With the US Men’s National Team qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, the talk has now shifted from qualifying to the World Cup itself. During halftime of the Seattle Sounders-Los Angeles Galaxy game, Klinsmann spoke with NBC Sports Network’s Russ Thaler and Kyle Martino about the team and expectations heading into Brazil.
USMNT clinched a bid with two games to spare, but that is not keeping Klinsmann from eying six points. He explained why during the interview.
“We’re just growing in terms of what our demands are. We are raising the bar,” said Klinsmann of the US, who have qualified for Brazil 2014 with two games to spare. “We say we want to compete with the best in the world one day, we want to get into the top 10 in the world.”
In order to keep climbing the standings, USMNT will need to win their final two qualifying matches. They currently sit at 13, so they aren’t far from reaching the top-10, but will need to keep up their great play.
While it looks like the United States will not be a seeded team at the 2014 World Cup, they are one of the top international teams. However, depending on who the United States are drawn with, the route out of the group stage could be easier said than done.
“No, you’ve got to be realistic,” he said. “I mean, I think we have the potential, obviously like in the past, to get out of the group stage – it depends, obviously, who you have in your group – and then it’s all down to 50-50 games. Then you give the real battles in the knockout stage.”
Klinsmann and company play certain teams in friendlies for a reason. They prepare them for big matches in World Cup action and show them how the team is truly playing. Some CONCACAF opponents aren’t real tests, which explains why they steam roll over them.
“But why not going a bit further than you ever did before? Why not giving the big nations, whoever that is, a real battle? And that’s why we play those friendlies in Italy or we play in Bosnia or wherever against top teams in the world, and we showed that we can compete there. So why not in the World Cup?”
In the end, Klinsmann’s expectations are optimistic but smart. The United States have the potential to make a deep run, but they need to bring their “A” game to Brazil.