USMNT Notes: Pre-World Cup camp has different feel; more arrivals reach Stanford; and more

Mix Diskerud Clint Dempsey Brad Evans Matt Besler

Photo by John Todd/ISIPhotos.com

By CAITLIN MURRAY

STANFORD, Calif. — The U.S. Men’s National Team pre-World Cup camp at Stanford University is almost full and the intensity is heating up.

With only 23 plane tickets to Brazil and 30 players in the last training camp before a series of send-off matches, it has a different atmosphere than a typical training camp, according to forward Chris Wondolowski.

“I think even when it comes to a basic passing drill, it’s whatever you want to get out of it — and every guy wants to get the most out of it,” Wondolowski told reporters Sunday. “They’re going as hard as possible.”

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had said he wanted to bring in all 30 preliminary roster players to fight for positions, indicating there are no guaranteed World Cup spots. Players are taking it to heart, winger Brad Davis said.

“One thing I can definitely say is that (Klinsmann) has been honest and he’s told us how he’s going to coach. Everyone has had an opportunity to come in and show him at some certain point why they belong with this team,” Davis said. “He’s been honest about how he’s going to choose the team — it doesn’t matter where you come from. It’s given everybody an even playing field. ”

“It gives you that extra bit of incentive. You have a real opportunity to make this team.”

Here are the rest of the notes from Sunday’s USMNT training camp:

ROLL CALL: LATE ARRIVALS AND OUTSTANDING PLAYERS

Geoff Cameron arrived in camp Sunday after finishing up a long season in the English Premier League — and while he is one of the safer bets to be on the team, it remains to be seen just where on the field he will be playing in Brazil.

Cameron, who stopped in Boston to see family before joining camp, said a break with only light training has left him refreshed and ready to work. The question is what position he is working for.

“I’m going in with a mentality that any way I can help the team – I mean, this is a world cup and anyway I can help the USA, I’m going to do that,” Cameron said Sunday before starting his first training session in Stanford. “Whether it’s right back or center back or whatever, I’m up for it and I’m ready to go.”

Cameron seems like the top choice at right back, but he does give Klinsmann options. During World Cup qualifiers, Cameron played seven matches at center back, four in central midfield and just two at right back, even though he has played right back exclusively for Stoke City.

Klinsmann doesn’t appear to be settled on a spot for Cameron just yet – at least not publicly. When asked what Klinsmann has said about Cameron’s position, Cameron said Klinsmann just cared that he was getting regular playing time in Stoke.

Cameron said he’s not picky, either.

“I’m comfortable in all the positions. I played right back at Stoke, I’ve played center back, I’ve played center mid,” he said. “I’m comfortable and I’m willing to play any position that Jurgen wants me to play. I’m ready for stiff competition. I know guys have been working hard and there’s a lot of competition so I’ve just got to bring my A-game.”

  • Tim Howard and Brad Guzan also arrived in camp after a short break following the end of the English Premier League season.
  • Jermaine Jones and Aron Johansson are the remaining two not in camp yet. Jones had a match with his Turkish club Besikitas on Saturday and Johansson had a game with his Dutch club AZ Alkmaar on Sunday. Both are set to arrive Tuesday.
  • Omar Gonzalez had his first full training session in the camp Sunday and is “progressing positively” after a knee injury, per a U.S. Soccer spokesman.

GOT JOKES: CHANDLER AND DEMPSEY YUK IT UP

German-American defender Tim Chandler got the biggest laugh out of the press corps on Sunday. A reporter asked if fans and players in Germany make comments to Chandler about playing for the American side.

“For sure, they make jokes,” Chandler said. “Some would say, ‘Hey, don’t win against them.’ Some would say, ‘Kick their asses.’ When we play against Germany, it’s a nice game.”

But Clint Dempsey did pretty well, too. A reporter told Dempsey that Italian players he had spoken with only knew of Landon Donovan and asked if Dempsey thinks the international soccer community is still in the dark when it comes to the USMNT.

“When you’re on the field, you don’t have those conversations. ‘Hey, you know who I am? Google me, check it out,’” Dempsey joked to roaring laughter from the press scrum. “That doesn’t really happen.”

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115 Responses to USMNT Notes: Pre-World Cup camp has different feel; more arrivals reach Stanford; and more

  1. Jesse D says:

    I hope Klinns has a plan for Cameron. The limbo thing gives him more options for starting lineups. That might be a bad thing though. I’d like to see whoever our back 4 are play as many minutes together as possible. Cameron at RB or CB, I can understand either decision.

    The attitude with which the guys are approaching it and the way JK has portrayed the open roster competition leaves someone like Donovan in real jeopardy of not making this team. I can’t believe I’m saying that. I think we all hope LD turns it around and rediscovers his passion and his form. A trip to Cambodia might help.

    • quozzel says:

      If I was a betting man, I would say Cameron starts at RB, but his presence will allow Klinsmann to carry just 7 defenders. I think we carry only three pure CB’s – Gonzalez, Besler, and probably Goodson.

      I think Timmy Chandler is RB #2, and I think our two left backs are Fabian Johnson and Damarcus Beasley.

      Why? Pretty simple. Because those guys have shown pretty definitively that at this juncture they’re our seven best defenders, and I don’t think Klinsmann complicates things. I think Parkhurst or Yedlin have a very slim chance of unseating Chandler if he isn’t fit or sharp, but I really do think that’s the only question mark at defender right now…well, he’ll probably be looking to see if Brooks can unseat Goodson, but I don’t see it, given Brooks’ showing the last time out against Ukraine.

      I really don’t think Klinsmann does anything but take the absolute best 23 right now…and I think there will be fewer surprises than anyone thinks.

      • User222 says:

        “..given Brook’s showing against Ukraine…”

        playing against a world class team, an european team superiorr than the US is not easy at all… we’re not talking about playing Mexico or Korea B team.

        playing D along with Good or Castillo would make elite CB’s look like amateur defenders. Brooks needs to be given have a legitimate chance to play with Besler, Cameron, Fabian, JJ and Bradley in mid.

        I’d take JAB over Goodson who this season’s been mediocre at best in MLS for San Jose.

        • Charles says:

          Also, Brooks’ first day back in training after injury was Feb. 23, then 11 days later he had his first on-field play, he went the full 90 minutes against Ukraine.

        • r.benjamin says:

          Plus in his closing quozzel counters himself. The best 23 right now. Brooks has been on the up since Feb. Playing Bundesliga prepares you better than MLS for this level.

          I still want to see Cameron paired with Bradley.

        • capitan macpatton says:

          All I can say is that I will only watch and comment after JK makes his choices because so far he has chosen players who have more than a year without playing in the USMNT and he has left out players who have done a lot in the USMNT. He has chosen players that don’t play in their club matches and left out others with Champions League this season for their club. What worries me the most is the lack of chemistry in this team. Germany for example are taking many players from Bayern. They all play together, no need to gel. We are still guessing who plays where. I wish JK does good.

      • Jesse says:

        I think it would be reasonable to take those 7 and feel pretty well covered. I think he brings in an 8th. You just cut 3 RB’s. I don’t think he brought in that many RB’s with the intention of cutting them all. I’d guess he brings Parkhurst as well. That would give Klins the ability to move Fabian to LM, Cameron to CB and still have a backup RB/LB on the bench. When I look at the list of players who can play LM, especially with Donovan on the outs, I can’ help but think Fabian probably is our best LM.

      • Jesse says:

        After Ukraine I was pretty negative on Brooks too. The fact that Goodson hasn’t played well recently for his club team gives him a shot.

        I’m much more intrigued to see Brooks progress, but if I’m the coach I’d feel better about an experienced backup.

  2. AMP says:

    Is that the best translation we have on Chandler’s joke?

    • Jack says:

      Why do you think it was translated?

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        Because it wasn’t funny. At all.

        • AMP says:

          Haha, I guess my humor is just as hard to decipher. I assumed by the syntax that the joke wasn’t translated, I just, for the life of me, don’t get why this got not only laughs, but the most laughs of the day. There must have been a lot tension in that room or something. Maybe he said it in a silly voice, while making zany facial expressions. That, or the joke has been cut short, and all that was shared was his set-up. Maybe he continued to relay increasingly absurd things German players have told him, rounding them off each time with the catchphrase, “When we play against Germany… it’s a nice game.”

          • Bac says:

            A. It was funny enough to make all the reporters laugh, so I guess one would have to have been there
            B. I got your sarcasm..

            • Jesse says:

              I assume there must have been some tension there. Perhaps Chandler had hinted that he really wanted to get back at the Germans who picked on him. He was about to say something negative but caught himself, then said with a smile “it’s a nice game”.

          • Bac says:

            Interesting enough, further in the interview he talks about how he was playing well, then was bummed when he got hurt, but said JK had been in contact with him the entire time not to get down and keep working hard…

        • Increase says:

          Neither joke was that funny… whateva

        • foooo says:

          Meh… I wouldn’t expect internet fanboys to get anything that isn’t spoonfed to them.

    • Bac says:

      That was quoted from Jeff Carlisle so it’s probably pretty close..

    • bata says:

      Seems marginally amusing that German players would encourage Chandler and the USMNT to beat up on the German national team. Bit of professional jealousy toward the Loew’s chosen 23., perhaps?

  3. jmadsen says:

    ‘Hey, you know who I am? Google me, check it out,’

    Seriously, though – something I always noticed in Arena’s post-games, and Bradley a bit as well. They wouldn’t say things like, “Messi did such-and-such”, they’d always say, “Their number 9 did a good job of controlling mid-field” or whatever.

    When you’re actually a part of that level, I don’t think there’s quite so much ooh-ing & aah-ing over certain names as we the fans do.

    • Vic says:

      True, at times fans think if you’re a professional soccer player you’re watching soccer all day and reading about it all day. Thats often not true. Often times serious fans know more than players. Especially about other leagues the players don’t play in.

      • Ian says:

        And more on that point, I’ve read several times that American fans tend to have the widest breadth of general soccer knowledge of any fan base on earth. That is probably because our eyes are directed overseas more than on our own domestic league.

        As huge as the EPL is, it’s been said that most English fans don’t know a whole lot about “European leagues.” It’s anecdotal, obviously, but I believe it.

        • Brain Guy says:

          Reminds me of a (possibly apocryphal) headline in an English newspaper: “English Channel Blocked By Fog; Continent Is Isolated”

          • Scott says:

            Love it! Those crazy British. “The sun never sets on the empire” and all that! Tip, tip…

      • 23ontheplane says:

        Vic

        “Often times serious fans know more than players.”

        How “often”? And how much more? So what does your serious fan know more about? Playing the game or player rosters?

        How would you or any fan know how informed a player is about other teams?

        How often does the serious fan get to have an in depth conversation with every player on the roster? A team roster can have anywhere from 24 to 40 players on it depending on the team.

        Some players are dumb jocks and know only as much as they need to about their own team and league.

        Other players,like Landon Donovan and David Beckham, are big fans. I doubt anyone has ever taken a survey.

  4. rph says:

    Am I the only one getting sick of talk of “the plane” and “tickets”? It seems like every article I read about the USMNT and Brazil lately has to make some dumb reference to “the plane.” It’s getting so tired. It’s not a matter of there only being 23 plane tickets. It’s a matter of that being the number of players FIFA says a team can bring.

    • OmarVizquel says:

      You’re right. Especially since I hear they’re taking a riverboat paddle steamer to Brazil.

    • William the Terror says:

      If FIFA only allows 23 players, then it is, in fact, a matter of there only being 23 plane tickets. Unless it’s a commercial flight and the other seven guys in camp buy their own tickets on the same plane, as passengers.

      • Jesse says:

        There are like 5 assistant coaches and a couple trainers plus Jurgen and probably a ESPN camera man. I’m sure there are at least 35 spots on the plane. Why can’t we talk about which assistant coaches and trainers will make the cut.

        • William the Terror says:

          True. Will Berti Vogts be on the plane?

          • Jesse says:

            Now that is a good question. I think he is cut after the Azerbaijan game. JK will question his loyalties and Berti has to buy his own ticket to Brazil.

    • Kctc says:

      What do you want us to say? Proe are excited. If you are sick of it, change the channel

    • DGH says:

      I blame American Idol…

    • SilverRey says:

      Besides, if Chandler goes it’s going to be 22 tickets on the plane and 1 ticket on the boat.

      • Jesse says:

        Do we know if Chandler is okay with boats? He might not sleep well there either. The only thing we know for sure is he likes trains. Catching a train from Miami to Sao Paolo isn’t going to be easy.

  5. quozzel says:

    Maybe not the place for this…but I was curious why Ghana was only ranked #38 in the world…and the reason why is pretty obvious. They don’t play very much…and when they do play, they don’t play anybody. And they travel even more seldom. Since 2011 they played just two teams – Nigeria and Japan – who will appear in the World Cup…and they lost to Japan, 3-1. The loss in Japan was their lone foray off the continent in at least three years. And even in Africa their results over the last 2-3 years have been distinctly mediocre.

    They did shell Egypt 6-1…in Ghana. They lost 2-1 on the return leg.

    In other words…these guys don’t play together much, and they certainly haven’t had any real tests since the last World Cup. And that 6-1 result notwithstanding, they haven’t exactly lit up scoreboards. Their results sheet is littered with 1-0 and 1-1 games…often against opponents ranked below 100 in the world.

    They’re undeniably talented, but I wonder how much of a team Ghana really is.

    • phillypride says:

      Interesting, but I’m assuming the same was true prior to previous World Cups, no? If so, they have a track record of coming together to perform well despite lack of games together.

      • Mason says:

        The US played Ghana last in the 2006 and in the R16 in 2010. In 2006 GHA lost to ITA 2-0, but then beat the Czechs and the USA. In 2010 they started with a win against Serbia, drew AUS and then lost to Serbia. If you squint, you might see a team that has some issues meshing but eventually the talent shines through.

        You really have to squint though.

        • Jesse says:

          You meant to say “then lost to Germany” not Serbia. That was a close game they lost 1-0.
          This Ghana team was within a crazy penalty shootout loss to Uruguay from being in the Semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup.

          The team in Brazil has a lot of experience playing together in the previous world cup. Much of their starting lineup from the game against the US will be in Brazil. Gyan, Ayew, Boateng, Asamoah, Mensah, Inkoom.

          Essien will be back as well from the 2006 squad that beat us as well.

          The only changes will be on defense and at goalie.

          • Mason says:

            Yes… Germany, not Serbia.

            2006 was lost because Reyna blew out his knee on the pitch and a referee bought a pathetic dive for a PK. 2010 was lost because BB started Ricardo Clark, then had to burn a sub in the 32nd minute of a match that ended up going to ET. Both matches were competitive, back and forth affairs, despite the more celebrated pedigree of GHA’s players. Both could have ended differently.

            Regarding GHA’s “cohesion”, my point was that they seem to get better as they go along. They are playing with a new defense and a new GK. So is the USA, and I know that we’ve been up-in-arms about that. Just like us, if their defensive group isn’t on the same page, they will get ripped, even by us. The chances of that are better off earlier.

            • Jesse says:

              Our best hope is exactly that. There defense doesn’t have a ton of experience together. We don’t even know who 3 of our are back 4 are. Hopefully this puts us on level ground.

              You’re right neither game was a blow out. They were both tight. We will hope for a couple breaks in this game as well. When you look at knockout rd games, tight games are the norm. In 2010, Spain and the Netherlands won every single game by exactly 1 goal. Doesn’t get much closer than that.

      • GW says:

        Philly,

        In 2010 when they played the US it was very close and Ghana had “home continent ” advantage.

    • slowleftarm says:

      They were enough of a team to knock us out of the last two world cups. FIFA rankings are based on some bizarre formula, they’re pretty pointless. If it weren’t for the fact that FIFA now uses them for world cup seeding, they could be ignored altogether.

      • NC Jeff says:

        I wouldn’t say “FIFA now uses them for WC seeding” They THIS time, they did use the rankings as they appeared at the time of the draw (yet the US still has the current’s world #2 AND #3 in their group … go figure), but that does NOT mean that process will continue. Thus, the US could easily find themselves 43 months from now on the border between being seeded and pot 4.

        • slowleftarm says:

          Given that they were used in this world cup for seeding purposes I think it’s fair to say that FIFA uses them for seeding purposes.

          • Jesse says:

            Yes, but they don’t do it consistently. They seem to look at who will be seeded and then decide whether or not they like that group. When it is convenient they change their processes.

    • seamus says:

      Ghana is 26 on the ESPN power rankings (Nate Silver’s creation) and US is 22. In other words, even. I tried to check the ELO rating, but the site is suspended. It was tracking pretty close to ESPN on most things as I remember.

      Who knows about these rankings (except that FIFA’s are preposterous), but I’d give Ghana a bit of an edge. Should be a hell of a game with both teams in “must win” mode. Wonder how that will play out in tactics. Glad Klinsmann will have Vogts sitting next to him.

      • The Other Jeff says:

        There are three major rating systems. FIFA is based on past performance in a select sample of games – official FIFA competitions – plus some subjectively derived fudge factors like confederation strength and game “importance”. Elo is cumulative past performance in all competitions including friendlies. SPI attempts to be predictive based on formulae for offense and defense. You couldn’t pick three more different bases for ranking systems. The remarkable thing isn’t how different they are but how similar the results turn out. Especially if you toss FIFA’s rank in favor of the other two where there is a clear distortion, like hosts not playing qualifiers (Brazil) or teams like Ghana that don’t play many games period and even fewer high-value games.

        Here are rankings of countries in our bracket by FIFA, Elo, and SPI, respectively:

        US: 14, 13, 21
        Germany: 2, 3, 4
        Portugal: 3, 7, 14
        Ghana: 38, 37, 26

        If you subtract the extra points Portugal gained from having to play two extra games against Sweden to qualify, the three ranking systems all place Germany, Portugal, and Ghana very similarly. The only outlier is the SPI ranking of the US. I don’t have an explanation for that.

        Regardless, all three systems, coming from three very different perspectives, rank US ahead of Ghana, in ways that defy the simplistic explanations like they don’t play enough high-value games.

        • seamus says:

          Thanks for the deep dive on that. I guess it shows that the systems are all pretty useless. Does anyone think Ghana is 5 places behind US, never mind 24 places? If I had to pick one I’d go with SPI, but I see US as slight underdog going in to this game. Four weeks…I’m going to have to cut back on the caffeine.

    • Kung Fu Kangaroos says:

      Based on teams their players play for … Ghana’s roster is scary. Seems like half their team plays in Italy … esp their midfield.

      • seamus says:

        It looks like most of their key players are in their late 20s, which is about the perfect balance of fitness/experience.

        But can they sink us three times straight?

        • James H says:

          I hope not because losing that match will effectively end our WC14. Unless Germany and Portugal draw then of course it is wide open. God I hate our group…

    • GW says:

      quozzel,

      Ghana are hard to find info on. They will have a couple of warm up games here in the States.

      And they appear to have the same issues the US has i.e. home grown players versus the Euro guys. However their Euro guys have very good resumes and overall they will probably , man for man be more talented than the US.

      But I can’t see them having the US’ “togetherness”.

      They also have not won a game outside continental Africa since 2011 I believe.

      It will not be easy but if the US are going to go anywhere this is exactly the kind of team they need to beat.

      • Mark from LA says:

        I do think one can derive a little bit of information from US losses to Ghana in previous WC’s. It’s probable that Ghana will be very athletic and dangerous on the counter, and unafraid to seize chances with moments of inspiration, be it a several second fast break or a strike off of a rebound or set piece. Ghana will probably not be able to generate too many chances from building an attack in midfield, the US will be too organized to allow it.

        The US always wants to have a fitness advantage and if past performances are any indication, Ghana will be able to match them in this area. The US will not be able to count on being the stronger team in the last 20 minutes of the game nor rely on willpower alone to get them 3 points.

        I believe the result this time around will depend on how well Klinsmann’s focus on tactical improvements and speed in making attacking decisions in midfield pays off in being able to break down Ghana. Possession stats goal should be 58% or higher. Or Michael Bradley getting the ball to the right person at the right time is another way to put it, with the back four and d-mid Jones linking up effectively with their midfield partners.

        It should be a very compelling game, with the pressure on the US and Ghana having nothing to lose. I don’t see many scenarios where 1 point is enough. Should there be no breakthrough through the second half or god forbid the early conceded goal (always a problem for the US) it should open the game up more and lead to fireworks.

        Can’t wait.

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  7. James H says:

    Just had to laugh at the picture. Is that Diskerud bottom left? He looks just a little too happy running that drill!

    • Del Griffin says:

      Left to right: Mix, Beasley, Dempsey, Evans, a homeless guy who got lost, Besler, Wondo, Gonzalez, Altidore.

    • Luetchy says:

      Mix just seems like a totally cool dude. If he misses the plane, I’ll be pissed.

    • AMP says:

      I hope the four around Demps changed their shirts not too long before this photo was taken.

    • Travis in Miami says:

      everyone in that photo looks to be having a good time. I can think of some very sophomoric captions for this one.

  8. Joe says:

    You heard it here first…

    1. Tim Howard
    2. Brad Guzan
    3. Nick Rimando

    4. Matt Besler
    5. Omar Gonzalez
    6. Geoff Cameron
    7. Brad Evans
    8. DaMarcus Beasley
    9. Fabian Johnson
    10. Clarence Goodson
    11. Timothy Chandler

    12. Clint Dempsey
    13. Michael Bradley
    14. Jermaine Jones
    15. Landon Donovan
    16. Graham Zusi
    17. Kyle Beckerman
    18. Alejandro Bedoya
    19. Julian Green

    20. Terrence Boyd
    21. Jozy Altidore
    22. Chris Wondolowski
    23. Aron Johannsson

  9. Hogatroge says:

    The Italian players don’t know who Dempsey is, huh? I can think of 11-17 of them who probably should remember him from the match in Genoa in 2012.

  10. argh says:

    I doubt every Italian NT player knows who Dempsey is but surely they have heard of him.

    they know Donovan as the guy who flopped in Munich/Leverkusen but did well in Everton and legend of MLS

    and they know Dempsey as a star in England

    • ronniet says:

      Your hate for LD continues I see smdh!!!! They’ll know them both because they are both good players and have excelled in international competition! Donovan has also shown well against them in the Italian clubs pre season tours to the US and Clint from that wonder volley he scored against Juventus in the Europa Cup many years ago!

  11. Dainja says:

    I love this picture!!!! I don’t know what the context was or who told a joke right before this drill, but if our boys are having this much fun and camaraderie even while competing for spots on the roster… this is a great sign for team chemistry!

    (matter of fact…IG, can you start a caption contest on this???)

  12. SingularityCup says:

    USA!USA!USA!USA!

  13. kevino says:

    it would pretty strange if Roma players on his old team didn’t know Bradlye

    • GW says:

      kevino,

      There are only 2 Roma players on Italy’s 30 man list, DDR and Destro.

      DDR probably makes the 23 but I don’t know about Destro.

  14. Nandez says:

    Clint Dempsey shouldn’t be captain. He’s like the jealous sister of Landon Donovan.

    • Jack says:

      The jealous sister that was actually lead the team through qualifying.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      There is a jealous sister of Clint Dempsey too, his name is Nandez.

  15. The Garrincha says:

    Not much of a coaching search to speak of.
    We all realize it was essentially a coup d’etat.
    Just needed to wait a little while so it wouldn’t seem so obvious.
    It still would be good to see some new blood on the field every once in a while,
    as well as a little more tactical and technical advancement.
    It appears most of the other top 10 teams have pretty much figured them out.
    Big, fast, strong, athletic defenders, ala Fischer & Bucanan etc…

    • The Garrincha says:

      Hey Garrincha!, (talking to myself),
      We understand you got a niece who is pretty good at soccer,
      but the Womens coaching fiasco/article is over there.

    • Jesse says:

      The National Teams just don’t play that many games every year, usually less than 15. It is hard to break in a lot of new players. You have to try to pick the best players in the pool and let them build a little chemistry.
      Imagine how hard this is on Brazil. They have soooo many talented players that don’t ever get a chance.

  16. Four Cents says:

    Looks like they’re having fun to me.. LETS GO YOU YANKS!!!