Klinsmann preaches the urgency of qualifying

[USA-JAMAICA: Reaction] U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann cited several reasons for the improved play and win over Jamaica in the second game of their two-game series. He liked the wide play from Jose Torres and Graham Zusi, the work as the No. 6 of Danny Williams and professionalism of Steve Cherundolo, held out of the first match with an injury. Klinsmann offered special praise for Herculez Gomez and his hunger, calling him a "role model." For more from Klinsmann and his players after the game ....

On trying to improve the team’s use of width during play:
“We wanted our fullbacks going forward and we tried to use creativity of Jose Torres and Graham (Zusi), they created more space there and they know when to stay on the sideline and when to tuck in. I think the way Danny Williams played tonight tells you a little bit about his role which he is growing into in the Bundesliga. He’s a very good No. 6 and I know we have different [No. 6s] now, but he gave you a good taste that he’s a very good holding player. When you keep the ball a little bit longer and don’t lose it right away it changes the dynamic of the game. I think with the field being a beautiful field, it was easy to do tonight.”

On the flexibility needed to make changes to the lineup:
“As a national team coach, in the short period of time we are trying to work out a puzzle that matches best with different players coming from different backgrounds and clubs. The one thing is on the tactical side is how you want to shape it and how you want play and train, the other thing is to tell the players in a short amount of time the importance of what’s going on. Tomorrow morning they’re all going back with their clubs and it isn’t easy for the players. It was important for them to understand the urgency we have in World Cup qualifying. I went through qualifiers myself and when we won the World Cup in 1990, we almost didn’t qualify. It was down to the last game which we won 2-1 and the opponent, Wales, missed a 100-percent chance in the 88th minute and Germany almost didn’t go to the World Cup. That’s how close it can get. We try to tell players to not waste time and not waste points. We wasted points in Jamaica. It was really important they understand to get down to business tonight and they responded well. Our task is really to give them the right perspective in the couple of days knowing that tomorrow they’re going to be all gone again.”

On the play of Danny Williams and Steve Cherundolo:
“Steve is phenomenal. He’s just an exceptional professional. That’s why we didn’t want to risk anything. He wasn’t 100 percent in Kingston. He knows that. His experience, how he reads the game and anticipates the game and his tempo down the wing is very important to us. We are really happy to have him playing on such a high level. Danny Williams’ [position] has to do with the competition. When do you get the opportunity to play him in the number six spot. I know from his club coach that his preferred spot is the No. 6 role, but we have players that are really good there too. We can have Jermaine Jones there and Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu there and all are doing well. It’s not that there is a big difference. We have to create the puzzle with all the elements, but I’m sure that’s not the last time you’ll see him playing number six for us.”

On the play of Jose Torres:
“Over the last months, we’ve had quite a few talks with Jose on his role here with the national team. We want him to take more responsibility and make his case stronger. We want him to become a real leader and in Pachuca we are all very well aware of how things are going in his club. We all agree he has tremendous talent and he has matured as a player, but still he needs to become more physical and take over the game. He needs to play more killer balls into the strikers -- the decisive things that change the game. We’re working on that with him and we are patient. We are building a bigger roster for 2013 -- we’ve got to get the job done now first -- but it’ll be a very busy year with qualifiers and Gold Cup. It’s up to Jose and what he wants to make out of his career.”

On the presence of Herculez Gomez in the national team:
“You talk about hunger, he’s a role model. In every training session, he gives you what he gave tonight. If you tell him at 2 a.m. to go out and bend the ball around, he’s there. We need that. He has that determination that he wants to score so badly. This is something we need to develop even more in our team – that hunger to succeed and that hunger to score, but also that willingness to suffer. We are very happy to have him with us.”

On the significance of playing on Sept. 11:
“Last night, the three gentlemen that were honored before the game came by after dinner and one of the firefighters talked to the group for about an hour just telling his story of his fire department. It was a big learning experience for us. I think that everyone was aware of this and had these certain feelings, we all knew this was a very special day. The players were outstanding in how they responded on the field.”

On the team realizing the importance of the match:
“I think that energy was transmitted to us throughout the week. We knew how important they thought it was. We have a lot of experience on this team. I don’t think anybody here took Jamaica for granted. We knew what we were getting into. We weren’t pleased with our performance on Friday and because we weren’t pleased with that performance we were all really excited and chomping at the bit to get at them tonight.”

U.S. goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On a lot of changes to the lineup:
“You never want to have that many changes. Jose has played a lot and we have a lot of trust in him. Danny is a strong player and we knew we needed that grit and fight. Graham was the one who had a lot of pressure on him to perform. He kept it simple and he really did well getting it to Steve and taking the ball and playing on the inside in rhythm. Although there were a lot of changes, they weren’t massive. They didn’t really shock our system.”

On what to expect from the three-way tie in the group and how to progress:
“I hate to anticipate, but I think it’s no secret they’ve got to go head-to-head now and it’s a big game for both of them. It’s a big game for us, the pressure is on us to go down there and perform. Antigua & Barbuda is struggling in the group just by point count but the pressure is on us. The one thing we missed tonight was the goals, because if it’s really tight we’re going to need those. There will be a little bit of pressure for us to get three points [in Antigua] and also see if we can get some goals.”

On the play of Herculez Gomez:
“He’s awesome. The one thing we love about Herc is that he’s really got that ‘Van Nistelrooy’ to him. He’s really greedy and selfish in the most positive way imaginable. He gets the ball, gives it and breaks to get into the box because he wants to score. If there’s a loose ball, he’s going to be on it. If there is a half-chance to be had, he’s going to get it. It’s great to have those kind of guys on your team because you always know you have a chance. My hat goes off to Herc, he bounced around from team-to-team in MLS and then he goes down and makes a huge impact in Mexico and comes here and shows his worth. Nine out of 10 players, after they bounce around, just accept it and he didn’t.”

On Gomez’s hunger in training and what he brings:
“He’s always sniffing for a goal. Everything he does, he wants to give the ball and go and get in the goal. He wants to take the half-chance, he wants to shoot. He wants to get a goal and that’s what great forwards do. His scoring record speaks for itself in Mexico and he’s bagged a few for us too. He’s a humble guy and he fights and scraps and kicks. He’s a good mix of a lot of different factors.”

On the atmosphere at Columbus Crew Stadium:
“It was awesome. This is probably one of the best home-field advantages we have in America. I don’t know what it is about Columbus. Everyone was standing, there were thousands of people with flags. It was really an electric, pro-American atmosphere and that’s such an awesome thing. Hats off to the fans and people in Columbus and that’s not the first time; it’s happened over-and-over. We really feel that pride and home-field advantage and we don’t get that everywhere.”

On listening to an NYFD firefighter speak to the team:
“You get a sense of what sacrifice means. We use a lot of buzzwords in sports like sacrifice and hard work and fight and life-and-death and it’s not those things. What they do on a team of firefighters, every time they go to their game – every time they get called to a fire – it’s could be life or death, it’s real. To hear someone speak humbly about that really puts it in perspective and also lets you know you can give an extra edge. To hear his words of heroism and patriotism was cool.”

On the performance of players stepping into the lineup:
“Everybody is just hungry to be on the field. When you get your chance, you’ve got to take it. Wherever coach puts you, you’ve got to go out there and perform and I thought all those guys did that tonight.”

On the U.S. formation:
“It was more of a 4-4-2 hybrid. Danny Williams and Jermaine Jones were side-to-side, one steps and one covers. Danny held more than Jermaine and Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez were up top. It felt a little bit like a 4-4-2 tonight.”

On the relief after the final whistle:
“We didn’t put away our chances in the first half, we rattled the bar and the keeper made some saves. We got the goal we needed, but the only worrying part is wondering if they’re going to sneak some lucky goal at the end of the game. They stepped it up, and we spent a lot of energy attacking before we finally got that goal. They had a decent response, but we held strong.”

U.S. midfielder CLINT DEMPSEY
On the significance of playing on Sept. 11 and the atmosphere:
“The crowd was great and they really got behind us. We draw strength from each other in tough times and that was something everybody will remember on that day. People lost loved ones and didn’t know why. They were waiting around watching TV, and trying to get answers but as a country we were able to draw strength within ourselves. When you get knocked down, you get back up again. They (the crowd in Columbus) really got behind us tonight and showed their patriotism. It was one of the best atmospheres I’ve played in with the National Team here in the States.”

U.S. midfielder GRAHAM ZUSI
On the match overall:
“We put a tremendous amount of pressure on them from the get-go and really didn’t let up for the entire first half. I thought we were unlucky to not be rewarded with a couple goals, but credit to us, we kept pushing and put them under relentless pressure and Herc really topped it off with that free kick.”

On continuing to work hard to earn a consistent spot in the National Team:
“For me, you can’t get frustrated. Every camp you get called in, you have to take that as a positive and try to get better every camp. I think I’ve been able to do that and tonight I was rewarded with a start and thought I did a pretty decent job.”

On the mood at halftime:
“We were unlucky not to get a couple goals and sometimes that can put a team down, but that wasn’t the case with us. We came out in the second half and put them under pressure again. The mood at halftime was a positive one, but even more so to try and take it too them a little bit more.”

4 comments about "Klinsmann preaches the urgency of qualifying".
  1. Scott O'Connor, September 12, 2012 at 1:27 p.m.

    Way to go Columbus! Great atmosphere. That's the type of support our National Team deserves!! Now let's see a game in Portland!

  2. Barry Thomas, September 12, 2012 at 1:49 p.m.

    I don't understand how Klinsi can equate Williams' play last night with that of Edu, Jones, and (especially) Beckerman. I'd love to see Williams and Bradley as the DMs, as both are quite able to create as well as to defend. I don't think the same can be said of the other three.

  3. Scott O'Connor, September 12, 2012 at 7:09 p.m.

    I think a tougher qualification series will actually be a plus for the team (provided that they indeed qualify for Brazil). Having a large group of battle-tested players to pick from would be better than having an over-confident pool of players who experienced no difficulties before getting to the group stage in Brazil (a la the FIFA #5 in the world team that went to Germany and got crushed by Czech Republic and couldn't manage a win against Ghana).

  4. Chris Sapien , September 13, 2012 at 3:11 p.m.

    Barry, I disagree with one point you made regarding Jones.....When he gets a head of steam going forward, there are few defenders that are willing to step in and stop him! Trouble is, almost every game he has to go find the ball, and as a mid-fielder you want to know the rest of your line wants to go forward just as much as you do! Otherwise, it's like you're on your own island out there.......Every team can use a big rumbling middie who can draw fouls and cautions on the opponent in dangerous spots on the field! I like his grit and his Fyou personna....True USA fans here need to consider traveling to the away games if you can swing it, I just returned from Jamaica, and it was a freaking blast! (minus the result of course....)

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