By PABLO MAURER
SANDY, Utah – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans to have a full-strength squad for October’s World Cup qualifiers have taken a hit. Klinsmann announced on Tuesday that Michael Bradley would not be taking part in the October qualifiers as he continues to recover from the sprained ankle he suffered prior to the team’s September loss to Costa Rica.
Klinsmann spoke to media prior to Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup final and made it clear that neither Bradley or John Brooks would be taking part in the upcoming qualifiers vs. Jamaica and Panama, but did reveal his plans to bring in an otherwise full-strength squad to training camp, which begins on Sunday.
“John Anthony Brooks with Hertha Berlin, he will be out. He’s not back with the team yet,” Klinsmann said. “I spoke to Michael Bradley this morning. He’s also trying to catch up. It’s not going to be in time for our two games because he’s still not in training with his team in Roma.”
Klinsmann said he plans on having veterans Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey with the national team when camp starts in Kansas City on Sunday.
“I spoke to Sigi (Schmid) a couple of times and they expect (Clint Dempsey) back on the weekend,” Klinsmann said. “So therefore we’ll expect him in camp on Sunday and then we’ll see where he’s at.”
The U.S. coach made it clear his selection process for the upcoming qualifiers is no way being affected by the MLS schedule, which will see MLS matches played during the international fixture window.
“It’s absolutely no issue for us,” Klinsmann said. “Obviously we see the busy schedule MLS is going through, but we make that no difference. This is World Cup qualifying. We want to end it on a very high note, so we’re going to call in the guys we believe in.
“There are obviously a lot question marks,” Klinsmann added. “Eight or nine guys on yellow cards still, and some injuries happen so it might force you into some changes after the first game against Jamaica.
“If that’s going to be the case we’ll make some changes, but we’re not looking at the MLS schedule at all.”
Klinsmann stressed just how important the upcoming qualifiers are to help evaluate his team, and to give players an opportunity to impress and work toward earning a place on the next summer’s roster.
“There’s a World Cup waiting for you in Brazil. All you need to say is Brazil. The race is on,” said Klinsmann. “This about showing, especially the coaches, but everyone, that you deserve to go to Brazil. All these games, every training session, everything that goes on in the camp, has a meaning. They know that once they come in it’s about serious business. We want to do well. We want to improve as a team.
“We still have a long way to go,” Klinsmann said. “The benchmark was CONCACAF. We managed it. We qualified in advance, which was nice, but when you look towards Brazil, and you look at the nations that are going to qualify, and have already qualified, this is a whole different ballgame so we have to start preparing for that.”
Klinsmann also downplayed the possibility of calling in top young American prospects for the upcoming qualifiers, insisting that players such as the top members of the most recent Under-20 World Cup team need to focus on gaining experience on the club side rather than being called up to the senior team.
“All the youngsters that were with (U-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos), we watch them,” Klinsmann said. “Whether it’s DeAndre Yedlin, for example, in Seattle, or Luis (Gil) there, or a (Jose) Villarreal. But we also see that they’re also still missing a lot. We’ve got to give them time. The best thing that can happen to them is play. Play games. Get as many games as you can and grow.”