US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t mince his words on Sunday as he discussed his recently announced roster for the upcoming matches against Jamaica in 2014 World Cup qualifying.
“We want to get a possible maximum amount of points,” Klinsmann said during a teleconference.
“We are trying to really get the players focused on going into Jamaica for the Friday night game and hopefully pull off a victory on Jamaican soil, which would be the first time in a World Cup qualifier,” Klinsmann continued. “So we are very confident of doing well.”
The confidence is understandable given the US side’s last result: a 1-0 victory over Mexico at Azteca Stadium. It was the Americans’ first ever win in Mexico, breaking a 0-23-1 run dating back 75 years.
“We discussed it before the game, we said, ‘We’re coming into Azteca Stadium and we want to win,’” Klinsmann said. “Some people smiled. The Mexican media made jokes about it. But we did it at the end of the day. . . . It helps in terms of [the players’] own belief. It helps us in terms: if we really do our homework and give everything we have and are really prepared to take every little bit of our work seriously, yes, we can beat big nations away from home.”
“But it doesn’t give you a guarantee for tomorrow. Tomorrow, we have to go into Jamaica. First of all we have to respect them. And we have to be prepared to get a good result there.”
Jamaica, boasting nine MLSers in their roster, have enjoyed an undefeated start to their Group A play, posting a win over Guatemala and a draw away to Antigua & Barbuda. With the likes of Vancouver duo Darren Mattocks and Dane Richards, they present one particular challenge for the US: speed.
“It’s a very good team,” Klinsmann said. “They have tremendous physical qualities. They have a lot of speed in there. So they are dangerous in transition. But if we play to our strengths, we have a chance to beat them in Jamaica.”
It is rare for two sides to play a home-and-home series in World Cup qualifying. The US and Jamaica will face off twice in four days, and Klinsmann says the scheduling is “tricky” for both teams.
“It depends a lot on the first game,” he said. “You want to have a good result, a positive result in the first game because you carry that with you in the second game. So no one should even think one second about the home game. Everyone should really zoom in and focus on the game in Kingston.”