COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a resounding 4-0 win over Guatemala at Mapfre Stadium, the US national team weren't praising tactics or game plans.
They simply said they worked harder and wanted it more than in their 2-0 defeat just four days earlier.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann cited a “lack of focus, concentration and wrong decisions” in explaining the loss Friday, and was singing a different tune after Tuesday night.
“I think it was the right response, obviously, to a defeat in Guatemala which caught us on the wrong foot in the first 20 minutes and unfortunately, we couldn’t correct it down there,” Klinsmann said after the match. “What the guys did tonight was outstanding. … They created their chances, scored their goals. A perfect way to respond to that disappointment a couple days ago.”
Clint Dempsey notched the first goal of the night, a record-setting 14th in his World Cup qualifying career, and said the team’s mentality was the difference.
“You just see the heart everybody showed,” he said. “The fight, the aggressiveness, the tackles, the second ball and the quality in front of goal. We created chances. You create enough chances, you’re going to start scoring.”
When asked about the difference between the first and second games, midfielder
– who didn’t play in the loss and went 90 minutes in the win – cited the same mistakes Klinsmann referenced.
“A lot of it was intensity and aggression from them,” he said. “It was two mistakes that we made. We knew it wasn’t good enough; we can’t do that. So it was all about responding tonight and getting that win.”
For US captain Michael Bradley, the consistency going forward should be the mindset the players brought to Columbus Tuesday night.
“What’s repeatable is the commitment, the mentality, the willingness of every guy who stepped on the field, from the 11 starters to the three subs to spill their guts on the field,” he said.
And for Dempsey, a backs-to-the-wall situation could turn into a galvanizing moment for the USMNT squad.
“It was good to test our character as a team,” he said. “You never want to be in that situation, but at the same time we were able to deal with it and get the must-win. We learned a lot about ourselves tonight, and we’ve got to keep building upon that.”