US Soccer

Quote Sheet: MNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann

Quote Sheet: U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann
Aug. 30, 2013

Opening comments:
“This is probably the biggest game in the year 2013 coming up in Costa Rica. We want to win there for the first time ever in World Cup Qualifying, and we want to get as close as possible to Brazil. I think everybody’s optimistic. Everybody is confident but also very anxious about getting down to San Jose and getting started, so we’re looking forward to it.”

On fitness of Graham Zusi and Clint Dempsey:
“We think they’re going to be fully fit, both of them. We monitor them and we saw there were a couple issues there over the last few weeks and months, but no reason to be too concerned about it. We expect them to be fully fit for both games.”

On how to navigate the depth at forward now with Landon Donovan back in the picture:
“He got himself back into the team during the Gold Cup and he did a wonderful job there. Now it’s all about putting pieces together. We’ll find the best way possible for everyone involved. The key element is to get results down in Costa Rica and against Mexico. Therefore once we have them in camp we’ll see how they are doing and how the pieces will fit. Having Landon back in the picture is another really good option for us, so we’re looking forward to it.”

On reason for calling in John Brooks and what he expects out of the young defender in these two qualifiers:
“With the impression we got from John Brooks against Bosnia, and not only in that game but the past several years of observing him, watching him gives us the feeling that there’s a very special player coming through the ranks. We have experienced guys in camp with Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, and Omar Gonzalez, so we feel pretty loaded there. Obviously you can see on the roster that there were some 50-50 issues that we had to make a decision on. If it’s Michael Parkhurst, if it’s Clarence Goodson, Chris Wondolowski, Brad Davis, Jose Torres, Joe Corona, Sacha Kjlestan … those are all names and players that deserve to be in that roster as well. At the end of the day we decided to go with only 23. We know that the problem is we’ll be having nine players going into that game with yellow cards, so anything can happen after that game. We put everybody on notice to be in touch with us, and if there are changes to be made after that game we’ll make those changes. We felt very comfortable with this backline for Costa Rica and it was not easy to make those choices.”

On familiarity with U.S. struggles in Costa Rica:
“I think it has a lot to do with confidence, and you build confidence only over time. Obviously we changed a couple things over the past two years to go forward. Even after a 1-0 lead you want to score the second one, we don’t want to just sit back and defend. We’ve changed quite a few things on the mental side of it that’s played out already in a couple locations, whether it’s prestigious friendlies, in games in Jamaica or at Azteca Stadium. We have a lot of respect for Costa Rica and it’s important that the players always respect their opponent and know what to expect. They can expect a very intense game, a high energy game, but I think we have the quality and the mindset to be confident enough to go there for three points. This is what we’re trying to build. Even if you would theoretically go down a goal, there’s no reason to panic, you can still turn it around. I think more and more that this belief is getting bigger. It’s growing throughout the entire group, and we have a deeper roster than ever before. Hopefully we can take that mindset down to San Jose and win there for the first time ever in World Cup Qualifying.”

On current thoughts of where Fabian Johnson fits best:
“He played left back in Bosnia because DaMarcus Beasley wasn’t there. I think Beas is set in the left back role and Fabian is set in a winger role for right now. It’s good to know that even on the other side he can play right wing or right back and that gives us some options to pull if needed. Right now we see him very strong on the left wing in midfield and Beas behind him.”

On Aron Johannsson and Alejandro Bedoya:
“Aron is a player we’ve now followed for 1 ½ years very closely, in Denmark and now with AZ Alkmaar. I spoke to Earnie Stewart a couple of times about him, and we’ve always talked and corresponded that it was his dream to play for the United States one day. He’s a player that can surprise a lot of opponents. He’s unpredictable, he’s confident, and he’s seeing the game really well ahead so he slips where the ball will go. So we followed that, and when he came in to Bosnia we didn’t even know if he could play there because of the FIFA eligibility case. He became available only one day before the game, which obviously was exciting for us. I think he already showed in that half an hour that he has a lot of special tools in his game. Therefore we want to push that further with him. We want to make him a real part of this roster, this group, make him feel comfortable and make him grow with the U.S. team.”

“Alejandro Bedoya made a huge jump over the last 7-8 months just during my time now. He came pretty late into my picture, he was with Bob already, and compared to where he was in the January camp to where he is now is really wonderful to see. He became a lot more confident. He became a lot more mature. He proved that during the Gold Cup and he proved that in Bosnia. He proved it is his first game with Nantes vs. Paris Saint Germain. It was very impressive how he played there for a very good club in the French First Division. I think he deserves absolutely to be a part of that roster going into Costa Rica and that gives us another option. With him and Graham on the right flank, I think we’re looking really good.”

On Terrence Boyd’s injury and if that factored into his omission from the roster:
“Obviously he got that injury in our camp there (in Bosnia) and that took him out for a game with Rapid Vienna. On the other hand, we’ve got more options whether it’s Aron Johansson or Landon coming back into the picture so that keeps him out for these two games. He’s still on standby if something happens, as I mentioned before with all those yellow cards, and he understands that. It’s tricky now. One thing you know it is great to build a deeper roster and it’s exciting. The other thing is if you’re going into a game you can only name 23. So we’ve got to leave a couple guys out, but all these guys that are left out are by no means in a bad position. It’s going to be a long stretch to the World Cup still and Terrence knows that.”

On following Eric Lichaj:
“We follow him. We see that he’s playing on a regular basis for Nottingham Forrest and he’s in our picture. Now going into Costa Rica and World Cup Qualifying it wouldn’t be the right call for him. He hasn’t been with us yet during my time and now is not the time to experiment or to see another face real quick. But we’re observant, we watch him and we know he’s back in the swing.”

On where Steve Cherundolo stands in the team and if his injuries have taken him out of the picture:
“Absolutely he has a chance. Obviously we are sad for how things went the last year for Stevie. He had another surgery and he said it went well. Now he’s got to recover from it and we’ll just take it one step at a time. When he’s back in the team in Hannover, he’s the captain of that team. When he picks it up again the door is always open for Stevie.”

On if there’s any notion to be conservative with players carrying yellow cards:
“I don’t know if conservative is the right word. You just need to have it in the back of your mind. We obviously want to get everybody into the Mexico game as well, but if there’s a situation where you maybe need to commit a tactical foul to help your backline then it happens. Overall, I think the guys need to be very disciplined and focused.  We hope to get through that game but by no means are we going to hold back.”

On where Chris Wondolowski stands:
“He’s always in the equation, he’s always there. He’s like a Clarence Goodson, like a Brad Davis, like a Sacha Kljestan and the other guys. He could be exactly in that roster as well, but we had to trim it down to 23 to start with and he’s on standby. So we know if anything happens we can call Wondo right away. He’s always ready no matter what. He had a good Gold Cup and he deserves all the compliments. But a player like Aron Johansson is somebody that’s worth to follow through now, give him a first introduction into CONCACAF, let him see what’s happening on this side of the planet. Obviously Landon Donovan is back in the mix as well.”

On if the result of the ‘Snow Clasico’ will make the trip to Costa Rica even tougher than normal:
“It would be a tough game no matter what. I don’t think the players down on the field will think about the snow game in March. It’s going to be a totally different situation and environment and we expect a really difficult challenge, but we’re ready for it. We’re looking forward to that game, we are ready for it, we’re confident and we badly want those three points for the first time ever in World Cup Qualifying. From our end nobody looks back to the snow game.”

On the Costa Rica game being the biggest game in 2013:
“I have the approach that the next game is always the biggest one. But this game could put us absolutely in the driver’s seat for Brazil. One, we haven’t won there ever before and two, you want to set the tone in CONCACAF. You won the Gold Cup, you faced them already in the Gold Cup and I think we sent out some very strong signals too … if it’s Mexico, if it’s Costa Rica, if it’s Panama and other nations, and I think if we are able to get three points in San Jose next Friday then we’re almost in Brazil. That’s why I don’t want the players to think, not even for one second, about Mexico in Columbus. I want them just to tune in for San Jose, Costa Rica and give everything they have. Once that game is over on Friday night then we can turn the page and talk about other things. That’s why I’m saying it’s a huge game.”
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MNT Aug 30, 2013