U.S., Klinsmann look to improve to 5-0 in '12
Tactics, player selection and player management have all been a part of Jurgen Klinsmann's responsibilities in his first year as coach of the U.S. men's national team. But there may be nothing that he excels at as much as cheerleading and stoking the fires of anticipation.
Ahead of his team's biggest game of the summer -- even though two World Cup qualifiers loom next month -- Klinsmann isn't afraid of what's at stake against Brazil on Wednesday at FedEx Field and using it as a means to motivate his players.
"This is what we need now to see where we really are," said Klinsmann, who is 4-0 this year after going 2-4-1 in his first seven games at the helm in 2011.
|U.S. vs. Brazil|
|When » Wednesday, 8 p.m.|
|Where » FedEx Field|
|TV » ESPN2|
The German coach wasn't afraid of taking the U.S. men to Italy in February, where they were "out of their comfort zone." The Americans pulled off a 1-0 upset, their first-ever victory in 11 games all-time since 1934 against the Italians.
Against the Brazilians, the U.S. faces a similarly daunting history, a 1-15-0 all-time record, the lone victory by a 1-0 margin in 1998.
"We know what playing games against them means," U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley said. "Certainly, their ability with the ball, always to take little plays and make the most of them, is at the highest level. We know on our end we're going to need a really strong effort, but we're confident, and we're looking forward to it."
In the teams' previous meeting at the New Meadowlands Stadium in August 2010, Brazil won 2-0. On Saturday, they scored twice in the first 12 minutes for an easy 3-1 victory over Denmark in Hamburg. Fearsomely named FC Porto forward Hulk, who was given the moniker because of his resemblance to Lou Ferrigno, scored twice against the Danes, but 20-year-old sensation and Santos striker Neymar is the player many will come to see at what will be the Washington-area's largest ever attended game. More than 55,000 tickets have already been sold, and Klinsmann intends for fans to see his team do more than defend.
"We want to mesh ourselves. We want to look good against them," he said. "No matter who you play, you've got to get everything out of yourself, and that's what they're facing on Wednesday night. They have to go to the extreme. They have to be on the edge the whole game through. They can't even lose not even one second [of focus], because [Brazil will] just kill you off. This is a high-energy, high-focus game."
The U.S. offense snapped a three-game streak of 1-0 victories with an offensive show in last weekend's 5-1 win over Scotland that included a hat trick from Landon Donovan in his first U.S. appearance since September. At FedEx Field, Klinsmann's attacking options could be bolstered by the return of Clint Dempsey from a groin injury and Jozy Altidore, who arrived over the weekend from the Netherlands. Both players practiced Monday. Donovan and Dempsey have yet to play together under Klinsmann.