[USA-UKRAINE: Reaction] Jurgen Klinsmann came to the defense of his team after a disjointed and often horrific performance in the USA's 2-0 loss to Ukraine in Cyprus. He admitted there was a lot of work ahead and was hopeful of learning more when he brings in a new group of players -- from MLS and Mexico -- for the April 2 friendly against El Tri.
In particular, Klinsmann came to the defense of his backline that was badly exposed on the two goals.
"It would be totally wrong now to criticize what went wrong," he said in his post-game press conference. "It was clear to us that playing a completely new backline, playing players that come out of the club system, who are in a difficult situation not having the same confidence they usually have, there’s a lot of work to be done and a lot to build on. Still, we continue to get John Anthony Brooksback in there, we see where he’s at, Geoff Cameron took the right back role and so on. [Edgar] Castillo flies all the way from Tijuana and played a decent game. You see individuals a lot in these type of matches, so it’s understandable that collectively, it’s not clicking. It would be a miracle if we had played well, still we need these games.”
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Klinsmann praised Ukraine -- a team that almost knocked France out of the World Cup -- and its midfielder, Anatoliy Tymoschuk.
“One player that I’ve always admired stepped it up tonight, that is Anatoliy Tymoschuk," he said. "He’s a player you can see is on the Champions League level that we often talk about. He runs the show like a quarterback and gets everybody on the same page. Even if they’re not aware or alert, he wakes them up. It was impressive to see him in there tonight; it seems like he’s getting younger and younger.”
In a subtle jab at his player pool, Klinsmann added that "the more you go in an overall pool the more you see that a player like Tymoschuk, we still have a ways to go to get to a player at that level."
Klinsmann said the decision to go with European-based players was a no-brainer, especially because he'll get a chance to see his other players in four weeks against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz. He said flying over MLS players on Monday, having them playing on Wednesday night and fly back Thursday for MLS openers on Saturday made no sense.
"So we have to make those compromises and we are happy to make those compromises because it gives us the opportunity to see the European players here," he said. "The same with the Mexico game on April 2, we do it the other way around, we’ll be missing the players from Europe and they have the opportunity to show where they are at right now.
Klinsmann leaves behind many European-based players who have hardly been playing or been playing and playing poorly. Regarding Jozy Altidore, who was dropped from the Sunderland squad for Sunday's Capital One Cup final at Wembley, he said all he can do is hope he gets a chance to play and break out of his scoring slump.
"At the end of the day," he said, "we can’t influence everyone’s situation on the club level. We can follow it, we can talk to the players, we can talk to the coaches as well, but at the end of the day the players have to solve it. It is very important that our players get into a rhythm for the next 10-12 weeks.”