After its latest post-World Cup friendly disappointment, the United States men’s soccer team will face Switzerland in Zurich on Tuesday looking for a performance and result to rediscover some momentum ahead of this summer’s Gold Cup. The U.S. kicked off its latest European sojourn with a 3-2 defeat to Denmark in Aarhus last week. As well as being the team’s fourth defeat in eight matches since being knocked out in Brazil, the match also saw a continuation of a trend of conceding late goals, with Nicklas Bendtner scoring twice to complete his hat-trick in the final 10 minutes.
“It’s frustrating because you put so much work into it,” Klinsmann told the US Soccer website. “We don’t want to lose. We want to win, but these are also important experiences. We want to make progress in managing the game and taking the game to the opponent and winning away from home and not being in our comfort zone. We were out of our comfort zone [in Denmark], and were pretty much in the game until the last couple of minutes before the end.”
The competition is only set to get tougher before the U.S. defends its Gold Cup crown and attempts to secure a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup. Matches away at traditional European powerhouses Netherlands and Germany await in June, while on Tuesday comes a contest against one of the seeded nations from last year’s World Cup. Switzerland, now ranked 12 in the world, made it through to the Round of 16 in Brazil, before being beaten by eventual finalists Argentina in a heart-breaking extra-time loss.
That was the final game for veteran coach Ottmar Hitzefeld, who walked away to be replaced by former Lazio manager Vladimir Petković. So far qualification for Euro 2016 has not been as smooth as would have been hoped. An opening defeat at home to England put Switzerland on the back foot, and they remain locked level on points with Slovenia in a battle for the second automatic berth to France.
Still, they can count on the talents of Inter Milan and former Bayern Munich attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who produced a hat-trick of assists in a 3-0 over Estonia on Friday and who Klinsmann identified as a threat ahead of Tuesday’s clash.
The U.S., meanwhile, will have to do without the services of the man who grabbed the team’s second goal against Denmark, Aron Johannsson. The striker has been replaced in the squad by Stanford University’s Jordan Morris after suffering an infection. Morris will now be hoping to make a second appearance for his country on Tuesday, while Leon goalkeeper William Yarbrough could be in line for a debut. Both may have a chance of realizing those objectives, give that, despite the disappointing results and unconvincing performances, Klinsmann has hinted that there will be further experimentation against Switzerland.
“Obviously, you want to be successful,” he said. “Winning games helps build confidence. However, if you have one phase to introduce new players, to try out different things, to play very, very difficult opponents, then it’s in the period right after a World Cup. Now is probably the only time we can do this because once we are in the Gold Cup, we can’t be experimenting anymore.”
Kickoff time: Noon EDT
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