SALVADOR: Pride was the emotion uppermost in the mind of Jurgen Klinsmann, beyond even the pain of defeat, as the United States coach analysed the remarkable World Cup second round defeat by Belgium writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The US lost only after a battling performance in extra time when they conceded two goals but pulled one back and went down fighting right to the very final whistle at the end of two gruelling hours’ football.
Klinsmann said: “We gave everything for the fans, a real drama, a thriller. We had enough possibilities to equalise and even to put it away earlier. Congratulations to Belgium. It was a game that went to the extreme and I’m very proud of our team.
“They gave everything. They made their country very proud both tonight and with their entire performance in this World Cup. Every player on the field went to his limit. It’s the way we play, with high intensity in every game. I told the players they should be very proud of themselves.”
“Of course we would like to have continued a little longer, that’s normal. We had our chances but Belgium had their chances too. Our players are not used to going every four days at the highest level but think they will have learned a tremendous amount. They gave everything they had.”
Klinsmann also explained why he left it late before making the near-game-turning decision to bring on Julian Green who volleyed a magnificent first-touch goal to pull the score back to 2-1.
Klinsmann said: “Julian has been growing fast in the last seven weeks and we have guided him through that process and he was ready. I knew the moment would come today and we would have thrown him in earlier but you have to be careful with the timing of substitutions in case of too many injuries. But we always knew he was ready.”
But the end of the World Cup was not the end of the story just the end of a chapter. Klinsmann was looking ahead as he looked back on his on journey as coach.
He said: “I think we have worked tremendously over the last couple of years. I continued to build on the foundations handed down to me and as we find ways to introduce new young players and develop the game at youth level, senior level and on the organisational side.
“Now it comes to a point where we have to find a way to move on but the way the country has embraced the sport in the last years will continue to grow.”
In competitive terms this meant the CONCACAF Gold Cup next year, the Olympics in 2016, the anniversary Copa America, maybe the Confederations Cup in 2017 and then, in 2018 in Russia, the next World Cup.