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U.S. Men's Olympic Team

U.S. U-23s, Chandler on Klinsmann's radar for Copa America

Photo by Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Photo by Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

With World Cup qualifiers complete until the fall, the focus of the U.S. Men’s National Team has turned to the Copa America and which players could make Jurgen Klinsmann’s tournament roster.

The USMNT is set to play host to South America’s biggest tournament, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary on U.S. soil. As the summer’s prime competition, the Copa America will pose plenty of tough questions for Klinsmann regarding the team he assembles.

The recent availability of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team’s top stars has only added to Klinsmann’s potential pool. After falling to Colombia in a recent Olympic Qualifying playoff, the U.S. U-23s will be available and eligible for selection for this summer’s competition.

“With the fact that our Olympic team did not qualify for Rio de Janeiro, the situation comes up where how many of those younger players are ready to get into the senior level toward Copa America,” Klinsmann said. “I think that’s a discussion to have. Matt Miazga, for example, breaking in at Chelsea. Ethan Horvath playing with Molde, playing in the Europe League until they lost to Sevilla. He’s a very promising goalkeeper. How fast can his development curve be over the next 12 months?

“Kellyn Acosta could have been with us for Guatemala, but was with the Olympic team and Jordan Morris, who has already been with the senior team. Does it change their situation? It absolutely does, because they’re not getting the opportunity to play in the Olympics and we’re going to help them to develop, help them their next step in their careers. It’s going to be an open fight with the senior guys to get into that roster for the Copa America.”

One player in particular that has impressed Klinsmann as of late is Miazga, who recently made his first Premier League appearance for Chelsea.

Klinsmann revealed that he texted Miazga a short congratulations after the appearance, a full 90-minute performance in a 4-0 thrashing of Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa. With Chelsea looking to build around youth for the final few weeks, the USMNT coach is hoping to see Miazga continue to emerge while furthering his case for the summer.

“It’s big for Matt, a huge milestone that he kind of took in playing his first game in the Premier League,” Klinsmann said. “To be at such a prestigious club as Chelsea with tremendous players around him and a very very good coach there that guides him through that process, that’s exciting for us. He came back from the Olympic team qualifiers, the playoff with Colombia, not succeeding there and getting to Rio, but he comes back and he’s playing for Chelsea in the starting lineup.”

While Miazga battles into the Chelsea lineup, another player that has seen his stock rise a bit with Klinsmann is Timmy Chandler. The Eintracht Frankfurt fullback has been out of the USMNT picture since the Gold Cup, but has recently regained form in Bundesliga play.

“If they’re playing in Europe or in Mexico or MLS, it’s always with the hope that they show their qualities on the field,” Klinsmann said. “Players that hadn’t been given the chance maybe in the last couple of weeks to perform are back in the picture. For example, Timmy Chandler is back in the lineup for Eintracht Frankfurt and we get the chance to see how he is doing for the next couple of weeks. We’re still waiting for Alfredo Morales, that he comes back after his injury and was now on the bench.

“With Timmy, it’s important to see that he really picks it up and plays strongly in the Bundesliga in order to have a shot maybe at the Copa America. Obviously, he had a game playing against the champions, Bayern Munich, and on his side, he played at right back, he had to deal with Franck Ribery and Franck was just in outstanding form and scored an unbelievable, beautiful goal. That was a tough one for Timmy Chandler, but hopefully now he’s going to pick it up.”

With the Copa America less than two months away, Klinsmann is hoping to see other contenders follow the lead of Miazga and Chandler.

In the Bundesliga, Fabian Johnson and John Brooks continue to battle back from injury, with Brooks set to miss out again this weekend. In MLS, players like Brek Shea continues to shine, while Clint Dempsey looks to have started to turn things around with the Seattle Sounders.

Klinsmann’s biggest desire for improvement comes with regards to his Liga MX pool. With several crucial players like Omar Gonzalez and William Yarbrough earning consistent playing time, Klinsmann is hoping to see several others step up and be counted ahead of this summer’s tournament.

“Liga MX is in full run, and our players are with their clubs doing very well. Unfortunately, not all of them get the playing time that we want to see from our players,” Klinsmann said. “The higher you play in your club environment, the thinner the air. In order to have your starting spot, you compete with very, very good players. We have to be patient there.

“Maybe when Ventura Alvarado is not playing, maybe there’s a reason for it or Michael Orozco not getting into the starting lineup right away. William Yarbrough is doing really well at Club Leon, that’s fun to see. Edgar Castillo played the first 45 for Monterrey. We follow them throughout their club performances and sometimes it works out great, and sometimes it’s a bummer that he doesn’t get the playing time he should have.”

38 comments
  • The Imperative Voice

    Why are we still talking Alvarado/Castillo/Orozco after Guatemala? How do you talk about U23s and not consider Parker?

    JK needs to get his brain off of “well he plays x minutes for y club” and scout if they can actually play defense. It reminds me of the people who were pushing Shea and Yedlin as bookends as though Chile never happened. The defense is so poor it would be in our best interests to find people who can in fact play defense, and then worry about whether we can toss someone in for upgraded attacking value.

    Like

    • Atx-Colin

      Please no Parker, there is more to defense then barreling into to people at full speed and blasting the ball up the field.

      Like

    • Benjamin C.

      Yedlin-Cameron-Brooks-Villafana would be my backline for the rest of this year, but that’s just me and there is no way the mad scientist is going to settle on just one lineup for important games.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mack

        I’d personally like to give Cameron a shot at D Mid and have Besler-Brooks at CB

        Like

    • Gary Page

      With the U-23’s and the USMNT rosters and those who have played for both, you have about 50 players in the pool, so I guess you want him to discuss all of them? this is mindless criticism for criticism’s sake.

      Like

      • The Imperative Voice

        It’s mindless to criticize the coach referencing the same players who lost him a game in Guatemala?

        Like

  • Francois

    WHY IS VILLAFANA NOT GETTING A LOOK OR BEING MENTIONED?! Sorry, but it’s ludicrous to me.

    Like

    • Johnnyrazor

      He doesn’t mention anyone that hasn’t been with the NT before, doesn’t mean he isn’t monitoring Villafana. He told Castillo this was his last shot, which you could take to mean he has others he is thinking about to replace him.

      Keep in mind it might be good to give Villafana the Summer off and bring him in this fall. He had no off season because of his transfer to Santos and has basically been in season since last March. If he plays in Copa, he will basically have played 15 straight months with maybe month off before his Liga Mx season begins again. He could be brought in for St VG and TnT and then you have two October friendlies to prep for the Hex.

      Like

  • Benjamin C.

    A couple of other player questions I would like to hear him address: Any thoughts on bringing Villafana in, considering he could be the most in form left back in the player pool, a constant position of need? Why is Matt Hedges not given more of an opportunity over sparsely played guys like Orozco and Alvarado?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gary Page

      A year or year and a half ago, Garza was the flavor of the month. Last season in MLS it was Lletget. Now he’s been replaced by Villafana. Why leave out Lletget? Villafana had a good year with the Timbers and a great game in the MLS championship. He played a couple of games for the US U-20’s. He is now playing in Liga MX, but so are a lot of other Americans, including many who have been dissed here. Villafana may or may not be international quality. To pencil him in as a starter on the national team, as many have done, at this point is mindless fanboy behavior. And i have followed him since he first broke in with Chivas as an 18 year old and am glad to see him do well.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Johnnyrazor

        Hateboy behavior might be more appropriate. Anyone who doesn’t get called in is therefor our best player at that position

        Liked by 1 person

      • Reg Chapman

        I think most people just want JK to call him up and take a look at him for probably our weakest position right now. It was a big red flag when Villafana stated that JK never even contacted him at all.

        Like

  • UclaBruinGreat

    JK should put me on his radar. I had an out of character stellar game this past Sunday in my soccer league.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Rob

    According to Klinsmann these guys sucked so bad against Colombia and during the Olympic qualifiers they earned a callup with the senior team. It makes sense.

    Like

    • Benjamin C.

      Horvath is pretty much the only guy on the team I watched that could contribute much to the full national team as of today.

      Like

  • colininmt

    My main hope for this summer’s Copa is that a left back and a young(ish) d-mid are given an extended chance to solidify those positions. Start veterans or known commodities at the other positions, but give two guys a real chance to make those spots their own. I don’t care if it’s (LB) Shea, Villafana, Ream, Chandler, Garza, Castillo, Acosta or (DM) Williams, Morales, Trapp, Dax, Acosta, or whoever else. Pick two guys and let them start all three group games.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gary Page

      The main purpose of the US in the tournament should be to give valuable experience to promising youngsters and get the younger players ready whom we will need to replace veterans when we are playing in the Hex and, hopefully, the World Cup.

      Liked by 2 people

      • colininmt

        I generally agree Gary. Guys like Beckerman, Jones, Dempsey, and Zusi shouldn’t see much time (or even be called). The rest of our “veterans” seem like guys who will be contributing/integral during the rest of the cycle and World Cup: Bradley, Cameron, Besler, Altidore, Johnson, Bedoya, etc. I consider Brooks, Yedlin, Wood, Zardes, and to a lesser extent, Morris to be “known commodities.” I think starting a mixture of those two groups, while integrating young(ish) talent—especially at LB and D-mid—should be the goal.

        Like

  • Fire Klinsmann

    Klinsmann is dumber and dummer and dumber. WEe choked on the Olympics … again… so lets move the chokers up to the Sr. team. That will fix them. I wish US Soccer would take this long layoff until the next qualifier to find another coach. We cannot go on having a fool running the show that still thinks friggin Timmy is International quality. Im so depressed

    Like

    • The Imperative Voice

      Isn’t that what he’s done with Johnson and Hamid from last time? As well as some of the field players?

      It’s like what he does is pecking order oriented and abstracted away from suitability for purpose. Can the defender defend, or what does the keeper’s GAA look like, should be pretty important for selection, more so than, oh, he was the U23 keeper. Like you said, the U23s failed (twice now), that should beg for some caution.

      This team needs fresh blood and I am a little concerned from the names rattled off he is going in circles.

      Like

      • Johnnyrazor

        So rule out the current U23s and the last U23s so we should only play those under 19 and over 27. Olympic qualifying isn’t like WC there is virtually no margin for error, one bad game and you are done. This year we were lucky that there was a playoff in past years we wouldn’t have had the chance to play a home and away series. Where would our team be if Landon Donovan, DeMarcus Beasley, Eddie Johnson, and Kyle Beckerman had been ruled out after 2004 failure to qualify.

        Like

    • Gary Page

      So, where should we get our young players to groom for the future? From the U-20’s, or from guys who weren’t good enough to make the U-23’s? The comments here just get dumber and dumber.

      Liked by 2 people

  • Brain Guy

    The next time JK even mentions Alvarado or Orozco, I may just lose my mind.

    Like

    • Gary Page

      Alvarado is 23 years old. So, does that mean you think his career will not improve and he is hopelessly stuck in mediocrity or worse? Matt Besler didn’t get his first cap until he was two weeks short of 26.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Scott e Dio93

    A combo U23’s with Abroad players. D: Yedellin, Payne, Cameron, Brooks, Miazga, Parker, Castillo, Villafana. DM: Williams, maybe Cameron or Ream,Acosta, Torres. CM: Zelalem, Gil, Hyman. AM/Winger: Pulisic, Johnson, Bedoya, Akale, Arriola, Kiesewetter, Fafa. ST: Morris, Woods, Rubio.

    Like

  • Scott e Dio93

    There’s talent with our youth players, but our youth players just poorly manage and not given winner mentality by mediocre Federation and coaches.

    Like

  • Lost in Space

    I said it right after the U-23 loss that we needed to turn the Copa Tournament into an opportunity to integrate younger players into the team. Take the best of the U-23s, a handful of younger fringe type players, and put them with a Core group of Veterans and let them train for a month and get experience from the 5 games that are a given (2 friendlies & 3 group stage matches).
    Leave the OLD Veterans (Orozco, Evans, Wondo, Beckerman, Jones) at home and build towards the future.
    Core Players: Guzan, Cameron, Brooks, Besler, Yedlin, Bradley, Fabian, Dempsey (Super-Sub)
    Fringe Players: Yarbrough, Villafana, Chandler, Nagbe, Williams, Lleget, Zardes, Finlay
    Young Players: Horvath, Miazga, Acosta, Hyndman, Morris, Kiessewetter, Pulisic

    We need to get these young players real experience before the Hex. And since this tournament means nothing to us other than bragging rights I’d rather see us build towards the future than hang our hats with a bunch of players who’ll not be around come 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gary Page

      Nice to see a rational and well thought out post on this subject. Of course you are right because I agree with you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Twomilerule

      The notion that the USMNT is only as good as their last match is a constant theme and interpretation by the press and on these boards. So I appreciate your foresight with your post. Given that JK’s approach is always to build a team for WC success. Exploring the player pool, interchanging players at positions, and most of all seeing how players react in certain situations are key success.
      Any coach wants his best 11 on the field and of those 11 he wants guys he can trust, compete, and will be accountable.

      Like

  • Johnnyrazor

    If you read the actual interview you will see the questions are directly related to the players mentioned in the excerpts above. Certainly, he could have brought up Villafana in the Liga Mx question as he did Orozco, but he wasn’t asked about him. The article above makes it seem like JK was just giving statements about players which seems misleading.

    http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2016/04/06/19/40/160406-mnt-q-and-a-klinsmann-discusses-current-club-league-success

    Like

    • Johnnyrazor

      In the comment section of the interview I asked that they question JK about Villafana, maybe it will work. Probably not.

      Like

  • Louis Z

    JK thinks highly of Acosta, even after the Colombia playoffs? Maybe Acosta will be the next Jozy in JK’s eyes.

    Like

    • slowleftarm

      Yeah, the kid had one bad game playing at his secondary position. He might as well retire.

      Like

    • Johnnyrazor

      If he becomes the third greatest LB in NT history I’d be ok with that.

      Like

  • Time for New Blood

    While the U-23s were not successful there were still some talented players within the pool. As with the last cycle the poor preparation during the CONCACAF qualification tournament was the cause for the poor performances. The bulk of the fault can be placed at the feet of the coach.
    Of the players involved in either the Qualification and/or the Play-off there are a handful who deserve to move up to the senior team:
    1) Horvath – A quality option for the #3 Keeper. Cropper & Steffen aren’t too far behind either.
    2) Miazga – With a little seasoning/experience he could step into the starting RCB role allowing Cameron to be shifted to CDM.
    3) Kiessewetter & Arriola – We need options on the wing. Both have speed, skill, and a willingness to take on defenders. This is something the Sr. Team is missing.
    4) Acosta, Payne, & Vincent – We need a Left Back. We’ve tried all options except Villafana with minimal success. If we’re going to keep Fabian in Midfield than we need at least 1 of these guys to step up…even if it’s just as a backup.
    5) Rubin, Morris, & Rodriguez – We need depth at striker with Jozy & Johannsson’s injury issues, and Dempsey’s age we need additional options.
    6) Hyndman – has looked good when he’s been getting playing time. He’d make a good understudy for Bradley as a box to box CM.
    7) Canouse & Stanko – If both stay healthy and get time with their clubs they should be the next couple of players to get a look.

    Like

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