Jurgen Klinsmann believes the United States will need to raise their game if the CONCACAF Gold Cup hosts are to make a strong start to the defence of the title against Honduras.
Klinsmann’s men won the Gold Cup in 2013 courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Panama in the final and are second-favourites behind Mexico to lift the trophy again.
They have been drawn alongside Panama in Group A along with Haiti and Honduras, and begin their campaign versus the latter in Frisco on Tuesday.
The USA finalised their preparations for the tournament with a 4-0 win over Guatemala last Saturday.
Yet Klinsmann remains far from satisfied with the level his side are playing at.
“We have to talk to the players in a team context and also talk to them on an individual basis and take it from there,” Klinsmann said.
“We have four days to prepare for a game against Honduras. If you guys had a chance to watch them play Mexico two days ago, you can expect a very, very nasty game from Honduras, a very aggressive and difficult game.
“We’ll talk through that the next couple of days. We have to step it up. We have to step it up in order to get three points on Tuesday night.
“It’s a very tricky preparation for the competition because our European and Mexican-based players are coming from a break and MLS is in full swing, but also our MLS players had a couple issues.
“This is what we’ve got to go through, and the next couple of days we’ll get everyone on the same page and face a very tough Honduran team on Tuesday night.”
Honduras were beaten 3-1 by the USA in the semi-finals in 2013, but go into this year’s competition having lost just one of their last five games and held Mexico to a goalless draw last week.
Despite that run of form, head coach Jorge Luis Pinto sees much room for his improvement as the former Costa Rica coach aims to lead Honduras to their first final since the inaugural Gold Cup in 1991, where they lost to the USA on penalties.
“We have changed a lot,” Pinto said. “I feel that the team plays more with the ball and suddenly is more tactical and looks to play faster football.
“They will see teams like the United States and Costa Rica to which we’ll give a fight. There are fundamental things that need to improve.”