VIDEO: Klinsmann defiantly dismisses, laughs off US criticism

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Ahead of the U.S. national team squaring off against Trinidad & Tobago in 2018 World Cup qualifying on Tuesday (Watch Live, 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC Universo and online via Live Extra), head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has issued a defiant response to doubters of his U.S. regime.

In simple terms he said: “back off.”

[ MORE: Cameron backs Klinsmann ]

Speaking to U.S. Soccer’s in-house media channel, Klinsmann gave a two-minute 42-second response to a question about the youth national teams. 

The German coach, as you can see from the video above courtesy of our partners at Yahoo, has taken exception to widespread criticism of the youth teams which comes on top of mounting criticism of his national team after the CONCACAF Cup defeat to Mexico and the fourth-place finish at the Gold Cup in the summer.

[ MORE: Player ratings for USA vs. St Vincent ]

Below is Klinsmann’s full response regarding critics of not only his team but the U-23, U-20 and U-17 national teams he oversees as technical director of U.S. Soccer.

“I think we can be proud of ourselves in what we’ve done so far, the last couple of years – in ALL age groups. I think this is what a lot of people unfortunately forget quickly. Because suddenly we came out of the Group of Death in Brazil, I don’t know, people now expect maybe miracles, expect you to get easily into the final four of a World Cup or final eight, or have our Under-20s win the World Cup in New Zealand or our Under-17s win the World Cup in Chile. And that’s not gonna happen. Because this is only a process that over many, many years will hopefully one day end in big, big successes.

“All of our programs made big strides, made big steps forward, and this is something where our coaches like a Tab Ramos and Andi Herzog with the 23s right now or even a Richie Williams [with the Under-17s] that was eliminated in the first round in Chile – which was the most, by far the most, difficult group he was in – and now we’re going through a tremendous learning experience and brought our players to another level in their individual stages. So this is pretty cool to see. I think the Under-20s with Tab [had an] outstanding World Cup in New Zealand [but] lost it on a penalty shootout against the world champions in the quarterfinals.

“So when you hear a lot of people talking some things are going wrong because you lost maybe two or three games recently, then that’s a bit immature (laughs). That’s simply wrong. There’s a lot of work ahead of us in all our areas but there’s also a lot of excitement because our players are hungry for improvement. And hopefully, with that game [a two-legged playoff against Colombia] the under-23s have in Brazil, the second one will do maybe even a result that’s better than the first one. But even if not, they’re making strides.”

So, what do you make of that?

True, getting out of the Group of Death at the 2014 World Cup was a great achievement but I think it is fair to say that neither fans or the media in the U.S. expected the Stars and Stripes to go on and reach the final or win it. With Klinsmann saying that a semifinal spot is the aim for the 2018 World Cup in Russia — a tournament which will define his tenure — that currently seems like a long way off after the disappointing performances in the Gold Cup this summer, the loss to Mexico reinforcing that the U.S. isn’t the strongest team in its own region and the general struggles of the youth national teams to compete with the elite nations. 

It will take many more years for the U.S. to become a soccer powerhouse, if it ever does, but is dismissing criticism as immature and laughing about it the way to handle things?

The players in the full national team know they have to step up and improve their performances, they’ve said as much, which had seen them lose five of their last six games before the blowout win over St. Vincent & the Grenadines last Friday. The young U.S. teams have done better of late by reaching the last eight of the U-20 World Cup but the U-23 side were hammered by Brazil in a recent friendly and failed to qualify for the Olympics automatically from CONCACAF qualifying. 

Currently in the Caribbean for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in Port of Spain against T&T, the U.S. will face its toughest test of the first round of 2018 World Cup qualifying with the Soca Warriors coming off a strong Gold Cup showing and a superb win in Guatemala last Friday to open up their qualifying campaign.

If Klinsmann’s team don’t get a positive result (a draw wouldn’t be the end of the world, mind) then expect plenty more criticism to fly his way after these comments regarding the USMNT and the youth system. 

FA Cup: Chelsea survive trip to Hull, advance to 5th round (video)

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With their 2-1 victory away to EFL Championship side Hull City, Chelsea joined Leicester City, Sheffield United and Norwich City as Premier League sides to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

[ FA CUP ROUNDUP: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance ]

Frank Lampard‘s side got off to a flying start courtesy of Michy Batshuayi‘s deflected finish in the 6th minute, and the Blues were well on their way to a first half of total dominance.

Hull looked more prepared for a fight after halftime, but it mattered very little after Fikayo Tomori was gifted a free header two yards off the goal line. Ross Barkley‘s free kick was well placed at the back post and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Hull pulled the game back to 2-1 in the 78th minute, and they were more than a little fortunate in how they managed to do so. Kamil Grosicki smacked a free kick with plenty of power and got the deflection of all deflections to wrong-foot Willy Caballero and find the back of the net.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

FA Cup roundup: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round (early) action…

[ MORE: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

West Ham United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

West Ham were the lone Premier League side to be knocked out by a lower-division side on Saturday, as David Moyes‘ side failed to find the back of the net and were beaten 1-0 by EFL Championship leaders West Brom.

Conor Townsend scored the game’s only goal in the 9th minute, and though the Hammers controlled possession the rest of the way, they created very little in terms of scoring chances and finished the game with just three shots on target. West Brom finished the game with 10 men, but West Ham could do nothing with their 18-minute advantage following Semi Ajayi‘s second yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

Sheffield United’s dream season continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Championship side Millwall. Both goals came inside the final half-hour, but the Blades were unquestionably the better side even before breaking the deadlock.

That came in the 62nd minute, when Muhamed Besic placed a stunning curler inside the far post for 1-0. Not long before full-time, in the 84th, Oliver Norwood drove his effort hard and low and into the corner to make it 2-0.

Burnley 1-2 Norwich City

Norwich and Burnley were largely inseparable for the majority of Saturday’s clash at Turf Moor, save for a four-minute period early in the second half in which Norwich scored twice and booked their place in the fifth round.

Grant Hanley made it 1-0 in the 53rd and Josip Drmic added to the advantage in the 57th minute. Erik Pieters pulled Burnley back to within a goal in the 73rd, but that’s as close as the Clarets would get.

FA Cup fourth-round scoreboard

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur β€” FULL RECAP
Newcastle United 0-0 Oxford United
Portsmouth 4-2 Barnsley
Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City
Reading 1-1 Cardiff City

RB Leipzig beaten, Bundesliga title race thrown wide open

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BERLIN (AP) Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Bundesliga leader RB Leipzig 2-0 to throw the title race wide open on Saturday.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Frankfurt defender Almamy Toure scored a brilliant goal just after the break and Filip Kostic sealed the win in injury time to deal Leipzig its first defeat since a 2-1 loss at home to Freiburg in October.

Borussia Monchengladbach cut the gap at the top to two points with a 3-1 win at home over Mainz, thanks largely to goals in each half from French striker Alassane Plea.

Bayern Munich has the chance to cut the gap to one point with a win at home over Schalke in the late game.

[ FA CUP: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

Borussia Dortmund is just four points off the top after its 5-1 win over Cologne on Friday.

Also Saturday, Union Berlin defeated Augsburg 2-0 at home, Hertha Berlin came from behind to win 2-1 at Wolfsburg, and Paderborn moved off the bottom with a 2-0 win at Freiburg.

FA Cup: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay

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Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur played to a virtual stand-still for nearly 60 minutes before Jose Mourinho’s side broke through with a moment of true quality from Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso, but finished right back where they started after Saints hit back late to force a replay in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Prior to that, Lo Celso put the ball in the back of the net and briefly thought it was he who had put Spurs ahead, but the Argentine was denied his third Spurs goal on the basis that the ball hit Son on its way through traffic, and the South Korean was in an offside position.

Spurs’ best chance of the first half chance came and went just minutes later, with Lucas Moura in disbelief and Angus Gunn the hero of the moment. Dele Alli played Lucas into open space inside the penalty area and, with the goal gaping to Gunn’s left and right, Lucas looked to place his right-footed shot inside the far post. Gunn was up to the challenge, though, and pulled off a sensational left-footed save from close range.

Seconds later, Saints had a surefire scoring chance and were denied in equally spectacular fashion. Danny Ings used his chest to control a free kick into the box and looped it goal-bound over the head of Hugo Lloris, only for Japhet Tanganga to make the last-second headed clearance in front of an open net.

[ MORE: Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong ]

Saints were the first to go ever so close to a goal in the second half. Michael Obafemi crossed from the right side and found Ings inside the six-yard box, where he redirected the ball ever so slightly, but not enough, to send it inches wide of Lloris’ right-hand post.

Following a spell that was all Saints to start the second half, Spurs broke the deadlock through Son in the 58th minute. Lo Celso drove through the heart of Southampton’s midfield before playing the ball to Son near the top of the 18-yard box. He took a touch to set up the shot and fired a left-footed arrow inside the far post.

The lead lasted just shy of 30 minutes, close but not quite over the finish line. With 87 minutes on the clock and a full head of steam over the preceding quarter-hour, Southampton got their hugely deserved equalizer. Sofiane Boufal arrived near the top of the box as Ings’ cut-back ball arrived and the Moroccan international hammered it home.

The two sides will meet again for their fourth-round replay in two weeks at the Tottenham Hotspur. The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.