Skip to content

Jurgen Klinsmann working hard to establish a “No complacency!” zone in USMNT camp

Jul 16, 2013, 5:02 PM EDT

Klinsmann-Mexico

Jurgen Klinsmann is so preternaturally jovial and positive that it’s hard to see the guy’s harder edges.

But make no mistake, they exist. I mean, the guy cusses and everything!

Klinsmann wants guys to succeed and does everything within his powers of Klinsi positivity to make it happen. But this business of bottom line wins and losses means hard decisions must be made, and sensitive buttons must occasionally be mashed. Or even beaten on.

Besides, you don’t survive for decades in the shark tank of European soccer (as a player and then as a manager) without a hardened outer layer – even one that is masked by a congenial wrapping.

(MORE: U.S.-Costa Rica match preview)

If you listen to the U.S. manager’s words ahead of tonight’s Gold Cu match against Costa Rica, you get the feeling that he is leaning on his players a little for this one, trying to develop a little more of that comprehensive hard edge, taking extra measures to ward off complacency and further establish that drive and greater professionalism that he has worked so hard to create. He wants these elements hard-wired into the national team program – regardless of whether it’s the “B” team, regardless of opposition, and never mind if things are going swimmingly for the moment.

Tonight’s match doesn’t mean much, and even a draw will suffice to secure first place, which makes it the perfect opportunity for slippage, sloppiness borne of inattention or the lapse into neglectful “looking ahead.”

Check out the Klinsmann Q&A from U.S. Soccer ahead of tonight’s match in Connecticut. Rather than lavishing praise on two wins over small fries, he goes right into “a lot of things we’d like to avoid going forward.”

We were far too open in many areas and disconnected between midfielders and forwards. We weren’t chasing back right away when we lost the ball, and a lot of elements we worked on in training were difficult to implement in that game. …

Next answer: he talks up the need for focus and how “we badly want to win this group and go to the quarterfinals as the No. 1 seed.”

Next answer: Klinsmann goes right back to the things they didn’t do well enough. “It’s really down to the mental side of it. Players understand they need to step it up and that the whole tournament really starts for us with Costa Rica.”

Next answer: He talks about the difficulty of adjusting to time zones and hot, muggy conditions in the Hartford. Again, he reminds, it’s about a tough mentality.

Next answer: More about establishing a business-like approach. And more on developing a hard-ass mentality.

We develop that attitude that every day is serious, it’s about work, it’s about business. Like in every other work, people that go to the offices and work 8-10 hours a day, they have to be spot on. We have to learn in our environment that you can’t switch off in a game against Belize on a free kick or against Cuba on a counter break that they scored the first goal on. You have to be alert, you have to be awake. We can’t get to relaxed, too confident, too easy on things. That winning streak now has shown that change of culture. We want to beat Costa Rica.”

Next answer … well, I think you get the picture. He really is a nice man, a very pleasant person to be around. But if I am a U.S. player, I don’t think I’d love being in the locker room if the result falls wrong in Hartford tonight.

Latest Posts
  1. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho supports Pellegrini in face of City’s struggles

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CHELSEA FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CHELSEA

    Jose Mourinho provided his backing for fellow PL manager Manuel Pellegrini, who could be terminated as Manchester City’s manager at the year’s conclusion.

  2. Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer thinks FCB is failing in Champions League run

    Apr 17, 2015, 8:01 PM EDT

    'Erdinger-Talk 2013' Getty Images

    Beckenbauer on Bayern’s year-end winning aspirations: “They are far away, far, far, far away to win the Champions League.”

  3. Joe Hart: Manchester City players have “let down” Manuel Pellegrini

    Apr 17, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Arlo believes Hat's mistakes have been too much of late but expects him to bounce back. Getty Images

    Hart: “[Pellegrini] has got principles that we work to, that we train to and, like I say, we’ve let him down…”

  4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s four-match suspension reduced

    Apr 17, 2015, 5:38 PM EDT

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain FC Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain FC

    PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic had his four-game ban reduced today.

  5. Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Burnley

    Apr 17, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

    Everton Getty Images

    Preview of Everton-Burnley tomorrow morning: Can the Toffees extend their solid form?

  6. As exit to MLS looms, Steven Gerrard returns for Liverpool’s FA Cup effort

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:40 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

    Steven Gerrard will hope to exit Anfield with one last crown, an FA Cup trophy, and Aston Villa stands in the way.

  7. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester United

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:14 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

    Chelsea and United do battle at the Bridge on Saturday. Watch it live on NBC and online at 12:30 p.m .ET.

  8. Brek Shea’s USMNT return includes a personal, artistic touch

    Apr 17, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Shea Getty Images

    The US left-back appears to have returned to the national team picture after a prolonged hiatus, and he’s brought with him a special flair.

  9. Wayne Rooney may play in midfield: How will Chelsea, Manchester United line up?

    Apr 17, 2015, 2:10 PM EDT

    How will the Blues and Red Devils line up on Saturday? Here’s a quick gander…

  10. VIDEO: Top 5 memorable matches – Chelsea vs. Manchester United

    Apr 17, 2015, 12:20 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-MAN UTD Getty Images

    As two giants of English soccer collide on Saturday, here’s a trip down memory lane at some scintillating past encounters.

  11. WATCH: NBC Sports’ Premier League TV schedule – Week 33

    Apr 17, 2015, 11:35 AM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game live during Week 33.

  12. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Red-hot teams will keep rolling

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    Fellaini AP

    Here’s how PST’s Lead Writer and Editor sees things panning out in Week 33.

  13. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers warns Sterling, Ibe about shisha pipe, nitrous oxide incidents

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-NEWCASTLE FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-NEWCASTLE

    After alleged smoking of shisha pipe, inhaling nitrus oxide, Liverpool’s youngsters called into Rodgers’ office.

  14. MLS Week 7 preview: RSL vs. Whitecaps, Galaxy vs. Sporting KC in the wild West

    Apr 17, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake

    The Western Conference is the place to be this weekend, as it so often will be this season. The East ain’t awful either.

  15. Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany could miss rest of the season

    Apr 17, 2015, 8:29 AM EDT

    Crystal Palace v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    City’s skipper could miss the rest of the campaign with groin injury.

  16. Injury crisis for Manchester United as four key players to miss clash vs. Chelsea

    Apr 17, 2015, 7:35 AM EDT

    VanGaal Getty Images

    Red Devils will be without four regulars for their trip to Stamford Bridge this weekend.

  17. Which Premier League players, clubs get the most abuse on social media?

    Apr 16, 2015, 11:16 PM EDT

    Twitter Twitter

    There are a lot of not-good people in the world, and unfortunately soccer tends to bring that not-goodness out of them.

  18. Jordan Morris, 20, wasn’t eligible for beer-sponsored USMNT Man of the Match award

    Apr 16, 2015, 10:06 PM EDT

    Jordan Morris, USMNT Getty Images

    Poor Jordan Morris. He scores the game-winning goal against Mexico, and a corporate sponsorship makes him ineligible for the MOTM award.

Featured video

PST Extra: Previewing Chelsea-Man United