While US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is plenty proud of his squad advancing to the Round of 16 from one of the toughest groups in the tournament, the so-called “Group of Death,” he was emphatic after the game in stating that the US needs to improve its play when it plays in the second round on July 1.
“[The message is] that we still can do better,” Klinsmann said to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap. “We got through the group, but we have to do better in the Round of 16, and we will do better.”
The US struggled to maintain possession for long stretches of Thursday’s game against group winner Germany, making only 32.5 percent of the game’s passes and being outshot 13-4, 6-0 in shots on target.
“Maybe in the beginning, we had a bit too much respect, but when more and more we got in the game, we should have created a bit more chances,” Klinsmann said. “That's something we have to improve on. … We should have had a little bit more possession, which would have helped us create more chances. Maybe we kept that for the next [game].”
Despite the loss, Klinsmann was pleased with the energy level of his team just four days after playing in the oppressive humidity of Manaus. Part of his strategy to combat the turnaround was to make two changes, giving Brad Davis and Omar Gonzalez their first starts of the tournament. While Davis was replaced by Alejandro Bedoya early in the second half, Gonzalez was one of the US’ best players in the game.
“We needed a bit of freshness there; that’s why Brad Davis came in for Bedoya and Omar got his chance from the beginning,” Klinsmann said. “Overall, tremendous energy and tremendous effort from the whole side, and it's huge, huge for us getting out of the group. Everybody said you have no chance. We took that chance, and now we move on and now we really want to prove a point.”