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Klinsmann says US failed ‘to digest’ World Cup

DUBLIN (AP) — After watching the United States go winless in four straight games for the first time since he took over as coach three years ago, Jurgen Klinsmann had a harsh assessment of the Americans’ post-World Cup performances.

“They have to learn emotionally how to digest a World Cup, and a lot of our players really had big problems digesting those extreme emotions,” the U.S. coach said after Tuesday night’s 4-1 exhibition loss to Ireland. “They dropped 20, 30 even 40 percent in performances in their club environment. Many of the Europeans lost their starting spot. Many other players in MLS or wherever went down 30, 40 percent in their performances and this is because they didn’t know how to deal with all these emotions and all that recognition and all the compliments in the world that came after the World Cup.”

“In a certain way it’s human,” Klinsmann acknowledged. “I mean, it’s understandable.”

But the former World Cup champion player made clear this shows “we are not there yet. We have quite a way to go.”

Since advancing to the round of 16 at the World Cup and losing 2-1 to Belgium in extra time, the Americans won 1-0 at the Czech Republic, allowed late goals in draws against Honduras and Ecuador, and lost to Colombia and the Irish. Klinsmann used most of his World Cup veterans while also giving six players debuts. He wasn’t pleased with the old guard.

“You see a Cristiano Ronaldo, a (Lionel) Messi, they make three weeks’ vacation, they go back in their club teams and they rock the boat. They play like they didn’t go on vacation,” he said. “Our players, they went on vacation, they had a good time, they come back and they lost their spots in their clubs.”

The Americans had not lost by three goals since a 4-1 defeat against Brazil in May 2012. After that match, Klinsmann said “we need to get an edge, more nastier.”

His message was the same Tuesday.

“I’m telling you that again. We’ve got to get nastier,” he said. “It’s not a negative word. We have to become more physical. We have to hold our ground more, dominant, and send signals out all over the field.”

Ireland changed all 11 starters from Friday’s 1-0 loss at Scotland in European Championship qualifying and improved to 5-0 in Dublin against the U.S.

The Irish went ahead in the seventh minute when David McGoldrick, in his international debut, made a through pass past Matt Besler to the sprinting Anthony Pilkington. He chipped goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who made his second international start and first since January 2012.

Mix Diskerud tied the score in the 39th after Jozy Altidore’s lofted cross into the penalty area fell to Chris Wondolowski. He dropped a cushioned header to Diskerud, who used the outside of his right foot to flick the ball low into the right corner of the net.

After Fabian Johnson’s poor clearance was intercepted, Robbie Brady put the 61st-ranked Irish back ahead in the 55th when he scored from 7 yards off McGoldrick’s pass. James McClean made it 3-1 in the 82nd when he bounced a 20-yard shot that deflected off defender Geoff Cameron and past Hamid, and Brady curled in a 25-yard free kick in the 86th.

The 23rd-ranked Americans dropped to 1-4-3 since beating Ghana in their World Cup opener in June. Coming off Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Colombia in London, they have lost consecutive games for the first time since late 2011.

The U.S. finished the year 6-5-4, having scored 20 goals and allowed 20. In a worrisome trend for the Americans, they have given up 10 goals from the 80th minute on in their last nine games.

“It’s something with our mentality maybe?” Alejandro Bedoya wondered. “I don’t know what it is. I can’t really pinpoint it.”

Fabian Johnson hit a post in the 22nd minute with a long-range shot, and Altidore’s effort from the edge of the penalty area ricocheted off the crossbar in the 43rd.

Jordan Morris, a Stanford sophomore, entered in the 76th for his U.S. debut and became the 50th player to appear for the Americans this year. The U.S. Soccer Federation believes no college player had appeared for the national team since Ante Razov in 1995, the year before Major League Soccer started play.

The 20-year-old forward returns home for an NCAA tournament second-round match Sunday against UNLV or UC Irvine.

“Obviously, it wasn’t the result we wanted, but it’s something I’ve been dreaming now since I was a little kid,” he said. “So it was an unbelievable honor and a great experience.”

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