Klinsmann calls Bradley and Dempsey’s return to MLS “huge” for American soccer

JurgenKlinsmannUSMNT3-HondurasSaltLakeCity (AP)

By DAN KARELL

Since taking over the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2011, Jurgen Klinsmann has been very outspoken encouraging his players to challenge themselves in the strongest leagues in Europe.

So when both Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley completed blockbuster moves in the last five months to leave the English Premier League and Serie A, respectively, many thought that Klinsmann wouldn’t be too happy with their decisions. Instead, he seems quite pleased.

Speaking to the Associated Press from the USMNT’s January training camp in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Klinsmann defended his star player’s moves back home, saying that MLS is sending a “serious signal” that they want to continue building to become one of the strongest league’s in the world.

“We are not there yet, and we know that,” Klinsmann told the AP. “But it’s exciting. The players who are in Europe, many of them some big players, are now back in MLS. “MLS is getting better every year. We are working at full pace, hopefully we can prove a lot of good work already this summer.

“People jump in (MLS) financially, want the best American players in America,” Klinsmann added. “Suddenly they bring back a Clint Dempsey from Tottenham, they bring back a Michael Bradley from AS Roma, and they are working on other players as well. This is huge for football in the United States.”

Klinsmann’s charges will spend another ten days down in Brazil going through a “dry-run” of the USMNT’s World Cup preparations. Despite being drawn in Group G with games in the Northeast of Brazil, Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer elected to keep their base in the Southeastern city of Sao Paulo, where they’ll train at the Sao Paulo FC facilities.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us,” Klinsmann said after the team’s first practice in Sao Paulo. “It gives us the opportunity to be already at the facility we are going to stay in the World Cup, to get to know the hotel we are going to stay at and to get a feeling for the country.”

According to the report, Klinsmann has even asked his staff to learn some Portuguese in order to be able to communicate with local Brazilians.

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What do you think of these developments? Do you believe Klinsmann’s comments? Do you think he’s accepted that a large chunk of his squad this summer will be based in MLS?

Share your thoughts below.

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76 Responses to Klinsmann calls Bradley and Dempsey’s return to MLS “huge” for American soccer

  1. Roman Lewandowski says:

    “Working on some other players” — Jermaine Jones?

    Great idea to ask the staff to learn some Portuguese. I like it.

    • Lost in Space says:

      “Working on other players” = Jones, Edu, Gooch, Howard, Beasley, Gomez over the next year or 2 you’ll see all 6 playing in MLS.
      Then there are a handful of younger players who may come to MLS if they don’t break into the 1st team or jump into a better leagues in the next year or 2: Gyau, Wood, Wooten, Diskerud, Gatt, Boyd, Shea, etc….
      We’ve already seen some retuning young guys from some of the lower EU leagues…so won’t be shocked to see the trend continue.

      • Paul says:

        Pretty sure Howard said that he didn’t envision himself playing for another team besides Everton. What I suppose is developing MLS into a real option for certain players. By certain players, I mean those who cannot start regularly at a Top 5 league. There is still the issue of compensation. Unless you are one of the superstars (Dempsey, Donovan, Bradley), there is still more money (and prestige) abroad.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I could see Gyau coming back because he’s native born and the whole Renken/Gyau Hoffenheim gambit has not worked out. He didn’t do incredible for even the second team and his career has stalled.

        I could also see Gatt coming back because he was born here and has had his career derailed by injuries. Klinsi was clearly interested in him and his speed would make him useful. But he has to get on a team and stay healthy and it might be worth coming back.

        Wood is getting some B.2 PT on the 1860 1st team. I see him staying. Wooten was born in Germany and played some there, I expect him to stay. Boyd was born in Germany and has been fairly productive in Austria. I expect him to stay.

        Diskerud is Norwegian and has played in Euro leagues (which would generally not favor moving) but the Portland courtship suggests he might be open to the right move. Similarly, the Jones rumors suggest he might be willing to play here even when history might suggest otherwise.

        Shea, depends how Barnsley goes. Both he and Agudelo acted like they were passing time in MLS before heading to Europe, so I don’t expect a rapid U-turn.

        • Tk says:

          That’s because Shea was clueless. Even JK told him not to go to Europe and he did. This is when JK was pushing players to go before what’s been happening. Shea will be back after Stoke is forced to pay his contract. He really is a limited, limited player.

      • Drew says:

        Not to mention the amount of quality that would be pumped into this league alone with US players…

  2. Gary Page says:

    When you look at this analytically, Klinsmann is blowing only a little smoke. Dempsey is playing with Fulham now, so he will get EPL experience before MLS starts. Bradley just finished playing for Roma. I don’t think that either player’s skills will degrade much in just 6 months until the WC. Dempsey probably wouldn’t be much of a factor for 2018 anyway because of age, so the only real deleterious affect for the national team will be Bradley’s spot in 2018. Edu wasn’t getting any playing time in England, so his move to Philly won’t hurt. However, since Edu is 27, he could help in 2018 and he would be better off in Europe. I still think he could have gotten a place in a second tier league like Holland or Turkey and maybe worked his way back to a top league.

    • arnold devries says:

      Unless you are with the top three in Holland or Turkey the level between MLS and those is pretty similar really.

    • David says:

      Skills, no. I’m not worried about either losing their physical skills (or anyone coming to the MLS). More of a concern is the potential for their mental acumen to decrease. One of the main lines we constantly hear when a player jumps to the higher leagues is that the speed of the game is so much faster and, as a result, your decisions have to be so much quicker. The MLS cannot compete with the pace of the top leagues as far as this is concerned (as of right now). When we go play Ghana/Portugal/Germany, those teams are filled with players who are used to making very quick decisions and my only real concern is that our players will lose that in the time leading up to the World Cup.

      Then again, Landon hasn’t seemed to lose much over the years and Michael Bradley seems nothing short of the spokesperson for mental toughness, so hopefully my worries are of no concern. Either way, I am happy to have the chance to watch these guys play in person now.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Still surprised to see people arguing that playing for Toronto will make Michael Bradley worse at soccer between now and June.

        • Anthony says:

          Do you even read what he wrote or what he replied to? He spoke of 2018. Neither person thinks there are going to get worse in 3-6months, but 2018…yeah their mental agility might suffer if they are not used to spend of the elite leagues.

          • slowleftarm says:

            My mental agility suffers everytime I read comments on MB.

          • Kosh says:

            You and everyone who thinks like this believe, whole-heatedly, that MLS only gets worse every year when it is clearly evident that it actually improves year after year. Who are you to say that staying in MLS for the next cycle will retard the growth of seasoned vets who have European experience?

            MLS won’t be the Prem anytime soon but playing in it regularly certainly is starting to seem much better than “did not dress” in any league.

            Training and coaching will improve tremendously – case in point you take a young guy like Kies who was already a top MLS coach and you add the year’s experience he’s going to get from Citeh and only good things can come from that. Then you take a JK who knows what it takes and how it’s done in the top leagues and he will also positively impact the growth of MLS. I am not saying I can measure the progress (certainly not as well as you can measure and predict doom) but for anyone who follows the league you can see the growth and gains being made.

            • Anthony says:

              Kosh, if that is directed at me, then I think you made an illogical jump. I only said that the MLS games are slower than games in an elite leagues which we can all agree it is. If you see my other posts on this article, I have said, repeated, that MLS has improved and continues to improve. I NEVER implied what you stated. I also stated that their abilities will not fall off int 3-6months. However, how finely tuned they are could lessen to a certain degree in 4 years if play in a slower league.

              That being said, I have said that “I still think the next evolution in MLS is the Eredivisie – a great, global and technical 2nd tier league to develop players and keep non-elite but very good players while sending the truly elite to elite clubs in the word (top 25 teams). That way, you raise the standard and focus on bringing players through the pipeline. With the US market structure, the model can actually produce a lot of revenue (more so that Eredivisie).” That way if you are not good enough to find a starting position in a TOP 25 team or are not even making the bench in a Top 5 league, come and play here.

              I have been a fan of MLS since ’96 and will continue to be so.

      • A.S. says:

        Right. I would characterize it as mental “sharpness”.

      • skyman says:

        Your comment makes total sense. One player who really needed to have some regular experience with the faster pace and higher skill of Europe was Edu. He’s an incredible athlete, however, it’s been clear to me that he lacks quick decision making, and possibly even some skill. I don’t see him contributing to the USMNT in any more than a defensive role, and to move forward and be competitive with the rest of the world we need players who can assert themselves offensively. Edu has been 90% unable to do that (other than getting on the end of a set piece).

        • bryan says:

          to be fair to Edu, he was fantastic in the SPL.

          • skyman says:

            Yes, he was, however the SPL is slower. He has the ability to learn to play better, which is why I’m a little disappointed that he couldn’t land a job in the EPL

            • bryan says:

              i understand that. but you said Europe, broadly, is faster and more skilled. so i was just pointing out he was fine in the SPL. probably would be ok in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria, etc.

              basically, i’m just pointing out that not all of Europe is higher paced and more skilled.

              • Anthony says:

                while I agree with you to a certain extent, Edu is good enough to start (or play regularly) on some teams in France or Germany or Turkey. If he has to go to Denmakr, Austria, Sweden, then he should come home unless he wants to live in Europe.

              • bryan says:

                i never said anything to disagree with. i completely agree with your comment.

                the point i was making is that the following statement is not accurate because not ALL of Europe fits the statement, including the SPL which Edu already had excelled in and is a league within Europe:

                “One player who really needed to have some regular experience with the faster pace and higher skill of Europe was Edu.”

                just a comment to nitpick that not all European leagues fall into the “faster pace and higher skill” and therefore a move to MLS makes total sense for him if he couldn’t get a move to a league such as France, Turkey, Germany, Holland, France, Portugal, etc.

      • Vic says:

        True the speed of play is faster. If you look at a player like Graham Zusi, in addition to MLS games, he gets 10-15 USMNT games per year, some against very good opponents. So its not as though Zusi isn’t exposed to that speed, just not on a constant basis. The intensity and competition can improve a player, example Dempsey or can hurt a players confidence if he doesn’t succeed or get much playing time.

    • Edmondo says:

      Yeah…I see it being diplomatic more than anything. He let be known that he was not happy with Dempsey’s move, and from the SBI podcast yesterday, lukewarm on Bradley’s move (or maybe I am just inferring on that one). I still think that until the level significantly (by more than 2/3 players per team), the elite players should be playing at elite leagues abroad (Top 5). However, the mid-tier should come back if the can be paid enough (e.g. why play in Norway, Austria, Scotland, when you could play here) if the level continues to rise.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. With several players here already, two more signed, and apparently more on the way, there is no point in fighting it. He has to work within reality or he risks getting crossways with the team in a tournament year.

      Individual players, he might mouth off. But this is an avalanche. I doubt his overall views have changed much but the critical mass is such he has to support it.

      Since Dempsey was loaned right back to Fulham, the notion that these moves lock players into MLS or determine their 2018 fortunes is over-stated. There will be more loans and sales and if some people want back in Europe they can probably go back for the right price.

    • Shaggie96 says:

      I don’t know that he’s blowing smoke at all. JK is wearing two hats. Yes he’s the head coach of the USMNT, but he’s also in charge of player development now. He knows that MLS improving as a league is far more beneficial to the development of soccer in the US in the long term than having a few top players play in Europe. Sure, it might be a bit disappointing for JK, the coach, but for JK the development guy, it is a huge deal.

  3. ATX_Colin says:

    I dont think JK is as happy about Clint and MB$ moves as he is letting on. I recall a few years back when Dempsey was still at Fullham and banging in goals in the EPL JK basiclly said you havent accomplished jack and need to shoot for Champions League etc…..He cant be happy about a downgrade any competition for these two.

    Is it good for American Soccer, maybe or maybe not, both have valid arguments but it cant be good for the current USMNT set up.

    • Raymon says:

      The comments to Dempsey at Fulham were an example of “man management” as opposed to saying that all players havent done jack until they have won a CL trophy. He was, I believe, making the point that Dempsey shouldnt feel like he “arrived” and can coast now that he played for a (then) top 10 EPL team and was a top scorer in EPL. That does not mean he thinks Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, etc were unaccomplished soccer players because they havent played UCL. He was trying to motivate Dempsey to get to the next level.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        If you look at the big picture, the comments were counterproductive. A couple years ago Dempsey was the BMOC at Fulham, with a list of important goals in team history and one of the most popular players. He was also the top USNT finisher. Having been egged onwards by Klinsi and Co., he went adrift at Spurs and decided to come back home for a reboot, then went on loan back to Fulham. Effectively full circle in 2 years thanks to the Got to Play For a Big Club cult. How has that made him better in and of himself or more productive for USA? The only reason his fade is not discussed is he had a couple key goals in the Hex while Jozy and AJ carried more load. Dempsey used to be automatic. We need that back, and as Jozy showed, sometimes it’s not the Big Move that gets you there.

        • the original jb says:

          It’s debatable what effect Dempsey’s move to Spurs had on his playing, but I don’t believe for a second that he pushed for that move to please Klinsmann or anyone else. Clint wanted CL for himself, and would have made that move regardless. And btw that self-confidence is the very thing that made JK name him captain.

        • Leo says:

          I think you’re mis-remembering the end of Deuce’s time at Fulham, if only slightly. He wasn’t the only player that had become uncomfortable at the club, and many had already moved or were seeking a way out. Fulham was – and still is – a ship taking on water. I don’t think you need to look any further than a 4-1 shellacking courtesy of Sunderland to confirm that.

        • GW says:

          “Effectively full circle in 2 years thanks to the Got to Play For a Big Club cult. How has that made him better in and of himself or more productive for USA?”

          Your reasoning on this is sketchy. What evidence do you have that Dempsey’s success would have continued at Fulham?

          Unless you are Ronaldo or Messi , and Dempsey is a long way from their class, that big year he had was phenomenal and would have been difficult for any player to replicate.
          A big part of the success of Ronaldo and Messi is that their clubs generally build their attacks around them, which is what Fulham did with Clint

          And that was falling apart at Fulham a club of modest means.

          The same time he left Fulham, Dembele and Murphy, two of his best enablers in crime, left. And at 29 he was at an age where skills start to deteriorate regardless of what you do.
          Had he stayed he wasn’t going to be getting he help he had when he was flourishing.

          When he went to Spurs he returned to his Fulham average i.e., 40 + appearances and 12 goals across all competitions which is about what he averaged if you throw out his first year, at Fulham. On the one hand he was not the main offensive focus at Spurs like he was at Fulham but on the other hand he was on a much better team. All things considered it was only a disappointing year if you were expecting him to replicate his monster performance at Fulham. That year was an anomaly and Clint would have been a mental defective to not cash in.

          Had they kept Clint, there is reason to suppose he would have done just as good if not better than their current motley crew of strikers. But most players are on a short leash at Spurs.

    • away goals says:

      JK’s dempsey quote might be one of the most misunderstood of all time. He wasn’t singling dempsey out for not accomplishing anything, he was saying everybody, everywhere, should never think that they’ve accomplished everything they can.

      Ribery won a treble last year? That’s not sh-t, win it again. Then win a world cup.

    • beachbum says:

      Thanks for letting us all in on your Jurgen Klinnsman mind reading

    • usaalltheway says:

      Yep, he said just that, and it was at a time when Deuce as pretty much the only guying scoring for the USMNT.

      I am sure this is just PR BS. I mean, what is he going to do? Come out and bad mouth this move by MB90? Unlikely.

  4. HoboMike says:

    Has there been any talk of Klinsmann now bringing Bradley into camp? Seems to be the next logical step.

    • Dinho says:

      This. I’m curious.

    • slowleftarm says:

      I haven’t heard anything. This is Bradley’s only opportunity for a rest until the end of the MLS season so he may want to get a couple of weeks off, which I think is fine.

      • HoboMike says:

        Does he need the rest? He was out for the better part of two months and hasn’t exactly been averaging 90 mins since then. Having him, even if it’s just to travel, would be a good thing for both him and the team. I’d think.

        • slowleftarm says:

          True, he was injured for a bit but then he was back with Roma which means, even if he wasn’t playing, he was still training every day. I could see arguments on either side actually although I haven’t heard anything about him going.

      • Brain Guy says:

        Point taken, but how would that affect the MNT? If he stayed with Roma, wouldn’t he also be playing without a break from August 2013 up to the WC?

    • Vic says:

      Hope not. If he does Bradley will get no time off from August 2013 of last year until December 2014. Rather see him get a few weeks off.

    • bryan says:

      Bradley answered this question on Monday stating him and JK have spoken and that it is a possibility. he still had some loose ends to tie up in Toronto.

    • the original jb says:

      Sounds like the USMNT is already down in Brazil, while MB is trying to move himself to Toronto. Maybe he hooks back up with them for the friendly? But is that really fair to other guys that worked the whole month preparing for that game?

      • whoop-whoop says:

        Fair?… yes it is fair since this is a competition and many of these players are working at just integrating themselves into a team that MB has already proven himself/been working hard at playing on for years. Having your top choice mid get reps/build rapport with other players on the team benefits the WC team the most… which is what this is all about.

    • Mensrea says:

      Bradley said in an interview with Grant Wahl something along the lines of not joining the team in Brazil but maybe for camp, I believe.

    • Umlaut says:

      Wondering that too. Don’t see why not, unless Toronto want him and Defoe in town for any training reasons.

  5. AJA says:

    Saying that their moves are huge for football in the US is different than saying that their moves are huge for US football. MLS is preferable to not getting playing time at Tottenham or AS Roma, but way different than starting at Fulham or Chievo. Klinsman is diplomatic and cannot insult the domestic league, but he cannot be happy with these moves.

    • slowleftarm says:

      So I guess no matter what he says, you know what he’s thinking. And surprise – it’s exactly what you think!

      • Anthony says:

        What? Have you read what Klinsman had said about playing in MLS and Europe before? Unless his opinions have change 180 degrees or he just says whatever people want to hear, he is clearly being diplomatic. He has stated that he wants players pushing themselves and playing for the best teams in the best leagues. He has specifically stated before that the level MLS has improved, but it is still not the highest. These things that he has actually said.

        What he is saying now is clearly contradictory. As such, he either had a complete change of mind, being very careful about his words (US soccer vs USMNT soccer) or he is being diplomatic. I tend to believe the latter 2.

        I still think the next evolution in MLS is the Eredivisie – a great 2nd tier league to develop players and keep non-elite but very good players while sending the truly elite to elite clubs in the word (top 25 teams). That way, you raise the standard and focus on bringing players through the pipeline. With the US market structure, the model can actually produce a lot of revenue (more so that Eredivisie).

        • Shaggie96 says:

          Remember that in the last month, his job description has changed. Improvement of the domestic league should be a high priority for a director of player development as JK has now become. He now has to have a much longer-term perspective than he did as the coach of the USMNT.

    • Todd Marsch says:

      That’s what I think too. Klinsmann, like lots of us fans, want our best current players pushing themselves and trying to play at the highest level possible, but also recognizes that long-term, for the US to get to that next level, MLS has to get to that next level. Moves like those of Dempsey and Bradley clearly help with the latter, but not the former.

      In other words, Klinsmann the USMNT coach probably isn’t happy, but Klinsmann the US Technical Director (or whatever his new position is) is happy.

  6. A.S. says:

    Klinsi doing his best Emily Litella impersonation (need to be old like me to get this reference).

    NEVER MIND!!!!!!!

    • Brain Guy says:

      I’m there, A.S. “What’s all this I hear about Michael Bradley playing in a malaise? He has looked just fine every time I saw him play. This stuff about a malaise is just ridiculous. Huh? He’s playing in MLS? Oh — never mind.”

    • Paul says:

      LOL — Gilda Radner! Don’t worry someone threw out a Sanford & So reference that I felt guilty for knowing.

      • Brain Guy says:

        Which reference? Did someone feign shock to the heart and say “I’m comin’, Elizabeth”?

        • Paul says:

          exactly! I forgot which article, but it was over the last 2/3 days…I definitely dating myself and so are you! LOL!

  7. Charles says:

    What else is he supposed to say? The deals and done and the papers are signed.
    Even he understands that MLS is better than not playing at all or going to a team like Sunderland or Stoke.

  8. John says:

    Why in the name of Zeus’s butthole would it be “a wonderful opportunity,” or at all advantageous at all, to get to know the hotel ahead of time?

    • slowleftarm says:

      There’s some comfort in being familiar with your surroundings but you’re right that “wonderful opportunity” might be a bit much.

  9. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    IF JK is saying moving to MLS is a good thing then he must be lying or just making the best of bad situation.

    The whole thing is funny as heck. Giving the whiners something to whine about !

    Keep em coming…….
    We need a report saying turf is easier on the legs and Barca is switching.
    Or maybe the English league putting a salary cap on teams.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      I am still hoping the Sounders paint their field Rave Green, don’t think I gave up on that.

    • Charles says:

      Klinsmann is either making the best out of a bad situation or he’s bipolar considering how he keeps saying American players should keep testing themselves in Europe.
      Bradley and Dempsey coming to MLS goes against everything Klinsmann has been preaching all along and although it’s good for them and good for MLS it’s not “good” for the national team.
      I’m not saying it’s bad, but fighting for and becoming a starter in Europe would’ve been better for the national team.

      • usaalltheway says:

        +1

        Well put sir. I am on the same page as you.

        It’s nothing but PR BS.

      • whoop-whoop says:

        Or perhaps he lives in a world that isn’t black/white, right/wrong… where nuances exist, things change and one size does not fit each and every person, place, time and situation.

  10. Good Jeremy says:

    WHY are we keeping our training grounds in Sao Paolo? We’re talking a four to five hour flight to and from each game. You can’t convince me that we can’t find suitable training grounds in Sao Paolo, Recife, or Joao Pessoa and cut the flight to the Recife/Natal game to an hour. The 1,600 mile space between Recife and Sao Paulo also means we will not be training in nearly the same climate that we will be playing in.

  11. whoop-whoop says:

    Short term vs Long term

    Yes… you play to win. As players, you ought to step on the field expecting/ giving your all to win every game. I get it. In developing a program however, it is also crucial for those at the top to be firmly in touch with reality as to where you are and where and how you need to improve. The US has reached a point where on a given day, at their best in form and effort, w/ the opponent not… key bounces, calls… they can take out top teams. To win a WC, you need to consistently repeat this effort. I’ll say it… barring divine intervention, the US does not realistically have the quality to win this years World Cup. The team that does will be 10 deep at each position in talent of the quality the US has only a few throughout the entire program and have a few players of the quality that the US has never ever produced.

    The road to this kind of quality and depth throughout the program lies in a strong domestic league where large numbers of developing US players have the opportunity to compete at a high level.

    Players/managers need to keep working as hard as they ever have and doing the right thing until the end, but the die has pretty much been cast for this years World Cup. We are who we are. The way I see it…. the negative short term effect of our top players returning home is by far outweighed by the long term benefit to US Soccer on the whole and greatly improves our chances at having a top notch league and contending National team in the future.

  12. usaalltheway says:

    This move is good for the MLS not the USMNT or the players (apart from the money of course).

    Others have pointed out how those who didn’t watch the MLS before but did watch European leagues may be more inclined to see more MLS games now. Perhaps.

    I doubt that Deuce and MB90 will be at their the top of their respective games by June because of these moves. Maybe MB90 takes on the leadership role at TFC with grace and success and that helps in Brazil. Apart from that, I don’t see the up side for the USMNT in these moves.

    The only thing that will help the organization in the eyes of Americans is a great, not “okay”, showing at the World Cup. That is the reality. The team needs to get through the group and either win in the group of 16 or have one hell of a game. Apart from that, the American public will go back to NLF, MLB and NBA. The MLS will continue to be there but it won’t matter much in the bigger American sports picture.

    • Joe says:

      I think it’s a little ridiculous to have a discussion every 4 years about how the World Cup will make or break the MLS. The MLS is it’s own growing entity and how the USA performs at the World Cup will have no huge positive or negative effect on the league. (Unless we WIN the World Cup…that I presume might make some waves for MLS).

  13. Chris says:

    I’m SHOCKED that certain people who claimed JK would be pissed about these moves are now claiming he’s lying with these comments.

    SHOCKED.

    If you can refute everything that is ever said, what’s the point of even having an opinion?

  14. Indigo Montoya says:

    After reading these posts…

    Give me a bottle of anything. And a glazed donut. To go.