Juergen Klinsmann played his last World Cup game less than a month shy of his 34th birthday. And though he didn't score in that game he had three goals in the 1998 tournament, allowing him to walk away from the World Cup with his head held high.
That's a lesson he's tried to impress on a U.S. team that has eight members older than 30.
"The players that are beyond 30, this might be their last moment in the World Cup," Klinsmann said Friday, the first day of preparation for his team's round of 16 game with Belgium on Tuesday. "That's just reality. It's nothing kind of surprising.
"So, if I'm in that age, if I know that I'm approaching 30, 31, 32, I have to tell myself 'shoot, this is it now.' I want them just to realize that. I don't want them to come out after the game and say, 'Well, you could have told me before.' No, this is just reality. If everybody goes to his own personal limits in context of the team, we're going to go further in this tournament."
Building on history
By reaching the knockout stage in Brazil the U.S. advanced out of group play for the second time in as many World Cups, something the country had never done before. And U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati thinks that success and the additional exposure it brings will have a long-term effect.
"It translates into more fans, more casual fans and more kids that could turn on the sport and may turn out to want to play," he said. "Every game we play — I'm not going to say it's a bonus because we want to go a long way — but it's surely a big plus in terms of all those things that we want to be positive."
Turning the other shoulder
A day after Uruguay's Luis Suarez was handed a four-month suspension for biting him on the shoulder, Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini said he found the penalty "excessive." On Thursday, FIFA, world soccer's governing body, ruled Suarez out for the rest of the World Cup and the start of the domestic season in Europe, where he plays for Liverpool. In addition to being banned from the field, Suarez is not allowed to enter any soccer stadium or train with any professional team.
"Now inside me there's no feelings of joy, revenge or anger against Suarez for an incident that happened on the field and that's done," Chiellini said on his official website, according to the Guardian of London. "There only remain the anger and the disappointment about the match. At the moment my only thought is for Luis and his family, because they will face a very difficult period."
U.S. injury updates
U.S. forward Jozy Altidore, whose World Cup was interrupted by a hamstring strain halfway through the first half of the first game, jogged in practice for the third time Friday and Klinsmann says he remains hopeful Altidore will be in uniform Tuesday…. Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya were checked multiple times for concussion-like symptoms after the two midfielders ran into each other late in the game against Germany. Both were cleared to continue playing but Jones also sustained a broken nose. He is expected to play against Belgium without a protective mask.