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11:00 PM UTC Jun 15, 2019
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United States aiming to reach Copa America semifinals - Jurgen Klinsmann

DALLAS -- The U.S. national team's goal is to make the semifinals of next month's Copa America Centenario, coach Jurgen Klinsmann said here on Tuesday afternoon.

The U.S. is in Texas preparing for Wednesday's pre-Copa friendly against Ecuador in suburban Frisco (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN). Asked what the measure of success would be in a tournament that includes global heavyweights Argentina and Brazil, Klinsmann didn't mince words.

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"As you know, we drew the most difficult group," Klinsmann said of the Americans' fearsome first round slate that includes games against Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay. "But we had a similar situation in Brazil [at the 2014 World Cup] and we made it out of the group."

The U.S. advanced from a quartet that featured Ghana, Portugal and eventual world champion Germany two summers ago before falling to Belgium in extra time in the round of 16.

"After the game against Belgium we said we have to learn to come through the knockout games. I hope that will be the learning curve for us at this Copa America, that we find a way to get though the group with these very difficult three opponents, but then when you get through the group you want go further. The goal then really is the final four."

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Michael Bradley and the U.S. will look to rebound from last year's disappointing Gold Cup at the Copa America.

In order to get there, though, they'll likely have to set the tone in the opening match, June 3 against Colombia in Santa Clara, California.

"We start with a final right away with Colombia, No. 4 in the world," Klinsmann said. "They deserve a lot of respect."

But Klinsmann also noted that the last time the Yanks and Cafeteros met, in a friendly at London's Craven Cottage in November of 2014, a young American squad gave full-strength Colombia all it could handle in a 2-1 loss.

"We had them on the edge two years ago in Fulham but we just conceded a late, late goal with a roster that was not the roster that we have together right now," Klinsmann said. "That's exciting.

"We want to get to the final four. This is our goal."

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.


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