Seattle, Wa. – “We tell them (the U.S. players) be courageous, go at them, it’s a 90-minute battle.” That was Jurgen Klinsmann talking about the U.S. MNT as it takes on the challenge of Ecuador tomorrow night at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.
The U.S. supremo had been asked specifically if he intended to have his defense keep a high line, would he change tactics given the speedy opponents and minus his suspended speedster DeAndre Yedlin?
“Oh absolutely,” Klinsmann answered of continuing to play the high line. “I think it’s important to kind of stick to your beliefs.” The coach expressed confidence in his defense saying, “I think our backline is doing a tremendous job so far by keeping it higher up, to go eye to eye with them and continuing that learning curve that we started a while ago.”
With Yedlin out that recently fearsome foursome will be minus one of its regular members. Not surprisingly Klinsmann did not give anything away but the coach did offer a ringing endorsement of leading candidate Michael Orozco.
Orozco filled in admirably when Yedlin was shown to the sideline versus Paraguay and Klinsmann sounded very comfortable with the prospect of handing the Tijuana man the start in tomorrow’s Copa quarterfinals.
“He’s always been there when we’ve needed Michael,” Klinsmann said, going on to praise the TJ handyman as, “an outstanding individual, very focused.” “He’s doing his job down south of the border at the very highest level,” the coach added.
So, it sounds likely that Orozco will get the nod but the right fullback position is not the only issue heading into what the U.S. coach called, “a big, big game tomorrow night in beautiful Seattle.”
If the Thursday night ends up tied after 90 minutes, the game goes directly to penalties, with no extra time. As might be expected, U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan was asked about the increased possibility that the match would come down to spot kicks.
“We obviously want to win in whatever way can,” the U.S. shot-stopper said and although Guzan didn’t say he wanted the outcome on his shoulders, the big netminder didn’t sound stressed over it. “It’s part of being a goalkeeper, so if faced with that situation, then it’s no problem.”
Alejandro Bedoya says of the new rule, “it’s a bit bizarre but I guess it makes things a little different.” Bedoya didn’t seem thrilled with the change but he shrugged, “it can go either way.”
Klinsmann conceded that the new pk rule has changed the team’s preparation. “Yeah, it changes definitely, certain things including practicing penalties, absolutely.”
With that uncertainty and with so much at stake the U.S. MNT hopes to receive a boost from what is for this team a rarity, a big boisterous, pro-USA crowd.
““We are thrilled to play in front of that crowd,” Klinsmann said. His team’s captain took it further.
“I think it could be the difference,” Michael Bradley shared today before taking the CenturyLink field for one final run-through ahead of tomorrow’s quarterfinals match against Ecuador.
“We played here a few years ago against Panama and the atmosphere was amazing,” Bradley remembered. “I think,” Bradley wrapped up in that quietly focused way of his, “that tomorrow has the potential to be one of the best American atmospheres we’ve seen in awhile, so hopefully it will come through for us.”