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U.S. Men's National Team

Klinsmann defends inclusion of 'damn good' Wondolowski

Photo by Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

Photo by Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

After each and every one of his U.S. Men’s National Team call-ups, Chris Wondolowski comes under fire. Always one of the more criticized inclusions, Wondolowski’s involvement is usually met by scorn and frustration. However, Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t afraid to defend his decision to include the San Jose Earthquakes veteran.

Wondolowski was once again included on the latest 23-man USMNT roster, as the 33-year-old forward looks to build upon his 34th cap with the national team. Alongside much younger options like Jordan Morris, Julian Green and Bobby Wood, Wondolowski is far and away the elder statesman of the group alongside a veteran, but still only 26-years-old, Jozy Altidore.

Despite recently reaching double-figure goals for the seventh straight season, Wondolowski remains a point of contention. From his miss against Belgium to the presence of several younger options in the pool, Wondolowski’s continued inclusions draw ire, even if Klinsmann says he sees the forward as a valuable piece of the current USMNT picture.

“Wondo is here because he’s a damn good player,” Klinsmann said in a live Q&A on Facebook. “He’s here because he’s scoring lots of goals on a regular basis in MLS, year in, year out, so the main thing why a striker is with us is because he has to score goals. Wondo scores goals. On top of that, Wondo is a very important team guy. He’s a pusher. He’s one that keeps the chemistry always positive and makes every training session very, very dynamic.

“There are many reasons why Wondo is here, and he totally deserves to be here. Every time he comes into camp he gives 1,000% for us.”

Wondolowski, Klinsmann and the USMNT take on Cuba on Friday before facing New Zealand at RFK Stadium four days later.

47 comments
    • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

      To add (…), I’ve long hated wondo on the NT from a passionate fans perspective but also always acknowledged the talent that he does have which includes a strikers nose for goal (at the club level….) and a great locker room attitude. I will not have a real problem with him being called into prep-work friendlies. He assumedly won’t start but will be great for training and don’t mind a 20’sub app or two in friendlies from him

      Again, I am a wondo “hater” most certainly but still understand and concur with his place here

      Liked by 1 person

      • Turkmenbashy

        What is even more ridiculous is that JK isn’t even really defending him… he basically said, “dude tries hard and is a good locker room presence.” This is not the raving praise that would make me write an article about JK defending Wondo…

        and that also brings up another issue. If people don’t understand what JK just said… no wonder people are flummoxed by his every word and think he flip-flops all the time. or whatever they think of JK. must be some sort of weird alphabet soup thing when people hear a german accent.

        Anyway, Wondo sucks… I still stand my Copa America bet that Wondo will never score in a true meaningful high pressure international game… and I’ll still eat that plate of dog-shit if he does.

        Liked by 1 person

      • johnnyrazor

        Yes, but how much criticism has JK taken for not sticking up loud enough for his guys.

        Like

      • Dennis

        Wondo is simply the best forward available at present. No other comes close to his goal production.

        Under both Bradley and JK, Wondo has seldom been given a full game. That matters because he, like Mike McGee, is constantly moving to be in a good position to score. Defenders begin following his movement, but eventually the defenders either tire or suffer inattention that allows Wondo his chances. When he enters a game in the 2nd half defenders know who he is and while they may not readjust the defense for him (he is not that good), they do pay attention and track him. So late in the game, he gets his chances.

        He does not have the highest goals / shot ratio, but it is in the middle of forwards in MLS having more than 9 goals. (A partial list: Wondo is about 1/6, BWP is 1/5, Giovinco is 1/10, Gio dos Santos and David Villa are 1/5, Drogba is 1/9, Morris is 1/6 and Keane and Altidore are 1/4)

        I am not a fan of JK, and do believe that both he and Bradley failed to use Wondo as well as they might have. But in this case JK is right. I presume if AJ gets healthy and one or two of the young forwards play up to their potential, Wondo will get fewer or no more callups. (Remember it was Connor Casey who started and lead in the win over Honduras which was a must win in 2010 WC qualifying. Yes, that Conor Casey; FWIW, he did not make the final 2010 WC squad.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

        Dennis- wait wait wait wait WAIT…. Are you saying Jozy has the most efficient rate of all US fwds in MLS and a better rate than Seba, Drogba AND Villa?!?! That Jozy guy must be terrible from all the facts right?!

        lol but yea Dennis you’re spot on brother. Good stuff

        Like

      • downintexas

        Turk,

        What do you mean he has in your words “never score in a true meaningful high pressure international game” What about Belgium in the World.. oh yeah right never mind. You are right.

        I can’t remember but who was that guy who played here and there that could score high pressure goals for the US that was not good enough to out play Wondo

        Like

  • DB

    I’d prefer others, but I’ve long stopped getting mad about Wondo inclusions. Always a place for glue guys at the end of the day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lost in Space

      There are and have been plenty of “glue” guys in the team that we don’t need to waste a roster spot on a player who is 33 yrs old and has never performed against even decent opposition.
      Glue/locker-room guys include: Howard, Cameron, Besler, Bradley, Zusi, Beckerman, etc…. These are all players who have the same qualities and have significantly grater talent.

      As for pushing players in practice we have players like Howard, Jones, Bradley, Fabian, and others who are Consummate professionals. They’re players who keep the rest of the squad pushing forward and harder. Then there are the young guys….Pulisic, Brook, Yedlin, Morris, Wood, & Morris who are trying to earn/cement their place within the team. These types of players keep the veteran players (Zusi, Bedoya, etc…) on their feet; trying to hold off being overtaken by the younger generation.

      There is no place for a player like Wondo anymore. Younger, more talented, and more effective players are available. These players can actually help push the team forward instead of holding it back the way Wondo does.

      Like

      • CU24

        Out of your list of glue guys only Bradley was called in, and its not like this roster is full of experience. I know you could name plenty of other glue players who JK could have called in, as could I, but the fact of the matter is that outside of Jozy and Deuce, there is not a lot of meaningful international and pro experience in our striker pool, and both of them are prone to severe mental lapses. From my memory I’ve never seen Wondow lose his cool completely, and that kind of personality can be helpful in the integration of the youngsters that were called into this camp.

        Like

  • Ronniet

    Klinnsman needs to stop it with this farce of an answer. If being included in a National team call up was down to club performances then this year alone Wondo shouldn’t be there and others should be given an opportunity. There is no pattern to these call ups which is what gets people riled up. Club form is and has been echoed by JK as the determinant for call ups but we continue to see the likes of Julian Green’s(whom i like by the way) and others who aren’t getting the reps on the club level.Sasha Klejstan, whom it took 2 years to get back in the team, was set fire to MLS in that time span and couldn’t get a sniff. My point is, Wondo has been a good MLSer for a long time but has never done anything of note for the Nats, i still cringe when i think about his ineptness and incompetence on the field vs. Argentina, and say to myself how was that not the last straw for him. Wondo is in this camp to make up the numbers, and if you are going to call in JG, who has not touched the field all season in any meaningful way, why not also call in Rubin, Johannson or Hyndman??

    Like

    • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

      Oh Ronny…

      ” if you are going to call in JG, who has not touched the field all season in any meaningful way, why not also call in Rubin, Johannson or Hyndman??”

      Hyndman has been injured…..
      Rubin hasn’t “sniffed” the field.
      Arjo is coming back from an 18 month injury and also hasn’t played consistently.

      Green has, this young season alone, already had more meaningful minutes than any of those three, even if his minutes were in preseason or tourneys…..

      Hilarious post though; thanks for that.

      Like

      • Ronniet

        Before you attempt to call me out for being funny, you should do your research. ArJo started the first 3 games of the season as the lead Striker(surprisingly), before his suspension relegated him to the bench for the last 3. Rubin also started the season for his club in the dutch league before being relegated to the bench and substitute appearances. Hyndman did start the season off injured but has recently come off the bench(has also played with the U-23’s)in games, something JG has yet to do.

        Your sarcasm, while cute and admirable for a period of time, has become tired and needs a new approach. You missed my point, which i’m not shocked by, but to be clear as i can be this time around, i was not saying that JG shouldn’t be in the squad but that if JK is going to call up someone who has yet to touch the field why not give others who have played more than him(and who have also been in the team already in the past)a run out as well. We know Wondo’s skillset(or lack there of)and there are plenty of veterans on this roster that are capable of mentoring our youngsters, that he doesn’t need to be here. Saying that he makes training sessions “dynamic” is laughable, he hasn’t been dynamic his whole career!

        Like

      • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates

        ***scratches head***… So two players who have seen their playing time DECREASE over the first 6 games of the season now deserve to get called up BECASUE OF their club minutes?…… Please explain how that makes sense….. I’ll wait….

        Like

      • Ronniet

        One player, Rubin, has seen his time decrease but you actually have to step on the field first to then see your playing decrease, something JG has yet to do. I can do this all day but it’s counterproductive. Go USA

        Like

  • Joe Dirt

    Its funny. He’s a poacher of a striker and that’s what he does well. He was called into the WC squad for just that chance and when the moment came he didn’t even get the shot on frame and skied it over. I get that we need a locker room guy in this camp given the inexperience of the other forwards called in but Wondo is not international level in any way. Not getting his shot on frame against Belgium is always going to be unforgivable. He also had Dempsey just a toe poke to his left for a tap in on that same Belgium shot. Tim Howard stood on his head that game and our whole defense for that matter against a much more talented team. We were right there. Got our chance and didn’t even make the keeper save it. F-ing useless on this squad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnnyrazor

      He’ll forever be remembered for that miss to be sure, but I’ve seen guys like Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, and Robert Lewandowski miss that exact same shot multiple times already this year. No striker hits even the most east of shots every time, its what makes soccer so much fun.

      Like

      • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

        Add to that….I don’t believe it was as easy a chance as most think.

        Like

      • Ronniet

        i hear you brother and your right that many players have missed tap ins etc, but circumstances are everything and in that moment vs Belgium to go to the qrtrs, you have to put that away!!!!

        Like

      • Ronniet

        I don’t know how Jurgen can stomach what he did vs Argentina, on top of that Belgium miss! Plenty of other USMNT players have done more with appearances and haven’t gotten nearly the same number of opportunities as Wondo.

        Like

      • Lost in Space

        Wondo has missed numerous opportunities when he’s been in competitive matches. Against Cuba in the 2013 Gold Cup and the one against Belgium are only the 2 most remembered.

        Like

      • johnnyrazor

        He scored two goals in 32 minutes against Cuba in the GC and we won 4-1, every striker misses seemingly easy goals all the time (I rewatched it, it wasn’t that bad of miss). Wondo’s biggest just happened to be on the biggest stage. That one miss against Belgium defines him for most of us fans, but to a manager and his staff they have to look at it much more objectively.

        Like

    • Joe Dirt

      Courtois certainly didn’t make it an easy shot. What I’m saying is that he didn’t have the composure to either get it on frame or take a touch to round the keeper or poke it to the left for Dempsey. In those type of games you’re only going to get 3-4 quality chances like that when you overmatched the way we were against Beligium. His failure only shows he’s not international quality and taking a spot we could using to build pool depth for younger players who may or may not develop into something we can later use.

      Like

    • recoveredamishman

      Am I the only one that remembers Dempsey having a worse miss than Wondo in this game?

      Like

      • CU24

        Was it that extremely well worked set piece that left him one on one with Coutois and he hit it straight at him? I remember, its what constantly comes up in my mind whenever people mention wondow’s miss.

        Like

  • TheFrenchOne

    This article is the epitome of click bait. There’s literally no new information or opinion provided, but SBI knows the vast majority of readers/posters are staunchly opposed to wasting call-ups on Wondo. And so here we are, posting like pavlovian dogs…

    Liked by 2 people

  • Dr. Offside

    OK, as little as I rate Jurgen, isn’t there some rule that every national team coach gets to include a pet on the roster? Heaven only knows what Jurgen sees in Wondo as a national team player but there has to be something there. But among all Jurgen’s many failings, I am willing to let this one slide by. Perhaps Wondo tells good stories on the team bus or is an easy mark in poker games or carries Jurgen’s bags.

    Like

  • DcM

    Just a slightly more tilted angle of his boot at that specific second and this would be a different conversation. Ha. I still like any striker that pressures defenders like he does. Take it easy on the ol’ gum chewer.

    Like

  • Brain Guy

    Wondo has 11 goals in 27 appearances — not exactly lighting it up, although he traila only Morris and Pontius among Americans on the MLS goal-scoring list this year.

    Like

    • johnnyrazor

      Still 11 more goals than Rubin in the last two years and 8 more than Rubin has ever scored.
      8 more than AJ has scored in the last two years, 9 more than Boyd has scored in the last two years (if you count his two in the 4th Division), 2 more than Wooten over his last two seasons in 2.Bundesliga, 7 more than Theoson Siebatcheu (10 more if you count just the past 12 months),the exact same number as Bjorn Maars Johnsen scored last season in Bulgaria (half played in the 2nd Division).

      This idea of depth has been built on potential and performance prior to major season(s) long injuries not on actual on field performance. Face the facts folks, there is a reason Wondo and Green (his 4 goals in 6 preseason matches rates better than Boyd and Rubin) are on this roster and sadly perhaps, it is their on field performance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ronniet

        Did you really just bring preseason into the equation?? If JG was so prolific in preseason how come he’s yet to get off of the bench since the season has started?! Boyd, who has been hurt for 2 years doesn’t belong around the team, ArJo started the first 3 games for WB(with 1 goal) as the lead ST in a more difficult league. Rubin started the first game of the season but is at least seeing the field and a lot of peoples point is that for all of the goals that Wondo has amassed in MLS it has never translated to the NT, which should count for something!

        Like

      • johnnyrazor

        Rubin has been benched and hasn’t seen the field in a month, plus he was just in for the qualifiers last month so the coaches should have a pretty good idea of where he is at. AJ seems to either tweaked something or is also in the dog house with the interim manager because he didn’t dress even though his suspension was up. AJ has a goal and an assist in 3 games for a team that lost those 3 by a combined score of 12-2, he needs to stay and solidify his role with Bremen.

        I can’t stand Wondo either, but the alternatives need to solidify their health or club situation, our central forward pool is very shallow right now after Wood and Altidore.

        Fun fact: from 2005 to present: Wondo has played in 256 MLS games and scored 120 goals, during that same period Landon played in 247 games and scored 112 goals. Strictly international play since Wondo’s first call in 2011 10 goals in 34 matches Landon 12 goals in 29 matches so not that far off either. And no Wondo is not Donovan.

        Also since Morris’s first cap both he and Wondo have 10 caps and one goal. AJ has 2 goals in 10 caps over that time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary Page

        Ronniet asks why Green hasn’t gotten off the bench for Bayern. Hell, both Ribery and Robben have struggled for minutes. It’s kind of like saying Chicharito wasn’t any good because he rarely played at Real Madrid.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dennis

        Also,Wondo has not been given more than 45 minutes in the vast majority of USMNT games he appeared in.

        Like

  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    Wondo is damn good. So what, if there are better they should be chosen. I think there are better choices some of the time he has been selected.

    Like

  • jerrybroadway

    I’m generally a Klinsmann defender, but sometimes he has this persistent belief in players despite all evidence to the contrary. Is Wondo a decent MLS poacher? Yes. Is he a world class striker? No. Are there a dozen options better than Wondo for the USMNT? Yes. It just makes no sense that this guy keeps getting call ups. Especially at his age, it’s not like he’s developing or needs the experience. He is what he is, a nice MLS-caliber goal poacher. Nothing more.

    Like

    • johnnyrazor

      Name me five center forwards that are currently available who are on better form. I won’t make you list your dozen. You are right he is what he is (Brian Ching), but with injuries, health problems, lack of US passports and club situations there are not that many out there right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jack

        He’s really not even in very good form, only has 4 goals since Copa. Just 2 in his last 10 matches. In that time Mullins 6, Finlay 5, Neagle 6, Agudelo 5, Morris 4. Perhaps not all center forwards, but you have Jozy Wood Morris and Green (who i think is a center forward now).

        Like

      • Gary Page

        If Wondo were 5 or 6 years younger, you would have a case. but there is no way he will be a factor in the next WC and I doubt he will make any difference in the Hex either. Just wasting a spot that could be filled by someone else who might have a future.

        Like

  • Chris

    I’ve seen him in practice, he is very intense and really pushes others. He is a great player for younger players to learn from. That’s what you want from a leader.

    If he comes in as a training cone, he’s probably the best that our country has.

    Like

  • LouisZ

    “Wondo is here because he’s a damn good player”– Klinsmann
    rings a lot like “There are other players that are just a little better than him [LD]”–Klinsmann

    Like

  • dude1

    The problem isn’t that he isn’t good in MLS. It’s that he’s not special enough at ANYTHING at the international level. He’s not even a great poacher in pressure situations, as we saw against Belgium and in other, more difficult games. He was the wrong choice against Argentina in the semifinal, he was totally useless against a seasoned ans skilled backline. Just because he scores consistently in MLS doesn’t mean he’s good enough to impact the ones that matter. If he starts over Jordan Morris at any point, I’m going to roll my eyes and laugh. Even if he manages to put one in from an easy position, I still will wish we were blooding our young talent.

    Like

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