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.”