Copa Spotlight: Results are all that will matter for USA

The USA's 4-0 win over Costa Rica puts it in good shape to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa Centenario, where it could face Brazil in a rematch of their 1994 World Cup knockout game.

But it will need at least a draw Saturday in Philadelphia against Paraguay, which gave Colombia a scare after quickly going two goals down.

A ticket to the quarterfinals would be confirmation for U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the progress he says the team has made. But what would a defeat mean?

"I think that the team understands perfectly how the situation looks, that we have to get things done," Klinsmann said at the post-game press conference in Chicago after the win over Costa Rica. "They gave everything they have. They know now they've put ourselves back in the driver's seat with that result tonight."

A win over Paraguay will clinch a berth in the final. If the USA ties Paraguay, it will still likely advance. But it will need to wait for two hours to see if Costa Rica can do the impossible and beat Colombia by six or more goals. (Unlike most FIFA tournaments and Euro 2016, the final games of each group are not played simultaneously.)

A loss to Costa Rica -- the idea of which is laughable in retrospect -- would have eliminated the USA, something Klinsmann never considered.

"For us," he said, "it's not a thought, 'What if we would lose the game?' We never think that way. Some comments today were, 'What if you lose that game?' Why would you think that way? It's three games; find a way to get your points."

Klinsmann said his players know where they stand and repeated his insistence that the USA played Colombia "even" despite the final score: a 2-0 loss.

“I see a team progressing," he said. "I see a team that badly wants to prove itself with these caliber teams in the Copa America. It was a very, very encouraging performance by us against Colombia. Obviously, the result, especially here in the U.S., that’s all that matters to a lot of people."

Results, perhaps not the Colombia result on its own, certainly matter to Klinsmann's boss, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

“Talking about something other than results is too easy because style is in the eye of the beholder,” Gulati said in a discussion with a group of reporters before the game. “Results are the top of the list.”

Gulati's remarks suggested for the first time that short-term goals -- like qualification for the quarterfinals at the Copa Centenario -- will determine Klinsmann's future even if another World Cup is on the horizon.

“Our expectation is to win tonight and to win Saturday, and to get through,” Gulati said Tuesday afternoon. “Heartbreak and third place doesn’t do the trick.”

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25 comments about "Copa Spotlight: Results are all that will matter for USA".
  1. Wooden Ships, June 9, 2016 at 8:10 a.m.

    Well, that's that then. The team must advance, or we will start discussing the merits of the, to be named manager/coach.

  2. Michael Estes, June 9, 2016 at 10:12 a.m.

    The mistake is appointing a second cycle to coach the USMNT. A mistake Mr. Gulati has made 3 times running. We're not Spain or Germany with a long established understanding of players to staff. The USMNT, at present, needs a re-freshening every four years. As soon as we begin to see a steady stream of developed players we can consider 2 cycle managers.

  3. P R replied, June 10, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

    What do you mean by "mistake Mr. Gulati has made 3 times running"? Gulati has not kept the same coach for a 2nd 4 year stint 3 times, nor has he kept Klinsman on for another WC cycle 3 times, he's only kept a manager on for an additional cycle once.

  4. cisco martinez, June 9, 2016 at 10:38 a.m.

    Gulati needs to understand that not many coaches throughout the world of soccer should be getting a 4yr extension without success. Klinsmann has done no better than Bradley and Bradley got canned and he was a decent coach and they were progressing. Klinsmann in my opinion needs to be canned.

  5. Daniel Clifton, June 9, 2016 at 12:20 p.m.

    I agree with these comments. I enjoyed watching the USMNT beat Costa Rica 4-0, a great result. I came away from it feeling like they did it in spite of their coach rather than because of his coaching. I just have no confidence in Klinsmann and I supported him in the beginning. I thought he would bring some great changes. That has not happened and I don't believe it is going to happen under his regime. They had better be ready for Paraguay. I thought they deserved a point in their match with Columbia. They are going to come out with guns a blazing because their only chance is to win.

  6. R2 Dad, June 9, 2016 at 1 p.m.

    There was talk before the Costa Rica match whether Nagbe and Pulisic were going to play, but there's been nothing since simply because we steamrolled a poor team? JK will earn or burn credibility with his roster for the Paraguay match. This more technical opponent will punish the 11 we had for the Columbia game. Who will JK send out this time? If our back line can't (again) play through MB and Bedoya it will be a very long 90 minutes.

  7. Wooden Ships replied, June 9, 2016 at 3:28 p.m.

    With most coaches looking ahead to more qualifying and future Cups, with a strong lead, would have subbed in younger players. Is JK believing Wondo and Beckerman will factor in? Evidently. Both are good MLS players and Beckerman has had some success under Klinsmann, but, you don't reward your older players at the expense of developing your younger future players. Another error in judgement in my opinion. With regard to defenders finding midfielders feet, to me that's not the worry, its the midfielders finding that space and showing.

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 4:01 p.m.

    I was very worried about the game getting out of control in the second half. To Costa Rica's credit it did not get ugly although tempers were hot. So I would not have put Pulisic or Nagbe in the match. Especially with the injury to Bedoya and a 3-0 lead. I would question JK's judgement if he put them in, instead of keeping them fresh for the next match. The matches are closely spaced and missing one match is not going to affect performance.

  9. Wooden Ships replied, June 9, 2016 at 6:02 p.m.

    We will have to Gree to disagree on the sun subject Bob. Putting them in after 60 isn't going to effect their freshness 4 days later. Matches that count are more prepatory than friendlies. What was gained with KB and CW for our future?

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 7:48 p.m.

    I would rather not comment about tactics for the next match until its played. I will say this much. Having a week between matches versus a half week makes a difference in performance.

  11. David Mont, June 9, 2016 at 1:29 p.m.

    Frankly, the Costa Rica 4-0 was probably the most deceptive 4-0 I've ever seen. I wonder how things would've turned out had it not been for the early penalty. The US didn't look like a better side. It seemed the Costa Rica after allowing the early goal pushed too many players forward and allowed for gaps in its defense.

  12. Bob Ashpole, June 9, 2016 at 3:51 p.m.

    "A loss to Costa Rica -- the idea of which is laughable in retrospect -- would have eliminated the USA...."
    About as silly as the idea of the USA being unable to score a goal in a qualifying match against Trinidad & Tobago or Guatemala. This team badly needs "a winning mentality" after the performance over the last year. To people who love winning, the result is the most important thing. To someone who loves the sport, match results are not the most important thing. Only one team can win the cup. For every team, how they play is very important. Players' international careers rise or fall based on their performance--not the result. It should be no different for coaches. Successful teams deserve good coaching too.

  13. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, June 9, 2016 at 5:15 p.m.

    At tournaments only results matter. If the USMNT can reach the semis at this tournament I'll be happy and I don't care how they do it.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 8:07 p.m.

    While I know results are highly valued by others, I care more about how the team plays and care most about how the team is coached. Undoubtedly this summer's performance will be compared to last summer's Gold Cup. This is JK's opportunity to publically demonstrate his growth as a coach. He needs to stop looking back to 1998 Northern European soccer and focus on the here and now. Even German soccer is not the same today as it was in 1998. The game is more technical today. JK is surrounded by good people. He should do well.

  15. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, June 10, 2016 at 1:11 p.m.

    Look, we all like to see a team play in an attractive way but at the end of the day you play for results. This isn't youth soccer, where I agree development is far more important than winning. If the next two matches result in ugly wins, I'll take it every time.

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, June 10, 2016 at 7:38 p.m.

    IMO "playing well" is giving your best effort and being effective. I don't care about whether the play is "ugly" or not. Coaching well is motivating the team to play their best, selecting the most effective side, and giving them a system and game plan that enhances their chances of winning rather than hamstrings them.

  17. Bob Ashpole, June 9, 2016 at 4:07 p.m.

    Paraguay needs a win to advance. Costa Rica needs a result for pride. Both upcoming group matches will be hotly contested. Playing for a draw against a team desperate for a win is a game plan for disaster.

  18. beautiful game, June 9, 2016 at 4:07 p.m.

    According to coach JK, the "team is progressing" has been repeated so many times; is it really progressing. Maybe a few players are progressing, but IMHO the teak effort is shaky.

  19. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 4:50 p.m.

    Consider the last home and away matches against Guatemala--same team, different coaching, different results. The best path forward is for the coaching to continue improving. A successful manager knows his limitations, finds good people to cover those areas, and then listens to them. Firing a coach should be a last resort.

  20. Wooden Ships replied, June 9, 2016 at 6:08 p.m.

    I agree mostly with that Bob. Is that what's happening? He's in his 6th year isn't he? He's had some unprecedented wins and he has greatly expanded our pool. The pool expansion is the most important, but beyond that, what is different?

  21. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 8:32 p.m.

    While I cannot really know and remember how badly I misjudged Steve Sampson in 1998, my impression is that JK did very poorly in the first years. Most notably in leaving Feilhaber and Donavon home during Brazil 2014, favoring Northern European tactics of 1998, and judging US athletes' behavior by his German cultural standards. I think the bad play by the US team in the past generally occurred while JK ignored advice of his assistants and consultants. Then like the second Guatemala game he listened to someone he trusted and the team played well. There has been some things worrying me still, like JK's recent criticism of Nagbe's movement off the ball and the shift to a 442 in the last match, that JK still doesn't know as much about tactics as he should. IMO the most important step JK took to grow the team was from the very beginning he has only used CBs with sufficient ball skills to maintain possession under pressure. No longer is there room for a back who lacks good ball skills, but is an excellent defender.

  22. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 8:38 p.m.

    I want to add that I realize how presumptuous I am, who has never been within a 100 miles (figuratively speaking) of a professional team, in criticizing any coach much less our national coach. But, I said my opinion for what it is worth.

  23. Wooden Ships replied, June 9, 2016 at 9:39 p.m.

    It's worth as much as anybody's Bob. No one is the keeper of all there is. Appreciate your views.

  24. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, June 10, 2016 at 1:12 p.m.

    You don't have to apologize for having a view on how our national team is playing or should play. Everyone has a right to have such views. That's the point of comments sections on sites like this.

  25. Ginger Peeler, June 10, 2016 at 2:10 p.m.

    Gentlemen, may I say how much I enjoy reading all of your comments? I may agree or disagree with what you say, but I appreciate the insight you all have to offer. Also,I'm so glad I very rarely see crude and/or hate-filled comments here as I do on other sites. Thank you! I still miss Santiago's musings although I almost went cross-eyed reading his multiple caps postings.

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