World Cup Quote Sheet: Jurgen Klinsmann - June 23 & 24

U.S. MNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann Spoke to the Media on Monday and Tuesday about the USA's Match against Portugal and Upcoming Game against Germany

Monday, June 23, 2014
On the team’s performance in the game against Portugal:
“I think we can all be very proud of the performance of the team against Portugal. I think we knew it was going to be a very difficult game, it was going to be challenging to block their great, individual players that they have, but I think that once we got slowly into the game, after 15-25 minutes, we kind of swallowed the first goal that we conceded there. The response was tremendous and we pointed it out at halftime that if you keep the tempo high, if you move the ball around quickly, you will create chances, which we already had in the first half. Then we created even more chances in the second half and eventually we scored the goals. Just obviously a bummer if you concede a goal in the last second, which would have qualified you already for the Round of 16, but overall a very, very positive step into the right direction.”   

On the progression of the team throughout the FIFA World Cup:
“I think that’s one of the biggest parts of a tournament like a World Cup, to see a progression throughout the preparation period, where you play a couple of friendly games, then going into the tournament. Yes, you have to peak already at the beginning of the tournament, which we did with the Ghana game, but it’s important that the players and everybody feels like there’s more to come, there’s more to build on, and I think this game against Portugal, even with the outcome at the end, gives you even more confidence now to take it with them to the Germany game and get the job done and to be secured for the Round of 16. I think this is really important for everyone to see, especially for the players, that we’re getting better and we’re getting stronger with every game that we play. We’re building more and more the stronger foundation. And the players now know what a tournament is about - We experience all the emotions, we experience different circumstances, different stadiums and environments. So it is exciting to see the team grow.”

On the conditions the team played in and how they prepared for them:
“Yes, I think that everybody knew that this World Cup will be a very, very different World Cup in Brazil with the huge distances, different climate zones and all the different challenges that this country brings along. It’s a very exciting World Cup, but it’s also a very challenging World Cup. So we knew that the preparation is key to success. We knew that we need to be spot on when it really matters. And I think that the team proved that; the team was spot on against Ghana, the team was spot on against Portugal and now we build on those things that we already created. I think that you could see that there are already many surprises that are happening in the tournament. There will be more surprises coming up in the knockout stages. I think we can take a lot of confidence from the game against Portugal in terms of qualifying for the knockout stage now with the Germany game, and go from there.”

On preparation for playing in heat and humidity:
“Well, I think it’s paying off that we tried to prepare for all these circumstances that we are going to face in Brazil. We had a very intense preparation at Stanford in the dry climate to get the foundation into their legs. Then we moved over to New York for our send-off game and from there to Florida, so a bit similar to the conditions that we faced in the northeast of Brazil. And now, going into this game in Recife against Germany with a 1 p.m. kick off the heat will be there and it will be humid.  I think we are very well prepared for that. I think that the team has the confidence to take this game to Germany and tell them in our body language and in our energy that we are ready for them and we are ready to get that last little piece done in order to move on to the next round. But the key was really over the last weeks to build the foundation, to build the mental belief. You have to be also mentally convinced that you’ve done all the work, which they did, and take it into the game.”

On European teams adjusting to the climate:
“Well, I think that some teams were very well prepared coming in from Europe. I would think probably Germany is well prepared for it, but other teams obviously struggle. They struggle with the different climate zones, the different conditions and the circumstances here in Brazil. The biggest example for sure is Spain. The world champion going home early is huge because they dictated the global stage now for eight years. They were really the number one team wherever you played international football, so having them going home early, having England going home early says something. I think Germany has done well and France is doing very well so far. So there mixed experiences and there are surprises. There are surprises that come from our region, from CONCACAF, with Costa Rica being already in the next round. Hopefully, Mexico is making the next big step. We want to do the next little step that we have to take in order to get there. We always said it’s going to be a tournament full of surprises, full of challenges and it’s proven that way. But it’s a tournament where you have to grow from game to game and you have to raise the bar every game you’re going to play going forward. That’s the key to being in this tournament as long as you can.”

On the message to the team going into Germany game:
“Well, the message is very simple: we want to beat Germany. We want to be first in our group, so we’re not thinking about a tie. We know a tie gets us through too, which if at the end of the day it ends up a tie because it’s an exciting game and a very close game, so be it. But our goal is to beat Germany and to be first now in our group in order to play the second place finisher of the other group in the Round of 16. This is really important, so we cannot kind of just hope that it goes our way. We have to work hard for it. We have to take all the energy in there. The circumstances will be, again, very challenging. It’s a one o’clock kick-off, it’s going to be hot and humid, and both teams will hit the wall a couple of times during the 90 minutes. We are prepared for that. Our goal is definitely to beat Germany.”

On the U.S. walking into a World Cup stadium and feeling like it’s a home game and what it means for team:
“The fan support for us is overwhelming. It is unbelievable. When we go and actually take the bus already to the stadium and see thousands of fans, U.S. fans, streaming towards the stadium and chanting already. It just gives you this extra amount of energy that we need. We need all the energy from the fans going to Recife, having a great time and enjoying everything they experience in Recife, but also being loud and pushing us and giving us the energy when things maybe don’t work out because it’s a tough game. Seeing the pictures from home, thousands of fans just watching at a public viewing, seeing the pictures from Chicago where there are 20,000 in Grant Park watching our game, is just amazing. All over the place in America, people really tune into soccer and are supporting our team, and we feel that. We get that energy. We’re going to give that energy to the players and take that into the game, and that helps a lot. It makes you grow and it makes you also feel accountable and responsible for giving everything you have on the field in every World Cup game. This is what a World Cup is about. You have to understand the momentum, you have to be in there right now and take that energy to another level again in Recife against Germany. I think it is going to be great turnout from our fans.”

June 24, 2014
On Thursday’s game against Germany:

“I mean as I can see there are some people here that haven’t been here before, which is the nature of the Germany game. I just want to welcome everybody that hasn’t been here before to Sao Paulo FC’s training ground, which is a place for us, like a second home. I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to see it a little bit, but the facility is state of the art and very special. We feel privileged to be here at this place, at one of the biggest clubs in South America and they treat us tremendously and give us a lot of energy over the last couple of weeks. We have been here in January already to test things out. It’s been an awesome experience for all of us. So, I welcome you to Sao Paulo FC. Obviously, this is a very special game coming up, Germany against the U.S. The results make it even more interesting. If we wouldn’t have ended up in a tie in the last 30 seconds of the game against Portugal, it obviously would be a lot easier, but now as we set out for the game, we have to do it the hard way, the tough way and that’s what we’ve been preparing for. We’ve been preparing for a very intense game in the heat of Recife and we’re looking forward to it. I think Germany is in a situation where they’re already in the group, I don’t know what percentage maybe 90 or 95 percent, because of the goal advantage that they have in their win against Portugal. They pretty much have qualified and we have to give it another hard day to qualify, which we are ready for, and so we are really looking forward to it.”

On how encouraged he is by the MLS players and their performance:
“Yeah we are encouraged, not only by all the MLS players, but everyone in our squad how they perform since day one in preparation and then in the friendly games and now in the first two World Cup games, it’s really enjoyable. It’s fun to watch. We did a lot, a lot of work in those four weeks leading into the tournament. All of them did tremendously well and that’s why we feel like we have a very strong squad. We feel like we can bring players off the bench that have an impact, no matter what their background is, no matter what league in the world they’re playing and I think everyone has done a tremendous job. We have more players that are ready to jump in this game against Germany, that maybe haven’t played yet and it makes us feel good. It makes us feel confident, because we know they can really step it up when they’re asked to step it up and all of them deserve a huge compliment so far.”

On the status of the injured players and changes on the field:
“No, we don’t have to consider changes. Jozy is recovering really well; he’s doing a tremendous job. Our medical staff is on top of it. This game comes still too early for him, but we’re working on getting him back in this tournament as we said, so once this game is hopefully done successfully we’ll have a good chance to have him back in the team. Matt Besler is looking good. Everybody else is on board, is fit, and is hungry to get the last result to qualify for the knock-out round, so it’s really good.”

On what it means for him to play against Germany:
“It’s very special, it’s something that doesn’t happen every year and probably not anymore in the lifetime, so you try to enjoy this moment. I’m looking forward to seeing all of them. The staff is pretty much the same as I left it, when I stepped out in 2006. It’s gonna be emotional, there’s no doubt about it. But I also will enjoy it. I always said, there team is ready to take it to the end of the tournament and they have enough potential to win this World Cup. It obviously gives it more attention, because both are not yet moving to the knock-out stage, but now also kind of always when there is a special moment comes up like this, you know I let it go, and in a certain moment I want to enjoy it too. We are very hungry, as you know, as you see. We are very ambitious. We did so much work, and we were almost there already to be qualified for the knock-out stage, we have to do it now with this game and there is no doubt that it’s a special moment because it’s the team that you start building, the group of people that you got around and they are all in place still, so I will give them big hugs before the game and then leave to the side. We’re gonna get the job done and we’re gonna give a farewell hug again after the game.”

On what makesGermany such a tough team to face:
“Well, I think one of the strengths of the German side has been consistency. Consistency and performing at the highest level, at the biggest stage, which is every two years in a European Championship or a World Cup, and to find ways to make it to the end of the tournaments. Then, based on their infrastructure and the culture and how the game is built there, a very strong domestic league, one of the best leagues in the world if not maybe right now the best, develops a whole bunch of very good players. Based on that, the national team is the locomotive running it, pulling this whole thing, and they are requested to do well.  The expectations in Germany are very simple; they’ve always got to win it. Otherwise, they are disappointed. That’s just how it is. Third place or second place doesn’t mean much to the fans and the people there. And they live with that; they get along with that, so they can embrace those expectations within the inner circle as well. And that’s how they prepare and start the tournament, and go from game to game. So their consistency is really something that they’re really known for. Obviously their spirit is always going into the last second of the game, to turn things around, fighting until the last moment, which is something we have as well. For the U.S. as well, we are never giving up until the final whistle blows. Sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes like the Portugal game, you concede a goal in the last second. But it’s part of it, it’s part of the process.”

On how having players that have played in Germany will impact the game:
“Well, it’s difficult to say, but I think it definitely helps that a lot of our players know the players from the German team, because they face them in Bundesliga games. So they’ll be more familiar with them. They can keep them a little bit better than if they don’t know them at all. We can show them a lot of media footage, and get familiar with them. So hopefully it’s an advantage to have those players, because they’re just familiar with what’s coming up.”

On the short turn around, the heat and how they’re preparing the team:
“Well, we are preparing the team in the best way possible to keep them fresh and keep them energized. Yesterday, already, they were out on the training field, and they’ve already recovered from the game, and they’re looking forward to this. This is the biggest game they can ever play, you know, because now it’s about points in the knockout stage.  So we are ready for that. Schedule wise, you mentioned something about the game, it is what it is. You know, obviously after the game we were kind of like ‘Ahh!’. We were angry, because if you concede a goal 30 seconds before the final whistle… But it’s all-good. It is what it is. We adjust to it. We always said that we are able to adjust to it, probably much better than a lot of teams in this World Cup because we are used to travel, we are used to playing in different climate zones. We go through CONCACAF with all the Central American countries, we have in the U.S. ourselves different climates, and so it’s all right with us. We came back here late in the night after the game in Manaus and everybody just felt good getting back to our team base hotel, getting back next day here and our training ground, which is really like a second home now. We kind of recharged the batteries, they’re all good and fresh and they’re ready to go. They are so eager now to get into the knockout-stage, so it’s all good with us.”

On how the team handles pressure and expectations:
“I think to manage the expectations or all of that stuff; it’s something that comes from the outside. Obviously, everybody deals with it a little bit differently, but it’s not a big issue. It’s something that you actually appreciate. This is what they were looking forward to.  This coming along, only every four years, so you better enjoy it. I think it’s a great thing to deal with.  The more the expectations rise that means the more good of job you’re doing on the field.  Who would have thought that after the two games, we were right there with four points, we need one more point and we are through so we will take it that way very positively.  We are going to play this game to win it.  We are not made for going into a game to end with a tie, that’s just not in our DNA and it’s not even in the DNA of the German side so they are both teams that want to get the results, both teams want to win the group.  That’s another thing you want to drive for because you want to possibly arrive at 16 as the winner of the group so whatever happens at the end of the game then we’ll see.  You’ll see that yourselves but we are definitely going in there with the approach that we want to push it and we want to go for gold and we want to get three points and this is really what we are driving for.”