Klinsmann: U.S. gave everything they had, “made their country proud”

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If you were expecting a heartbroken Jurgen Klinsmann to bemoan his team’s fortunes, you haven’t been following the United States Men’s National Team’s head coach. Though his normal confidence and positivity was notably muted when he faced the media after today’s 2-1 loss to Belgium, the poise and perspective the former World Cup-winning player has leveraged during this time with the U.S. was ever-present as he discussed Tuesday’s close call.

Eight years after guiding Germany to the semifinals, Klinsmann has no regret about his second elimination from a World Cup.

“I think we gave everything to the fans, to the crowd,” Klinsmann explained, asked to give his general thoughts on the match. “[It was] a real drama, a thriller. We had enough possibilities at the end or even to put it away earlier …

“It was a game that went to the extreme. [The player] gave everything that they had. They made their country proud.”

[ MORE: Player Ratings: How US fared in brave defeat ]
[ MORE: Three things we learned from US v Belgium ]

That pride could be seen in enthusiasm fans showed in viewing parties across the country, with a newly full Solder Field in Chicago highlighting the impact the team has had at home.

It’s a pride extends to the team’s coach, who expressed his gratitude to his squad after their elimination.

“All of the players went beyond their capabilities,” Klinsmann said, the U.S. eliminated in extra time of the Round of 16 for the second straight World Cup. “I told them in the locker room, I’m very proud of them …”

“We’ve done a lot of work. We would have liked to continue a little longer in this tournament, but that’s not doable. We had a chance to put them away, but Belgium and their chances, too.”

That they even had those chances meant the U.S. exceeded expectations, with the team widely picked to be eliminated after the group stage. But for Klinsmann, who also acts as technical director for U.S. soccer, the importance of the World Cup’s results extend beyond Brazil.

“What you hope is that your team really takes [the World Cup] experience and understand now what this level means,” Klinsmann said, describing the progress his team has made, “what the intensity means, what the pace means, and the demands … It’s not only going to training and playing a game on the weekend. It’s about lifestyle. So much goes into this.”

The one failing Klinsmann’s noted was his team’s mentality, with the U.S. boss seeing his team as too deferential to Germany and Belgium.

“There’s still the mental approach,” Klinsmann cited. “We learn more and more. We’re kind of in that process, [trying] to take our game to the opponent, no matter what their name is, [but] we wait too long.

“I think there’s still a little bit too much respect on our end. When it comes to the big stage, why not play them eye to eye? This is something we have to go through. I don’t know how many years it will take.”

Despite his teams’ reticence, Klinsmann still wants his players to be more aggressive.

“I’m screaming my lungs off on the sidelines, [trying] to push them higher up the field. This is something they have to get out of their minds. Even against talented teams, [we have] to play them higher and higher up.”

Now at the end of the his first cycle as coach, Klinsmann remains committed to being the man who’ll change that mentality. Asked if he will be coaching the team at Russia 2018, the 49-year-old gave a confirming “I think so” before moving back to his team’s performance.

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 6

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After a week of League Cup action domestically, the Premier League returns this weekend with a myriad of interesting matchups and storylines.

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s top story’s to follow:


Can Manchester City continue its torrid form?

Manchester City has finally found its groove under manager Pep Guardiola.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The club has won five successive games, the last three coming on the road while scoring a combined 19 goals. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are a terrific 1-2 punch while David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have been stars in midfield, with De Bruyne pulling the strings for Man City all season.

There’s every likelihood that Man City will continue its impressive run on Saturday. The club hosts floundering Crystal Palace, which is still adjusting to new manager Roy Hodgson.

(more…)

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

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Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

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Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

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Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.