COLUMBUS, Ohio – If there was one presiding message from Jurgen Klinsmann’s delivery to the gathered press here, it’s that he doesn’t want any messing around on this World Cup qualifying effort.
The United States has three games remaining in final stage qualifying. Regardless of the poor result Friday in Costa Rica, a 3-1 loss, the United States probably needs only two or three points from the threesome of remaining contests for safe arrival into a seventh consecutive World Cup. The opportunity to grab up those precious, golden, final points stands before them in Ohio on Tuesday against a reeling and potentially vulnerable Mexican team.
Klinsmann said two or three times, in various iterations, that he wants to close the doggone deal sooner rather than later.
“It’s an exciting moment,” he said Monday, just before the United State went through its final practice, “because we badly want to steer towards the World Cup. We want to qualify as quickly as possible. We know we still have some work to do.”
“Obviously, we all know about their situation,” he said of Mexico, in the first days of a managerial change and desperate for points in its own qualifying bid. “They know about our situation. I think it’s going to be exciting. For the fans. For the players. There’s a lot at stake. High intensity. What more can you ask for?”
There was no real news out the 30-minute session. The biggest news to emerge from the U.S. camp since weekend arrival into Columbus is Michael Bradley’s ongoing absence, after suffering a badly sprained ankle in Friday warmups. (More on that later at ProSoccerTalk.)
Klinsmann did indicate that he was upset and the players certainly were upset over the clunker in Costa Rica. More than being angry about the performance, per se, he was miffed about losing the opportunity at three points, which would have put the United States over the hump even sooner. He said that “leaves you with a bad feeling in your stomach.”
“You do not want to wait,” he said. “You want to [qualify] at the next possible chance. Knowing what Mexico is going through, but we have to look this purely from our end, and we have got to secure our points, and make sure nobody is getting nervous about it.”
Clint Dempsey, also speaking to the media from the makeshift tent in the Crew Stadium parking lot, a condition of the historic stadium’s Spartan nature, said safe passage into the World Cup is always the ultimate goal. “But you don’t want to be waiting ‘til the last game, hoping other teams can do you favor because you weren’t able to get the job done.”