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August 14, 2012
Klinsmann: Olympics put Mexico ahead of U.S.

After Mexico captured its first Olympic gold medal on Saturday, U.S. national coach Juergen Klinsmann says that there is a gap between the two countries.

“There is a gap," Klinsmann said before the Americans played Mexico at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Wednesday. "It would be foolish not to recognize that. If one team doesn’t qualify for the Olympics and the other team wins the Olympics, there is a gap."

But it's not only the Olympics. The Mexicans have dominated the United States in the last three competitive matches, including the 2009 and 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup finals. Klinsmann was not the coach in any of those games.

"On the senior level, they’ve done well over the last two years, too," Klinsmann said. "You’ve got to give them compliments for that. In certain elements there is a gap, in other elements we can close gaps right away. If we just continue our path and work harder to close that gap, I think a lot is happening in the American system.

"There are a lot of positives happening in MLS and also our youth development in the MLS and the U.S. Soccer Development Academies. The next couple years will be exciting to follow what soccer in the U.S. can do, but at the moment Mexico is a step ahead of us.”

Klisnmann, however, did not think El Tri had the edge in a winning mentality during its recent dominance of the United States.

“I think that we have a very strong mentality," he said. "I think that we don’t need to hide from anybody out there. What Mexico read well is that how the global game has evolved over the last couple years, led by Spain. They understood that they need to have a style and have a player that buys into it 100 percent and works as hard as he can. Based on those elements and their preferred 4-2-3-1 system, they automized sequences and where and how the players moved and they’ve doubled and tripled the positions that we have discussed."

In other words, the Mexican players know their roles well.

"Certain players that are normally on the team aren’t there, but the players that are there play exactly the same roles," Klinsmann said. "If Giovani dos Santos is not there in the middle of the attacking midfield, [Angel] Reyna is there. If Chicharito [Javier Hernandez] is not there, then another guy is there.

"I think they have matched what was going on globally. If you want to be in the top 10 in the world, you have to adjust to this type of style. You can’t just sit back and just counter attack and hope you’re going to win a game. You’ve got to play with the best ones."

Klinsmann also praised Honduras, which lost to silver-medalist Brazil in the quarterfinals, 3-2. The Central Americans grabbed leads of 1-0 and 2-1 before a red card caught up to them.

"Compliment to Honduras with what they did with Brazil," he said. "They tried to play with them. It’s a lot of hard work. We have to get physically on another level and pace wise on another level, which we are working on. On many other elements we have to do better work. It’s not happening overnight. Here and there we see results, but maybe we have a setback like against Brazil in June.”

The U.S. lost to Brazil 4-1 in Landover, Md. on May 30.

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