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)
Regardless of how dire the situation, whatever criticism he is under, the U.S. national coach always seems to be smiling and forever optimistic.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati claimed those comments were so un-Klinsmann-like.
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”