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Direct from Utah

Confident but Wary, U.S. Prepares to Face Honduras

Has complacency set in among the United States men's soccer team? ASN contributing editor Jon Arnold poked around and asked that very question. Jurgen Klinsmann and several key players gave us their take.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
June 18, 2013
12:57 PM
SANDY, Utah—The United States national team is playing better than it ever has under manager Jurgen Klinsmann, but don’t expect Klinsmann and Co. to kick up their feet when it plays Honduras Tuesday night.

After bumbling through a friendly loss against Belgium, Klinsmann’s team started clicking when it beat Germany in a friendly and then went on to secure a thrilling win in Jamaica a few days prior to a dominant effort against Panama. Though undefeated in the previous four Hex matches and sitting atop the group, U.S. players insist training hasn’t lost any intensity. One of the team’s leaders says the extra time between qualifiers has helped the team slow down the frenetic pace they typically have to take during qualification, which has kept training at a high level.

“Obviously, given that we had a week in between these games, there was a few days of training in there where we had the chance to get after it a little bit and really push things, which is good,” Michael Bradley told ASN. “It’s not always that we have the time to really train. At times you come in, it’s a little bit of regeneration, it’s a little bit of preparation for a game and you step on the field.

"So I think this was a good week for us," Bradley continued. "It allowed us to work on some things, to, like I said, get after it a little bit, and now the most important thing is making sure when the game starts tomorrow night we’re ready to have all those things carry over.”

Getting after it will help against Honduras, a team that outmuscled and outlasted the United States in a 2-1 win to open the Hex. It’s a result the players haven't forgotten.

“It still sits a bit in my stomach, what happened in February when we were not able to adjust to the climate and the circumstances—simple as that—in too short a time,” Klinsmann said Monday. “Now we have the opportunity to clean that thing, and therefore, I think the energy is good. The atmosphere is good. We’re looking forward to it.”

Trying to motivate a team on a winning streak is a luxury for most national team coaches, Klinsmann included. What’s not a luxury, but is a standard part of coaching the national team, is dealing with tweaking line-ups. DaMarcus Beasley is suspended for the match because of yellow card accumulation, meaning Edgar Castillo could fill in at left back or Fabian Johnson could slide into the spot from left wing and allow Eddie Johnson to play on the left side.

Jermaine Jones, who missed the Panama victory after sustaining a concussion in Jamaica, is available for the match and might replace Geoff Cameron in central midfield alongside Bradley. Klinsmann, as usual, was mum when asked about his plans but noted he had already made up his mind.

One of the potential starters said that while the intensity hadn’t dropped in training, there will be no rewards unless that carries over onto the pitch—something that should be made easier by a sold out Rio Tinto Stadium crowd.

“The most important thing is to keep that hunger, keep that desire on the pitch, that intensity when we’re out there,” Eddie Johnson said. “And we’re at home. It’s very important to get the three points while we’re at home, get the crowd behind us, which I know they’re going to be behind us and really put them on our terms from minute one to minute 90 plus.

"It’s very important that we get the three points," he added, "and it’s very important that we keep playing with the confidence that we’re playing, and if we keep playing the way we’re playing, I like our chances in this game."

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