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Klinsmann, USMNT stress urgency ahead of must-win Guatemala match


Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t mincing any words: the U.S. Men’s National team needs to walk out of MAPFRE Stadium with a victory on Tuesday night.

Following Friday night’s disappointment in Guatemala City, the U.S. enters a must-win situation in Columbus. Currently sitting third in their World Cup qualifying group, another loss would make the once unfathomable idea of missing out on the Hexagonal round a very real possibility.

Klinsmann is not yet ready to entertain that thought or ponder the circumstances of what might come should the U.S. fail. Rather, Klinsmann has stressed the importance of turning things around Tuesday with a performance worthy of a team fighting for its World Cup lives.

“Every game is highly important, especially World Cup qualifying, either in the first group stage or the Hexagonal,” Klinsmann said. “You also need to understand, rightfully, the moment in time. Our goal was to win there and to finish things off tomorrow and this didn’t work out. We need to make it clear to everybody around, from the coaching staff, to everybody that is with the team that there is a sense of urgency. There’s a sense of urgency tomorrow night because we need three points now. From that perspective, it’s a very important game.

“Obviously, we came back not with the result we wanted from Guatemala and the situation here is that we need to win this game tomorrow night.”

Heading into Tuesday’s game, Klinsmann will certainly have some decisions to make with regards to the lineup he puts on the field.

Ceneterbacks Matt Besler and John Brooks have each returned to their clubs due to injury, while Fabian Johnson has also left the team with a nagging groin issue. Meanwhile, Klinsmann says Alejandro Bedoya is “banged up” and will be evaluated further in the build-up to the game.

With the injuries, Klinsmann says the team’s plan of bringing extra players into camp worked as the head coach has several ready-made replacements to join the lineup. Meanwhile, in the places of those who have left, the U.S. has added one veteran presence and a promising up-and-comer. Graham Zusi has joined to provide Klinsmann with someone familiar with the trials of qualifying, while Borussia Dortmund prospect Christian Pulisic could be given his first chance at representing the senior team.

With regards to Guatemala, who announced on Monday that Carlos Ruiz will be available, Klinsmann expects a similar sort of gameplan. The USMNT head coach says the opposition’s aggression and passion were clearly on display on Friday night, as the hosts suffocated the U.S. attack with a physical brand of defending.

“They’re going to come out and try and get a result,” said Clint Dempsey, “and try to manage the game in the right way to help them slow the game down probably. We’re going to be smart with how we attack the game as well and with how we create chances and try to be a little bit better in front of goal. We created chances last game. I had two, and probably should have gotten one from the two.

“You can think about what someone is going to do, but on game day, it’s always going to be different. It’s like a fight. You don’t really know what’s going to happen until you’re out there. You just have to prepare for everything and we know what we have to do and we know what result we’re trying to accomplish. We’re going to make sure we do everything we can to get that right.”

Dempsey, like many members of the USMNT roster, has been through this before. Even before Tuesday night’s clash, the U.S. has faced must-win games in qualifying and done just enough to push their way through the CONCACAF region.

Yes, the team faced a major setback, and yes, the USMNT’s backs are now firmly against the wall. But now, with a chance to right their wrongs in front of a pro-U.S. Columbus crowd, the USMNT is looking to seal a vital three points and rescue the team’s World Cup qualifying campaign.

“The main message is that there’s no script,” Michael Bradley said. “There’s no telling how things go and you have to be ready for that. That can’t phase you. Just because we talk about a good response and taking care of things the right way tomorrow night, there’s no telling what can happen, so we have to be ready for that and we have to understand that and that’s what I mean when I say guys have to be fearless and embrace that.

“You can’t be scared of that. You have to understand that somewhere along the way, maybe twice, you’re playing a game where your lives depend on it and, certainly, that’s the case tomorrow night. The response has to be right. We have to have 11 guys, plus subs, that are ready to step on the field in a big game and go for it in a fearless way and be ready to do everything to make sure, when the whistle blows in the end, we have three points.”


  1. Not that we want to go this route, but if we draw tonight, qualification is still guaranteed with wins in the last two versus T & T and away at SVG.

    • Did you see T&T in the Gold Cup? Not saying they are better than us, but how confident are you we can get a win against them, even at home?

    • Big Chil, you are wrong. Lets assume TT beat SVG tonight and the US and Guatemala draw like you said. That makes the standings:
      1. TT (10 pts)
      2. GUA (7 pts)
      3. USA (5 pts)

      TT plays GUA and USA
      GUA plays SBG and TT
      USA plays TT and SVG.

      So even if USA won their last 2 games (giving them 11 pts), they would still need help from the other results. The easiest combination that comes to mind is, lets say GUA beats SVG but draws to TT. That would give GUA 11pts and TT 11pts and USA 11pts. Tie breakers have mercy on us.

  2. I think it’s amazing that JK never offers any reason we failed so badly in the first game. Most fans here know why…. dumb ass player picks and assignments. He will never take the blame for anything

    Bradley is also clueless thought maybe he knows…. he’s way down the far side of the mountain of his NAT career and if not for JK, he would have been replaced long ago.

    A win tonight will save JK’s bacon for a while but these are the easy teams we’re losing to. We have yet to face Mexico or CR. I fear that we won’t qualify this cycle and if that happens, we all know why

    • Keep it up Johnnyrazor! Thats the spirit!

      …..When times are troubled
      …. Jurgen Klinsmann comes to me
      …..speaking words of wisdom….
      …. Clint Dempsey…………. Clint Dempsey…..
      …. Clint Dempsey………….. Clint Dempsey….
      ………………Clint Dempsey……………………
      There will be answer… Clint Dempsey…

    • Being forced in this Olympic playoff and missing the Confederations Cup in one night was rough. That would be a full blown disaster.

  3. Just to put an exclamation point… on this..

    If the US somehow lose tonight and T&T defeat St Vincent (which they most likely will)… We are not going to the World Cup in 2018…

    All you Klinsmann fan boys can come talk to me then… It would literally be the biggest disaster in the US Soccer history…

    • If they do lose, (which I do not believe will happen), it would be a tremendous setback. However, it might be a time for the US to really take a look at the real problems in our youth system and developing players which is the root cause of why we are in the situation of panic mode. I supported the hiring of JK if for nothing else to take that next step and challenge the way we were doing things (and he ruffled a lot of feathers for good and bad). Firing a coach will not make us better if we regress back to the style of play that got Arena and Bradley fired-it may get us results in CONCACAF but being the best in the this reason shouldn’t be an end goal but a given.

      • I don’t disagree with much of what you say but for all the talk about Arena and Bradley’s style… Bruce got us to the QFs and nearly into ET vs the Germans (no thanks to some foruituous calls and bounces) and Bob won a WC group that featured England, Slovenia and an Algerian team that was much better than their point total showed…

        You can’t win a World Cup if you don’t qualify…

      • our youth development problems, while very real, are not the root cause of why we are in the position we are in. The players are under performing their own level, the squad has no direction, and there seems to be little fight.

        The player pool we have now is good enough to not be in this situation (including the broader embarrassment at last year’s gold cup).

      • The youth system is not why the team is one bad result from the biggest disaster in the “modern” (post-1986) era of US soccer. It may indeed be the root cause of the team’s inability to break through to the top tier of international soccer, but the same flawed youth system produced players that got the team to the WC seven straight times. It did not suddenly get worse in the last several years. JK took apart the engine to try to build a better one, but he lost the owner’s manuals for both of them. The team has forgotten what made it good in the past, and has not yet learned what is supposed to make it better in the future.

      • With the players we currently have we should be able to beat this Guatamalan side 9 out of 10 times and I expect the same tonight at home. JK replaced Bradley because after his poor Gold Cup people wanted to see a more attractive style of play and thought we were better than what we showed–the problem is we don’t have those players to fit the aspirations. In the interim, I’m all for doing things the old fashioned way of grit, heart and determination-this is what made the USA Nat team so enjoyable to watch and frustrating at the same time and will get us the results we need now. But we do need to evaluate where we want to be and have a better plan of getting there for the future and it does start with the youth systems.

      • “Bradley got fired because his teams played unattractive football.” If that’s true and it is certainly plausible, Gulati is a dumbo. Attractive soccer is something only fans care about. Coaches and players care about winning. Bradlley knew how to take his rather motley collection of players and mold them into a team that could win. In Klinsmann we have a coach who has failed to do that and has not installed attractive soccer either.
        The United States is not going to produce a host of world class soccer players any time soon. You can complain about youth development all you want, but you would be just joining fans in just about every major European country. Youth development is very hard. Of the 12 year olds in German academies, only 0.3 percent make the Bundesliga.
        And the US starts out with several basic disadvantages — relatively few professional clubs. (England has over a 100 full time professional clubs in a population 1/4 the size of the US.) And stiff competition both for promising athletes and fan attention from at least three other sports. And a general level of prosperity that offers promising athletes career options more promising that the high risk career path of professional sports.

      • You all have either short or selective memories. We’ve struggled, at one moment or another, in every WCQ tournament, for as long as I’ve been watching (1990). We’ve also been fortunate, even very much so, in all of our successful world cup campaigns. In 1994 an own goal put us through (though if Escobar RIP hadn’t touched it we probably would have scored anyway). 2002 only thanks to a very late S. Korea goal vs. Portugal did we even advance. We only played well in the first half vs. Portugal and then in the second round. In 2010, Robert Green gave us a freebee. In 2014, actually we didn’t need luck we played rather well, though we very nearly beat Belgium, which would have been the most unfair result in WC history.

        Slimmest of margins. I’m not talking about coaches, because to me, post-1990 at least, it is always the same story with our team.

      • Truthie, I think it boils down to the fact that Bradley as a coach knew what he had, extracted the most out of the players to get results and put the players in positions to succeed-it’s the sign of a great coach but he reached a limit (and possibly overachieved).
        Klinsmann promised to take us to that next level and has basically not done more or less than his predecessors-he just doesn’t have the players to do what he promised and I don’t expect any savior or messiah to come out of the woodwork anytime soon-so it’s same old as it has been in previous cycles.

        As Concorde said qualifying and even the world cup has always been a nerve racking, nail biting affair as will be for the foreseeable future. As a fan I’ll still watch and cheer and keep my cardiologist on the speed dial because that’s what we do. We’ve been down this road before….

      • For me, the notion of the “next level” is nuts. Sure I would like to see the USA improve, but realistically, doing much better in the WC, that is advancing in the knockout stages, is a very big ask. Countries with much stronger soccer programs and greater soccer resources of every type are challenged to even get to the knockout stage much less advance past the first round. Again if Gulati or Garber or whoever think that doing much better in the WC is on the US’s near term horizon, they need to check their meds.
        I will settle for a good honest effort and some intelligently coached soccer. That should get the US into the WC and after that you just have to roll the dice like almost every other country.

      • Sorry, but I have to disagree. Last game wasn’t growing pains in a team that was trying to transition from defensive to possession styles. It looked more like a team without any discernible game plan.

        We don’t have the players to play possession on a consistent basis, except against the weakest teams in our confederation. We struggle with it even against the middling teams, and usually will fall back into direct if not losing confidence or needing a goal, and defensive when trying to hold a lead. That’s been the state of the player pool throughout recent decades. Possession is tough – basically at World Cup finals you need a roster like Spain’s in recent years or like the Dutch had back in the 70s to play it consistently.

        We probably should have just maintained defensive and worked to better develop direct attack. Every team needs to be able to counter their opponents. It’s rock, paper, scissors – direct beats defensive, possession beats direct, and defensive beats possession. You need to be at least fair at any two of the three – and defensive and direct are the easiest to play, which is why nearly everybody does. Even the Germans are much more comfortable with direct than possession.

        But JK seemingly wants to be the next Cruyff/Michels, though he also seemingly does not have the background or currently the players to pull it off.

    • Positive is the best way to be….in the past the US has always responded well to these types of situations so I would expect nothing less than total effort.

    • Good for you! Klinsmann is one good pep talk and a lucky lineup pick away from getting this team back. Unfortunately for him it’s too late to get the fans back.
      Anything less than a total domination in Copa America and a World Cup final won’t change people’s minds. He has to go.

    • Yeah, me too… after this question. Are we wearing the evil Spidey kits again tonight, or is that uniform only for getting our backsides kicked in Central America?


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