Klinsmann wants Euro-based USMNT players to prove their hunger for a World Cup spot

USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann during the press conference

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

For many U.S. Men’s National Team players, next Wednesday’s friendly match represents their final opportunity to make the USA’s World Cup squad.

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann included not only a mixture of youth and experience in his 24-man squad for the match against Ukraine, but also players such as Oguchi Onyweu, Tim Ream, Danny Williams, and Juan Agudelo, who have not been consistent players in the National Team program in the past 12 months.

Agudelo, Williams, and Onyewu have all made moves in the past six months to help their chances of making the World Cup squad. The upcoming training camp and friendly now is they and their fellow European-based teammate’s final opportunity to prove to Klinsmann and his staff that they deserve a spot on the plane to Brazil.

“Having this Ukraine game is a huge opportunity, mainly for our European-based players,” Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer. “You want to give them a chance to show where they are at and what’s going on in their specific situation. It’s a huge opportunity for all those guys to prove to us that they are eager and hungry to jump on the train to the World Cup. We will get a good picture of them over those couple of days, and therefore, we left almost all the MLS players back in the United States.”

With the long traveling distance and this being the last opportunity for Klinsmann to see the European-based players all together, the U.S. coach chose to leave a majority of the North American-based players back home. Klinsmann made an exception though for midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Clint Dempsey.

Nearly 12 months ago, the pair were flourishing with European clubs and helped lead the USMNT to a famous 1-0 victory in Commerce City, Colorado against Costa Rica and then four days later, to a more impressive scoreless draw at Mexico in Estadio Azteca.

The two have been teammates with the USMNT since 2006 (though Bradley wasn’t on that World Cup squad) and have formed what Klinsmann believes is the core of the National Team, a justification for their call-ups.

“You want to have a very strong team against Ukraine, and as I often mention our team is defined in its spine,” Klinsmann explained. “The core group of the team is Tim Howard and then Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones in midfield, Clint Dempsey in front of them and then Jozy Altidore up front. These five players build our spine.

“Having Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in for Ukraine is very important to us. Clint has played these two months at Fulham and Michael is coming off preseason camp with Toronto, so for us it’s very important to see both back in the team and putting their stamp on the game.”

While Bradley, Dempsey, and Tim Howard highlight the roster, maybe the most significant name on the sheet is 18-year-old attacking midfielder Julian Green.

The Bayern Munich project recently agreed to join the squad for their two-day training camp in Frankfurt before returning to Munich, and even though he won’t play, his including in the squad is seen as a win for Klinsmann.

Green made his professional debut in the final minutes of Bayern’s UEFA Champions League match at CSKA Moscow, and he’s been on fire for Bayern Munich II this season. He’s even been finding the back of the net for the Bayern first team in friendly matches last summer and during the winter break.

Though Green has yet to break into the Bayern first team or make a decision on his international future (he would have to file a one-time switch with FIFA if he wanted to play for the USMNT), Klinsmann believes that Green has the talent to become one of the world’s best players.

“We are thrilled Julian accepted our invitation and comes into these two days in Frankfurt,” Klinsmann said. “We want to show him how things work with the United States team and with our environment. We want him to meet the players, to meet the staff, obviously to meet us coaches, and we want him to feel comfortable in our environment. With a lot of players who come through the ranks with dual citizenship, it’s going to be very difficult for those kids to choose which country they want to play for if they have this enormous talent to play at the highest level possible.

“Julian has this talent. Julian is an exceptional talent not only because he’s playing for Bayern Munich, but he’s shown that already over the past two years in the senior team environment there against the “older guys.” We are happy to welcome him for those two days. It’s a big step for him as we try to emotionally connect him to our program, because it’s not only a World Cup coming up this summer.

“Next year there’s a Gold Cup, then you have an Olympics, then you have Confederations Cup hopefully and soon comes the next World Cup around the corner in Russia. At the same time we have our eyes on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, we also have our eyes on developing the next generation of players, and Julian is a very important part of that.”

Even if this is the last chance for Klinsmann to evaluate certain players in person, Klinsmann’s message to them will be simple. He’s always watching.

The U.S. head coach wants to see players work harder, putting in even more hours to make sure that they are fully prepared for the challenges they’ll face in the World Cup. And with the depth of the USMNT player pool improving every year, a more talented player could lose their roster spot to a player that’s playing each and every week, which is how Klinsmann wants to motivate his team.

“We want to see them preform on the field, but also over four days, we have time to sit down with them for a cup of coffee and discuss their individual situations,” Klinsmann said. “We just want the players to understand that every week really counts, every week matters. We want them to pick it up with their club teams. Some players like John Brooks – he sits on the bench right now. Because of injuries he lost his starting spot, and has to fight his way back into the team.

“So, the message to all the players is get a starting spot with your club team, to play week-in, week-out. Add to your schedule, on top of your club’s training, maybe one or two sessions a week on your own in order to get yourself a jump start when we go into World Cup preparation camp because it’s going to be very demanding. The message also is that we are on top of them in terms of scouting them, watching them, knowing exactly what’s going on. We talk to their club coaches. It’s a lot of monitoring work that goes on now over the next two-and-a-half months until we start preparation camp for the World Cup.”

——–

What do you think of these comments? Do you think that Agudelo, Onyewu, Williams, or even Tim Ream could break into the World Cup squad? What are John Brooks’ chances of making the squad? Do you expect to see Bradley and Dempsey start together against Ukraine?

Share your thoughts below.

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114 Responses to Klinsmann wants Euro-based USMNT players to prove their hunger for a World Cup spot

  1. Gerard D. says:

    Swagudelo.

    • kevin says:

      Grocery…

      • Rory Miller says:

        Personally I’m more interested in seeing if Jozy can score for the USMNT. It would go a long way towards reassuring me that it’s okay that he doesn’t score for Sunderland.

        • Ali Dia says:

          No doubt. For the most part he has found ways to be productive and valuable to the team as Sunderland has worked its way out of its debacle but at some point he needs to hunt down some red meat to go with those vegetables.

          Still, nothing has really been lost yet from that point of view… If he were to bag 3 goals in 4 games to conclude the season, I’d feel just as fine or better than if he had 15 for the campaign but none in the final month.

  2. Soccer Blood says:

    Time for Klinsman to cvonsolidate a team by now? Every time he calls in another bunch who basically won’t be on that plane? How about starting to get the final tam. together whatever that may be to start playing AS A TEAM? When was the last time LD Clint Bradley Jozey all on the field together? Same with our Ds What we will have when we get to Brazil looks like 23 indiv players not used to playing together? Huh..? Trust me it will show badly when they are all finally on same field.

    Enough with the outer babks.. Klins Time to close the gaps..

    • Kosh says:

      What in the Lord’s green Earth are you going on about? From what I gather you think JK should go ahead and pick his team now, am I right? (not really sure what you were getting at there). My question is why should he do that right now in this particular game? He knows his core team, I bet he knows whose where on the depth chart. Why MUST he pick his team right now?

      He’ll pick his team and there will be camps, practices, send-off games and maybe a closed door scrimmage or two in Brazil. We’ll be OK.

      • Birgit Calhoun says:

        He is very uncertain about who is going to play until he sees his spine either perform or not. The one sentence says it all: “And with the depth of the USMNT player pool improving every year, a more talented player could lose their roster spot to a player that’s playing each and every week, which is how Klinsmann wants to motivate his team.” So he is not certain. But I agree Klinsmann should make up his mind and put a roster together. It’s important that the players know how they play together as a team. My guess is he is really wondering about the cohesiveness of the team.

        • Rory Miller says:

          I would only agree with the sentiment by the original post in that I’d like to see our two starting Centerbacks start working together every opportunity they get.

      • The Garrincha says:

        Much agreed Kosh, people only need to read the article regarding the Spain/Italy friendly to know it’s ALL GOOD, that lineups are not written in stone yet. But don’t you worry, the final thirty is on the radar, – give it a month or two…

    • euroman says:

      100% correct. If JK still doesn’t know the best 23 we will be blown away in Brazil. He knows and this is a throw away game as is clear by the roster. Time to build a team now and on 5-15-14 will name the final 23.

      • Dennis says:

        I would argue we all could name the starting 11 and probably be right with 8 or 9 out of the 11 names. JK could do that as well, but he wants to be sure he has the right 2 or 3 guys who are not pretty obvious and he needs to be sure he has players he can substitute in without changing the dynamics of the team should someone get injured or suspended. No one knows if any of the squad will tear an ACL or suffer some other major injury before June so the search for players must continue.

    • beto says:

      Disagree, the first 3 games this year are sub groups to give last chances to fridge players. This summer we will 3 more games before we go to brazil where you will see the final team

      Why block out fridge/new players, allow other teams more scouting time and play with difficult logistics/risk of injuries? I like this plan better

    • Eurosnob says:

      Do you realize that this is how the rest of the world is doing the prep for the world cup? Spain, for example, dropped from their latest camp/friendly such players as Torres, Mata, Villa, Puyol and brought in some new players such as Costa.

      • Ali Dia says:

        True. Most teams regard this final int’l date as the last chance to bring in new or rarely used faces and assess the possibility of them integrating and contributing come June. However, I can also understand the perspective that at certain places (CB pairing most immediately), we have no tandem that is rock solid and established, and a limited window to give them reps together. Klinsmann has identified a “spine” which is a good thing, but in the context of a first choice XI it is more typical that this refers to some combination of the keeper, back four,and holding players. Right now all of the important questions lie in the space between Howard and Jones, which makes me a little nervous– I don’t think it’s a disaster to have one last look at the inventory, but by the end of the day I would like to know that we have established a depth chart and a preferred tandem.

  3. kev says:

    For Glory, For The Red, White and Blue

  4. kev says:

    we need Klinsmann to be technical director of the USSF. needs to reevaluate everything. help improve the education from those age 10-18. That’s the key demographic. These boys need to see that playing SOCCER is the future and they can make $$$ and help them to determine the best style of play for Americans. we can try emulating England or Barcelona, but overall we have to develop our own.

    • slowleftarm says:

      True but I think the lack of opportunities for 18-21 year old players going from youth team to professional is the biggest problem for us at the moment.

      • Jack says:

        Thats because they should be going to college first during those years. If they try to go straight to the pro’s, they have NO fallback options.

        School first and if you’re talented enough… turn pro.

        • milkshake of despair says:

          Yeah right. And then you’re 4 years behind the rest of the world. Four years you can never get back. Let me guess, are you a parent? Want your kid to go to college above all else? Soccer is a fall back if your kid happens to have what it takes? Guess what, while your kid is sitting in class AND has their soccer training time limited by archaic NCAA rules because education is priority, the rest of the world’s players are spending many more hours on the pitch training.

        • Todd T says:

          That is exactly the opposite of what we should do. College should be the fall back for not making it as a pro. The US has learned from the rest of the world. The academy system is the only way to go. Get them at 10, 11, 12….send to an academy to get technical skills necessary to go to the next level. The collegiate system doesn’t work for the modern player. We need better coaching at every level. Until then, we have to send them over seas until we finally get that break through player

          • landy cakes says:

            That’s never going to fly in the US. The reason the academy system works in other countries is because soccer is a working class sport played by many people who woud never go to university in their country anyway or even get a proper education in a lot of places. Those players lose nothing in an academy system. In the US soccer is a middle class or upper middle class sport where playing at the club level is actually sort of expensive. The same parents willing to dedicate themselves to paying club dues want their children to go to college. There is no reason to create another system like basketball or football where we produce thousands of kids who never learned anything except how to play a sport only to discover they don’t have what it takes to be a pro. Obviously turning pro should always be an option for the very best players, but to institute that as the standard for America is the wrong thing to do given the opportunities available in the states.

            • away goals says:

              Or, OR, we could render the “college or pro” debate moot by ending the ridiculous amateur restrictions imposed by the ncaa.

              Let kids try their hand professionally without sacrificing their chance at a scholarship if they dont quite cut it.

              • Landy Cakes says:

                That’s not the issue I’m referring to. I don’t think you should have kids basically forgoing school and concentrating on soccer at such an early age. I have no problem with college athlete being paid, but that doesn’t solve the problem half the football and basketball players in college aren’t actually going to class or learning anything, which is a problem and I don’t think we should be designing another system to mimic that.

            • Ali Dia says:

              From a practical standpoint, I’m not sure what the debate is here. The USA will never have an academy system the way Europe does — I’m fine with this from a personal perspective as we are already whoring enough kids out to the idea that they can make a living from professional athletics.

              For soccer players with the requisite potential and willingness to forego the typical university track life-plan, they will lose nothing and perhaps even find themselves better-off than having to make a risky, life changing, family-uprooting commitment at the age of 12. Much as foreign investors are realizing that MLS is now a mature and highly legitimate investment opportunity, recruitment to top European academies will soon cease to be an anomoly reserved for the occasional Ben Lederman. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they actually took advantage of the wealth and infrastructure here to build out U.S. based feeder organizations for” talent from the Americas” to a much more meaningful and comprehensive extent than the nominal programs that exist. If proprerly implemented, such programs would have the potential to both develop and triage talent well beyond the limited capacity of our existing DIY system.

      • divers suck says:

        Well, Mix and DeAndre (who came out of nowhere really) are still not old enough to legally drink. Does that count?

    • Stew says:

      He gets paid 2.5 million per year…he needs to do more than just coach the Senior Men’s National Team.
      When he was hired he was supposed to be in charge of a system of development from Zone 1 (the youngest ages) all the way up to u18
      What did he do? Hired CR who brought in an insulting developmental plan and then split.

      For $5,500 day I want a full developmental plan or a semi final berth in Brazil.

  5. adu2altidore says:

    It’s disappointing that Freddy didn’t get invited. This team really needs his skills

  6. Del Griffin says:

    Unbelievable that he considers JJ part of the spine of the team, and mentions him with Howard and Bradley. its just unexplainable. JJ sucks and now his supporters no longer have the bundesliga to fall back on. I really hope Klinsi wakes up prior to Brazil.

    • arsenal says:

      I know, how could a guy like Klinsmann, who has excelled in Europe and won a World Cup, not know JJ sucks. I mean, Klinsmann is only in every camp watching who preforms and who doesnt. On a serious note, JJ is better than any other option than Bradley. I know this is unpopular, but the evidence is there to back it up. Also, the guy rarely gets a red card and actually hasn’t gotten as many yellows as you may think. Yes, he has made mistakes and has a few bad games, but so does every player. It doesn’t take away how talented they are l.

      • Del Griffin says:

        lol. Has to be Klinsi or Jones trolling.

      • timothy says:

        everyone is entitled to their own opinions and in my opinion, mix has looked better than Jones for the usmnt. And Holden is an underdog for the midfield at the world cup

        • Hogatroge says:

          Mix is nowhere near as tough as Jones. He can’t be relied on at present to play a DM role against top competition.

          Holden is injured. He will NOT be ready for the WC.

            • Rory Miller says:

              Mix is great against Concacaf or as a late sub against slightly tired midfielders. Jones is the guy who can start and make those midfielders tired (and bruised).
              I think Bradley is more dynamic than Jones but Jones is not far behind him and is above the rest of the crew. In many ways Jones is easier replaced (Beckerman does a decent job of most of what Jones offers) than Bradley.
              Also, Jones doesn’t mind taking a shot from deep and Klinsy has always liked to have that just to unsettle the goalies every now and then.

        • thegazelle says:

          Loved Holden but the poor guy needs to actually recover. And I like Mixx too but the dang guy has a physique like Johnny Weir…

        • arsenal says:

          I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, just a little funny. I like Mix too, but I don’t think he should play a cm, maybe can would be a better fit for his skill set. I think Jones is important, especially against a team like Portugal. His physical play could play a part in shutting Ronaldo down. If you ever watched Portugal play against more physical teams they strougle. You have to break up their passing and bump them a bit. JJ is perfect for that.

          I love Holden, but I don’t think he will be even close to being ready. I think Chandler has a better chance of being ready than Holden.

        • alf says:

          Holden is such a heart ache because at the time of his second injury (Evans MU) he was rated as the top midfielder in the EPL. I hope he finally comes back to playing!

          • Chris H says:

            I get it that many people rate Jones highly, but I just haven’t seen it translate to the USMNT. It seems like each game he has at least one major bonehead moment that severely endangers our team. It seems like every game that he has played he dribbles into too much pressure, loses the ball, falls down “injured”, while the opponent storms down the field to the goal. Then there are the lazy rash half-challenges, etc. I want him to do what people seem to say he is capable of, but I fear he won’t.
            My ideal solution would be to drop MB to the lone defensive mid, put Dempsey at attacking mid, and put Donovan up top with Jozy.

            • arsenal says:

              Honestly, Jones best position is dm. I watched him over the past few years, before his major injury and with the USMNT, and he is incredible in that deep role. I think its the instructions he is given and his wanting to have a big role with the u.s. team. If we played a 4-1-2-2-1 I think it would be great with Jones as the lone DM and Bradley with someone else just above him.

              • Fair Observer says:

                yea, on the Jones subject, i dont mind him that much but dont think he’s the greatest, im glad he’s older so this is his last WC, also i really just wish JK would convince him to sit back and let MB get involved more offensively. Jones isnt a bad passer persay, but MB is a better player in helping the attack. he can sneak in and take the lampard blast, can step up and pinpoint a nice set up pass (like to Jozy vs Bosnia). when he’s paired with JJ he has to sit back because JJ always wants to push up and show off his non attacking skills. If i were to bet money on who’d score JJ or MB its hands down MB, so thus JJ needs to accept his enforcer role and sit back on defense, thats really my only problem with JJ, i like his physical (borderline yellow card) style of play, just needs to use it defensively and not chase the game

              • John says:

                The problem is Jones can’t turn with a defender on his back. Which means Bradley always has to be the one dropping back to pick the ball up from the back line. That’s why Bradley ends up sitting deeper.

              • Dennis says:

                I did not see Jones play over 4 years ago, but since he has been with the USMNT, I think he has gotten worse, not better. Sure, he is a pit bull who can tackle hard, but when he has the ball at his feet, he tries to do things he just cannot pull off and the US loses possession as a result. But, I do not think there is a better destroyer in the US pool (Beckermann is ok, but not as athletic, Sasha is not as hard, Williams has looked weaker than the others, Bradley could play that role, but it would diminish his important role as a distributer). So Jones is still important.

      • DR7_Liverpool_ says:

        spot on Arsenal, JJ is our pit bull in the middle

  7. Dinho says:

    They are taking a train to Brazil? Wow, USSF needs to bump up its budget. :)

  8. dude1 says:

    That the onus is on the foreign based players rather than the MLS based players is a little surreal.

    To be clear, I don’t think this is a big step forward for the National Team, more of a mixed bag.

    • Slow food says:

      The MLS is not on break for this match like European leagues are, in fact MLS is having it’s opening weekend and the reason Bradley and Dempsey were called up is based on the fact TFC doesn’t play opening weekend and Dempsey has been on loan in England with Fulham. So this camp is made up of mainly European based players because of the fact that MLS doesn’t adhere to the typical FIFA dates and Kilnsmann is being considerate to MLS clubs by not taking key players away from their clubs for opening weekend.

      • dude1 says:

        I’m aware of that.

        This is the last chance for many of our foreign based players to make a case for Brazil- but it’s also a major thing that most of the 100% final 23 players are playing in MLS. Normally, it’s the other way around.

  9. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    It’s laughable. If he’s so into to playing week in and week out and playing well for your club team, how on earth can Demps and Jozy be “This Spine” of our team? They are both playing or not playing as poorly as they ever have. I’m not saying they don’t make the 23 but I sure as hell don’t want them starting in the World Cup.

    • UclaBruinGreat says:

      Comments like these are so silly and lack common-sense! Let me add some perspective and common-sense for you. Yes, Klinsy always makes comments saying something like, “you need to be playing on your club and be in good form.” Those comments are addressed to the whole player pool to motivate and push, but you have to be smart enough to know this won’t apply to everyone. Why is Altidore in the EPL and other American strikers aren’t? It is because he is the best one. Dempsey has been struggling at Fulham, but he is still one of our best players according to Klinsy. There is a reason he is on an EPL team right now and other U.S. players aren’t. Let me put it this way, if Altidore played on any MLS team, he would be a sure-fire starter game in and game out.

      Neymar doesn’t play every game for Barcelona. Perhaps Scolari should not take him to the World Cup and instead take some players from Brazil’s domestic league that plays every game?

        • The Garrincha says:

          I’ll go with that. UCLAGreat,
          Also regarding JJones, his skill set is needed in the group they have. played with Boateng of Ghana, knows how to drop and pop some Portuguese, and no doubt he understands how to play and is motivated to show well against Germany. here’s to hoping JJ, keeps it together and holds it down in Besiktas. Moving forward, onward, and upward…

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      Jk has a hard time telling the two that maybe they won’t be the spine.

    • Dennis says:

      Any coach will pick the players he thinks are best and will improve his team’s chances of winning. All that talk about what the coach would like to see is not a lie, it is just a wish that everyone knows will not be realized in practice. I am not always happy with JK’s selections, but it is not because he says stuff like that then appears to ignore it. (For example, JK was wrong about Rogers, JK was right about Beckermann, the jury is still out regarding Shea, despite a couple impressive plays, and Williams . . . .)

      • Kevin_H says:

        “Any coach will pick the players he thinks are best and will improve his team’s chances of winning”

        Exactly. This should be more obvious to people.

      • beachbum says:

        all of your comments in this thread are goals. thanks

      • away goals says:

        I prefer my coaches outline a set of rigid selection criteria then adhere to it without compromise.

        For brazil jk should total up all american players’ minutes from the past 12 months and pick the 23 who have the most. It’s not complicated.

  10. Jack says:

    He drives me crazy with his BS. He makes these statements then makes exceptions based on his personal bias. Take this one ….“So, the message to all the players is get a starting spot with your club team, to play week-in, week-out.”

    Now in the group that was just called in. Dempsey couldnt do that at Spurs and went to MLS to do it but now has failed at Fulham part 2. Bradley was slipping fast in Italy… I guess if yur a spine the rules dont apply. Shea wasnt making the bench until he got loaned to a lesser team. Jones (spine) is playing where?

    JK is starting to scare me. He needs to be finding players that we can win with… not talking about spines. Granted most of those named will probably end up being correct but Im not sure he should be saying that at this point. My concerns are, I’m not sure Howard is still number 1… Guzan may be better and Howard is not playing all the time at his club. Jones is one hard knock from finishing off his torn up knee plus he and fellow spine Bradley do not look good together. Dempsey is fading fast EVERYWHERE and Altadore has to watch his personal highlights library to convince himself he used to know how to score.

    His spine theory is not anything comfortable with these days

    • Hogatroge says:

      For evidence on why you’re not the coach of the USMNT, read your own post again,

      • james says:

        why? if this is the spine of the team then every team in our group is laughing. Everyone is scared that are fullbacks wont keep up with the wingers but i’m more scared that our central midfield is too slow and has zero creativity. Our spine apparently is a washed up poacher that had one good year in england and a guy who every time he puts on a usa jersey he forgets how to receive and pass the ball.

        • John says:

          Yeah well that’s just what the team is. I’m sure Klinsmann would rather have a team full of players in Champions league or even just in a top 4 league for the matter but he doesn’t. Klinsmann is just hoping the couple players who at least once played at a high level have just enough left in the tank for Brazil.

        • away goals says:

          Maybe the rest of our group is laughing at our spine, I’m not sure.

          But if they are, your plan to shut them up is what, to bench jones and throw in mix? Like that’s going to put the fear of god in zee germans?

          Or ronaldo’s gonna be in the locker room like “Hey knock it off guys, be serious they’re starting…” *checks lineup card* “Sasha Klayjen.”

    • John says:

      Who is he not calling into this team you think he should be then?

    • Stew says:

      JK is STARTING to scare you? Wait until Brazil. You will need valium for sure.

    • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

      Amen.

    • GW says:

      Jack,
      ,
      You seem to think it is the USMNT manager’s job to put together a team in a manner where you understand and approve of the reason for every move and understand how the whole thing fits together.

      JK is more transparent than BB was but the process of putting together any team over the course of two years is an inexact science, one that even the best managers may have a difficult time explaining to outsiders. And it is a process that is and will be ongoing until June.

      More to the point, just because the manager fails to adequately explain that process to some of the public, a percentage of the outsiders, it does not mean there is not a process. And it does not mean the manager does not know what he is doing.

      Rather, it means either he is an inadequate communicator or that you are incapable of understanding what he is doing.

      The team qualified. It topped its group. It has a very good winning percentage. It has shown improvement over time. The US has second to third tier level of talent available to it and it has had its ups and downs and been tested about as much as is possible.

      The death group business has put a damper on things because US teams traditionally start slowly and the death group means the US has no margin for error.

      But overall, this edition of the USMNT looks about as good as any US team going into a World Cup that I can remember.

      • Annelid Gustator says:

        I agree with most everything you say. I would quibble though and say that we have 2nd tier talent available with 3rd tier experience (overall).

        • GW says:

          AG,

          Annelid Gustator says:
          “we have 2nd tier talent available with 3rd tier experience (overall).”

          That is the most accurate statement yet.

          After the 2010 World Cup in an interview about the Ghana loss Landon said, in so many words, that we had the skills and the talent but what we really lacked was the savvy, the awareness that the Ghanaians, with a roster full of hardened Euro vets had more of.

          I agree with him and MBTFC. It is down to opportunities to learn and develop that savvy and awareness, which are few and far between.

          Who are the American outfield players who were a success in Europe and what did they have in common? What they had in common was a manager and a club who believed in them and also had a specific role for them and allowed them to learn on the job. That describes JOB at Ajax, DMB at PSV, Reyna just about everywhere, the Fulham guys, Holden at Bolton, Jozy at AZ and Sunderland, Donovan at Everton, MB90 at Heerenveen, Gooch and Sacha in Belgium etc. etc.

          In all those cases the managers ignored the so called anti American bias and let the players prove their point.
          And the point is Americans can play at the highest levels if someone cares to give them a real chance.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        i don’t think JK is more transparent than BB, but i do think he talks more…

        • beachbum says:

          exactly +1

          • GW says:

            Mr. Dollars and Mr. bum,

            If you guys want transparency from JK then study his playing career.

            1. He is a poor loser
            2. He likes and expects to win
            3. He is not particular about how that happens.
            4. He likes to win

            I followed the teams JK played on including his 1990 World Cup winning team. Germany always had lots of talented players but so did the other guys.
            It has always been a point of pride for German teams that more than their talent and skill it was their complete and utter belief that they would find a way to win regardless of the odds that led to their dominance.

            JK is obviously trying to replicate this in the USMNT. Given the Death Group this is not a bad idea. That is why he is always talking about “hunger” and “desire”.

            That is how JK’s team won the 1990 World Cup. The final, against Maradona and Argentina was more of a barroom brawl than a soccer game. Four yellow cards between the two teams and two red cards to Argentina, the first time any one player let alone two, was sent off in a WC final.

            Germany won 1-0 on a dubious penalty scored by Andreas Brehme. a converted midfielder playing left back. Sound familiar? JK was not joking when he said anyone can play left back. The other three guys in the back four and the defensive midfielder were converted center backs.

            Take a little time and study those teams. If you do that, the rationale for everything JK has done becomes pretty transparent.

            Recently Mourinho was caught saying in what he thought was a confidential interview that his strikers were not scoring and the one that was, Eto, well he wasn’t sure how old he was. I guess he was worried about how long the old man could hold up. Maybe he’s been reading the SBI articles on Fredinho.

            I don’t expect that level of transparency from any manager of any team but within those limits JK has been remarkably transparent.

            Obviously, the game is different 24 years later but the confident underdog never gets old or irrelevant.

            • Nate Dollars says:

              i agree with everything you said, and stand by my remark that i don’t think klinsmann is any more transparent than bradley. or, to put it another way: bradley was just as transparent as klinsmann is. it’s just their wildly different interview styles that make it seem like bradley’s a hard read and klinsmann’s an open book.

              • GW says:

                Mr. dollars,

                “bradley was just as transparent as klinsmann is. it’s just their wildly different interview styles that make it seem like bradley’s a hard read and klinsmann’s an open book.”

                That is probably the best way to put it. I always found BB to be a pretty easy read.

                Maybe SBI posters don’t follow other sports because if they did would realize that most managers tend to opacity.

                People always seemed to have unrealistic expectations of BB.
                I never thought BB was foolish or suicidal so if he played someone it was because he thought that person gave him the best chance to win.

                Bornstein for example was not great but other than Boca every other potential LB that I saw play for the US was either as bad or worse.

                BB’s best team was the 2009 Confederations Cup side, an accomplishment I still think BB never got enough credit for. As a long term USMNT fan I literally never thought I would live to see them in the final of a non- CONCACAF, FIFA tournament.

                And then just after that Tournament was over he lost the center of his defense, Gooch and Demerit, and his offense, Davies, to injury and basically had to rebuild his team in about half a year. And don’t forget that if Jones had not broken his shin he would have played in South Africa.

                Conceivably, Jones, rather than the unfortunate Rico, would have lined up against Ghana.

                Given the circumstances I thought BB did a great job in South Africa. Basically, he was done in by injuries and a lack of depth.

              • beachbum says:

                +1 again

                and GW, I wasn’t asking for transparency from Klinnsman so simmer down now :)

              • beachbum says:

                +1 to Nate Dollars that is

      • JH says:

        I agree with your post. I think some of today’s readers are having a hard time understanding that Klinsmann is trying to motivate not just the players on the bubble, but also the “spine” group (you can throw Donavan in as well) that is almost a lock for the world cup. What is he supposed to say to these core players? “You are already going to be in the World Cup so you can slack off until then”? No he is doing the right thing by pushing each player to play at their best and to be a starter on the biggest club that they can play with. He is trying to play a bit of mind games with all of his players to place a bit of doubt that if they don’t work hard they will not go to the world cup or they won’t start. I am sure that he is not pleased about the current club situation with almost all of his spine players (Bradley, Altidore, Dempsey, and Jones), but there is no way that he will not take them to Brazil. I would say even with their current form, they are locks as starters as well. Only if their form dips so low that another can replace them will they not start. Although I feel we have more depth than the last several world cups, our depth is not at the level of a Germany or Brazil where one slip up by a player and there are several replacements right behind you, so game one vs Ghana (the most important game of the three), all of those “spine” players will start. And to those Jones haters, I do not understand why. Who would you rather be on the field against a strong physical Ghana? Beckerman? Mix? Remember Ricardo Clark from four years ago? Jones is a better player and our midfield is that much better than four years ago. Just look at our yearly and qualification records as proof. Could any of those three be a starter in a top four Bundesliga team? There is just no comparison. So instead of hating on him because he is a dual citizen, just be happy that this is probably one of the best all around USA teams going to a world cup. If we make it out of the group of death than great. If not then it wasn’t meant to be. Some of you guys expect us to fill every roster spot with a Champions’ League level player and then when you have one on your roster, you attack him for little things.

        • JH says:

          Correction GW: I didnt mean “you” attack him for little things. “Others” attack him for little things.

  11. FRANK says:

    THISI S A GOOD ARTICLE THANK YOU FOR WRITING IT

  12. dawn kiebals says:

    For those that don’t think Klinsmann will bench the spine see Oliver Kahn.

    • GW says:

      Mr. kiebals,

      Dropping Ollie was not hard from a form perspective.

      Ollie was winding down and Jens Lehmann was arguably having the best year of any keeper in Europe at the time. Kahn took one for the team and was not the locker room cancer he could have been.

      It’s about team chemistry and cohesion after all. My guess would be these spine people are where they are because they make the team better as a team.

      Other than Brad Guzan, it is not clear to me that there are any remotely suitable, proven replacements for any of the spine people. If there were I would expect JK, who has proven his ruthlessness and lack of sentimentality, to play them.

      For example, if Landon is not on fire for the Galaxy, I’m not at all certain he brings Donovan to Brazil .

  13. Birgit Calhoun says:

    He’ll ut the best team together. But he also nows it takes work and heart.

  14. divers suck says:

    I still wish Jurgen had the political juice to expedite an Osvaldo Alonso sighting in a USA kit. Also, does anyone have an update on Dolo and Stu?

  15. Terrence Osbourne says:

    Why not Spector? He just got 90 minutes, seems he could use this game.

  16. barnie says:

    Why didn’t McGee get a shot, don’t understand that decision.

  17. Ben says:

    Am I the only one that is getting tired of these meaningless Klinsmann quotes? I feel like he just hears a word he likes and uses it all the time without subsistence. He wants players to show him “drive” and “hunger.” How? Of course they want to go to the World Cup because its the friggin World Cup! How about we try to put together a core group with an understanding of the tactics he wants to use. How about he instructs the team how to be cohesive, disciplined, smart, and attack with intelligent intent. I’d rather that than a team that is “hungry.”

    • Nate Dollars says:

      i wouldn’t worry about it unless it turns out the actual players don’t know what his expectations are.

      these are quotes that he’s giving to the press, not the team. it’s not unusual that a manager’s press quotes are different than his instructions to the team, and he could easily be communicating very clearly to the players exactly what he wants.

      the worst thing to do is take seriously what he says. he’s a talker, so don’t pay attention to that; judge him by his results.

    • GW says:

      Ben,

      “I feel like he just hears a word he likes and uses it all the time without subsistence. ”

      Without basic subsistence levels, about 2000 calories per day, JK will eventually begin to starve and hallucinate. People often say a lot of strange things when hallucinating.

      More likely English is not JK’s first language so as fluent as he is, something may be lost in translation. Then again his English is better than my German.

      “How about we try to put together a core group with an understanding of the tactics he wants to use. “

      What makes you think he is not in the process of trying to do just that? Do you think he just rolls out a ball and yells “skins and shirts”?

      “How about he instructs the team how to be cohesive, disciplined, smart, and attack with intelligent intent.”

      And if these players, before they ever meet JK, are:
      1. undisciplined players
      2. Lacking in mental acuity
      3. Ignorant about how to “attack with intelligent intent “(AWII)
      why do you think being on the USMNT is going to change anything?

      National teams can’t teach players how to be disciplined. That is normally the job of the player’s parents.

      National teams can’t do anything if a player has an intellectual intelligence deficit. Again maybe the parents, maybe not.

      National teams can’t teach you how to AWII.

      Do the math. There is simply not enough time for a National team manager to teach you how to become an accomplished attacking soccer player. You learn that at your club team if not before. Landon Donovan could AWII before he went to IMG as a teenager.

      In fact, one reason why some players are called up to the national team is because they have demonstrated the ability to AWII (See Johannsson, Aron).

      If by the time you get called up for the senior USMNT of you can’t “attack with intelligent intent “you are probably never going to learn.

      “I’d rather that than a team that is “hungry.”

      JK’s use of that term simply means the players who want to go to Brazil and are unsure of their place (which is everyone) need to show him they want the job more than the next guy.

      This is fairly standard motivational talk.

      If it upsets you that tells me you don’t read many clichéd sports articles or motivational speeches.

      “Step it up”, “Take it to the next level”, “Give 110% “or “Throw them under the bus” are fairly standard ESPN-isms.

      Its not a big deal.

  18. Samuel says:

    People, leave Klinsy alone, he has done more than was asked of him, he qualified the USMNT and Mexico to the World Cup… THE SAME YEAR!

  19. Dan says:

    I think Stuart Holden will be ready for WC, as will Timmy Chandler. Holden was in the January camp and Chandler should be ready to be back in action in April. These are 2 guys that need to be on the USMNT in Brazil. And forget Altidore, he’s a head case. He should be “out the door”. Start Johansson.

    • GW says:

      “And forget Altidore, he’s a head case. He should be “out the door”. Start Johansson.”

      What makes you say that?

  20. Expat4455 says:

    I will give Klinsi a pass on his use of being hungry, or having hunger. Germans often say:”mit Lust und Hunger” when talking about doing one’s best, be in at work or play. Strictly translated it says; with passion and hunger, but it is a bit of an idiom.

    Mit Lust und Hunger is more properly translated as: with passion and desire.