U.S. Men's National Team

USMNT Notes: Donovan's injury showing improvement, Kljestan's return and more


Photo by ISIphotos.com


Fears that Landon Donovan will miss yet another U.S. men's national team training camp have been put to rest by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Klinsmann revealed during a conference call on Monday afternoon that Donovan's injured left knee had shown substantial signs of progress and the veteran midfielder was on a plane to Miami to join the rest of the U.S. for their preparations ahead of their important World Cup qualifier against Antigua and Barbuda on Friday. Donovan injured his knee late in the Los Angeles Galaxy's 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night after a collision with Jamison Olave, laying motionless on the field before being stretchered off by team doctors.

"We were in touch over the last two days, obviously, and he was actually supposed to do an MRI this morning in Los Angeles but he skipped it because it improved a lot yesterday during the day," said Klinsmann. "We spoke last night and he said if it was even better this morning, he would skip the MRI and come straight to Miami."

Another player who is coming off an injury but was included in the U.S. roster was Jermaine Jones. Jones did not dress for Schalke 04's 3-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg this past Saturday because of a left ankle injury picked up in training last week, but Klinsmann said the German club held the midfielder out as a precaution and that he should be 'totally fine' for the U.S. camp.

Here are more USMNT notes from Monday's conference call: 


One of the bigger shocks among the 24 players selected for the upcoming qualifiers was Sacha Kljestan, who Klinsmann has not selected since the 1-0 victory over Italy in February despite some strong performance for RSC Anderlecht. Klinsmann, however, stated that Kljestan's recent form at the club level had satisfied him and warranted a call-up.

"Sacha was with us in Italy and then we left him out and I discussed it with him but he was always absolute by us and he's done well the last couple of games," said Klinsmann. "We had (assistant coach) Andy Hertzog actually go to one of his games, Anderlecht played Malaga, and he did very well even if they lost that game.

"He played in a way that we wanted to see him play. He was very aggressive, he was very direct, he looked for the vertical balls to play, he didn't play sideways the whole time, and he pushed forward in order to get shots off himself, so we are pleased with the way he's playing right now and that's why he's getting the call."

Jose Torres' inability to leave his stamp in recent U.S. games might also explain Kljestan's call-up. Klinsmann said in September that he wanted to see more offensively from Torres, a regular selection of his, but the diminutive midfielder failed to do that despite enjoying one of his better outings in a U.S. jersey in the 1-0 win over Jamaica last month.


Normally a midfielder, Maurice Edu was listed as a defender on the U.S. roster that was unveiled on Monday afternoon and Klinsmann thinks centerback could be the best position for Edu going forward. Klinsmann again singled out the United States' unprecedented win over Mexico at Estadio Azteca in August as a match that showed how good Edu can be as a centerback and the versatile Stoke City player may be a long-term solution as to who to pair Geoff Cameron with in central defense.

"He's a very serious option for us as a centerback, absolutely, going forward," said Klinsmann. "You can obviously play him as a (No.) 6 or 8, but the way he managed the game in Mexico City was the way we hoped to see him, because that's why we tried it out.

"Mo right now is going through his initial stages there with Stoke City. He has to break into the team. Now, he finally got onto the field the last game. He doesn't have enough playing minutes over the last couple of weeks that we hoped he will have but he's on the right track because his transfer was just getting done the last day of the transfer period, so he's a serious option for us as a centerback going forward and as well always as a defensive midfielder."


How big of a role do you expect Donovan and Jones to have in Friday's game? Happy to see Kljestan back in the mix? Agree that Edu should be seen as a centerback option?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Juan

    JK has looked at Wondo multiple times and the answer is no thanks.

    Im not in love with any of the usual forwards though I really think the lack of goals is more a function of playing too many defensive mids with no creative mid in sight

    BTW… I dont see Kljestan on the bench and more that likely, this is his last chance if he doesn’t impress in camp. Kljestan hasnt seen the day that he’s better than Benny and Benny can’t even get a sniff. Being stuck on the crappy Revs is not his fault


  • Louis Z

    I thought that was the problem with Jozy’s performance, didn’t get enough service. How is Gordon going to solve that?


  • dcm

    Our starting lineup should be fine, what scares me is if someone gets hurt in camp. Imagine Gordon or EJ actually starting? Their frailties will show very quick. Both of these selection are a joke. EJ had his chance, so many time I can’t count, and never did squat. I’m assuming the people who approve of that selection are too young to remember the last ten years of Eddie Johnson.
    Gordon? Whatever. If Jurgen doesn’t know he has about 10 stronger options, then he will fail eventually.


  • Louis Z

    This formation is very much offense oriented, it would always work if LD and Zusi could play high pressure D.


  • Benjamin C.

    Let’s just move past the Jozy situation and examine your comment . . . You want me to blindly respect the authority of a manager who calls up Alan Gordan over all other available options?

    And then concerning your blanket generational comment: this nation was built by men who refused to respect authority when it was dead wrong. Remember the Founding Fathers? How about something more recent: Martin Luther King, Jr.? Don’t be condescending.


  • Joe B NYC

    I never said let’s re-hire Double B, but I do miss him. If not Gus Hiddink, re-hire Bruce Arena.


  • Benjamin C.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your Gordon viewpoint; he clearly does not have the talent to make it at the international level, period. He is an adequate MLS player, and that is fine, but I understand the reasoning to bring him in over other much better options.

    However, I only agree partly with your EJ critique. Yes, he had a lot of chances, and yes, he squandered many of them. That being said, he looks like a completely different player in the games I have seen him in this year. He is very fit, which has allowed him to take advantage of his immense natural athleticism. He is running off the ball better and working harder than I ever saw him do in the past. And, you have to admit this whether you like him or not, he is scoring some great goals for the Sounders. I would argue that this may not be the best time to bring him in over guys like Altidore or Boyd, but he deserved a look at some point by Klinsi.


  • cj

    You all are missing the brilliance of JK. He left out Jozy and picked Gordon so you all would forget about Timmy Chandler. Was it not just last week everybody said no Chandler in this round, his ship has sailed. Well, I guess that ship is out to sea.


  • Soccer Prediction

    Wow there was a nice informative post I can’t read that news before that about anywhere on website or in any new paper but you have done a good work to post that new keep it up with nice work


  • Lucas B. Middleton

    You are correct. And thank you for reminding all of us that it’s the players who pick the team and it’s the coaches job to sing them lullabyes and bake them cupcakes and be happy about it. Our founding fathers double thank you. I remember the glory days of the USMNT in the early 1960s. Man, that MLK sure could play down the wings and lay in some sweet crosses. If only JFK had lived to see that.


  • 20

    Parkhurst has been very good lately. Lichaj needs to get back in the picture at Aston Villa


  • biff

    +1 Jogi Low always holds a press conference at the German Football Association headquarters after announcing rosters that can be heard live and with complete transcripts. I also would like to know what questions reporters are asking and hear Klinsmann’s answers. For example, some news stories are saying that Jose Torres was not called up this time by Klinsmann because he was injured. I also would like to know if any reporters asked Klinsmann whether he invited Timothy Chandler.


  • Soccertes

    Wow, dropping in late here, but skimming the comments my reaction is let’s all calm down a bit. Yes, this roster is unusual compared to what had become the standard 24 but frankly I’m surprised at the level of incredulity and bewilderment in response to Jozy’s omission. I do not share in said incredulity or bewilderment. To me, Jozy: (1) hasn’t made a valuable on-field contribution to the Nats since the 2010 WC (in which he should have scored after rounding Carragher v. England but failed to finish; OK, that’s abit harsh, but still); (2) was flat out terrible in the most recent qualifiers; (3) continuously demonstrates a lacking work ethic and questionable fitness; (4) has maturity/attitude problems as demonstrated by his 2 yellows last weekend and JK’s comments (although some of you may question whether JK cooked this up or is sour over the controversial tweet thing).

    Despite this abject lack of any meaningful production at the USMNT level, everybody is aghast at Jozy’s exclusion from these 2 qualifiers because he’s scored a bunch of goals in a league known for playing casual and porous defense. We can debate the quality of the merits of the Eresvidie another time, but the point for me is that given Jozy’s lack of impact the only theoretical “advantage” to calling Jozy over a guy like Eddie Johnson is that Jozy has more big-game experience. This might matter if we could remember the last time Jozy actually made a differenc in a big game for the Nats. Plus, there’s a tactical advantage to guys like Gordon and Johnson who can hold up play/act as target men for the aerial style that we presumably will need to implement against two teams who are likely to pack it in for the whole game. When you’re playing a “half-court” offense like we’re gonna be, you need target men who can hold up the ball. The only think Jozy showed he could hold up recently was our ability to score.

    Sorry. I like Jozy – or should I say I like his potential – but I don’t love his game. There’s just something about his style and attitude that to me reflects a lack of tenacity or total dedication. He could learn a thing or two from Dempsey.


  • jb

    Agreed. It is the “soccer-mom” mentality that all players should get a trophy and playing time, etc. This is the highest level of the sport and we have a manager that has lived and played and won at the highest level. He commands respect and I’m glad. Frankly, if doesnt sit Jozy, he loses respect from the other players who bust their tails and act professionally.


  • Josh

    Keep Williams because he’s disciplined enough to protect the backline from counters and that’ll be our only weakness in both games. Playing him as a defensive mid will also allow our sidebacks (Johnson & Dolo) to bomb forward more without worry. Plus, Williams, this season, has shown he has a great distant shot and can keep momentum with his passing. He’s perfect there.

    I agree with the general formation, except we need Boca back there more than Edu. Boca offers more in the box both offensively and defensively, plus his experience will be crucial in a situation when everyone on the field, in the stands, and on their couch are biting their fingers to the bone. Keep calm.


  • Josh

    Agreed. Edu has athleticism which has gotten him further in Europe than his skills/soccer IQ. If he’s going to be a CB for us, he needs to break into the Stoke starting 11 as a CB. It’s madness to play both Edu AND Cameron as CBs when neither of them are playing the position for club. We need consistency in club to build consistency in the national setup.


  • ko'd

    Yea, not sure how to address this, as your comments are unsupported and unsupportable.

    1) So what you are saying is that JK is ok with bringing in new old guys like Gordon and EJ? Tactically speaking, it’s a downgrade. Bringing someone in because they can head the ball is ridiculous on every level. These guys are top professionals. It’s ludicrous to bring in a player for a single skill set (which, I might add, is not exactly lacking in the three forwards left out). EJ and Gordon don’t corner the market on that skill set, or at least any more than Altidore, Boyd or Wondo. And EJ and Gordon don’t have 20 headed goals combined. Don’t make up stats to support flimsy arguments.

    2) Gordon doesn’t start for the Earthquakes (he has started only 13 games this season). Boyd didn’t start a couple of times. But, Boyd has been in the system for a while and is tied for third in scoring in the Austrian Bundesliga.

    3) Lichaj was only recently benched. And regardless of whether JK favors Fabian or Dolo, you still need cover.

    Tactically, it makes zero sense. You said “At the end of a game when the stakes are high and people are lobbing balls into the box that’s what you want.” Three problems with that: First, the U.S. hasn’t had the players to provide service into the box (or at least they have been poor in doing so), so regardless of who is in the box, the service won’t be there. Second, JK didn’t bring in a bunch of wide midfielders that can provide service. He brought in, once again, 5-6 central midfielders. Third and finally, lobbing the ball into the box is not a tactic. And even if it is, “when the stakes are high” you want guys that have been there before. Gordon and EJ haven’t.


  • Josh

    Thank you for being the voice of reason. There is logic in each choice Klinsi makes. You may not agree with them, but there is thought behind it.

    Jozy was absolutely dreadful during his last outing, and has been. And any talk about not getting service is an excuse because both Dempsey and Herc have excelled.

    When Jozy was brought on he gave the ball away every time save once, jogged, and didn’t challenge for balls. If we want to play an exciting 4-3-3, the defense starts with the strikers and Jozy is not willing to do that. We cannot have a striker out there who isn’t going to contribute and isn’t going to guarentee a goal every game if given the opportunity. Jozy still misses as much as he makes. If he was a Van Persie or Ruud, fine, let him camp at the top because if you give him half a chance he’ll score. But Jozy is no where near that.

    He’s doing a great job in the Netherlands. Better than anyone of us thought he’d do. But for every great striker that comes out of the Netherlands, there are countless failures. So he needs to build on this season wtih another team-leading season then move to either Spain, Germany, Italy, or back to England to really challenge his skills and develop.

    He’s our best natural striker, but he isn’t our best striker because the work ethic isn’t there. And Klinsi is the fourth coach to punish him for it and point it out.

    Wondo doesn’t dominate aerially and hasn’t impressed either under Klinsi or Bob. Johnson has proven he can score against these kinds of international opponents and Gordon is just a big body who is going to throw himself at every ball, no second thoughts about injury. You’ll need that if we need a goal. Perfectly justified options.


  • Benjamin C.

    You are a rhetorical genius. And obviously don’t understand anything about context.


  • Alex G

    What about Chandler?, is he on the German´s national squad or what?,who cares to give us an update.


  • biff

    Come on Alex G, are you too lazy to check news reports or the German Football Association web site to see whether Timmy was called up? Why don’t you check it out and give us an update.


  • Danny

    You may say that the Dutch league is “lax,” but lets keep in mind that we played Jaimaica and had about as much offense as Biden has Brain cells. Political jokes aside (this isnt a political debate), Jozy has scored against some powerful soccer nations before Klinsmen implented his “super offensive” (At least 9 defenders and maybe two attackers) soccer. Jozy hasnt been performing because no one has. Dempsey, Gomez, and Boyd have all been pretty piss poor in my opinion because we never have chances anyway. We beat mexico and Italy in friendlies. Awesome. We cant beat teams in Concacaf. Imagine when Mexico or Italy actually need to win. We are done for. Dont diss Jozy because he has maurice edu or jermaine jones as his offensive support. Jozy needs help, he aint a one man show. Cmon People, Jozy has been a beast for the USA in the past! What changed? Jozy? look at his club season, he is that much better! The coach and playing style changed. And we cant win Concacaf games. Bring back Bob Bradley!!


  • oscarinfw

    Edu can only be an emergency CB at best. How often has he played that position. He must also be out of form; I think he’s played maybe 10 minutes for Stoke this year at midfield. I’ll be surprised if he plays other than a cameo appearance in a game which is already decided


  • Felix

    I’m not a JJ fan myself. Too many turnovers and a propensity for stupid fouls.
    I’d prefer him to be a backup for the moment.
    My preferential #6 is Danny Williams.


  • dcm

    True, true, I will give him one more chance, just one more. I am already having flashbacks, though.


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