The U.S. national team is in need of some positivity heading into a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier on the road at Costa Rica on Tuesday.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is doing his best to provide it.
[ MORE: How can USA win? ]
Klinsmann’s side lost to Mexico 2-1 in Columbus last Friday as the USMNT kicked of the Hexagonal, the final round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region, with a defeat.
Despite tinkering with the lineup and formation and then ditching his plans midway through the first half, Klinsmann believes his side should’ve beaten Mexico.
Speaking to reporters in Costa Rica ahead of the big test in San Jose on Tuesday (the U.S. has never won in Costa Rica and has an 0-8-2 record) Klinsmann told reporters he is confident.
“We can win here,” Klinsmann said via ESPN. “We can absolutely win here. Will it take a lot of effort and things need[ing] to click to work? Absolutely. We all understand we need points in order to qualify. That first game, the result it [hurts]. And it puts it on the spot for tomorrow night. We all know that. Players know that, the staff knows that. But it’s doable. It’s absolutely doable.”
Klinsmann seems confident of a historic win but there’s doubting the task which faces the U.S. is daunting. Senior players such as Michael Bradley have talked down the USA’s historic struggles in Costa Rica and central America in World Cup qualifiers in the past and when you look at the legend of Dos a Cero being killed off last week, streaks and records are broken all the time.
Yet, having positivity ahead of this game will be tough.
Missing senior players like Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard will mean the U.S. has plenty of players unfamiliar with the kind of environment they’ll be dealing with in San Jose. They’ll likely have to bunker in and defend for large stretches of this game but with Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood clicking up front against Mexico, there is some room for optimism that if the U.S. can get through the first 45 minutes without conceding then the shock may well be on.
Not many fans and pundits will share Klinsmann’s optimism but one thing we know about this U.S. side is it is resilient and often defies logic. Look at the performance at the 2014 World Cup, the friendly wins against Holland and Germany and the run to the last four of the Copa America Centenario last summer.
Nobody expected any of that. Not even the eternal optimist Klinsmann.