Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
With less than two weeks away before a pair grueling World Cup qualifiers in Costa Rica and in Columbus, Ohio against Mexico, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is beginning to put the pieces together on his roster.
If the current 12-game winning streak has shown anything to Klinsmann and his coaching staff, it’s that the squad is progressing like he had always hoped, and there is competition at every position for a place in the team. By selecting 45 different players during the course of the summer’s schedule, the USMNT manager has had a chance to see up close and personal everyone from sure starters to players for the future.
“The pool became deeper,” Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “We have more flexibility. I think we have more players now that understand what the demands are, actually fulfilled their roles very positively, and are ready to match those demands.”
Klinsmann was also complimentary of a number of players who took sizable steps forward this summer in their development, including midfielders Joe Corona, Alejandro Bedoya, and Mix Diskerud. The three were a key part of the Gold Cup squad, helping lead the USMNT to their first title in the competition since 2007.
“It’s been great to see how players came along over the last two years and make the decisions for us even more difficult,” Klinsmann said. “The tricky part now is how to unite the rosters from the Gold Cup and the games from May and June. There are going to be very tough decisions.”
According to Klinsmann, the most important factor when selecting his roster will be if a player is getting games each week for his team. That opens up questions for some players in the national team pool, including Michael Parkhurst, Tim Ream, and the Stoke City duo Brek Shea and Maurice Edu, all of whom are still working their way into the lineup in the young season.
Klinsmann’s mantra since taking over has been to make sure players are in a rhythm, and with big pressure matches on the horizon at Costa Rica and at home against Mexico, the USMNT head coach understands the need for everyone to be match fit come September 6 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
“It will impact it, no doubt about it. World Cup qualifying is very intense, and you need the players to be sharp and in full swing as much possible,” Klinsmann said. “It’s never going to be the ideal scenario. You always have to make some compromises here and there, especially based on what a specific game demands. Having said that, it’s crucial that the guys have their minutes in their legs and are ready for those types of intense games.”
As Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey made big transfer moves this summer, the USMNT boss also waded into the conversation calling for the European summer transfer window to end earlier. Klinsmann praised Altidore’s move to Sunderland and complimented Major League Soccer highly for the growth of talent in the league, where a good amount of his squad players ply their trade.
At the same time, Klinsmann has first-hand experience in dealing with the harsher side of the transfer window, likely recalling last year’s deadline day moves by Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra, which set the two back in their match fitness for the national side.
“It’s wrong. There is plenty of time in the offseason for transfers to take place,” Klinsmann said. “It could be done by July 31 and it would be completely fine. It would be better for the players who are getting transferred, because they could still get in a little part of preseason with their new team. Now it just drags on until the beginning of September and teams are already in full swing. It messes everybody up, and it’s a lose-lose.”
What do you make of these comments? Do you see Klinsmann leaving off players who aren’t playing regularly for their team’s? Do you agree that the USMNT pool is deeper?
Share your thoughts below.