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Klinsmann: 'We want to start on the right foot'
February 4th, 2013 10:42PM
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TAGS:  americans abroad, men's national team, world cup 2014


[HONDURAS-USA] Before heading on a plane from Miami to San Pedro Sula, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann went over his new options at center back, Jozy Altidore's progress, the upsides he sees for Timothy Chandler, Sacha Kljestan and Jose Torres, and what he expects from Honduras ...

On beginning the final round of World Cup qualifying:
“We are very excited to get the Hexagonal started with that game in Honduras on Wednesday afternoon. We are excited because it looks like we’re going to have everybody coming in healthy and ready to go for a very important game. We want to start the qualifying round on the right foot. We want to go to Honduras with confidence and determination to get, hopefully, a win. That’s our goal and there’s a lot of work behind us, especially with the group that was part of the January camp that already started this preparation. Obviously, the Europeans and the players that are based in Mexico are now joining us finally so we’re all ready to go.”

On whether he sees Mexico and the U.S. qualifying relatively easily out of the group or whether it will be a struggle:
“There is no easy way, not for Mexico, not for the United States, not for anybody. You have to get your points, you have to win your games and you have to get the job done. You have to go into every game with the expectation that it’s going to be difficult, that it will challenge you to the limits. That’s our approach: take it seriously every time you go out onto the field, very seriously, and be very awake and then we’ll see how it runs out through those 10 games. I told the players it’s all about alertness, commitment and determination. The way they train, the way they presented themselves already this morning, it looks like they are ready.”

On how he selected his center backs:
“It is exciting for us to see players like Omar [Gonzalez] now being ready at the international level. Matt Besler is knocking at the door, he had a very strong January camp. Others as well, Brad Davis or Brad Evans, they are here because they had very impressive three-and-a-half weeks in January in camp with us. Clarence [Goodson] is in preseason right now in Denmark and Gooch [Oguchi Onyewu] is not playing at all at Malaga, so there are always reason for why we choose certain players and why we do certain things. We believe Matt Besler has the capabilities to step it up to the international level. So does Omar, so that gives us more options and a very busy year 2013.”

On going to San Pedro Sula to play in a World Cup qualifier:
“Every continent has its tricky parts and difficult environments and San Pedro Sula definitely has its own difficult environment, but those are challenges that players need. They need to go through those games, they need to prove themselves and they need to find ways, on the field, to get the job done. I will always welcome these opportunities, these matches, because that’s what it’s all about, going to these places that are not your home, cozy environment and proving a point. I think the players are ready for that. Some have been down there already and others have played enough World Cup qualifiers already. We have an experienced team. We have players that are ready to step it up but obviously you know to expect a difficult situation.”

On Jozy Altidore, his club season and what he expects of him moving forward:
"We are very pleased with Jozy’s development over the time I’ve been in charge. We don’t expect him to be perfect. He’s a still very young player who is developing. He is becoming more consistent, he scores goals on a regular basis for Alkmaar, he’s already done a lot in such a young career. I think the way he managed that situation last week was awesome. He deserves a big compliment. He’s still going through a maturing curve on the field, off the field, and our job is to get him to an international, consistent level. By consistency I mean, as a striker, we would like to work him towards the way where he scores consistently for us. He did the first couple of steps already in the club environment, he is becoming a consistent goal scorer. He is settled in Europe now after a little bit of a roller coaster since his transfer there at the age of 18, and it’s great to see. We work on his consistency. He is maturing automatically. The way he presented himself last game against Russia and the way he worked for the team was very, very positive. We will just keep working, day in and day out, with him, whenever we have him.”

On Sacha Kljestan:
“Sacha is similar to Jozy. He’s becoming a consistent influence in his club. We watch his club games. We have people there that scout him that go to Anderlecht and see his games. He’s done very well. He won the championship and played in European competition and he is also becoming more of a consistent element overseas and we want him to bring that kind of quality back into the national team environment. He’s been a bit in and out also because of the depth that we have in the midfield. You know, we have an enormous amount of quality in every midfield position and that’s why there’s obviously a fight going on for those spots. But he’s always been in our plans and our roster and we are pleased with his development over the last couple of years.”

On excitement of having Timmy Chandler in the mix:
“It’s a huge opportunity for Timmy and I think he’s simply just maturing, he’s growing into his role as a full-time professional and that’s why we were very patient with Timmy to mature It’s a coach’s job to understand where certain players are in their own process and pick them up to help them get to the next level. We are patient with Timmy to get to the next level, now this opportunity coming up, a big World Cup qualifier coming up. He had a game yesterday, but he comes in on the right foot with a win for his club team, which was very important for them and hopefully with a lot of confidence now joining us today in Miami and then going down to Honduras. It also gives us more options and more quality in our own roster and he definitely has qualities you’ve seen already in some games that we want to build on. He still has a lot to improve, he still has a way to go, which is alright; he’s only 23-years of age.”

On calling in Jose Torres for the first time since September qualifiers:
“He was injured in October but we know Jose’s qualities and we know his game, I think that move from Pachuca to Tigres is another step upwards. It helps him to get to a higher level and also moves him out a bit of his comfort zone and the place you grew up and played for eight years. Now in a new environment he needs to prove himself and become a starter. He started the season off really well and he’s a player that has so much more to reach and we will help him in that process.”

On if all players called in for qualifier are fit to start:
“They need to be fit to start, all of them. In a time window of three days we can’t afford to bring anyone in with question marks. That’s why we also chose to give out the roster so late, to see who’s healthy or not but we are thrilled because everybody’s on board. It is very important to know that a player who fiies in is ready to go. We can’t bring a player in if he has question marks and injuries, that doesn’t work in such a short period of time.”

On Honduras and where they fall in the hierarchy of Concacaf:
“We have a lot of respect for this team. I think they’ve done very well over the last couple of years, obviously qualifying for South Africa, challenging us and Mexico in this region and having played overseas with more presence than ever before. I personally saw them in South Africa in games and the only thing they were lacking was the confidence to beat one of the bigger nations, to really believe in it at the end of the day and playing-wise they’ve done well. You have strikers up front in [Jerry] Bengtson who can always harm an opponent, you have [Roger] Espinoza in midfield who has a lot of creativity and a wonderful touch, they have a very strong defense physically so that’s why we respect them, that’s why we’ve done our homework. You’ve got to give them a compliment to what they’ve done over the last couple of years.”

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: February 5, 2013 at 11:17 a.m.
    OK... if "Everybody is Fit to Start" then the Torn Hamstring and last weeks reported Lower back Pain for Carlos Bocanegra means what? That he was slacking? ... or that he has had a miraculous recovery and now can be expected to go a full 90 on the road? Umm... why do I find this sounding like, if not outright lies, then wishful thinking on Jurgen's part? Last week Fabian Johnson was out with a knee injury, and considering the position that Hoffenheim is currently in, I would think that he would be playing if he was able to do so... so again, I take this with more than a bit of skepticism. Clearly this side seems light on flank players and that tells me we are not likely to be playing a 4-3-3... I'm thinking that this looks rather "Bunker" like... more that a few central defensive type midfielders - Bradley, Williams, Edu, Williams, Torres - but light on those more comfortable playing out wide... got to expect, I'm afraid that this "Talk" won't be backed up with a strong commitment to playing two Strikers and going for a win, more likely a defensive shape hoping for a point on the road with a chance for a win on a set play like a Corner or a free kick, but this just "feels" like an away match going for a tie. ... (ICE)
  1. Albert Harris
    commented on: February 5, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.
    Both Bocanegra and Johnson started for their teams on the weekend so apparently their club coaches think they're healthy enough to play. Agreed that without Donovan, there's no way we have the wingers to play a 4-3-3, but a 4-2-3-1 with Dempsey at a-mid and either Altidore or Gomez on top seems attacking enough for me. Don't see a problem with tailoring your tactics to the occasion. Not like everybody except maybe Spain doesn't do it.
  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: February 5, 2013 at 8:59 p.m.
    Forget the was never going to happen with this group. Diamond in the middle of Bradley, Davis, Zusi, and Williams holding. Dempsey and Gomez stretching their back four ready to finish, with left to right Johnson, Boca, Cameron and Parkhurst willing to combine and overlap down the flanks. Davis and Zusi, wingers that actually stay wide and deliver good service, plus take dangerous set kicks. Howard of course. Commit to going forward.

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