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Godfrey's Column

Jurgen on Group C Finale: "We Are in It to Win It"

Through to the next round of the Gold Cup but determined to send a message to his rivals (and perhaps his players), U.S. men's soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann says he will go all out to win against Costa Rica.
BY John Godfrey Posted
July 16, 2013
12:54 PM
BOTH COSTA RICA AND THE UNITED STATES have qualified for the quarterfinal round of the 2013 Gold Cup, so neither team needs a result Tuesday night (8 p.m.; Fox Soccer, UniMas). It's going to be approximately 375 degrees in Hartford, CT., and it won't be a dry heat either. Also, there are a bunch of rehabbing thirtysomethings on the U.S. squad who could probably benefit from a rest.

Jurgen Klinsmann is having none of it.

"This game is like the final for Group C," the United States men's soccer coach said. "Players understand they need to step it up and that the whole tournament really starts for us with Costa Rica."

Motivational tactics? Bombast? Marketing? A bit of all three?


To be fair, a victory over Costa Rica—which is tied with the U.S. atop Group C—would provide the Americans with a lower-ranked opponent in the next stage of the tournament. The winner of Group C will take on an overachieving Martinique side; the loser gets a talent-laden Honduras. (If U.S. and Costa Rica tie Tuesday at Rentschler Field, the U.S. wins the group based on a superior point differential.)

Whatever the outcome, you get the sense that Klinsmann truly wants to put Costa Rica in its place—ideally, a rung or two below the Americans. The U.S. is riding a seven-game winning streak and Costa Rica is unbeaten in its last seven. Both are playing better than Mexico in recent months.

"This is a team that we’re going to fight for World Cup qualifying points in September," the coach said, referencing the Ticos, "and we want to send them a signal. We take this very seriously and everybody is ready for this battle. We kind of saved a couple legs in the game against Cuba with some changes that we made there. We won’t save anybody for the game against Costa Rica.”

From a roster standpoint, the above statement speaks volumes. If you were thinking uncapped 20-year-old forward Jack McInerney might get a start, think again. DaMarcus Beasley, the team's Gold Cup captain who sat out against Cuba, will probably be back. And Chris Wondolowski, the Typo Terror with five goals in his last two games, will almost certainly reprise his role at the tip of the spear.

Extrapolating further, Landon Donovan, Joe Corona, and Kyle Beckerman are likely starters. Stuart Holden is borderline. And Brek Shea? Don't count on it.

"We’ve been together for 13 days or 14 days with three games now in their legs," Klinsmann said. "It is really interesting to see how players get on the same page, like Oguchi Onyewu, who hasn’t played most of the year, or Stuart Holden, who is coming back from injury and really picking up the pace. Brek Shea had real problems the last couple months, also because he had surgery, and now he’s catching on. You have Michael Orozco and Jose Torres that came from offseason into our camp."

"For us coaches it’s wonderful to see that now we’re really getting them all in sync," he said. "We’re getting them all there, and that’s giving us more options on who to put in the starting lineup and who we want to bring off the bench. A young kid like Jack McInerney learns every day on a level that he hasn’t seen before. The working attitude is tremendous, the spirit of the group is great, but we all know that we have to get better with every day in that process."

Yes, but this is still Costa Rica, the same team that complained loudly after losing to the U.S. in the Snow Bowl in Denver. The same Ticos squad that will host the Americans on September 6 in a crucial Hexagonal match.

“Costa Rica is one of the top teams in the CONCACAF region and we'll get a real picture, a real benchmark of where we are at," Klinsmann said of Tuesday night's contest. "We need to be focused and on our toes because we badly want to win this group and go to the quarterfinals as the No.-1 seed. The team understands that point, and I think we will step it up.”

"At the end of the day we want to be in Chicago for the final hopefully in front of a sellout crowd, and then we all know that we need to improve quite a lot of things still."

Will you be watching Tuesday night? Have a prediction to share? The Comments section is open.

John Godfrey is the founder and editor in chief of American Soccer Now.

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