United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called for his team to harness a sense of anger as they attempt to bounce back from a shattering World Cup defeat to Mexico against Costa Rica on Tuesday.
Klinsmann’s men suffered an agonizing last-gasp loss to Mexico in Columbus on Friday, when Rafa Marquez’s 89th-minute header secured a dramatic 2-1 win for ‘El Tri’ at the Mapfre Stadium.
The defeat was a cruel blow for the US in the opening round of final 2018 World Cup qualifiers for the CONCACAF (North, Central America and Caribbean) region.
While there remain plenty of points to play for in the six-nation round robin, the US are desperate to avoid losing further ground to Mexico and Costa Rica, their biggest rivals for the automatic qualification spots.
The top three finishers in the “Hexagonal” qualify automatically for the finals with the fourth placed team entering a play-off.
Klinsmann said his side will need to channel their anger if they are to get a result against the Costa Ricans, the 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists who opened their campaign with 2-0 away win over Trinidad and Tobago on Friday.
“We need a sense of anger in all of us and absolutely a sense of urgency because we don’t want to be behind in the group,” Klinsmann said.
“All these qualifying games are nail-biters, they are all difficult, and that is what the players are prepared for.”
The former Germany striker said he had given his team a straightforward message following the Mexico result.
“The message is simple,” Klinsmann said. “We have got to go there and get a result, which we will do. (Friday) was the first of 10 qualifying games. I told the players we are going to correct it in Costa Rica.
“It is just part of the qualifying process. It is a long road over 10 games. It is not a problem but obviously it is disappointing.”
US captain Michael Bradley was adamant the team had the resilience to get back on track against the Costa Ricans.
“It’s time for us to recover mentally and physically and get ready for a very important game on Tuesday,” Bradley said.
The US suffered an injury blow against Mexico on Friday with goalkeeper Tim Howard injuring a groin while taking a goal kick. He won’t travel to Costa Rica, with Brad Guzan is likely to start in goal.
Klinsmann meanwhile came under fire for starting the Mexico game with an unfamiliar 3-4-3 tactical line-up, which was quickly ditched midway through the game in favour of the team’s tried and trusted 4-4-2.
Marquez’s winner came after a second half in which the US had dominated, and were unlucky not to have scored. Klinsmann said his team’s second-half performance in Columbus offered cause for optimism against ‘Los Ticos’.
“I think if we pick up that second half and play that way against Costa Rica, I’m not worried Tuesday,” Klinsmann said.
In other CONCACAF qualifiers on Tuesday, Panama host Mexico while Trinidad & Tobago travel to Honduras.