Jurgen Klinsmann tired of U.S. playing the underdog role: 'Let's go for it!'
United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he's tired of playing the underdog and urged his players to "go for it" as they advanced to the Copa America quarterfinals.
The U.S. moved on as Group A winners after defeating Paraguay 1-0 and receiving a gift from Costa Rica, who upset Colombia 3-2 later on Saturday night.
Klinsmann's side opened the tournament with a disappointing loss to Colombia, but with the group stage behind them, Klinsmann challenged his players to prove they belong as they face the top teams in the knockout round.
"The old story is the underdog story, and I cannot hear that story anymore," Klinsmann said. "I want to see them risk things. Let's go for it! Because if you're not going for it, sooner or later they're going to break you down because they have class players that will give you one or two [goals]. That's the learning curve.
"Knockout stage is very mental-driven. It's [an] absolute mental game. It's when you step on the field and you see certain jerseys. It's kind of sniffing at each other and saying 'I'm ready for you.'
"This all about the moment then, and this is what they need to believe in. Whoever is on the other side, I'm ready for you. This is what you would love to see. It's kind of easy to say, but it's now it's becoming a mental learning curve, these upcoming games. This is what we hopefully improve now on."
Klinsmann also said the U.S. should not be content to sit back and wait for their chance, but instead take the game to their opponents.
"What we love to see is they just become more confident and courageous to take the game to those big teams and not just playing counter-break football," Klinsmann said. "You really go and push it higher up."
The U.S.' opponent will be settled on Sunday -- one of Ecuador, Peru or Brazil.
Colombia's loss means the U.S. has a very good chance to avoid Brazil, a team the Americans have only beaten once in their history, but Klinsmann welcomed the challenge of any of the South American teams.
"If it's Brazil, it's Brazil. If it's Ecuador, it's Ecuador," Klinsmann said. "Ecuador we know a little bit better because we played the friendly [a 1-0 U.S. win], obviously. But you don't even need to watch Brazil. Every player you know him inside anyway, so you don't need to send a scouting staff there.
"It's a wonderful opportunity. It's just a wonderful opportunity for our team to play these type of games and just grow, grow and rise to the occasion. We have nothing to lose.
"If it's Brazil they are the big-time favorites, five-time World Champions, blah blah blah. We love them. Why not going at them? Why not being courageous? Why not putting pressure on them and give them a game. This is what we're going to prepare.
"Every team has weaknesses. That's why the last couple of years we went abroad, to get certain experiences to just get this growth in our mindsets that we can compete. Yes, they are friendly games. We get that, too, when you play in Holland, in Germany, in Bosnia. But still, you got to go there and give them a game. You beat some of them.
"That's what now the learning curve is. Let's go to New Jersey and add another one, give everything you have."
As he spoke, Klinsmann was assuming Colombia would win the group. But after Costa Rica's upset, the host's travel plans have changed. The U.S. is now headed to Seattle, with the quarterfinal set for Thursday.