More on U.S. final round World Cup qualifying

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U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t sound overly worried about a draw that didn’t fall favorably in very many ways. Then again, the preternaturally positive Klinsmann doesn’t sound like a man who has worried about anything since sometime around 1990.

(MORE: analysis of the final round draw)

Here’s what Klinsmann had to say last night from Miami, site of CONCACAF’s draw to determine next year’s final round schedule:

In a draw like that nothing is going to turn out perfect. Usually, a team would like to have the first game at home, but if you don’t have the first game at home you make the best out of it. We are looking forward to going to Honduras for the first game and then we’re going to take it one game at a time.”

The site selection process now begins. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati says there are 10-12 stadiums in play. “We met at length today and a lot of work has gone into figuring out what venues we’re going to play in,” Gulati said last night from Miami. “In a few cases, weather might prohibit you from playing at a particular site if you wanted to play a certain opponent, that’s really what we needed to wait for today.”

More quotes from Klinsmann and Gulati are here from U.S. Soccer.

It’s hard to determine exactly how much influence Klinsmann has over the venue choices. At some points I’ve been told the choices are almost exclusively his, although it sounds like he’s choosing more from a menu board put before him. Then again, I asked the manager that exact question in a recent media teleconference; Klinsmann indicated there were more voices involved.

U.S. Soccer created helpful capsules for all five U.S. opponents in the so-called “Hexagonal.” I reiterate my disregard for the term “Hexagonal.” Seriously, who says that? (beyond the soccer wonks, that is.)

You won’t get to be an expert from the capsules, but they are great starting points. Plenty there to drop at tonight’s happy hour or make yourself the smartest kid in the room at Saturday morning English soccer watching.

The entire schedule for all six CONCACAF survivors to this point is here.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.