World Cup Quote Sheet: Klinsmann, Dempsey

U.S. MNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Captain Clint Dempsey Speak about the Team's Round of 16 Game against Belgium

On preparing for tomorrow’s match:

“Yeah, we’re excited to be in the Round of 16, especially to get out of the group we were in. We are not just satisfied with just getting to the Round of 16; we want to do more. It’s a difficult challenge playing against Belgium, they have a lot of quality players, but at the same time, I think that if we play to the best of our ability, we can get the right result.”

On the toughest part about the playing in the current formation and what the team needs to create more chances:
“I think if you look at the Portugal game, we created more chances in that formation just because we were able to do a better job of keeping possession and then having more confidence in the attacking third. Who’s to say what formation we do next game - that’s up to the boss. Whatever is best for the team and allows us to get the right results - I feel confident that we’ll do well.”

On his thoughts about seeing and playing against Mousa Dembele and other Belgium players:
“Yes, I’m happy to see them, great players and I enjoy being their teammates. Good friends, great players like I said and I’m sure it will be a good game tomorrow.”

On the amount of goals scored so far and what he expects for tomorrow’s match:
“It’s one of those questions you don’t really know is going to happen tomorrow. It’s going to be a difficult game. In terms of the amount of goals, I couldn’t tell you, but all I can tell you is we’ve prepared the best that we can and we’re excited about the game and like Jurgen said, we’re really hungry. We’re not satisfied with just getting out of the group stage. We want to go far in this World Cup and for some of the guys, it’s the last opportunity, so you want to make the most of it and I’m sure if we play to the best of our ability we’ll get a positive result.”

On what lessons the team took away from the group stage games:
“I think we’ve got confidence from the group stage in terms of advancing from a difficult group. But at the same time we’ve got to be switched on for 90 plus minutes, we’ve got to go the extra mile.  We are in a position where, when we’re winning, we’ve got to not concede late like we did against Portugal. But like Jurgen said, it’s a different game now in the knockout stage, anything can happen, anything is possible, and we just have to be at our best and be prepared as best we can. We need to show up on the day, and hopefully we do that.”

On the U.S. traveling the most and Belgium traveling the least:
“I don’t think it’s a concern, because it’s what we deal with all the time. Whether it’s the World Cup preparation, the qualifying games we had—where we had one game in Jamaica, then going up to Seattle and going to Salt Lake City. Or whether we’re having games where players are playing overseas and having to travel back through the States, or in the States and having to travel back overseas, we’re used to the long travel. During the sending off process, we did a lot of traveling as well. It’s part of the game, I think we’re prepared in terms of how to deal with that the best so that we can stay fresh and stay sharp for the games, and it won’t be a factor tomorrow.”

On the advantage Tim Howard gives the team:
“I think it’s very important to have a great goalkeeper like Tim Howard. He gives confidence to the team. Just his experience, how well he’s performed on a consistent basis, his leadership in terms of keeping the backline organized in front of him, also the little things like what to look for in help with goals. So having a player like him is useful, you can count on a player with that type of experience in your team. All players with that type of experience give your team confidence in moving forward and how to win games and do something special. He’s definitely one of those players that we’re lucky to have.”

On the weather and nerves affecting the game:
“In terms of dealing with humidity and the heat, those things, we’ve dealt with every condition during the World Cup, and we’re used to dealing with those conditions during the World Cup qualifying process, especially in Honduras when we played the game at 1 o’clock. In terms of nerves, I think you just have to be confident, believe in yourself and the reason you are in a knockout stage is because you performed well. Go out there and control things you can, and that’s how hard you work and go that extra mile for that teammate who’s next to you. So in terms of is it going to be a perfect game? No. Because there’ll be mistakes, but you adjust to those, and it’s about who makes the least amount of mistakes and who’s able to capitalize in the right situations, and who wants it more. So I think if we play to the best of our ability we’ll get a positive result.”

On preparing for tomorrow’s match:
“Well, obviously, we all are very excited to go into this match against Belgium, especially because now it’s knockout stage and knockout stage has a completely different dynamic than the group situation. So, we worked hard for this moment. We made it through a very difficult group and now we want more. We are very, very hungry and focused and have a lot of respect for the Belgium side, as Clint said, but no fear at all. I think it’s going to be an exciting and hopefully also entertaining match tomorrow night.”

On the Belgium’s ability to perform throughout the game:
“Well, now they’re probably going into the knockout stage, you know you need to have a team that is willing to go the extra mile every single player needs to go at it 120 minutes and possibly into a penalty shootout. So, it’s very, very demanding. It’s the most extreme version you can have as a player, going into those games and possibly playing it for 120 plus minutes. But that’s what we are looking forward to, that’s why we worked very hard starting more than six weeks ago at Stanford University in California, trying to build a foundation for this moment and to be ready to go 120 minutes. A lot of the games are decided the last couple of minutes, you know, some now already are decided in penalty shootouts. So, hopefully, we have everything in our legs to go 120 minutes, if necessary, but I’m very, very positive we have a really good foundation for getting everything out of Belgium. The better team should win and go forward, but we’re doing well. We feel fresh, we feel recovered quickly after every game we played so far, and we have great spirit in our group. It feels like we just started this whole adventure. We don’t feel like we are already around for more than six weeks. Brazilian people welcomed us wherever we went. If it’s our home base in Sao Paulo, if it’s at Sao Paulo FC training ground, if it’s going to Recife, Natal, Manaus, now being here, I mean, people are super friendly, all positive and that’s how our environment is right now. We are hungry for more and we want to prove that to the best of our capabilities tomorrow.”  

On the team he’s built and how much of an influence other coaches have on him:
“Every coach I worked under had an influence on what I’m doing today and I had phenomenal coaches throughout my career and one of the biggest kind of mentors is with us is Berti Vogts He guides us in a certain way, very calmly in the background through certain elements and with his tremendous experience of seven or eight World Cups. His advice is always well taken. Having kind of a network of experienced people around you is something that the team and the coaching staff has always benefitted from.”

On if the team makes the quarterfinals and what the forecast is for U.S. Soccer:
“No, I think every cycle, every team has to prove its point. We’re not thinking at all about the future right now. We’re thinking purely about the present and we want to go far. We know it’s difficult. This is the hurdle you want to take. This is what these guys want to prove and especially as we said the other day, the more experienced players, like Clint, Time Howard, DaMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Jones, this is the moment. You have to embrace that moment and just squeeze everything out of yourself. What comes after the World Cup, we’ll have time to discuss that and looking forward, obviously, you’re always looking at the next generation coming through, but right now it’s all about Brazil. It’s all about this World Cup. We made it out of a difficult group and now it’s going to be 50/50 games, every game is 50/50 as you’ve seen already. The Round of 16 games were very, very tight. We need to prove ourselves right now and give everything we have and I’m confident that if every player gets to his limits tomorrow, we will have a positive outcome on our end.”

On Jozy Altidore’s health and how much could he play if needed:
“We’ll we don’t know how much because we need to see how things go, but he’s available and this is what we want. This is what we hoped for, this is what the medical staff is working since the injury on him and they’ve done a tremendous job day and night with Jozy, so just having him with us tomorrow is huge and how many minutes, we’ll see that through the game.”

On how much Jozy has actually trained at full speed with the team:
“No, it’s difficult to say Jozy, since two or three days he’s been with the team, how much work is in his legs. There’s a lot of individual stuff going on with the physios also in the gym, we have our own gym in the team hotel in Sao Paulo, so we’re worked day and night with Jozy, but it’s difficult to say how many minutes.”

On how much preparation Tim Howard and the team has done to research the tendencies of the Belgium penalty takers:
“We are prepared for penalty shootouts. It doesn’t mean when it happens we’re going to score all five, by the way, but you have to prepare in the best way possible. So you train the top players through that and you talk, obviously, to your goalkeeper through potential penalty takers from the Belgium side. You’re doing your homework as much as you can as much information you can have, so does Belgium. They do the same thing on us and hopefully we are well prepared and I think we are.”

On his relationship with Marc Wilmots and the similarities they have as coaches:
“I admire Marc. His personality, his spirit, he’s always ready for a joke, he’s always in a good mood, he’s very energetic. That’s the way he was as a player, for many years and so I only wish him the best in his work with the Belgium side. I think since just following them a little bit since last year’s friendly we have with them in Cleveland, it’s admirable what he’s done with that side. He’s full of talented players and it seems from the outside he’s been a really good spirit and so we were in touch obviously before the world Cup, we wanted to scrimmage at one point, but because of the traffic in Sao Paulo, it wasn’t possible to do that, but it shows his open mindedness and it shows also his capability to improvise things and not seeing things too serious. It’s definitely one of the coaches you wish good luck.”  

On his assessment of Belgium’s performance in the group stage:
“It’s a team that goes to the very end of the game, capable to always keep the rhythm, the focus, and to also score goals in the late stage. So we’ve got to be ready for a real grind, to be eye to eye with them, and to use our chances when they come, and avoid their chances. It’s just the right benchmark—these are now a very even games, anyone can see that. Anything from now on going forward is possible. All the teams are involved in this World Cup now. So we are very well prepared for them, we have to be very alert, alive from the first second on, and courageous, courageous to go forward and attack them, and create chances, and have guys get some balls in the box, hopefully a lot of them.”

On the growing interest of the game back home and what that means to the team:
“It means a lot to us. It means a lot to us because obviously the players get it communicated to their families that are here from the families back home. Obviously with the internet nowadays it’s no problem anymore to know what’s going on. It means a lot to us. The energy that comes from the United States, with their thousands and thousands of fans actually in Brazil, you see where the game is going in the United States. You can’t stop it anymore; it’s breaking through. The league is doing a great job. Millions of kids playing soccer throughout the country, you know, it’s growing on every level. And a large motive of this development is always the national team. In every country it’s that way. So we want to do well, we want to inspire them, we want to give them enthusiasm and belief. But then, when you start that game tomorrow you’ve got to prove it, you’ve got to be aggressive and hungry, and you’ve got to get the job done.  That’s what we want to do. But it means a lot to us, to see those pictures from home, and the enthusiasm from our fans in the stadium. Just to give an example: in Recife we lost the game, but the loud fans were the American ones. They were all over the stadium. They will be all over the stadium tomorrow in Salvador. And it means a lot to us, because it was kind of already started in the preparation phase when we played our send-off games in San Francisco, New York and Jacksonville. You know, packed stadiums, enthusiastic crowds and energies there. So we want to do extra well for all those fans, because it’s a cool moment right now, so we want to connect.”

On his assessment of Hazard’s performance so far:
“Well, it’s a team full of quality. Still a bit similar what we experienced in previous games, maybe against wingers like Nani and Ronaldo. We had the first game against Ghana; we had wingers coming in as well, one from one side, one from the other side. Now with Hazard, and the strength that he brings, you have extremely gifted players that you have to have a special eye on them, you have to check them right away, you have to double the cover on them or cover the defender that comes out, you’ve got to shift tremendously, but not give them too much space.  That’s what we work on for about six or seven weeks, you know we know that we will face these types of teams.  I think so far we’ve done a good job. We have to do that again.  But yeah that’s why they’re first in they’re group, that’s why they win through their group with three wins and that’s why we respect them. I think we have a good plan going into the game.”

On how taking the U.S. to a quarterfinal would rank in his career:
“Well advancing in the knock-out stage now after all our improving means the world to me personally. Because you start a process, and I started that three years ago, where we see things developing in many different forms, not only on the national team level. But you know that you can benchmark, you can judge how good a team is by how well they do at a World Cup.  So for all of us, this is huge. We all know, players and coaches that this is only coming along every four years.  So we don’t want to wait another four years to get into the quarter final, we want to do it now.  We had to prepare the team in the best way possible for a very difficult group, we got that job done, and now it’s about understanding the moment to start the knockout stage, which as I said before has a very different dynamic than the group stage.  So to all of us it means a lot. All of us are very eager to get on the field tomorrow and play this game, get started, go eye-to-eye with a very good team and move on. As we said before, the sky is the limit.  It’s just one hurdle after another, and this is a big hurdle there’s no doubt about it.”

On officiating in the tournament on CONCACAF teams and if having an Algerian (French speaking) referee will be an advantage to Belgium:
“Well we hope it’s not a concern. We know he did two games already, and he did them very well.  So we hope he continues his refereeing the perfect way he’s done so far.  Is it a good feeling? No, because he’s coming from the same group as Belgium and Algeria. He’s able to speak French with their players on the field, not with us. It’s a country that we beat in the last second in the last World Cup. So sometimes I don’t understand FIFA—it’s difficult obviously to choose the right referee for the right games and it’s always been kind of tricky for FIFA. But it is what it is. We give it the benefit of the doubt, we respect the decision and we’re going to be spot on in the game, and hope that everything goes well.”