USMNT Notes: Dempsey to be assessed, Klinsmann touches on absences, and more

ClintDempseyStripes (ISIPhotos.com)

photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

The U.S. men's national team has a pair of important World Cup qualifiers with Jamaica looming, and just how big of a role Clint Dempsey will have in those matches has yet to be determined.

Dempsey has been training mostly on his own and with a reserve team for much of the past few weeks after Fulham exiled him for wanting a move to a bigger club, and although he ended his messy divorce with the Cottagers by signing with Tottenham Hotspur last Friday, his fitness levels and match sharpness remain in question.

That has left Dempsey's status for the upcoming Group A clashes with Jamaica uncertain, and U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann plans on taking every opportunity during the team's preparations in Miami to see just how much his veteran attacker will be able to give after a whirlwind summer.

"We will sit down with him and discuss his state of mind and also, obviously, we will test his fitness level right away when he comes in to see where he's at in order to help him," Klinsmann said via a conference call on Sunday. "If he's lagging behind, then we know exactly where he's at and we can help him catch up as quickly as possible and based on all that information that we gather over the next two, three days then we will see how we play him in those two very, very important World Cup qualifiers."

Klinsmann added that he was not opposed to giving Dempsey starts in either of the upcoming matches against the Reggae Boyz, but that it would all come down to how fit Dempsey is and how he looks in training in the days leading up to the first game at Independence Park in Kingston on Friday.

"He worked out with the fitness coach at Fulham on the side, they did one-on-one work, which is often more effective than team training, so we'll see right away the first couple of training sessions," said Klinsmann. "Also after testing him and depending on that data that we have, depending on what we see in training, we are absolutely open to throwing him in the water right away in Jamaica if he's really in a good physical condition and if he's feeling really fine."

Here are more USMNT notes from Sunday's conference call:

KLINSMANN ADDRESSES ABSENCES OF DONOVAN, BRADLEY, GATT

While Klinsmann may be trying to figure out just how much Dempsey will be able to contribute to the upcoming qualifiers, the head coach is also having to deal with the current injuries to key starters Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley.

Both were left off the roster due to the respective injuries that they are nursing. Donovan has a hamstring knock he has been ailing from since just before the Mexico friendly last month and Bradley sustained a thigh problem while training with AS Roma early last week, but Klinsmann sees it as par for the course.

"It's normal. I think there will never be a game where you have 100 percent on board," said Klinsmann. "It's just the way soccer works. You always have to deal with injuries, maybe some players not being in form, or whatever it is. Obviously, Michael Bradley had such a promising start with AS Roma and now this injury kind of sets him back a little bit and you want to have him with his positive energy, with his leadership that he developed over the last year. He's such an important personality in the group, but you just take it the way it is."

Another player who will miss the upcoming training camp and matches because of injury is Josh Gatt. The versatile youngster suffered a hamstring injury in Molde FK's 4-1 loss on Sunday and he had to withdraw from what would have been his first camp with the full national team.

"We had the hope to add a new element to our team with him, so we have to wait until next time I guess," said Klinsmann, who added that he did not intent to bring in a replacement for Gatt.

JOHNSON, RIMANDO TO ALTERNATE AT NO. 3 GOALKEEPER SPOT

If you were wondering why four goalkeepers were called into this camp instead of the usual three, it is because Klinsmann is alternating between two players for the No. 3 spot in order to heed a specific request from an MLS club.

"Sean Johnson will cover us up for the first game in Jamaica and then he goes back to the Chicago Fire and Nick Rimando comes in for the second one," said Klinsmann. "Nick has a game on the 6th of September with Real Salt Lake and they asked us because of the fact that he's coming in as a third goalie, meaning a back-up goalie, if it will be doable if he stays there and so that's how suddenly we have two No. 3s coming in at different times."

Klinsmann's words also point to Brad Guzan being Tim Howard's primary back-up, even in light of the fact that the 27-year-old netminder just started his first two games of the season for Aston Villa during the past week.

MORE EXPECTED FROM TORRES

The inclusion of Jose Torres in the 25-man roster was not a big surprise, but Klinsmann did reveal that he wants more out of the diminituve midfielder in the U.S. team's upcoming games. 

Klinsmann touched on his desire for Torres to have more of an authoritative stamp on matches, especially considering that he is not a young player learning the ropes of the international game anymore. Torres has struggled to consistently perform well in Klinsmann's midfield, but the head coach still plans on giving Torres chances despite his lack of production in recent months.

"He's, how can I describe the right way, at a stage where people like to see him taking more responsibilities, taking more control of the game and also doing more decisive passes or plays in a game," said Klinsmann. "I think he has that quality, we believe so, he has the technique, he's quite experienced now, he's not a youngster anymore, he's not the age of Joe Corona, he knows now what this is all about.

"The message to him is very simple like we gave him already in Mexico: He needs just to do more and have more influence on the game. He didn't have that influence in the first half in Azteca Stadium and that's why I took him off. He will get always his chances and he will receive similar messages as I said now. We want to give the players always the opportunities and chances to kind of grow into that role that we kind of want to see from them and then obviously down the road when it gets closer, hopefully after everything is working out positively with the qualifying campaign, we will make the decision (of) who's going to play in the World Cup, so we want him to make more ownership of this whole thing."

KLINSMANN GIVES EXPLANATION FOR REAM'S OMISSION

Bolton Wanderers announced last week that Tim Ream was selected for the U.S. team's upcoming camp and while they were not lying, they did not accurately explain the centerback's situation.

Klinsmann clarified why Ream was not among the players chosen for the games against Jamaica despite Bolton claiming the contrary, saying the 24-year-old defender was on the larger, preliminary roster that FIFA requires national teams to have 15 days before international matches but that he was ultimately left off the squad.

"We always have players still notified (to) be on standby," said Klinsmann. "Tim is on standby but when we send out the initial invitations, they all get basically a preliminary invitation that will be then later on, which was a couple days ago, divided into a final roster and a standby list. Tim, we watch him, we observe him, we have coaches going out there and I talk to the coach, so I know where he's at so we constantly have an eye on him. But he's not on the final roster for this time."

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38 Responses to USMNT Notes: Dempsey to be assessed, Klinsmann touches on absences, and more

  1. Petaluman says:

    Bummed that Gatt got hurt again yesterday. I was definitely interested in seeing what he could do with the full team.

  2. KutamaObama says:

    I guess Eric Lichaj’s situation is just like that of Tim Ream…..on standby

  3. M says:

    Gatt ” The versatile youngster” what a bummer his hammies are really bothersome. I wonder if JK was going to give him a look at RB seeing that Chandler is not here.

  4. Alex says:

    do we know where in Miami they are training?

  5. 2tone says:

    Torres has been given chance after chance. Sometimes you have to just realise that some players aren’t a right fit for international soccer, and to me Torres fits that bill.

    Personally, I would love to see Corona given more opportunities with the first team.

    If we see Danny Williams lined up at RW against Jamaica expect to see a defensive game from the USMNT.

  6. THomas says:

    It sure is nice finally having a dep team with options when guys go down injured. Although it will be hard to replace Bradley.

  7. Darwin says:

    You have to admit, if we need to lock down that side of the field, Danny can do it well. It comes at the expense of linking with the RF, but Dempsey is always known to track the play from central positions, so you “kind of” get a zig-zag connection if Dempsey is RF.

  8. biff says:

    I was surprised to see Dempsey on the roster, expected him to be left off to get settled into the new club. But it all makes sense now. He will get high-level training under Klinsmann, plus two true matches and will no doubt return to London in better playing shape than had he stayed with the club. Can’t wait to see Clint in action against Jamaica and then with Tottenham. Moussa Dembele had great things to say about Clint in the interview linked below, calling him a key to Tottenham success this season. Quite curious that the ex Fulham guys both ended up at the same top-level club in the final days of the tranfer period, I would say.

    link to dailymail.co.uk

    As for Jose Torres, in his defense, Klinsmann since last year has not played him in his true club position as a withdrawn CM. I hope we see Torres there this week.

  9. M says:

    Both Torres and Danny Williams and a few others have been given multiple chances but in fairness to them and JK they have almost always been played out of position. Torres has been used as a LB and in an attacking MF role. He’s best in a defensive midfield role. Maybe with Bradley out he will get this chance.

    Whether it becomes perception or reality I think it’s important that JK always keep players with Latino roots fully integrated into the program. In the case of Torres I believe JK brings him because he believes he is a quality player and will help us win

  10. beachbum says:

    “Whether it becomes perception or reality I think it’s important that JK always keep players with Latino roots fully integrated into the program”

    why is this? please explain.

  11. beachbum says:

    thanks for the interview link

    there was a great interview with Murphy last season after Clint had starred in some game, posted here on SBI. They all call him a great teammate, hard working, talented player. Murphy basically said Clint has earned his bones thru hard work. And while Clint plays with a confidence out there that borders arrogance (and who cares if it is!) he is one himble guy off the field

    for my 8 year old, Clint is the model when we discuss how to handle soccer team stuff

  12. beachbum says:

    *humble

  13. Lorenzo says:

    “Michael Bradley had such a promising start with AS Roma and now this injury kind of sets him back a little bit and you want to have him with his positive energy, with his leadership that he developed over the last year.”

    Over the last year Klinsmann? Maybe more so I guess, but MB90 just seems like he’s always be that way.

  14. Pedro says:

    I thought JK only invited players who are match-fit and producing for their club teams. Now he Invites a player who has not been playing but running at the London parks to stay fit. He just broke his own rule and insulted players like Wondo who is producing and match fit. If he continues this players will lose respect andlnot believe all the match-fit stuff he puts out.

  15. louis z says:

    I don’t think “latino roots” should have anything to do with a team’s selection

  16. louis z says:

    you just figured it out? This has been happening for a long time. His “rules” are mere “guidelines”

  17. 2tone says:

    I would take a 50 percent fit Dempsey over a 100 percent fit Wondo any day of the week.

  18. GW says:

    You thought wrong.

    I would challnege you to find written down anywhere a list of hard and criteria that JK uses to select players.

    In fact, see if you can find such a list for any manager of any team.

    You pay those guys the big bucks to make judgement calls because if it was just a matter of meeting a list of criteria then you, Pedro, can do that.

  19. Tony in Quakeland says:

    That’s a ridiculous statement on many levels, not the least of which is that they are very different types of players. Wondo may not ultimately be an international, but he’s McBride-lite. He can contribute (especially in our confederation) if he’s getting service.

  20. chris says:

    because Latinos are obviously more talented than any other ethinic group in this country and have been unfairly excluded from the national team for years. Oh wait this isnt true!? Reyna, Boca, Balboa, Vasquez, Bedoya, Torres, Orozco Fiscal, Castillo, Gomez, Ramos, Perez and many many more latinos have been apart of US Soccer for decades. Its just an excuse to not root for the USMNT.

  21. Old School says:

    I think he explained the reasoning quite well. You don’t?

    As for “players will lose respect”, don’t project your own emotions to something you believe they’ll feel.

  22. KillerInstinct says:

    Really??!! with “Latino roots”?? I guess now we are selecting based on race and not on talent. Just dont get why people are enamored with this kid….he is NOT A NUMBER 10!!!!..he doesn’t even play that role in his respective league. He is a turnover machine and doesn’t track back to recover or defend. He is there because Klinsi feels that he has to fullfill his Mexican-American quota. It’s like trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. In fact, Colombians, Hondurans, Costaricans, Brazilians and Argentinians are recruited in the MLS more over Mexican-American players, which consist from the largests hispanic demographic group in this country (30 million plus). Trust me there are plenty of young latino players coming up through the ranks, we just need to give them time to develop (Sebastian Lleget, Junior Flores, Luis Gil, Mario Rodriguez, Alejandro Guido, Jose Villareal, Omar Salgado, etc…). Currently there are plenty of creative midfielders…Benny feilheber (World Cup experience), Farfan (Mexican-American not capped yet), Freddy Adu(as super sub)…It just seems that Torres has become Klinsi’s Bornstein….just saying.

  23. Amru says:

    So I guess chandler was not even called up for these qualifiers?

  24. cj says:

    On Lichaj with Dolo still playing well I would rather see him stay in England and lock down the starting role then come sit on the bench.

    With Dempsey I would like to see Corona up top pllaying underneath the forwards. If the team needs offense then bring in Clint t finish up.

  25. hogatroge says:

    I feel you.

    In spite of his nonexistent USMNT experience, he could easily have started one of these matches based on:

    1. Lack of wingers on our roster
    2. His current form
    3. Inexperienced wingers pose a low defensive risk for their team

  26. hogatroge says:

    Klinsmann’s comments seem, to me, to be a politely phrased way of saying “this is close to the last chance for Torres.”

  27. Alex G says:

    Chandler?, who cares right?, lol

  28. Yellow says:

    To be fair to Klinsmann, he wasn’t able to see the possible leadership qualities of Bradley before that because he wasn’t the coach. Also I always wondered if Bradley felt weird about leading before, both because of his age and because his dad was the coach

  29. Eurosnob says:

    Pedro, let’s not be ridiculous. Dempsey is probably the best field player in the national team pool. With due respect, calling up a player, who scored 27 goals in 82 caps for the USMNT and led the EPL in scoring among midfielders last year, is not insult to Wondo. How many goals did the match fit Wondo score for the national team so that he should be insulted by Dempsey’s call up?

  30. Old School says:

    Who’s Chandler?

  31. Hayes says:

    As far ad Wondo goes, have you noticed that he is in a goal scoring slump. Demps has definitely earned the right for the call up even if he has not played in a while. Also, he has been training with the Fulham trainer not just do something on his own. If fit, it may take him 25 minutes or so to really get back to the speed of play, but he will still end up being the most dangerous player we have.

  32. Tab says:

    Klinsmann plays Torres because of some sort of quota? That’s just plain silly.

    As for the the Bornstein comparison — Jonathan Bornstein can’t get a game in Mexico. Torres plays consistently and quite well in Mexico.

    Torres brings something special. He can pass very well. Klinsmann sees that. And is hoping Torres can become an integral part of the team. We’ll see if that’s possible.

    Personally, I think Torres will do best if he can play as a not-too-advanced central midfielder. In an ideal world as one of three. With Michael Bradley free and someone holding.

  33. ThaDeuce says:

    “and with a reserve team for much of the past few weeks after Fulham exiled”

    Liverpool reserves? Why keep the reserve team secret?

  34. Andrew says:

    We are not going to bring in players that haven’t played recently for the team. This isn’t the January camp. It’s world cup qualification. This isn’t the time to screw around with new guys “so they can get a chance.” That’s for another team. If people are really bummed about guys like Ream and Lichaj not getting called in this time, then they have no idea how a national team is run. There are times for trying new guys out, then there are times you don’t. A WCQ is that time,

  35. Evan W says:

    Torres a turnover machine? Bradley, Jones, Beckerman and Edu all give the ball away more frequently than Torres. Torres played with an injury against Mexico and still created the best attacking chance the US had in the first half. The passing, vision and touch of Torres is better than anyone else on the US except for maybe Dempsey. Did you see Torres against a strong Santos side a week and a half ago? The announcers were saying he was man of the match. He has been inconsistent with the US at times but also played out of position more often than not. Hopefully we will see him played in his natural position against Jamaica.

    I’m glad at least Tab watches some of the games.

  36. beachbum says:

    I watch the games and your assessment of Torres in the USMNT kit is not accurate. I saw the game El Gringo had that yiou reference, and he played well but in a totally different position than where Klinsmann uses him. Perhaps vs. Jamaica he will be deployed where he is more comfortable and not in a more advanced role with his back to goal becasue he’s not so good at that and turns it over plenty when pushed forward like that. Paco wants time and space to make his plays, not some center back or defending mid crunching down on him every time he touches the ball; he’s not as good at that role, the evidence is clear

    and I have always liked Torres, ever since the WCQ a few years ago when he played the first half on that concrete parking lot they call a field in Costa Rica (Saprissa’s home I think)

  37. Evan W says:

    Beachbum,

    Which part of my assessment was not accurate? I agree with you that for the most part he is more comfortable playing in a deep lying distributing role, I never said he is an attacking midfielder. With Pachuca he does have the flexibility to go forward at times but for the most part he is playing the killer pass that sets up a good attack. He has shown flashes of getting out of trouble by pulling a move and creating space like no one else can on the USMNT except for Dempsey (maybe Johnson and Altidore are close?).

    I’m not trying to say he is the greatest player ever but I can’t believe people on here are so against seeing him called up again. He has skills that are fun to watch, can create chances from the run of play, and that no one really else has on the US (again except for maybe Dempsey.) One thing I will say is that he needs to work on his consistency.

  38. Murph says:

    Usually Barry Univ. / Miami Shores…