The United States sent a “clear message” with their 4-0 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying win over Guatemala, according to coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
USA moved up to second spot in Group C in the fourth round thanks to first-half goals from Clint Dempsey and Geoff Cameron, as Graham Zusi and a late Jozy Altidore strike sealed a comfortable victory in Columbus on Tuesday.
Klinsmann had been severely criticised following Friday’s 2-0 away defeat to the same opposition but felt his side bounced back with a strong performance.
“[It was a] perfect way to respond to the disappointment from a couple of days ago,” he told reporters.
“It’s been a long couple of days analysing that [defeat to Guatemala] and correcting it but I must give many compliments to each one of them for a very clear message. We are on top of the game and in the driving seat again.”
He added: “Obviously it is a long road to Russia, and to every World Cup, as we know. Here and there are setbacks and there is a moment that doesn’t work out in the perfect way.
“I think we started well with the four points in the beginning then obviously that game on Friday night caught us on the wrong foot but there is a very good spirit in this group.
“It is a team that starts to melt [gel] more and more. Obviously we bring in some younger, some fresh players and they need to get integrated and this is happening one step at a time, sometimes a bit better and sometimes a step backwards.
“Our wish was to get [17-year-old debutant] Christian Pulisic on the field and part of our future. I think he’s come on for a few minutes and you’ve seen the talent that he has.
“Bobby Wood is growing and getting better with every time now he comes into this group so there’s lots going on.
“It’s a long way to the World Cup and our job as coaches is to help these players in their path, in their development. Sometimes it goes well, like tonight where it goes perfectly and sometimes you have a little knock like we did a couple of days ago. But we are on track.
“Now we put this to one side because we are hungry and excited for the Copa America.”