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U.S. Men's National Team

USMNT begins on-field preparations for friendlies with Honduras, Ecuador

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Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The U.S. men's national team hit the practice field on Tuesday morning to begin preparations for its upcoming friendly against Honduras, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann picked things up where he left off in September.

The emphasis of the training session was passing, as the players were put through different exercises before breaking up into two teams of seven for a small game with two mini-goals on each side.

Following the training, Klinsmann spoke with a handful of local media and discussed what he would like to get out of the U.S. team's friendly against Honduras on Saturday as well as the one against Ecuador next Tuesday.

"Obviously, we'd like to see a progression in our work," said Klinsmann. "I think the first two get-togethers with three games combined we saw a lot. It's a group of players that have a tremendous working attitude and willingness to learn and willingness to improve.

"So we step-by-step try to build something that really prepares us well for the World Cup qualifiers next summer, and building a core group of experience – the leaders in the group – and step by step introducing some fresh blood, some younger players with tremendous potential moving forward. So we're trying to combine things, we're trying to see a lot of different things on the field in our training sessions, and then see how we can mold those things together."

Here are more notes from U.S. training:

FINDING THE BACK OF THE NET

One aspect Klinsmann is looking to address during this camp is finishing. Through three games the Americans have mustered only one goal and have yet to get a victory. They also lost both of their September friendlies by the score of 1-0, but Klinsmann insists that it is a work in progress.

"Against Costa Rica, I thought we had enough chances to put it in the net and win the game," said Klinsmann. "Belgium was a bit of a different character, even if we scored a regular goal in the last couple of minutes which was disallowed for whatever reason, the referee only knows. But it's okay. Obviously you want to get to the next step and put this thing in the net, and it's a process and the players are aware of that. … We definitely would like to see a couple of goals coming up in the next few games."

BEASLEY'S RETURN

For veteran DaMarcus Beasley, this set of friendlies marks the second time he's been called in by Klinsmann. Beasley was included on the roster for the United States' friendly with Mexico back in August, although he did not dress for the game.

Beasley was not called into camp for the September friendlies, but he returns to the fold after playing well for Mexican club Puebla in recent weeks.

"DaMarcus, he completely moved out of his comfort zone," said Klinsmann. "Coming back from Europe and being all over the place with up and downs that we all have in our lives, he kind of got his act together and he made that step going down to Mexico and proving himself. It shows his character and it shows you his willingness to fight through different environments and difficult moments. I think you see a far more mature DaMarcus Beasley now than you have seen probably a couple years ago, which is natural, it's a normal process."

KLINSMANN ADDRESSES OMISSIONS

Klinsmann touched on some of his roster omissions, which include the likes of defenders George John and Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

"We have a huge list of MLS players. We watch games week in and week out. I send all of our staff people, Claudio Reyna, we send them out together and watch games. If it's in Mexico, if it's in Europe, we know where they are. At the same time, as I mentioned before in (last week's) press release, we don't want to shake up the group every time we get together too much.

"We saw that there are players that want to get into this group and they have all the case, but at the same time if you want to develop consistency and you want to improve the quality of the group right now, you need to bring them in regularly. I'm not a friend of – maybe that was the idea behind a game in L.A. and a game in Belgium, having the L.A. game played by the MLS guys and having the Belgium game played by the European guys.

"That might have been the idea, but I'm not that way. I want them to have a sense of national team balance, no matter if it's here or somewhere else. It's my opinion the best that are right now available. If there are injuries, there are injuries. But in general, I want the best players always here, and that makes it difficult now for Benny or for George John and Omar Gonzalez for example, I understand that."

USMNT NOTES

  • Of the 22 players called in, 18 are currently in camp. Edson Buddle is scheduled to join the team later on Tuesday and Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream and Nick Rimando will get with the group later in the week following their respective MLS games.
  • Assistant coach Martin Vasquez was at practice, but he is still not yet employed by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
  • Jonathan Spector was the lone player not to participate as he continues to recover from a slight ankle injury picked up over the weekend. Spector jogged around the field, but was not involved in the team drills.
  • The team did some running, worked on passing drills and wrapped up the session by splitting the field players into two teams (gray and orange) of seven. The drill involved two mini-goals on each side. Clint Dempsey served as a two-way player in the drill.
  • The orange team was made up of DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Teal Bunbury, Maurice Edu, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco Fiscal and Danny Williams.
  • The gray team was comprised of Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman, Carlos Bocanegra, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Jeff Larentowicz and Brek Shea.
  • Altidore had his right ankle stepped on during the 7-on-7 game and was removed and tended to for precautionary measures. Dempsey took his place on the gray team.
  • Dempsey looked sharp in the game, as did Williams. The TSG Hoffenheim midfielder/defender spent a good amount of time on the left side, but players moved about freely.
  • There won't be an update on potential November friendlies until after the Euro qualifiers are played later this month, a U.S. spokesman said.
  • The United States returns to the practice field on Wednesday morning.

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What do you think of Klinsmann's continued emphasis on passing? Do you see the United States beating Honduras on Saturday? What do you think about his comments towards some of his omissions?

Share your thoughts below.

136 comments
  • pd

    There is something to be said for the opponents we’re facing as well. Those of us who have watched CONCACAF qualifying before know full well that the majority of opponents USA playes in WC qualifying will put 11 behind the ball, bank on the quick counter for scoring opportunities and swipe at ankles every chance they get. That style of play is much more suited for two tough defensive mids, a big target striker and wicked fast flank players who can track back.

    To my mind Klinsmann needs to focus on four main things: establishing the work ethic and tempo of play he expects of all USMNT players (which takes time), establish his starting back four and create a depth chart there (which also takes time) assess players that can succeed in CONCACAF qualifiers and assess players that can succeed outside of CONCACAF. All these things need to happen within the context of club demands season demands injury etc. and the willingness of the player and his management. It’s not an easy task.

    Not to diss our conference, but with the exception of Mexico Costa Rica and Honduras when they have their A team, these are not the same pool of players.

    The thing that Bob Bradley did best was he made progress through evolution, not revolution. I think that everyone expected Klinsmann to do the opposite and there’s a bit of a sobering up period not what folks are realizing that dramatic and immediate change is rare. BTW with time Bradley will be regarded as one of the greatest USMNT coaches ever (yes better than Bruce and Bora) . That’s not a dig on Klinsmann as it was time for a change…

    Like

  • Detroit!

    I don’t think that’s exactly what he’s saying. His first principle is that he “doesn’t want to shake up” the core group. He wants to “step by step” bring that group along, and then “step by step” introduce younger players with strong potential. He MIGHT also mean that Benny and Omar and so on are never going to measure up, or he might mean they aren’t part of what he sees as the core.

    For what it’s worth, I like what I’m hearing. He’s patiently building from the team’s strengths, and in his words and the callups he’s already made, he’s clearly willing to experiment with new guys. And from what we hear of his practices, it sounds like he’s got a pretty clear idea that the team needs better passing and finishing. Hard to argue with that.

    Like

  • Murph

    I don’t recall using the word fact. It’s called having an opinion. Here’s why (in my humble opinion): Ream has shown better foot skill, comfort on the ball and tactical awareness to the point that his teammates use him quite often (even on the USMNT) to start attacks out of the back and helps with a possession based game Klinsmann covets. Has he had a tough year and some bad mistakes, yes, but (in my humble opinion) he still has better upside than Gonzalez how is more in the defend and boot mold that we’ve seen with past and present US CBs. I think last night’s game is a perfect example.

    Like

  • Nigel Aghaincourt

    “Best” is such an arbitrary term. Klinsman wants the players that he wants and the US soccer public and just go scratch for all he cares.

    but the bottom line is, Beckerman, Lancerowicz, Edu aren’t going to be setting up anyone for goals. and most of the other mids look like wingers.

    Glad to see Bradley back but he’s not Xavi or even Feilhaber for that matter. actually 3 years ago when Feilhaber had a career, He and Bradley paired up quite well in the middle. but so it goes.

    and Edson Buddle is 30yrs old. Herculez Gomez is 29. so what up with that all you age-o-philes.

    Like

  • Murph

    Seriously, it’s that type of thinking that will keep the US in the 30’s in FIFA rankings. Klinsmann is trying to change a system to take the US to the next level and that takes time and tinkering. If he were just focused on results then he would be trotting out the same team that would beat an Ecuador but generally lose to a Top 20 team. Scores in these friendlies do not matter one bit. Performance does as does finding a system that works.

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  • Murph

    Indisputable fact: Tim Ream has been called into the USMNT consistently now by 2 coaches. Could it be that he is the superior player, regardless of current form, or is it that these coaches do not possess the same talent evaluation skills you have? It’s a tough call, but I would go with the former.

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  • beachbum

    at this level, of course! we’re not talking about some juvenile league here. You are not? very disappointed.

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  • beachbum

    disagree. completely. The first three games, yes, a pass…but results matter. Winning is a habit, so is losing, and so is finding excuses.

    I hope this thing works brilliantly, I am no hater. BUT, I won’t look away when what I see is disturbing and pretend

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  • beachbum

    so if the USA beats Mexico, so Gulati was talking behiond Bradley’s back just in case the USA didn’t beat Mexico, and he was planning for that? lmao

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  • beachbum

    yawn. I am hardly the only person questioning the choice…that is indesputable fact, and also happens to be my opinion.

    Like

  • beachbum

    you watched last night’s game and came up with that analysis on Gonzo and Ream’s performances? ok, got it.

    Like

  • DC Josh

    Moving towards 2014, I’d like to see a more technical side that can dictate the flow of the game in stretches. Missing Jose Torres for 2 months is HUGE, as he showed that he can be the link that holds the offense together.

    Dempsey cannot be our playmaker. He plays his best football when he has no role to play and can be creative.

    I’m hoping we see a 4-3-3/4-5-1 and not a dull 4-4-2.

    Like

  • Murph

    Absolutely. I saw a team that constantly started their attack from the back through Ream (they’ve been doing that since his first game). I recall at least 3 scoring chances that Ream broke up because his positioning was very good all game. On the other hand, while Gonzalez was stout in defense, he basically played the typical defend and boot role. We already have a number of those on the USMNT (hence him not being called up recently). Oh, and the game ended was 2-0 in favor of RBNY.

    Like

  • Murph

    Of course he wants to win and of course we all want to see the team win, but you’re missing the point. If Klinsmann simply put out the team that gave him the best chance to win each time, he would not be able to develop new players and create a new system that will hopefully bring us into Top 10 contention years from now. You have to appreciate the long view here, not just let’s beat Ecuador.

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  • beachbum

    OK Murph. I hope the USMNT plays the likes of Barrett-Lopez and not Tejada or Perez up in the tandem, OR that Ream improves exponentially by the time we face those 2 again. I truly hope he does since he is getting the call.

    Gonzo did not play long boot last night…simply not accurate.

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  • beachbum

    missing the point? Ha ha ha!!! believe what you want. The long view needs seeds to germinate now, against Ecuador. It matters.

    Like

  • beachbum

    so would I, but I still disagree. your point?

    btw, I sure enjoy all the passion that US soccer brings out in all of us. when I was growing up, that was basically non existent.

    Like

  • bryan

    I read that too. Sasha should be here over Jeff L. JK is wrong for calling up Jeff L. And Bedoya deserves to be on the team too.

    Also, Mike Bassett, Fiscal starts every game for his club…so I don’t know what you are talking about. I still don’t think he is the “best”, but he plays 90 essentially every week.

    Like

  • bryan

    I think Sasha is probably better than Jeff L. at this point. And I think Bedoya should be in here. Other than that, yeah, it’s pretty much our best core. If Jones continues to play, he’ll be back.

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  • bryan

    I think they are “core” depth players. Beckerman is not going to start if Edu and Bradley are healthy and playing 90 minutes with their club. And Jones will likely make it back, which puts Beckerman even further back. I couldn’t agree more about Larentowitz though, he has no place on this team. Especially when you have Sasha available who plays in a 4-2-3-1 formation with his (much better) club week in and week out. Fiscal (Orozco) is fine with me, he plays 90 minutes every week and is not garbage. I agree that John and Gonzalez should get a look, but Fiscal is at least deserving of his place. And I’m sure he does not mean Williams. He’s new, he’s a prospect. But he’s one of the best ones we have. Especially considering he can play LB.

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  • soccerfan

    Yes you are reading it wrong. He doesn’t want to have a revolving door,wants to develop consistency with the same group of players.Doesn’t want to replace a player just because it had a one poor game. If Tim Ream or anyone keeps having bad games then clearly he will give others a chance.

    Like

  • bryan

    I disagree about Sasha. He absolutely deserves to be on the bench of Jeff L. I use to dislike Sasha, but he is playing 90 minutes and playing well in a solid league. Parkhurst and Rolfe aren’t snubs. Benny should be there before Jeff L. too.

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  • bryan

    I didn’t see that. Anyone know why he is not available? Goodson is a starter, no doubt, so I wouldn’t read into this too much. Opens the doors for Gooch to take back his spot though.

    Like

  • bryan

    Rogers and Castillo were initial prospects that haven’t been called in again. Fiscal is better than most give him credit for. Mixx, Gatt and Goodson were not avaialble because their leagues end soon. Bedoya just cracked the lineup at Rangers. Gomez had a foot injury and couldn’t come.

    I do agree about him calling in Larentowicz. Waste of a spot. I agree that Sasha should be there.

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  • Murph

    Agree to disagree. Everyone who talks about Gonzalez’s shortcomings always begin with his lack of foot skill and tactical awareness.

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  • GW

    bbum,

    What does Reyna have to do with anything?

    Do you really care about all the stuff before JK was hired?

    He’s here now and his job is to handle the senior team.

    Like

  • GW

    “With Ream and Orozco he hs not played them in big games like BB did with Bornstein. So far they have only been on the bench.”

    Orozco played against Mexico.

    Given that JK has only been here for three games, all exhibitions, that game was the closest thing this bunch of players has had to a “big” game.

    Like

  • GW

    “The thing that Bob Bradley did best was he made progress through evolution, not revolution. I think that everyone expected Klinsmann to do the opposite and there’s a bit of a sobering up period not what folks are realizing that dramatic and immediate change is rare. BTW with time Bradley will be regarded as one of the greatest USMNT coaches ever (yes better than Bruce and Bora) . That’s not a dig on Klinsmann as it was time for a change…”

    Good post. People here hardly ever give the opposing team credit.

    I always thought that if the World Cup had been in 2011 instead of 2010, BB would still be here and by that I mean Bradley’s best team, the 2009 Confederations Cup team was torn apart by injuries to key players who were never replaced ( Demerit,Gooch and Davies).

    Bradley capped so many new players and had so many players on his radar (like Joe Corona)that it will be a while before JK can bring in a player that was truly “his” and his alone.

    I do think JK has a good foundation on which to build so this period leading up to the WC qualifiers next spring should be very entertaining. I like that he seems to not be so focused on individual players so much as he is focused on creating a new team focus and identity. A new man always needs to place his stamp on things and so far it’s been very interesting.

    Like

  • GW

    “Missing Jose Torres for 2 months is HUGE, as he showed that he can be the link that holds the offense together. ”

    I don’t know about that.

    That offense scored one goal in three games.

    Torres looked good at times but if there is no end product, sooner or later, then JK will drop him. You have to score or help people score and Torres had nothing to do with the one goal that bunch did score.

    Like

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