Klinsmann sets U.S. on path to higher goals

Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:02am EDT
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By Erik Kirschbaum

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - After stunning away wins over two European superpowers, U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann's "get-tough" policy of taking on the world's best appears to be vindicated as his side can look to the next World Cup without an inferiority complex.

The U.S. came from behind twice in the last five days to beat the Netherlands 4-3 on Friday and then World Cup winners Germany 2-1 on Wednesday.

"Now you suddenly face Germany or Holland or Switzerland in the World Cup and there's no fear any more," Klinsmann told Reuters.

The former Germany striker has gone out of his way to schedule friendlies against difficult opponents in order to raise his team's game and hopes the tough competition will help at next month's Gold Cup.

"There's still respect for the big teams. You always have respect. But there's not too much respect anymore," he said.

"I think psychologically it was really important for our players to see that we can play against top teams like Netherlands and Germany. We're not coming to Europe just to defend. We're here to take a game to them and see what happens."

Klinsmann, who coached Germany from 2004 to 2006 before taking over the U.S. job in 2011, knows it is a perilous business to fill the calendar with matches against the very best as poor results could give ammunition to critics.

"The only way to get better is to play against the better teams," he said in an interview in Duesseldorf. "Going against big teams on a regular basis is valuable in helping the players understand what it takes to go eye-to-eye against the best."   Continued...

Coaches Joachim Loew of Germany and Juergen Klinsmann (L) of the U.S. chat before their international friendly soccer match in Cologne, Germany June 10, 2015. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender