Philadelphia (AFP) – United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann promised his team would not sit back when they take on Paraguay here Saturday, needing only a draw to reach the Copa America Centenario quarter-finals.
Klinsmann’s men face last year’s Copa America semi-finalists at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field requiring a point to ensure their place in the last eight after a 4-0 rout of Costa Rica on Tuesday.
But Klinsmann, whose position could be in jeopardy if the US make an early exit from the tournament, said there was no chance of his team playing for a draw.
“We don’t have the character to just sit back and wait for a counter-break,” Klinsmann told reporters Friday.
“That’s not us. We have to be really involved in the game. We have to set the tone. We have to keep a high level of aggressiveness and keep the determination going from the first second of the game.”
Klinsmann, meanwhile, said he was relishing the high-stakes nature of the occasion, confident that his players would respond to the challenge just as they had done when successfully negotiating a “Group of Death” at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Two years ago, the US defied pre-tournament expectations by qualifying in second place from their World Cup group behind eventual champions Germany, helping to eliminate Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal as well as a talented Ghana side.
“We knew when the draw came out it would go down to the wire and that’s what we have now,” said Klinsmann.
“I love that type of situation. This is already a knockout kind of game in a certain way.
“You want your players to go through that and go in there with a big chest and take the game to Paraguay and respect them with all the strengths they have, but also kind of showing them that we are able to play these kind of games.
“We came out of the ‘Group of Death’ in Brazil and this is also a very tough group.”
Klinsmann’s commitment to an aggressive game plan was tempered by the attacking threat posed by a skillful Paraguay side.
“They have players that can hurt you in any second,” Klinsmann cautioned.
“They will come out and take the game to us. They deserve a lot of respect but we don’t fear them.
“We’re in the driver’s seat and we’re going to do anything we can to get to the quarter-finals.”
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