The United States national team believes it can win this World Cup, Seattle Sounders and U.S. player DeAndre Yedlin said Monday, even if coach Jurgen Klinsmann has downplayed the idea.
“We all know that he believes in us, and we believe in ourselves,” Yedlin said in a conference call from Brazil. “That’s really, I think, all we need. I think it has shown in the group round. We’re not just a team that’s going to come in here and just get beat up on. We’re going to be a team that fights and that’s looking obviously to win this thing.”
Yedlin, 20, came off the bench in the past two United States games during the group stage. The United States went 1-1-1 in their group, finished second behind Germany, and advanced to the knockout round of 16 where it will face Belgium at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
Before the tournament, Klinsmann said it was not possible for his team to win it all. He began this week more optimistic, calling Belgium one of the World Cup favorites, saying the U.S. is capable of beating them, and telling his players their flights home will be booked after the World Cup final on July 13.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Yedlin liked the sound of that.
“We might not have as talented players as the other teams, but we play as a team,” he said. “It kind of reflects the (San Antonio) Spurs team this year — the NBA championship. … We have a team and we’re all going to play together, and I think that’s what makes our team so strong and a contender to win it.”
Leading the way is U.S. captain Clint Dempsey. Yedlin said he already knew Dempsey’s playing and leadership skills as a Sounders teammate. But Yedlin said that has been only amplified by their experiences in Brazil, where Dempsey has scored two goals and played through a broken nose.
“I always knew Clint was a warrior, but the past couple of weeks have put the cherry on top,” Yedlin said. “… He’s a guy that plays and captains his team through actions of how he plays on the field. I think everybody see that. Scoring 30 seconds in (against Ghana), I think that set the momentum, that sent the tone for us — not just for that game but for the whole tournament.”