Klinsmann: We have point to prove
US coach aims for maiden WC win in Kgn
THOUGH Jamaica's Reggae Boyz have been a hard nut to crack inside their Kingston fortress, a brash USA coach Juergen Klinsmann intends to aim his hammer where it will hurt the most — Jamaican pride.
When both nations meet in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Group A top-of-the-table match tonight at 7:00, the visitors will harbour ambitions of handing the locals their first American defeat at 'The Office' in World Cup football.
The Boyz, on the flip side, have an age-old desire of their own, which is to deliver their first-ever win over the North Americans at this level.
Both groups, no doubt, will be highly motivated in this high-stakes affair.
"We have a point to prove as we have never won (in World Cup qualifier) here... I expect the team to win as we are strong in most areas as most of the players are playing abroad," said Klinsmann, a 1990 Germany World Cup winner.
Addressing reporters at a brief session at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) offices yesterday, the German hinted that his players have also recognised the significance of the showdown and are poised "to make this lift" and come out victorious.
Since taking over the reigns of the 33rd FIFA-ranked nation in August last year, Klinsmann has inspired his charges to a series of giant-killing outcomes, most notably a 1-0 defeat of powerhouse Italy in Genoa at the dawn of the year, followed by the historic 1-0 victory over Mexico at the fearsome Azteca in August.
He intends to leave Jamaica with another scalp to add to his trophy cabinet of firsts.
But Klinsmann knows it won't be an easy task to topple the Boyz on their turf.
"They have their own strengths and characteristics and we respect that, but at the same time, we have our own strengths and characteristics... (in the end) I think you're all going to experience first-hand a very exciting game," he said, shortly after he and his team arrived by charter from Florida yesterday.
Klinsmann, who had a stint as German coach, said he had long familiarised himself with the Jamaican players and their style, therefore providing him with the tools to counter.
"We have done our homework and we know that the Jamaicans have speed, aggressive and animated... (also) they have nine players in the MLS, and that is a positive," he said.
The German World Cup hero said Jamaica's bench is as formidable as its cadre of players.
"Theodore Whitmore is a good coach as he has been able to blend the team to play well... the team is dangerous. I also respect Whitmore as he was a fantastic player," Klinsmann noted.
Though three points from tonight's game would put his team comfortably atop the standing in Group A of these CONCACAF play-offs, Klinsmann prefers not to count chickens before they're hatched.
"What I want is the team to give everything they have... there is no guarantee how many points will come out of a game," he said.
A return game between the teams is scheduled for Columbus, Ohio, next Tuesday. Both countries lead the group with four points, with Guatemala and Antigua on a point each.
USA squad — Goalkeepers Brad Guzman (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake); defenders Carlos Boganegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Steve Cherundolo (Hanover), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Bronby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City); midfielders Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Joshua Gatt (Molde), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City); forwards Jozy Altidore 9AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomes (Santos Laguna).