Michal Kadlec, Ale Bedoya

Five things the USMNT can do to meet Klinsmann’s World Cup semi goal


Look out, Russia: Jurgen Klinsmann’s saying Top 4 or bust.

The American boss used a prematch interview on NBCSN to say the goal of the States in 2018 is to make it to at least the semifinals, something the Yanks have not done since the first World Cup in 1930.

The USMNT has only advanced as far as the quarterfinals one other time, in 2002 where they nearly shocked Germany before fatigue and an absurd call helped Klinsmann’s birth nation onward.

[ RELATED: US 1, Czech Republic 0 | Player ratings ]

So how do they do this? What are the major steps?

1) Get seeded. A very difficult task of being one of the top qualifying sides is even harder when you consider Russia gets an auto Pot 1 spot, and that the States have a lot of youth to work into the lineup while also moving up the FIFA rankings by beating high quality competition.

2) Get experienced. DeAndre Yedlin to Spurs is a start, but while the depth of Major League Soccer is a beautiful thing that will continue to provide important players, the States need more of their youngsters plying their trades in the world’s biggest leagues (I dig MLS, so the league continuing its upward climb could be another part of this).

Look no further than Joe Gyau (Borussia Dortmund system), Julian Green (Bayern Munich) and Emerson Hyndman (recently-relegated Fulham) as to who’s catching his attention.

3) Make the Confederations Cup and show well. It’s in Russia and means the States will have won the Gold Cup. So this is kind of a double bonus step. Achieve it, and know the lay of the land with — basically — the squad who will perform there come 2018.

4) Perform well in big competitions. The Copa America Centenario, the 2016 Olympics, the Gold Cup and Confederations Cup… all of these provide opportunities to refine the attacking but balanced system Klinsmann wants to take to the opposition.

5) Get lucky. Quiet your dirty mind! We’re talking about whether the World Cup draw plugs them into a nasty group. Sure, point No. 1 plays into this, but stop being picky. Follow these five steps, and Klinsmann gets his semi.

EURO 2016: Who’s headed to France?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 10: Volkan Sen of Turkey in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group A Qualifier match between Czech Republic and Turkey at Letna Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.

The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.

Group A

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Iceland
  3. Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)

Group B

  1. Belgium
  2. Wales
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)

Group C

  1. Spain
  2. Slovakia
  3. Ukraine (qualified for play-off)

Group D

  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)

Group E

  1. England
  2. Switzerland
  3. Slovenia (qualified for play-off)

Group F

  1. Northern Ireland
  2. Romania
  3. Hungary (qualified for play-off)

Group G

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. Sweden (qualified for play-off)

Group H

  1. Italy
  2. Croatia
  3. Norway (qualified for play-off)

Group I

  1. Portugal
  2. Albania
  3. Denmark (qualified for play-off)

EURO 2016: Dutch disaster as Netherlands fail to qualify

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.

Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic

The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.

[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]

Italy 2-1 Norway

Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.

Malta 0-1 Croatia

With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group A

Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan

Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group H

Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan