action:article | category:SPORTS | adString:SPORTS | zoneID:40

Home » Sports

June 29. 2014 9:18PM

Now the coach is optimistic


Sao Paulo, BRAZIL; USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann reacts during team training at Sao Paulo FC (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

SAO PAULO, Brazil — If someone wants to publish a German version of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” Jurgen Klinsmann is a likely candidate to be the author.

Regardless of how dire the situation, whatever criticism he is under, the U.S. national coach always seems to be smiling and forever optimistic.

That certainly was in contrast to the headlines that Klinsmann made several weeks ago when he said the Americans could not win the World Cup.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati claimed those comments were so un-Klinsmann-like.

“He exudes confidence,” he said. “The comments he made about we can’t ... that’s not what he believes, that’s not the sort of guy he is.

I walk into a room with Jurgen when we talk to him and you come out of that room believing that you can win the World Cup. He never says you’re going to win the World Cup, but he’s so confident about it. That’s extraordinary. That fits with the American mentality, which is, ‘We can.’ ”

The Americans have surprised the pundits by surviving the Group of Death and reaching the round of 16.

Some observers interpreted those original Klinsmann comments as keeping the bar low. But Friday, he made a major about-face when he threw out a challenge to his team: to think big, to think even the championship game.

“If everybody goes to their own personal limits in the context of the team, we’re going to go further in this tournament,” Klinsmann said. “You’ve got to realize that moment. So I asked all of the players to make sure their flights are booked for July 13. That’s how you have to approach a World Cup. Always start with the end in mind. The end is July 13.”

That is the date of the final in Rio de Janeiro.

Klinsmann’s optimism was in overdrive as the Americans started preparation for their Tuesday encounter against Belgium in Salvador.

“It just gives you more hunger for the next step,” he said. “This is now what we need. We want to have those benchmarks. We want to be one day in the top 10, top 12 in the world. So if you want to be there one day, this is now the moment to prove it, this is now the moment to show it. I told the players that this is now the time you’ve got to step it up.”

Klinsmann is more than a cheerleader as he drives his team in practice.

“He wants to play at a high level,” veteran left back DaMarcus Beasley said. “He demands a lot out of us. Always makes us be on our toes for games. He also demands that perfection out of the players.”

Klinsmann’s reputation precedes him. As a player, he won a World Cup — with West Germany in 1990. As a coach, he directed a young German team to a third-place finish in 2006.

“He’s a player-coach. He understands the players’ needs,” Beasley said. “He’s a guy who is very enthusiastic about the game, still. I know he wishes he probably can still play. At the same time, he has given us his wisdom. He’s very confident when he coaches. We listen because he knows what he’s talking about and we can learn a lot from him.”

That confidence has gone a long way with an underdog U.S. team.

“It’s big kudos to him,” central defender Omar Gonzalez said. “If you’re going into games thinking you can’t win, then you’re probably not going to win. He puts all his faith in us. He gives us all of the confidence in the world. We believe we can step onto the field with any team and beat them.”

Klinsmann’s enthusiasm has been evident after the final whistle, as well. After the U.S. defeated Ghana, an exuberant Klinsmann pumped his arms, urging American fans they should continue their cheering.

“This is a special time with Jurgen,” Gonzalez said. “With Jurgen being so positive, being a big sparkplug is definitely unique.”


  • Should professional sports teams impose penalties on athletes for behaviors unrelated to performance on the field?
  • Yes
  • 59%
  • No
  • 13%
  • Depends on offense
  • 28%
  • Total Votes: 64
 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Man found unconscious at Winchester Speedpark Saturday

Too young to drive, but old enough for NHMS

Police examine speed, possible horseplay in golf cart fatality

Mass. man, 27, dies in golf cart accident at The Links at Outlook

Hanover's Sarah Groff competes in the women's triathlon final during the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Hanover Olympian in spotlight at Las Vegas Super Sprint

FHL makes it official, team planned for Berlin will play in North Adams, Mass. instead

Can NH soccer star Charlie Davies make a comeback?

Inside NIKEs secret sports lab; born in Exeter, now located in Oregon.

Concord Monitor decries gender pay gap in professional tennis

FHL franchise slated for Berlin may go to North Adams, Mass. instead

Eagles' Kelly says he learned his offense by studying defense while at UNH

Former Concord area youth baseball coach sentenced to 30 more years in prison

Maine boxer Brandon Berry making Fight to Educate history

Hudson family, classmates working to keep Alvirne soccer standout Raul Stedile in U.S.

Israel unrest moves meet for NH swim star

Race date for Oxford 250 moved from July to Aug. 30 next year

NH's Groff a highlight for U.S. at ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final

Maine fighters Lamour, Berry on New Hampshire boxing card

Q&A with Matt Bonner as he weighs free agency

Keene State mum on suspension of veteran track coach

Morgan Andrews speaks: Notre Dame star undeterred by U.S. U-20 World Cup snub

Mo'ne Davis, and why no one should laugh at the idea of a woman in Major League Baseball

Curt Schilling says smokeless tobacco caused oral cancer

Bill Belichick: Eagles joint practices as productive as any

Big Knockout Boxing has grown from NH debut to Las Vegas attraction

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!