COLLEGE PARK, Md. — How far has the USMNT come under new manager Jurgen Klinsmann? A match against Brazil is now the measuring stick as to where the US program stands just 10 months into his reign.
Klinsmann made the statement himself in a brief media scrum following Monday evening's open practice session at Ludwig Field on the campus of the University of Maryland attended by an estimated crowd of more than 1,500 enthusiastic fans.
"This is what we need now to see where we really are," Klinsmann told media in previewing Wednesday night's showdown against the Seleção, ranked No. 6 in the world by FIFA (7 pm CT, ESPN2, TeleFutura, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).
"No matter who you play, you’ve got to get everything out of yourself and that’s what they’re facing on Wednesday night," the German manager said about his players. "They have to go to the extreme. They have to be on the edge the whole game through. They can’t even lose not even one second [of focus], because then [Brazil] just kill you off. This is a high-energy, high-focus game."
The big question is whether the USMNT will modify the sparkling, free-flowing style on display in Saturday's 5-1 win against Scotland in favor of a more speculative and conservative approach when faced with the talented South American powers and five-time World Cup champions.
"We want to measure ourselves," Klinsmann said. "We want to look good against them. We’re excited to play them because players like Marcelo and Neymar or Hulk and all these guys coming. That is huge. And therefore we expect a very, very difficult game.
"They played a very good game against Scotland," Klinsmann said of his US side. "Brazil is a completely different story. Brazil — you can’t get anything more difficult than Brazil. But everybody is excited and everybody wants to show where they are and we want to show the people a really good game."