Klinsmann praises U.S. as Copa campaign ends

USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (light blue shirt) yells out instruction during the Copa America Centenario third-place match against Colombia in Glendale, Arizona, on June 25, 2016. (Photo: Mexsport)


GLENDALE, Arizona -- The United States completed its Copa America Centenario journey the same way it started, with a shutout loss to Colombia.

Yet, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann gave his team a thumb's up and accolades after a 1-0 defeat in the third-place match at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday. 

"I gave the whole team a huge compliment in the locker room," he remarked. "After six weeks being on the road, to pull out a performance like that in a meaningless third-place game in a certain way, I think they deserve a huge, huge compliment." 

The Americans kicked off the competition with a 2-0 Group A setback to the third-ranked Colombians. They righted themselves with wins over Costa Rica (4-0) and Paraguay (1-0) to finish first in the group, before topping Ecuador in the quarterfinals (2-1). Then, a semifinal meeting with Lionel Messi and Argentina ended 4-0 victory for the South American side.

Klinsmann said he saw great strides in his team, which compiled a 3W-0D-3L mark.

"Every one of them, the whole team over this entire stretch of time, has kind of grown together, has given each other so much support," commented the 51-year-old German. "It's really fun to watch this team grow. Did we want to win this game? Yes, absolutely, but I think the performance was a wonderful performance."

He added that he would welcome another opportunity to play in the Copa America again, so the team could continue to improve.

"For us, it was a huge opportunity, and I think we took it really well," Klinsmann finished. "The final four is a big deal, but there is a lot still to learn, and, hopefully, we can do that in every Copa America from now on."

With no matches scheduled until the resumption of World Cup Qualifying, the Americans' next challenge will be at fourth-place St. Vincent & the Grenadines (0-0-4, 0) in a CONCACAF Group C match on September 2. Four days later, the second-place USA (2-1-1, 7 points) hosts group-leader Trinidad & Tobago (3-1-0, 10) in Jacksonville, Florida. The top two teams advance to the hexagonal.