team. Despite not playing their best, the U.S. found a way to generate opportunities and, ultimately, achieve the end goal, albeit by less-than-perfect means.

“I think our commitment, our willingness to win. Obviously we’re good,” Guzan said. “We still gave the ball cheaply a few too many times, but in saying that, good teams find a way to win when they don’t play well, and I think we did that really well tonight.

“It’s huge. Any time you enter a tournament you want to start off with three points, and we were able to do that tonight. We know it wasn’t our best. In terms of maybe conditions, or maybe it was a mixture of things, but it certainly wasn’t our best performance, but a sign of a good team is when you don’t play well and you win the game, and that’s what we did.”

From this point forward, Klinsmann understands that the U.S. will not be afforded such luxury. As things continue to fine-tune and improve, Klinsmann knows that his team has to play better when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of tournament play.

Saying that, the USMNT head coach fully expects his team to do so. As training wears on, Klinsmann expects his guys to further acclimate to both his style and one another, leading to a more cohesive USMNT unit as the tournament rolls on.

“It’s going to be a journey which we hope we’re going to improve from match to match,” Klinsmann said. “It’s clear that it’s not going to be all perfect in the beginning. There will be moments of a bit of struggle and you go through those tense moments. You will make some mistakes, but at the end of the day, it’s a tournament and you have to move on right away.”

“These games come fast, so there’s no time to get too excited,” added Michael Bradley. “There’s no time to dwell on things. Regeneration ahs started already. We’ll get back, get a good meal, and try and make the travel as easy as possible tomorrow to get ourselves ready to step on the field Friday night because we know that that’s going to be another difficult game.”


  1. DC United screwed up selling Andy Najar. He was a dynamic difference maker for them and they still have not been able to replace him. They should have tagged him with a D.P. contract to keep him around. Other than him not able to find the back of the net last night, we simply had no answers for him. I am sure he will be moving to a bigger club in the near future.

    • He wanted to leave, not much you can do in that case, they at least have a sell on clause, Goff said something in the 10-20% range

  2. Not sure this team is ready for Chandler, Yedlin, and Zares can all be on the field starting the match. Too much lack of D Fromm them.

    Thought Bedoya fit Jurgen’s play in Europe challenge and would be better off. Or do you think that is squad he wants long term, but if match was a must win, we would have seen Bedoya.
    Chandler seems to keep bringing more negatives than plus.

      • Thanks, I was wondering if their was an injury.
        I like the speed and attacking, but the Chandler Yedlin side scares me. Not sure there is enough d coverage. Chandler has shown so little in his matches.

  3. Zardes lovers please please explain his performance and don’t say out of position bs cuz after last game y’all were praising him.

    • I don’t know why you think an explanation is particularly required regarding Zardes’ performance. As one who really likes Zardes and thinks he may well turn out to be the team’s principal forward over the next decade, I must nevertheless agree this was not his best showing. But other than Dempsey, who was his usual opportunistic self, few, if any, of our players bathed themselves in glory in yesterday’s game. Perhaps we’ve just had a demonstration of the stark difference there is between a truly competitive game against a decent team and the friendlies we congratulated ourselves for winning against presumably stronger opposition.

      Even if some criticism is warranted, I still think most would agree that Zardes showed his quality a number of times during the game, both on offense and defense. And, in contrast to other players whose performance one might question, Zardes has played at this level in only a handful of games. As he gains experience, he will continue to improve. For my money, few national team regulars over the last twenty years showed as much promise as Zardes at age 23.

      • The sad thingood that all the people that love zardes must not watch anything else than MLS. He is not good. Terrible first touch, can’t go 1 v 1. He should be done

      • I don’t think Zardes has much difficulty dealing with a sole defender. I do agree that he would benefit from a more consistent first touch. But, whatever you or I may think about his specific strengths or weaknesses, in his handful of appearances with the MNT Zardes has repeatedly demonstrated that he can and will be an influential player. That’s why I believe he “may well turn out to be the team’s principal forward over the next decade.” If you can’t see that, I have no cure for your blindness.

      • We’ll see. As of now he has one goal and two assists for the USMNT, playing mostly on the wing. That’s not out of line with what other guys on the roster, playing on the wing, have been doing. I think we could expect more from him if he’s moved up top.

      • I dont know.

        Please keep posting, so I can understand soccer better.

        As a MLS watcher, well, we just don’t understand it.

      • Fast and strong is certainly correct. Many would also add: great movement off the ball, creative, incisive passing and remarkably unselfish play — particularly in the final third.

      • Zardes has all the physical tools not the least of which is good health.

        His advantage over all those other USMNT candidates in the last 20 years is more in his “mentality” and his environment. Bruce brought him along carefully and put him with Magee, Donovan and Keane. This meant he did not have to carry a huge load of expectations but at the same time was able to learn, in a stable system, from some great teachers who seemed more than willing to learn him what they knew.

        Compare that to Juan Agudelo who seemed to have a strange situation in New York and has since largely bounced around. Or Teal Bunbury who is only now beginning to realize his potential , assuming he can stay healthy.

      • You are probably right, IDK: “Zardes won’t be on the bench in 2018”; he’ll likely be in the starting lineup.

        I don’t know why your sarcasm regarding MLS. Few would disagree with your apparent view that MLS is a distinctive cut below at least four European leagues. But it doesn’t follow, as you seem to believe, that those leagues are the only place where talent is to be found or can be developed.

        I agree completely with GW’s description of how Zardes has so greatly benefited from the nurturing environment Arena provides and the tutelage of Donovan and Keane and (I had forgotten) Magee. Zardes’ improvement over the last couple of years has been nothing short of amazing. And it will surely continue with the addition of Gerrard to the Galaxy lineup and as a member of the USMNT.

        It is certainly arguable that a guy like Zardes would have learned more and done better with a European team, but I doubt it. With relatively few exceptions, Americans have gone to Europe to sit on a top-tier bench or get their minutes playing in a second or third-tier league no better (and frequently worse) than the MLS.

      • “few national team regulars over the last twenty years showed as much promise as Zardes at age 23”

        That says a lot more about the kind of regulars the USMNT have had to work with over the last twenty years. than it does about Zardes, a fine player..

  4. Honduras was impressive and not in a “the minnows can sit back and be organized and keep it close” sort of way. I thought they played some really nice soccer and Najar was immense. Good work to them. They should have a good tournament if they play like that. Their final touch in the attacking third let them down, though.

    I was disappointed we couldn’t create much from the run of play. If the Honduran goalkeeper had any command of his box he would have come out and punched away (or caught) Bradley’s ball that led to the game winner by Dempsey. We should be better than that. But 3 points is 3 points and we now should win the group and hopefully improve as the tournament goes on.

    • I am not sure about the keeper being able to get to that cross; Wondo was jumping trying to reach the ball between two defenders about 3 yards before it came down to Dempsey, There was too much traffic for the keeper to chance trying for the ball (and the keeper (if I remember right he was closer to the near post, even without 3 bodies in his way it would not have been an easy catch).

      • A great keeper comes for that ball. A lot of good keepers don’t. It takes a lot of courage to go jumping into a crowd of men sprinting at you, and the Honduran keeper isn’t the biggest.

    • seems to be a lot of love for Najar on SBI today. I missed the first 20 minutes of the game so maybe I missed something, but what I saw were a lot of long range shots from outside of the box. Nothing special in that.

  5. Yes, happy about the victory. I believe the guys are in a tired part of fitness training that focuses more on being ready for the knockout stages of the tournament. Which means our guys are going to be a little off and tired as compared to other teams. Also, I believe klinsmann has a plan as to who is playing now compared to who will play in the knockout stages. So, don’t think last nights starters will start later. These are the “easy” games for the U.S. Where klinsmann is comfortable putting in players that will be okay at that level.
    And for the record, Chandler hasn’t had a good game against central/South American opponents. I think his style is better against European style play.
    Altidore and Dempsey don’t hustle. This makes me sad. I can only imagine the team the U.S. Could be if they worked as hard as …say wondoloski!

    • You are sad because Dempsey does not hustle? Dempsey had two goals and was the difference in the game. Cruyff said once to his players “Every trainer talks about movement, about running a lot. I say don’t run so much. Football is a game you play with your brain. You have to be in the right place at the right moment, not too early, not too late.” Is Zlatan known for his hustle or Van Persie? Yet, both are world class strikers.

      • +a million. i cringe watching people criticize over non movement. not every player is a speedy slasher like Suarez or someone. big tall strikers have their game strengths too.

    • Jason B.

      So you prefer style over substance? Clint and Jozy have scored an awful lot of important goals for the US..

      If hustling every second of very game for as long as possible meant you were the best player, Frankie Hejduk, would be the best USMNT player ever.

      Sadly, as much as I love him, he is not.

      • Reminds me of a guy I played with once. He was a marathon runner before running became popular recreation (this was about 40+ years ago). He hustled all the time, he hustled all over the field, he hustled so much he would get way out of position, he hustled so much that even though he was in great shape, he hustled himself right out of breath and out of the game. Especially when playing 90 in heat and humidity, you have to pace yourself.

    • Dempsey is past the time where he’s going to be 100% hustle. But he sure can pick his spots. I wish the same could be said for Altidore. He had, I believe, a good game for Altidore last night, but how can he consistently be on one end or another of mistimed passes? How can he look so incredibly non-dangerous when compared, for instance, to the Honduran strikers? I just don’t think we can afford to have two slow guys up front. Let’s pair Dempsey with somebody who hustles, has a good attitude and makes things happen.

      • Although you have succeeded in reducing me to a crying mess with your superior wit and observational skills, you have yet to help the conversation along. Pardon me while I go kick the dog for feeling so badly about myself. When you speak to Coach Klinsmann later today, please ask him why Diskerud was benched last night, on behalf of a pathetic doormat as myself.

      • Kicking your dog would make you vulnerable to animal cruelty charges particularly if you kill it.

        It would not say a lot for you.

  6. I should preface this by saying I’m generally a defender of Altidore. He’s not amazing but can be very good in flashes and I don’t believe we have anyone better.

    But in the first minute, he was along the far sideline and kicked the ball out of bounds when trying to make a short pass and it had to have been the clumsiest most uncoordinated thing I’ve seen a good soccer player do in a long time.

    Second and not necessarily related, who is his strength trainer and why have they bulked up his upper body so much? Looks like they’ve overdone it and I wonder if it could adversely impact mobility and touch at some point.

    • ive longed noticed his upper half being Lebron-esque almost. I wonder the same thing. in his teen days at NYRB he was way more agile and evenly tone. now he almost looks like a linebacker or strong safety. was that really the goal of his strength training? if so, bad goal.

    • Altidore has rarely been an effective 90-minute player, but he seemed to tire very quickly in this game. Maybe all that upper body muscle makes him prone to overheat in high humidity conditions. It’s striking how much more bulked up he is compared to when he played in Europe.

      • I was at the game, Dallas had rain earlier in the day at it was over 90 the whole mathc. It was very heavy humid conditions, not surprised Altidore and Chandler got tired. Also could definetly see it effecting the team where a lot of the players seemed a bit fatigued.

        Thing I couldn’t stand was subing in wondo and Evans (both of which shouldn’t be on the team). Johanson should have come into wondo because his speed would have been good against Honduras back line and I would ahve put in bedoya and moved yedlin into chandler’s spot.

    • Worst game from a US player? That’s crazy talk. He wasn’t outstanding, made some mistakes but also had some good runs and defensive play.

      • New drinking game: Every time a US player has to look and wait for Yedlin to make his run, take a shot. Or Everytime he outruns a player to the ball and then loses it because he stopped his run, take a shot.

    • On a (sort of) related point, near the end of the first half Najar appeared to simply throw Yedlin to the ground to create some space for a dangerous shot near the top of the box. Did my eyes deceive me?

      • Nope, your eyes did not. He grabbed Yedlin and used a two-handed, arm extended shove to knock him to the ground. It was not just Najar naturally overpowering him, it was a blatant foul that should have been called. I felt that once the Honduran players realized they could get away with almost anything short of a two footed studs up tackle or stabbing one of the American players, it energized them even further. Very CONCACAF-y match last night.

      • Actually one of them got away with a two footed studs up tackle on Dempsey. The foul was called, but no card.

      • I remember a second occasion of similar play but can’t remember who the perpetrator or the victim was. Honduras got away with a whole lot and they weren’t subtle.

    • Yedlin played well. His run in the box for a shot opportunity was great. If he back heeled the ball instead … I believe Dempsey (there was someone running to that space) would have gotten a pretty good look at goal.

      • Or Yedlin could have simply rounded the keeper and tapped the ball in, there was enough space and the defense was behind the play.

      • his best option there would have been to just take one more touch to his left. with his speed it would have created a much easier angle to beat the GK

    • I thought Yedlin suffered the kind of repeated hard fouls that are usually reserved for Dempsey. He did manage to try to even that score and his retaliations were smart enough that they did not result in a card and strong enough that the hammering he got in the first 30 minutes subsided somewhat after he responded.

      I saw the game on TV so I could not see what happened with him and #21 when the ball was not around, but I am pretty sure they remained NOT best friends.

  7. It’s cool that we can count on being dangerous on set plays. But it’s troubling that we cant finish the few chances we create in the run of play.

    • I agree. I hate when we the boys are one a 3 v 2, or 3 v 1, break away and the boys fail to convert the opportunity. They need to do a better job of not trying to force the pass to the player making the run between defenders.

    • Too bad that, all too often, when the mids did create an opportunity and put the ball in a dangerous place in the 18, there was no forward to be found to finish. If Dempsey and Altidore can’t be troubled to make the run, Klinsmann should put in others who aren’t afraid to hustle a bit.

  8. The one thing that I was thinking near the end of the match: Honduras looked like they were in Gold Cup mode and the U.S. still looked in friendly mode; the intensity was drastically different between the two squads, and the ref letting physical play go unchecked seemed to further energize Honduras. Hopefully, the U.S. will work their way into the tourney and up the focus. A draw would have been a fair result, but it is not like the U.S. stole it; Honduras was a bit lacking in the final third, Guzan was solid, Dempsey was Dempsey, and the guys got the three points. Fine by me, just tighten some things up and probably make a few lineup changes to figure out the best group by the knockout round.

    • Honduras looked a lot like a Bradley- era USMNT.

      Tough. Hard nosed and unafraid. Well organized counter. Andy played really well for them.

      • Yes, except for the fact they moved the ball well and pressed high up the field. Not hallmarks of the Bradley regime.

      • “Tough, hard-nosed and unafraid”? I think you mean dirty, agregious in attack, and lucky that they didn’t have multiple double-yellows by half-time. The kick on Yedlin was bad enough, and the fact that we didn’t even get a penalty for it was just an example again of how Mexican referees should NOT be allowed to ref USMNT games. You can’t tell me there isn’t bias when the first yellow card for Honduras wasn’t issued until the 85th minute.

        I call BULLSHIT on that ref. He was atrocious, and shouldn’t be able to ref Sunday League games, let along the Gold Cup.

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