Klinsmann urges United States players to copy Messi and Ronaldo
United States boss Jurgen Klinsmann has challenged his players to take a leaf out of the books of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as they attempt to establish themselves on the international stage.
The Americans won admirers at the World Cup finals in Brazil as they came close to dumping Belgium out of the competition and making it to the quarter-finals, a feat which attracted unprecedented support for the game back at home.
However, Klinsmann admits the emotional toll on the men who fought so valiantly for the nation has been significant since, and that is the biggest lesson they have to learn as they continue their education.
He said: "I was asked how to do handle the roster coming out of the World Cup with all the emotional things that happened in our country and get these players back on track. It is not easy for these young people, but it is also now a tremendous learning experience.
"You see Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi - they have three weeks' vacation, they go back to their club teams and they rock the boat, they play like they didn't go on vacation.
"Our players, they went on vacation, they had a good time, they came back and they lost their spots at their clubs, or other players went back and because it was a six- to eight-week marathon that they went through, a very emotional marathon, they couldn't keep it up.
"They couldn't keep it to the highest level and the air is out for quite a while."
Klinsmann's comments came after Tuesday night's 4-1 friendly defeat by the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, a game in which he tested the depth of his squad with goalkeeper Brad Guzan rested and DaMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Jones, DeAndre Yedlin and Lee Nguyen having been released ahead of vital MLS play-off fixtures.
The USA enjoyed the better of the first half despite falling behind to Anthony Pilkington's seventh-minute opener and levelled before half-time through Mix Diskerud.
However, a Robbie Brady double either side of substitute James McClean's deflected 82nd-minute strike condemned them to a defeat which extended their run to one win in five matches since their summer heroics.
Klinsmann was understandably disappointed by the result, but insisted the experience of recent months would ultimately serve his players well.
He said: "It's a good learning curve. Is it fun? No, but we'll deal with it.
"The main objective this year was obviously the World Cup. It was all about the World Cup and I think we did a good job overall.
"After the World Cup, this is the time now to bring the youngsters in, to bring a new wave in and to see what they can do, and you do it obviously at the cost of some results.
Jurgen Klinsmann barks out orders during USA's 4-1 defeat by the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.
"Also the learning curve - I mentioned that after the last two games - is also that they have to learn emotionally how to digest a World Cup, and a lot of our players really had big problems digesting those extreme emotions.
"They dropped 20, 30, even 40 per cent in performances in their club environment. Many of the Europeans [players at clubs in Europe] lost their starting spot, many other players in MLS or whatever went down 30, 40 per cent in their performances.
"This is because they didn't know how to deal with all these emotions and all that recognition and all the compliments in the world that came after the World Cup, and in a certain way, it's human, it's understandable.
"You have got to look at the bigger picture right now, even if you are disappointed."