Jurgen Klinsmann was a fiery competitor in his playing days and there's no indication that has changed in transitioning to his role as manager of the U.S. Men's National team. Minutes after a disappointing tie with Portugal, the 49-year-old bristled at the idea his team would agree to a tie with Germany in advance of their game on Thursday.
The idea of a prearranged tie dominated much discussion on social media Sunday night, likely spawned from the Klinsmann's connection to Germany. He quickly put the idea to rest:
Klinsmann said US would not agree to tie Germany even if it was offered, would go against teams personality/legacy.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) June 23, 2014
The USA has proved to be a far more difficult opponent than pundits predicted prior to Klinsmann said prior to the game on Sunday that part of playing in the brutal Group G is his team's role in the table:, and the squad has shown a knack for bouncing back from adversity in their two games.
The "reason they call it the 'Group of Death,' " Klinsmann said, "[is] because we're in it, too."
This facet is often overlooked in discussing the quartet of Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the USA. Reality hasn't mirrored perception in this World Cup, which has borne out in the games thus far. Many are already writing off the nation's chances against the Germans, pouring over tables and numbers to understand the scenarios by which the USMNT makes it into the group of 16, but Klinsmann is far more confident:
"Our goal is to go in the next round so we will do everything in our capabilities to do that. We are going to take our game to Germany and give them a real fight. We are capable of surprising even more teams in this tournament."
The manager continues to evangelize the mettle of the U.S. team and didn't hold back mentioning their road into the World Cup and how it affected other teams:
Klinsmann asked about collusion with GER: "The US is known to give all they have in every single game, otherwise Mexico wouldn't be here."— Kurtis Larson (@KurtLarSUN) June 23, 2014
In October of 2013 the USMNT could have rested on its laurels and allowed Panama to qualify for the World Cup, eliminating Mexico -- instead two goals came in quick succession during stoppage time to overcome a 2-1 deficit and allow their neighbors to punch their tickets for Brazil.
The biggest test for the USA now lies in wait. A few days rest and almost five hours of travel separate the USMNT from Germany. And while a tie ultimately means a victory, an unlikely win would cement the team as a real contender. Those are the stakes now.