Copa America set up well for Klinsmann: “We’re building more respect out there”

Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images
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If we’re estimating, Jurgen Klinsmann gets guff for approximately 75 percent of things that comes out of his mouth. Usually, you can understand why even if you don’t agree with the criticism.

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But the USMNT coach has pushed a lot of the right buttons at the Copa America Centenario.

Maybe it’s experience, or a desire to try something new. Heck, maybe it’s desperation. But the “California cool” folks once hailed the German for has come in handy with his low-key approach to this big tournament (See his quite casual issuing of a semi-final goal).

Here’s what he said about Ecuador ahead of the quarterfinal (courtesy MLSSoccer.com):

“[Ecuador] is a good team,” Klinsmann said. “But this is what we want. We want to learn how to beat those teams when it really, really matters in a big competition. I think they have a lot of respect for us.

“That’s what we’re building. We’re building more respect out there…Our players know how to take the game to the opponent and this is the big learning curve that will become even better if we get to the final four.”

He’s been talking about getting to the point where they take the game to the opponent for a while now. Taking it to Ecuador would sure look good.

Given the garbage heaped on the team after losing to a much better Colombia in the group stage opener, Klinsmann and his team have had the chance to arise from the ashes despite the situation not being that dire.

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This group stage set up in the opposite manner of the 2014 World Cup, when American fans knew Germany was lurking if their team couldn’t snare points from Ghana and Portugal. The difficult match was in the rearview mirror, and the other teams still had Colombia and the U.S. on the schedule.

So that grief piled on Klinsmann only served to make a good accomplishment look extra strong. And now he’s whistling his way to a winnable quarter.