June 11, 2016
IT'S TIME TO FLIP THE MENTALITY
Klinsmann: being the forever underdog has gotten old, it's time for the USA to turn over a new leaf
By Michael Lewis
|Regardless which team the USA players, midfielder Jermaine Jones and his teammates will have their hands full with their quarterfinal opponents.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
PHILADELPHIA -- Whether the United States plays Brazil, Ecuador or Peru in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is sure of one thing: his side has to step it up.
In fact, Klinsmann wants to see his team not play the role of the underdog, but to take it to superior opposition. He figured it was about time.
"We would love to see that they become more confident and courageous to take the game to the teams and not playing just counter break football," he said after the Americans booked a quarterfinal berth at Copa America Centenario with a 1-0 win over Paraguay Saturday night.
Klinsmann said he talked about it with his team the last two days.
"Hey you know, the old story is the underdog story," he said. "I can't hear that story.
"I want to see them risk things. Let's go for it because if you're not going for it, sooner or later they're going to break you down because they just class players."
It just part of the learning curve for the American side.
"Take the game to them," Klinsmann said. "That's the learning curve. The knockout stages is very mental driven. It's absolutely mental. It's when you step onto the field and see certain jerseys, its kind sniffing at each other and saying, 'I'm ready for you.' This is all about the moment. This is what they need to believe in. Whoever is on the other side, I'm ready for them. This is what you would love to see. It is kind of easy to say."
When asked which Group B opponent -- Brazil, Ecuador or Peru -- he would rather face, Klinsmann said it didn't matter, although he would never turn down an opportunity to face the five-time world champion Brazilians.
"It's getting more exciting," he said. "You want to be an accomplishment like that and face Brazil. If it's Brazil, it's Brazil. If it's Ecuador, it's Ecuador. We know a little bit better because we played the friendly."
The USA defeated Ecuador in an international friendly a week prior to the competition's kickoff, a 1-0 decision.
"Obviously, you don't need to watch Brazil," Klinsmann said. “We know them inside out anyway. We don't need to send a scouting staff there.
"It's just a wonderful opportunity for our team to play these type of games. It just grows and grows and rise to the occasion. We have nothing to lose. If it's Brazil, they are the big favorites, five-time world champions. We love them. Why not going at them? Why not be courageous? Why not putting pressure on them and give them a game?
"Every team has weaknesses. That's why the last couple of years we went abroad. We went to get certain experiences to just to get this growth in our mindset that we can compete. Yes, they are friendly games. I get that, too. When you’re playing, Holland, Germany and Bosnia and so on. Still, we've got to go there and give them the game. We beat some of them. That's what the learning curve is. Let's go to New Jersey and add another one, give everything you have."
Well, Klinsmann was talking to the media prior to Costa Rica's surprising 3-2 triumph over Colombia in the other Group A match later Saturday night. In other words, the USA isn't going to East Rutherford, N.J. to play, but rather to Seattle as group champions.