USA’s Klinsmann eager for Copa America Centenario

(l-r) USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann; Paraguay head coach Ramon Angel Diaz; Colombia head coach Jose Nestor Pekerman and Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez at the Copa America Centenario draw on February 21, 2016, in New York City. (Photo: Mexsport)

NEW YORK – Jurgen Klinsmann knows that Group A in the Copa America Centenario promises to be treacherous. 

But the United States manager is hoping recent history repeats itself in a quartet that features Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay.

“I mean, obviously, it’s a difficult draw…no doubt about it, but it’s doable,” he said.  “We had a similar kind of scenario in Brazil and we went through so now we start with Colombia right away instead of Ghana.” 

The United States was placed in a difficult group in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but navigated through Ghana, Portugal and Germany and earned a spot in the round of 16.

That is the goal this summer as well, despite the stiff competition.

“The objective is difficult to say, but definitely coming through the group.  That’s the objective is clearly getting out of the group even if it’s not easy,” Klinsmann commented.  “And then we’ll give it a go and that’s what we said after the experience in Brazil as we have to learn how to win knockout games.  And there’s no better way to start then in Copa America.”

Of course, there is pressure on the United States, the host nation, which faltered last summer in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and then fell to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup.

This one-of-a-kind tournament, though, is even bigger and more important to Klinsmann.

“This is huge,” he said. “This is fantastic for all of us and I think for the players it will click in the next couple of weeks because we’ve all talked about it, but now it is a reality.”

Klinsmann said he’ll use next month’s two-legged series against Guatemala in the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as a chance for players to stake their claim for inclusion this summer.

“Every tournament is a huge opportunity for every individual player,” finished the 51-year-old German. “You want to showcase yourself in the biggest competitions possible, so what’s bigger than the Copa America?”