BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States have improved all aspects of their game in the last few years and have become a force to be reckoned with, Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Tuesday at a news conference with U.S. counterpart Juergen Klinsmann.
Loew, whose side face the U.S. in a friendly on Wednesday, said he was impressed with the courage and mental strength that Klinsmann’s side showed in their come-from-behind win against the Netherlands on Friday as well as their tactical play.
He also warned that the U.S. team might be hungrier and in a more competitive frame of mind ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup next month than his holiday-bound squad.
“I was really impressed with the pace, the intensity and the character of the U.S. team,” Loew said of the Americans’ 4-3 friendly win in Amsterdam on Friday.
“They played an incredibly good match. When you look back at the developments over the last three or four years you can see a lot has happened. The U.S. team have advanced tremendously. They played at an enormously high level against the Netherlands.”
Wednesday’s match in Cologne will be Germany’s third clash against Klinsmann’s team in the last three years.
The United States beat Germany 4-3 in a friendly in 2013, while Germany won their World Cup group match 1-0 last year en route to winning the tournament in Brazil.
Loew was Klinsmann’s assistant as Germany coach from 2004 and took over after Klinsmann stepped aside.
Klinsmann took the U.S. job in 2011 when they were 34th in the FIFA rankings. They rose as high as 14 in 2013 and are currently 27th.
“It’s a completely different team than four years ago,” said Loew, who also gave Klinsmann credit for paving the way for the 2014 World Cup win with courageous reforms.
“They exude a lot of courage and mental strength out there now.”
Klinsmann, who said he was “incredibly proud” to coach the U.S. and loves singing the American national anthem, said he looked forward to another tough match against one of the world’s top teams ahead of the Gold Cup they are hosting.
“The popularity of soccer is growing all the time in the United States and we’re on the way,” he said.
“We’re becoming more and more confident. Our team is young. We’re always looking for as many chances to play against the world’s best.”
Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Toby Davis