- The United States are huge underdogs against Argentina.
- John Anthony Brooks has been the best player for the USMNT.
- Klinsmann believes his team can reach the Copa America Centenario final.
In reaching the Copa America semi-finals, the United States have reached their pre-competition target for the summer. Even so, Jürgen Klinsmann says his charges are not only excited for their meeting with Argentina, but that he also believes they have a realistic shot at reaching the final.
“It’s a fantastic achievement that the team arrived here in the semi-finals of Copa America, a very special and big competition,” says Klinsmann. “Now we are in the semi-final and as big as it is, we want to go further. We are very, very hungry to play this game against Argentina.“
'It's very special'
Having entered the tournament with the third-best ranking in Group A, reaching the knockout stages might have been accomplishment enough for the USMNT to say they had a successful tournament. With a much bigger prize now within reach, though, Klinsmann says the Yanks are not quite ready to be counted out.
“For players, it’s very special to be in final of such a huge tournament,” says the 1990 World Cup winner now coaching the United States. “You want the players to understand that now [they must] give it another ten, 15 per cent. Give everything you have to make it even possible to get to the final and play for the title.”
In order to reach that final, however, they’ll have to get part a heavily favoured Argentina that are currently ranked number one in the world and is led by Lionel Messi, who is either the best player of his generation or of all-time, depending on who you ask.
Argentina not infallible
Despite the pedigree of the opposition, Klinsmann notes that Argentina have proven to be beatable in recent World Cup qualification games following a loss to Ecuador, the team the USA beat to reach the semi-final.
“There are only four teams left. You have a 25 per cent chance of winning the title,” explains Klinsmann. “Yes, you have a big obstacle in front of you with Argentina, but anything can happen, because a tournament knockout stage is always full of surprises. Argentina will be a really tough one, but it’s doable.”
Though Klinsmann warns of showing Argentina “too much respect” and insists his team needs to “have the courage to attack”, the path to the semi-final for the US was built on being the only team to not surrender a goal in the run of play during group stage. Having such success against a Messi-led Argentina will take a whole other level of defending, particularly from the United States’ highest-rated player of the tournament so far, John Anthony Brooks.
Brooks continues to take the plaudits
The Hertha Berlin central defender is certain to get plenty of opportunities to see the best player of his generation up close and personal, but is he ready to actually stop Messi?
“John is playing a wonderful tournament. He’s made a big step forward the last couple of weeks, because this is top-level competition,” says Klinsmann of his star defender. “The learning curve of John Brooks is very impressive. We are thrilled that he’s doing so well. Hopefully, he will repeat another great performance against Argentina.”