United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann has set the “ambitious” target of reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Klinsmann took over as USA coach in 2011 after the nation were eliminated by Ghana in the round of 16 of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The 51-year-old won the CONCACAF Gold Cup at the first time of asking in 2013, defeating traditional rivals Mexico in the final, but saw USA knocked out in the last 16 by Belgium at the World Cup in Brazil two years ago.
However, after hosts USA went on to reach the semi-finals of last month’s Copa America Centenario, eventually bowing out to runners-up Argentina, Klinsmann believes the Americans are on their way to future success.
“We all want a brighter future for the national team, and we want the United States to become established as one of the world’s top-10 teams,” former Germany boss Klinsmann told CNN.
“But it’s not going to be easy considering how many strong soccer nations there are around the world.
“We set an ambitious goal for the 2018 World Cup – to reach the semi-finals. And, if we start with the end goal in mind, we obviously want to win the World Cup one day.
“There are huge challenges, and it will take a lot of hard work. But things are definitely moving in the right direction. Our goals are challenging but achievable.”
He added: “Soccer has clearly made it in the United States. It’s mainstream. It’s recognised as a major sport. People like it. And it’s growing.
“The next step is to become one of the best soccer nations in the world. The USMNT has become an important engine for growth in the United States. We’re trying to do everything we can to make the national team as successful as possible in the World Cup, which is the benchmark for everyone around the world.
“The attention that soccer in the United States gets at the World Cup is what pushes the game forward for the next four years. And because we made it out of the ‘Group of Death’ in Brazil [alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana], the game got another big boost emotionally – from millions of American soccer fans and from the media.”
However, USA still need to qualify for Russia 2018, with two games remaining in the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying. USA sit second in Group C on seven points, three behind Trinidad and Tobago. But Guatemala are just one point adrift in third, with only the top-two nations in each group making it into the fifth round.
USA’s final two games are against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on September 2, before facing Trinidad and Tobago four days later.