Klinsmann and the National Team facing a must win.
The Men's National Team is fully settled into town after arriving Saturday and holding an free practice for the public on Sunday. Aside from a few media events, it was all business for Jurgen Klinsmann and his team.
Klinsmann and Clint Dempsey assembled for an early afternoon press conference. The assembled media got a full blast of Klinsmann's relentlessly cheery demeanor. He had all the right answers to the growing grumbles from U.S. backers; all the wrongs from Friday will be made right.
Without tipping his hand, Klinsmann stressed the team would play with width and possession. The latter aided by the pristine Crew Stadium turf. Veteran defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo will be back in the side. Tim Howard is a full go.
He refused to be tripped up by the difficulties last Friday's loss has brought the team. He brushed aside questions about his future from a member of the Jamaican media. When asked a hypothetical if the U.S. loses and what it means for him, he curtly responded with "We won't (lose)".
Not to say there isn't pressure on the team, but Klinsmann and Dempsey agreed there is always pressure. Both said tomorrow evening is no different; game time always brings pressure. Even though they are the rote answers that athletes give, there is a kernel of truth.
Later, as the team practiced in the late afternoon, Crew Stadium was going throughout it's final checks. The temporary bleachers are in place, as are the LED signboards. In the nearly empty stadium, there was little to suggest that the Americans would be playing their biggest game of the year in a little over 24 hours. The calm before the storm.
It's hard to know what to expect out of the U.S. tomorrow. Yes, they will play wider. There will be an attempt to play possession soccer. They have had a few more days to acclimate to each other, always helpful during these brief international breaks.
The Nats may be one step closer to Klinsmann's modern soccer or a very damaging step sideways. There is always the third way, a functional and athletic performance that gets the job done. Perhaps a game befitting the function over form nature of Crew Stadium.