“Too Nice:” Klinsmann says USMNT showed “too much respect” for Argentina

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

Some would call it fear, but U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann chose a different way of describing his team’s performance against an other-worldly Argentina.

Following a 4-0 masterclass by Argentina, Klinsmann said his side was “too nice” in their approach to the awe-inspiring Albiceleste.

“You are trying to scream onto the field, ‘Go at them! Go! Become physical! Step on their toes!’ I think tonight you could clearly see in that moment, we had far too much respect,” Klinsmann said after the match. “[Argentina] smell that. They feel that. And they start to play their game with all the quality they have.”

The match stats speak to Klinsmann’s point. Despite being the visitor in this encounter, Argentina enjoyed an impressive 68% possession rate and 86% passing accuracy against the over-matched Americans. The U.S. managed just 13 fouls on the night, unable to stop the Argentine attack. In turn, they didn’t get a single shot on net, either.

If you are looking for a moment that showed that “respect” for Argentina, it was evident during a game changing Messi free kick opportunity just outside of the U.S. box.

“I think in general we had too much respect and that shows in little incidents,” Klinsmann began. “The free-kick from Messi, they pushed five yards up one step at a time. I was screaming at the referee and the fourth official and that’s why he’s suddenly in range for shooting that goal.

“If he’s five yards back,” Klinsmann contends, “he doesn’t score that goal.”

Klinsmann went on to say, “After that early goal, the players could feel that probably in every position on the field they just better than we are.”

Despite those harsh observations, Klinsmann said he was “not critical of any player.”

“Once they have the lead, they are not giving that lead away. They know exactly how to organize themselves behind the ball quickly. They high pressured right away, even when we were in possession of the ball. That is why we didn’t have any chance to score,” Klinsmann said. “That’s what they do to perfection.

“I told the guys there is nothing to be ashamed of after the game. You have to move forward. We learned from these games. You are very grateful for this Copa America, to be a part of it, and we have made it to the final four. There will always be a step backward and there will always go two more toward.

“That’s a part of our process,” he concludes. “I told the guys heads up, just swallow it. It’s a special team, Argentina.