ussoccer.com: You had a chance to review the game against Denmark. What were your impressions on the second look?
Jurgen Klinsmann: “It’s frustrating because you put so much work into it. We don’t want to lose. We want to win, but these are also important experiences. We want to make progress in managing the game and taking the game to the opponent and winning away from home and not being in our comfort zone. We were out of our comfort zone [in Denmark], and were pretty much in the game until the last couple of minutes before the end. After Michael’s beautiful pass and Aron’s goal, we looked in control. We controlled the next 10-15 minutes completely, but then with the equalizer, it became a little bit shaky. Still, we had a good opportunity with John Brooks to level the game. At the World Cup he put it in the net, this time he put it just a little bit wide.”
ussoccer.com: What does it mean in a game like that, where we don’t necessarily have more possession, but are still playing well?
JK: “I think it’s an interesting learning curve for us playing a team like Denmark, which is known for having a high amount of possession. They’re really good without necessarily putting too much pressure in the final third. They want to move the ball around. They make it hard for you to get the ball back, and then they are pretty smart to quickly regain the ball because that’s what they’ve done for years under Morten Olsen, who’s one of the longest serving national team managers in the world. So for us, the challenge was how do you manage the game once we get the ball? Here and there we did really well, and here and there we gave the ball away too early.
ussoccer.com: So you planned for the fact that Denmark would have a lot of the possession?
JK: “We knew that Denmark with its style would kind of move us into a style where we would try to get them in transition, because that’s where they’re vulnerable; that’s where they leave space behind its fullbacks. We needed to get a way to find those spaces and feed into our strikers. We prepared that tactical approach, and for most of the time it was good.”
ussoccer.com: With the issue of the late goals, how do you correct that?
JK: “Part of the transition is developing chemistry and gaining experience, and over time this will happen. You build that strength to grind it out, and for younger players they learn the little things you need to do in order to finish off a game. To be up 2-1 on the road to Denmark said a lot, and even if we came away with a tie it would have been an accomplishment. But when you lose the game at the end like this, it’s a disappointment for everyone. So that’s the process that we’ve got to go through. We’ve got to grind through it and also build chemistry. Still, we are not satisfied not getting a result.
ussoccer.com: Three of the four starters on the back line were 24 years old and under. Are you trying to give those guys an opportunity to grow?
JK: “Right now, these games are to see if players can break into the inner circle and into the starting lineup. Are they consistent? That’s why we want to have players showing us where they are at, a couple of months away from the Gold Cup, when we have to make the decisions. At times, it looked good. At times, they looked composed; they looked confident, they stayed calm on the ball and they combined well into midfield. However, at the end of the day when you have a couple of individual mistakes against an experienced team like Denmark, you pay the price for it, and we did, even if we could have equalized the game still in the last minute.”