MEXICO CITY – Since arriving in Mexico, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been enthusiastic in his praise of recent achievements in Mexican soccer. But that in no way means his team will be rolling over at the Estadio Azteca for Wednesday's friendly (8 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Instead, Klinsmann plans to burst the Mexican bubble created by El Tri's Olympic gold medal in men's soccer and record what would be a famous victory – a first-ever USMNT win in Mexico.
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“We respect what they did and have admiration,” Klinsmann told a press conference at the team hotel here, “but we're coming here to win.”
The 48-year-old assured reporters that his team is ready for Wednesday's Herculean task against a Mexican side that has recorded five straight victories, highlighting his team's performances against France, Italy and Brazil. He added that his squad is relishing taking to the famous Azteca and will not make things easy for Mexico.
“Every one of us is looking forward to that chance, that occasion and we will enjoy it, that´s for sure,” said the upbeat Klinsmann. “We're going to give Mexico a tough one.”
While south of the border the US-Mexico clash has been slightly overshadowed in the media by coverage of the Mexican Olympic team's triumph, Klinsmann is viewing the game as a chance to take a look at different players ahead of September's World Cup qualifiers, with Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey left over in Europe.
“This is a unique opportunity for our players because we don't know how often we will get the chance to get invited to the Azteca stadium,” stated Klinsmann. “We will take a lot from the game tomorrow night.”
One area of the team that Klinsmann is set to learn a lot about is in defense, where center backs Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron and Michael Orozco Fiscal should all get minutes and a chance to stake a claim for a position that has become somewhat of a headache for the German World Cup winner.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard acknowledged the difficulty of bring together defenders that have little experience together, but believes in the talent that will be in front of him on Wednesday.
“We've tried to get a few things right in training because there's not a lot of time on the field, but we're getting there,” said Howard in the same press conference. “We've got some eager, very hungry guys and it's going to be a great test for us.”
As for the task of getting that first win in Mexico, Klinsmann poured on the charm when asked by one Mexican journalist if he was aware that the United States have never won in Mexico.
“No, never heard of that,” said Klinsmann, with a wide smirk on his face. He then straightened his face slightly, adding, “It's about time.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.