Klinsmann expresses desire for MLS-based USMNT players to stay active in offseason

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Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

The MLS season may be nearing its end, but that does not mean that players can go on break just yet. Not U.S. Men’s National Team players, anyway.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann expressed his desire for MLS-based players in his pool to stay active during the upcoming offseason in an interview with USSoccer.com on Thursday. Klinsmann said it is important for his players to continue to train from the points in which their club seasons end to early or mid-December to maintain sharpness and also admitted he’d like to see them try and secure loans abroad for when the winter transfer window opens in January.

Several key U.S. players ply their trades in MLS these days, including Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi. There are also several domestic-based players who have become regulars under Klinsmann in the past year, such as Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Kyle Beckerman and Brad Evans.

“The situation with the MLS players with the upcoming offseason is a big topic for us from the national team side because we need them to keep going at least until the beginning of December,” said Klinsmann. “If they’re not going on loan to Europe in January, then they are coming into camp with us. Our priorities are set so that the first one is if you get a chance to go on loan to Europe, do it. Compete there with good players overseas. If not, we have to find a solution for the players that maybe lose in the playoffs to keep going until the first weeks of December and then they have a well-deserved, four-week break until the beginning of January.

“It is very crucial for us that the players understand that everything they do now today has an influence on Brazil 2014 next summer. They can’t take it easy. We wish that all of them can make it to the final and win the MLS Cup, but it’s only going to happen to a few of them. So, everybody who is maybe out earlier needs to have a plan in place to bridge that offseason period.”

Klinsmann also touched on the upcoming January camp a little more by revealing that the roster for it will consists of 20-23 players. The camp, which will be held in Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, Brazil, will serve as a way to keep players sharp and fit as well as to help Klinsmann further determine who might be able to contribute at the World Cup in June.

“Whoever won’t be on loan in January or February overseas is going to be part of our mandatory January camp. We expect everybody comes in,” said Klinsmann. “We’ll try to bring in some younger players, have a look at them as well because we want to get a roster together of 20 to 23 guys that is highly motivated and inspired to go into the World Cup year.

“It will be exciting. Our plan is to break it down into two periods: one in LA and one in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They will get a first taste of Brazil in January. We’re looking forward to it, but again, if a player has the option – maybe in the case of guys like Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan or Graham Zusi – go to Europe and get a European experience in and compete with the guys overseas. This is our preference.”

The U.S. has two more friendlies before closing out 2013. The Americans travel to take on both Scotland and Austria next month and then will set their sights on the 2014 World Cup draw on Dec. 6.

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What do you think if Klinsmann’s desire to have players staying active during the MLS offseason? Which players would you like to see go on loan in January? Who would you like to see called into the January camp?

Share your thoughts below.

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91 Responses to Klinsmann expresses desire for MLS-based USMNT players to stay active in offseason

  1. RalphNadersPatioFurniture says:

    Shot across the bow of Clint Dempsey. He may have mentioned Zusi and Donovan, but this was a cannon shot aimed at Deuce.

    • RSLfan says:

      What??? How???

    • bryan says:

      IMO, you’re reading into it way too much. Dempsey has been rumored to be going on loan in January since the day he signed for Seattle. i’m sure JK made it known he expects that, but i don’t think he is taking a shot at Dempsey.

      will be curious to see who gets loans. the January camp will be exciting.

    • cj says:

      Huh/?? How part of the MLS deal is that they could not stop him from playing in europe durring the winter. I think this mord to the Brad Evans like players who normally go to Europe durring the winter

      • cj says:

        Normally do not go to europe* #overeagerfail

        • Joe+G says:

          Are there really that many MLS players who go on Euro loans? I can only think of a handful in the last couple of years… Donovan, Henry, Beckham, Gonzalez (oops), Najar, Kamara, Montero, John. With work permit issues, is there enough demand for a Brad Evans or an Eddie Johnson? It seems to have been the exception, rather than the rule, even for USMNT players.

      • MiamiAl says:

        It is in Dempsey’s contract that he is allowed to go on one offseason loan deal.

  2. David M says:

    Isn’t it also important for players to rest? Do we want MLS USNT players to come into the world cup having played non-stop for almost a year and a half? It’s not like European-based players don’t rest during off-season.

    • Bean says:

      That is my thoughts as well. European players are worried about rest, and MLS players are worried about too much rest 6 months before the tournament.

      • Roscoe says:

        That’s true, except that any loans wouldn’t start until January, so for a player who’s season ends in November would at least get a few weeks to rest before heading off to Europe (which wouldn’t be much shorter than European players, whose seasons ends in May and the preseason tours begin in July).

  3. danny says:

    I agree with Ralph. Dempsey is captain, but he is being grouped together with Zusi (lifetime MLSer) and Landon, who’s only recently been brought back into the NATs. Granted, this is all a little speculation but I’d also consider it a complement to Zusi. Realistically, guys like Evans are going to have a hard time getting a decent loan to go to Europe.

    Also, given Dempsey’s form and nagging injuries, I am not sure how many CL or Europa league teams will be knocking on his door.

    • bryan says:

      well Dempsey is just now playing in MLS. so of course he was never included in the “MLSers who need to go on Euro loans” before. now that he is in MLS, he will be included in that group. it’s funny Omar is never mentioned given what happened last time…

      as for interested teams, Spurs, Everton, and Fulham are all hunting for his signature supposedly.

      • Acebojangles says:

        More than just MLSers, Dempsey is in the group of MLSers who have a good shot at a loan, right?

  4. Landon Klinsman says:

    Loans can be for many different reasons, but for Dempsey a potential loan would not be for a club to scout him as a long term prospect, unless they want to pay Seattle 10 million to steal him right back to Europe. If that is the case, then Dempsey’s move to Seattle never made sense to begin with. So, yeah, I think that this is a warning from JK that if Dempsey doesn’t return to Fulhamesque form by Springtime, he might not see much WCup action.

  5. David M says:

    It also seems that it’s Klinsmann’s job to select 23 best players to represent the US in Brazil. It should really be irrelevant what the player does during his off-season. Obviously, Klinsmann can express his views and preferences; however, ultimately, what a player does during off-season shouldn’t affect his chances of being selected — only the performance on the field. It may well be a good idea for a player not to goof off in the winter. Maybe, maybe not. But it shouldn’t be one of the selection criteria, nor should it be used as a threat.

    • Landon Klinsman says:

      But Klinsi is really smart and I am guessing he wouldn’t say something like that unless he had data showing playes don’t perform well after a long break?

      • David M says:

        What do you mean long break? The MLS season starts in early March (and those in the CONCACAF Champions League will start playing in February). So, prior to the WC camp, those players will have played for some three months and should be in perfect shape. And don’t we hear complaints from European teams before every WC that their players coming into the World Cup too exhausted?

        Besides, you’re missing my point. I personally want to see US players move to Europe during the winter break. However, a player should be able to spend November through April on some beach in the Carribean, and still be eligible for the selection. If sitting on the beach makes him a better player and makes the national team better (however unlikely), it shouldn’t be held against him.

        • Francois says:

          So, let me get this straight. You think a player who has a whopping 6 months out of the year to lie around on a beach should be considered for the world cup? That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve read on this site. If a professional athlete even wants to take 6 months off from his passion, then he’s probably done in the sport. No pro wants to be away from the game for that long.

          • Dinho says:

            I like this post. A lot.

          • CG says:

            You’re missing his point because you’re focusing on the ridiculousness of the scenario. No athlete at that level is going to get selected if they’ve been bumming on the beach for 6 months because they won’t be fit. David knows that. His point was about the criteria for selection. The criteria should be 23 that give us the best chance of successfully competing in Brazil. That’s it. Who cares who they are or how they rose to the top 23. If they give us the best shot, they’re in (even if they’ve been lounging on a beach for 6 months).

            This same discussion took place several months ago when Donovan was coming back but wasn’t being selected because of his sabbatical.

            • Kosh says:

              Yes, but JK has won this thing. He knows what it takes and knows that being at your very best come selection time involves the little things that are done waaaaaaay before selections are made.

              I’m with JK on this one – regardless how much twisted logic one can come up with to add some strange subtext to unlikely and impractical scenarios. You want rest? Fine, but then step out of the way of the guys who are fighting for the spot. It’s called competition.

    • Dinho says:

      I disagree. How do you gauge their performance when they haven’t played in months? I think Klinsmann is dead right on this. Hope the guys are listening.

      • Scweeb says:

        If anyone wants an example of what happens to a world calss player that has to much time off look no futher the BALE! He didn’t have a preason and now hasn’t played in months still trying to get back into form an play at a high calaber team.

  6. Yevgeniy says:

    I so don’t agree with this! I actually think it’s a huge advantage for USMNT to have many MLS-based players who will rest for a couple of months and will be 3 months into their season by June. People who play in EPL and Championship will be absolutely dead by June. If we are talking 5-6 games like Henry and Keane – that’s ok. But I don’t think that it will benefit Donovan or Zusi for that matter in any way.

  7. PD says:

    on a sidenote. the caption of this photo should be:
    “I will now shoot this ball at the goal… with my mind.”

  8. Rory says:

    While England complains that their players are too tired from a 9 month season before the World Cup, Klinsmann bravely complains our guys should be playing a 15 month season.

    Hey Klinsy, your German is showing.

    • Mason says:

      Showing your german is illegal in 49 of 50 states.

    • oldkeeper says:

      England hasn’t won a World Cup or even been very competitive since 1960. There’s a reason Germany is almost always in at least the semi finals. This is exactly what we need.

      • David M says:

        Sorry, but it’s not just the English complaining. I’ve heard those complaints from coaches of every major soccer power.

        • oldkeeper says:

          From club coaches sure. They hate having their players out there exposed to injuries when not playing for them. Risks losing a big investment. But ask the players who have been there for top countries at the World Cup if they think it’s a bad idea. They know it’s what they have to do to be competitive. The US can’t expect to compete at the top level but not put in the same or more work than the countries who they aspire to be as good as. Nothing comes without sacrifice.

      • Vic says:

        German League has a winter break. The English League doesn’t. So the English League is actually longer than the German.

    • Vic says:

      Teams that make the MLS final get about 6 weeks off which is ideal. Teams that don’t make the playoffs get 2 1/2 months off which is a little bit too long. 5-8 weeks max is ideal. Sir Alex Ferguson said that anything less than 4 weeks off and the players suffer burnout.

  9. oldkeeper says:

    It’s about time…JK is requiring any players not on loan in Europe or not still involved in the MLS playoffs who want to be a part of Brazil to participate in a training camp during the off season. It’s a long year for some of these guys but form quickly falls off with just a few weeks off. Look at Dempsey for example. The crazy thing is that there are people all over the web posting that they think this is an awful idea. Hate to say it but a typical American response that we should get to do it the way we’ve always done. I love the USA, but this is one of the reasons we’ve never been a world power in soccer. JK is a World Cup winner, Bundesliga winner, and one of the better strikers who ever lived. He’s been trying to bring to the US the work ethic and dedication that made him and the teams he played for great, and people still complain. For the guys at the top level, it’s a way of life, a total commitment, and everything else comes second. This is awesome and it’s about damn time. This will show who has the heart and desire to go.

  10. Jason says:

    Cue joke about Wondolowski in 3… 2…. 1

  11. Just Stop says:

    Klinsmann is going to BURN OUT the players. The success of american pro sports has a lot to do with their OFF time. It’s always important to rejuvenate both mentally & physically. Landon Donovan is a good example. His cambodia sabbatical turned out to be very good for him. I completely disagree with Jurgen on this 11 1/2 months a year training.

    • sir coble says:

      I would agree on this (when it isn’t a world cup year). If you are carrying a knock I get it. Talk to a team about a loan that works in you in slowly.

    • Rami says:

      Success of American pro sports compared to what exactly? If you think sports in America are popular because players get a long break then that’s ridiculous.

  12. Brain Guy says:

    Shouldn’t any discussion about the costs and benefits of longer/shorter breaks account for the number of games played, and not just the length of the season. Between European play, cup competitons, and the league, players at top clubs in England play a lot more games than MLS players. Even a player on a top MLS club might play about 40 games, while his counterpart in the EPL might play 50-60.

  13. hudson says:

    I think Donovan already indicated when he signed his new Galaxy contract that he had no interest in going out on loan. And if he’s carry an ankle injury of some kind, he may be even less inclined to go abroad in the offseason. Dempsey may also want more time to recover from his injuries.

    • AlexH says:

      Every player is different. Donovan, Dempsey and the assorted walking wounded and old farts should probably rest and recuperate. Younger players should probably go out on loan.

  14. John says:

    I think having everyone is camp is a great idea even more so then going out on loan. Then you can really have a core of guys with chemistry on the field next summer. Love the idea of going and playing in Brazil as well.

  15. David M says:

    A few relevant quotes, not from club coaches:

    “There are billions of people watching the World Cup and they are watching tired stars,” said Beckenbauer, who captained his country to victory in 1974 and coached them to the title 16 years later. “This cannot be the future.”

    “Fabio Capello has warned England will never win the World Cup – because the players are always “running on empty” after a long season with no winter break.”

    “Danny Jordaan, head of the World Cup 2010 organizing committee, believes there’s more to the big name underperformers at World Cup 2010 then just the Nike commercial curse. Jordaan’s blaming player burnout instead. Jordaan’s basically worried about players playing too many matches and then having nothing left for the World Cup:
    “Player freshness is always an issue at the World Cup,” said Jordaan. “How many matches can the body of a player take? It seems at the end of a season the body cannot take the pressure and extra energy required for the World Cup.”

    “Jirí Dvorák, the World Cup’s chief medical officer, says the sight of players on their last legs at the World Cup had concerned him and that a scientific investigation might be launched at the end of the event.”

  16. Falsify says:

    I can see Zusi on loan. Not sure about Brad Evans.

  17. AlexH says:

    Why is Jurgen even talking about this to the press? It’s not like there are hundreds of MLS players in his player pool. Couldn’t he have just told them individually what he expects out of them or, if he is feeling particularly lazy, just sent a memo?

    • MiamiAl says:

      Maybe he could be sending a promo message to the various clubs around the world, that he gives his stamp of approval that these three or four guys are ready to step into a Euro team right now and contribute. So if you are looking for a player to help get you over the hump, we got em!!! Come and get em! Only one stipulation: the said players must be getting regular playing time! Klinsmann is playing it right. He is helping promote our guys.

      IMHO, Sunderland should go after Zusi. He already knows how to serve balls up to Jozy. Sunderland needs points now. Zusi definitely would be able to help jump start Jozy’s goalscoring at the club.Its a win/ win for USA and for Sunderland.

    • oldkeeper says:

      This message is for every US kid aspiring to be a world class player, guys who haven’t made to the USMNT pool yet, and the MLS’ers. JK, by saying he wants to stay on past Brazil, and by making everyone stay active during the long break, is trying to implement the European soccer culture and system in the US that has been lacking. He’s trying to lead us into the top level and is doing so by making an attempt to overhaul the whole system. Dude is way more far sighted than just looking at the national team. They guy has lived it all his life and was one of the top players of all time. Maybe we should listen to a guy who’s been there?

  18. Christopher Robin says:

    Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey on loan to Everton or Sunderland!! helps keep them in shape and builds chemistry!!

  19. El Paso tx says:

    How about MLS stops poking their bud and expand into Orlando,Miami,Atlanta and Sacramento, in order to go for the FIFA calendar by 2018 and help the national team. No matter what, MLS n garber want the international calendar and teams in the cold, have to adjust and modify their stadium and training grounds. Another thing, Jurgen should stay after World Cup 2014 and go for Russia because by then, MLS will be different and his ideas and strategies will be taken fruition.

  20. Shimano says:

    “burnout” is the same excuse people use since their kids start playing. That’s why American players are so far behind.

  21. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    like this sense of urgency instilled by JK

  22. Brain Guy says:

    “Must . . . keep . . . ball . . . elevated . . . with . . . mind . . .”

  23. Beto says:

    Id like to see Omar, Zusi, EJ and Besler give it an another shot. These guys are solid against concacaf but need to push themselves out of the comfort zone. Just be careful and dont get your knee broken by timmy chandler…

  24. Beto says:

    Also a big fan of the dec camp in LA and then checking out Brazil in January

  25. Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

    New Atlanta stadium rendering shows lower bowl configuration & includes MLS logo on sideboards.

    link to wsbtv.com

  26. ThatKidNandez says:

    I’m hoping joe corona makes a move to europe and gets out of mexico. The dutch, danish and french leagues would suit him well. I wanna see LD at everton again. Dempsey has to get a loan! THAT ONE NEEDS TO HAPPEN. Gonzo should go to germany hopefully timmy chandler doesn’t injure him again. Yedlin should go on loan such a big prospect.

    • Dirk McQuigley says:

      I wouldn’t rule out a spell w/ Man. U and playing for Moyes again. The problem is that he wouldn’t see much time w/ the Reds because of Valencia and Nani and Kagawa. Sunderland could use him badly, but I doubt LD would play there.

  27. Steven's-Johnson says:

    Anyone who complains about burnout or says that players are going to be burned out needs to man up. The rest of the USA works 50 hrs a week for 52 weeks a year. If you want to be great at something it takes a backbone and a little bit of effort to be successful. Time to take the panties off quit settling for mediocrity.

    • oldkeeper says:

      Right on.

    • away goals says:

      Yes, these guys who are in the top 1% of their trade are lazy and lack backbones.

      Remind me, how exactly did they get to this level in the first place? Were names drawn from a hat or?

      • oldkeeper says:

        Hate to say it bro, but if they’re lifetime MLS’ers with no interest or calls from the top European leagues, they’re not 1% in the world. BIG difference between top 1% in the US and top 1% in the world.

        • away goals says:

          Consider the vast number of people in the entire world who are trying to make it as soccer players.

          I’m confident the 10-20 from MLS who are competing for a spot on the usmnt are top 1%.

  28. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Dempsey’s current form worries me. Dempsey, lately seem lazy and un-focus and lost the chemistry with USNT. Maybe he gets loaned and regain his form.

    We don’t need Eddie Johnson.

    • Justin says:

      We don’t need a player that just scores goals? Johnson may not be the complete package that theoretical-full-strength-Jozy is, but that hardly makes him replaceable. I don’t think Bacon is at a point where you can fully trust him to be the go-to striker after Jozy, while Johnson has demonstrated that he can bring real punch either as a starter or off the bench.

      Hard to argue with you about Dempsey, though “lazy” seems awfully harsh.

  29. Scott e Dio93 says:

    I like see Baba Ogunbiyi get a call.

  30. biff says:

    an argument could be made the Clint would be in better form next summer if he takes a couple of months off this winter for fishing or traveling and contemplation. I mean seriously. Clint has worked hard for several years in a row almost non-stop and carried a heavy burden last year for the USMNT and no one can deny that the time off helped Landy-Cakes.

    • oldkeeper says:

      What everyone is missing about the “break” that Landy-Cakes took was that he was soul searching trying to decide if he wanted to play anymore AT ALL. It wasn’t a vacation. Remember he had just gone through the divorce with super hot chick as well. His mind was all messed up and he needed to get some alone time to figure out where he was going in life. What he said was that while relaxing on the beach he watched kids playing all day long and realized that soccer was his life’s passion and right there decided he wasn’t ready to retire. Since then, he’s worked his balls off to get back in form, re-upped his contract, and has totally dedicated himself to the game. Sure, everyone needed a break here and there to recoup, but a 3 month off season will kill anyone’s form, fitness, etc. JK is saying “fellas, if you want to be world class, you have to dedicate yourself to training like the world class guys do.”

      • Justin says:

        Agreed. I don’t think he should make the “sabbatical” a routine thing for our “overworked” stars. If Dempsey needs time off physically due to exhaustion, that’s one thing, but we shouldn’t be blocking off time for top players simply because they have played often.