Jurgen Klinsmann has told the USA they must show opponents less respect if they are to break through on the world stage.
Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Belgium ended the Americans’ World Cup campaign at the last-16 stage, but the game attracted around 3m more television viewers than watched last year’s baseball World Series.
Among those was President Barack Obama, who later spoke to captain Clint Dempsey and goalkeeper Tim Howard to offer his congratulations for the team’s performance in Brazil.
But boss Klinsmann was less happy with the outcome, and said it took two Belgium goals in extra-time to bring out the best in the USA.
He said: "I think it’s a mentality that we have to break through. The interesting part is every time we go down a goal we shift it up and give opponents the real game.
"There’s still the sense of too much respect, that’s why I try to play many friendly games against European teams. Yes, you respect your opponent, but leave that respect off the field."
Obama, meanwhile, was filmed in telephone conversation with Dempsey and Howard, whose heroics against Belgium kept his side in the game until the last minute.
The President joked Howard would have to shave off his beard to avoid being mobbed on his return home and said: "You guys did us proud.
"As someone whose first sport was soccer, to see the way you guys captured the imagination of the whole country was unbelievable."