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Jurgen Klinsmann: “It will take a lot of work to break them down.”


U.S. MNT head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN:

On what he’s expecting from Belize:

“I’ll be expecting a difficult game. It’s a Belize side that’s highly enthusiastic and motivated to play their game in the Gold Cup. They are thrilled that they made it through. They made it through because they deserved it. We watched all their Copa Centroamericana and they made their results. They’re a very defensive Belize team which makes it difficult for us to break them down, and it’s going to be a lot of work ahead of us. We have to move the ball out quickly, we have to pressure them high up, keep the tempo very high and do all those elements we worked on in the Guatemala friendly the other day. We respect them a lot. They tied Guatemala a couple weeks ago 0-0, it took Honduras in their game in January I don’t know how long to break them down, and therefore it will take a lot of work to break them down, and our guys are aware of that.”

On any players from Belize that has emerged as one to watch:

“We know their individual players, but I’m not here to talk about individual players. We know them, we know the names, and we did our homework.”

On taking on the Belize team after multiple upsets in the tournament:

“Our plan is to hopefully score a goal as early as possible in the game, but knowing they will do everything to avoid that. Knowing that it takes patience, it takes a high tempo, it takes everything from the players to break them down and go from there. It’s important you always have the highest respect for your opponent. We’re not under evaluating anybody. It’s not a surprise that Canada loses a game to Martinique. Panama is a very strong team. It can happen to you any day, losing a game in the Gold Cup or in the CONCACAF region. We experienced that last year when we were in Jamaica and we tied Guatemala in Guatemala. You have to start every game very seriously, very focused with the right aggressiveness and mental approach, and that’s what we’re going to do tomorrow night because we respect the opponent.”

On the plan for the use of players as the tournament progresses:

“We’re really curious to see the guys day by day. Training sessions are almost as important as games. We want them to compete and train at a very high intensity. We want to keep them very balanced, and we want to see where they are. We have many different positions where it is a difficult decision for the coach to say we are 50/50 this way or that way. That’s why we approached the Guatemala game that way, the way we shared the central midfield roles. Hopefully we can give the players opportunities here. At the same time, you want to have a core looking through the tournament that keeps things together. It’s a group with a tremendous amount of experience, the back line with Beas on the left with his experience, Gooch, Clarence, then Michael Parkhurst. They have played Gold Cups before. Yes, we bring a couple youngsters along and hopefully give them a chance to show what they have as well. It’s going to be both in a certain way. We want to build consistency and build a strong core, but hopefully there is an opportunity there depending on what we see in the results, depending on what we see in the training sessions, if players also have a chance to play in the starting XI.”

On the importance of the MLS on the development of National Team players:

“MLS is a huge part in the development of the National Team because it’s the foundation of the professional game in this country. You want to see the youngsters come through our MLS system here. Obviously with the academies all the way up to MLS, you want to give the players a path from a very early age, and that has been stronger. It’s not like in other countries, but it’s getting better and better. With the National team program, we want to continue that work that is done in MLS and give those players the opportunity to break into the National Team roster. I said from the beginning that I don’t care where they play as long as they’re playing at the highest level possible, they challenge themselves and they always look for the next opportunity. For us coaches it’s important they never are content and never stop at a certain moment that they always look for the next opportunity out there. The growth of MLS is tremendous. It’s not even 20 years old and look where it is. Soccer specific stadiums, atmospheres like here in the northwest, it’s just wonderful to see teams all over the place. It’s wonderful to see now a 20th franchise with a team in New York. It has a big part of the National Team program as well, and we work hand in hand with each other and try to improve it on different levels. It’s exciting to see because the youngsters should come through MLS.”

U.S. MNT defender and captain DAMARCUS BEASLEY:

On the level of importance of the Gold Cup:

“The Gold Cup is important for us because it’s in our home country. We haven’t won it the last two tournaments. We want to bring it back to America, we want to bring it back to the states, and that’s our motivation is to win this tournament, so it’s very important. The players know that; the players with 100 caps, 50 caps, or zero caps, we all know that. We’re all on the same page to do the job at hand and take the cup home. It starts one game at a time. We’re not looking at Chicago right now; we’re looking at Belize and to get a result.”

On having so many players on the U.S. roster who play in Liga MX:

“It’s great to see the players here from Liga MX. It’s a great league with a lot of great players. It’s a fun league, and it’s a tough league to play in. Anybody can win the championship, and I’ve enjoyed my time there. The guys that are here, they deserve to be here. They’re good players. Hopefully we all show our talents in front of Jurgen and get a good team result throughout this tournament.” 

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