The national team coach stopped his players from talking about Portugal on Saturday morning, but says they want to show the world that they can live with illustrious opposition
By Sam Lee at the Arena da Amazonia
United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann says his side are out to “put Cristiano Ronaldo in his place” when they face Portugal on Sunday.
The former Germany international stressed the importance of shackling every Portugal player in the crunch Group G clash, but wants his team to show they are every bit as good as Ronaldo and his “world-class” team-mates.
“There’s a lot of admiration for him and for the players who play at big clubs and in the Champions League,” he said.
“But this is the moment to prove yourself, to step up, play those guys and put them in place. We want to put Cristiano in place.
“We want to make it our game, we are ready for that, we have been preparing for that a long time. We are not worried about any players, we respect them of course, as we always do, but we are ready.”
US goalkeeper Tim Howard, who played alongside Ronaldo for Manchester United, hailed the forward’s various talents but says there is a game plan to “bottle him up”.
“We always knew he was special, the moment he stepped through the doors. He had skills that certainly I had never seen before. Did I ever expect him to be the best player in the world? Maybe not, but he certainly had the tools.
“He’s the single hardest-working player I’ve ever been around, on and off the field, his work ethic is incredible. He’s strong, he’s a fast runner, the best in the world when running with the ball, good in the air, good with both feet, the list goes on and on, this is why he’s the best in the world.
“We want to bottle him up, it has not been done for four or five years but we’ll see what we can do. We have a gameplan and if we put that in place we’ll give ourselves a good chance.
“If we pay too much attention to Ronaldo someone else will beat us. We’ve got to be diligent, we have to be aware of their danger men. We have a gameplan in place and now we have to go and execute it.”
Howard also revealed that Klinsmann put a stop to any mention of Portugal at the team hotel on Saturday morning.
“You have to know your opponent but as of this morning he refuses to speak about Portugal.
“It gives us a long time to focus on ourselves, we won’t focus on them anymore, it’s done. They’re a good transition team but we have to use the ball well, make them defend, hurt them and push them back.”