“It’s going to be a nail-biter,” said the USMNT coach. “It’s going to be a 50-50 situation.”
Klinsmann said the US, which won Group A, is hungry to prove it can compete with the bigger South American teams in this competition. He said the US has is “doing great so far,” but playing Ecuador – the second-place finisher in Group B – in an elimination game, represents a step up.
"This is a knockout game and knockout games in big soccer tournaments like a World Cup, like a Copa America are nerve-wracking games," he said. "It’s down to your belief and it's down to your willingness to suffer and to go, really, through pain. This is what the players will go through on Thursday night. So if the fans are behind us and help them to go through that pain, then we’re going to make it."
The coach believes his team will have an advantage playing in Seattle, which has one of the most fervent fan bases in Major League Soccer.
“We know the Sounders fans are crazy – they are amazing,” Klinsmann said. “We also know they’ll be there for the national team.”
No doubt the Seattle faithful will be expecting big things from their hometown favorite, Sounders forward Clint Dempsey. And Klinsmann said he is, too.
“Clint is big time,” Klinsmann said. “Clint is really important with his experience, with his hunger for goals. He’s just a finisher. He’s just clinical. It’s really down to what his job is: His job is scoring goals and that’s what he wants to do.
“So to have him on board for us with the national team and same for the Sounders is huge. Obviously, he’s not getting younger, but he has a tremendous, tremendous hunger. So let’s see him pushing for a couple more years.”