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USMNT Notes: Kljestan starting vs. Belgium, Cherundolo requested break, and more

Jurgen Klinsmann


CLEVELAND- Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t reveal his starting lineup for Wednesday night’s U.S. Men’s National Team friendly vs. Belgium, but the player seated alongside Klinsmann for Tuesday’s press conference revealed at least one of the players he will call on.

Sacha Kljestan will be in the starting lineup alongside Jermaine Jones in central midfield in a match-up that should suit Kljestan well as he faces a Belgium side featuring players he plays with and against as a member of two-time defending Belgian champion Anderlecht.

The match will be Kljestan’s first starter since Klinsmann became national team head coach in 2011, and his first start since the U.S. team’s 1-0 Gold Cup semifinal victory vs. Panama on June 22nd, 2011.

Aside from stating that Kljestan would start alongside Jones, Klinsmann wasn’t revealing much else about his likely lineup, though DaMarcus Beasley does look like a lock to start and earn his 100th USMNT cap.

Of the more revealing aspects of Tuesday’s Klinsmann press conference was Klinsmann’s admission that Steve Cherundolo asked to be left out of the squad in order to have a full off-season to recover and prepare for the next Bundesliga season with Hannover.

“At right back, we always try to make the best out of it,” Klinsmann said. “Stevie is not 100 percent yet. He asked for a bit of a break so he can start properly his next season, a season that leads into the World Cup, so there are compromises we will always have to make but we just have to make the best of it.”

The 34-year-old right back suffered an injury-plagued season and will look to fully recover from his ailments. His absence from the U.S. squad had seemed a bit strange considering he started in the final Hannover match of the season, which came after Klinsmann had announced his roster for the upcoming stretch of matches, but Klinsmann’s explanation helped shed some light on that situation.

Here are some other USMNT tidbits relating to Wednesday’s match:

Klinsmann admitted that while he has a general idea of his preferred back-line, he will use the final two matches to decide on a defense for qualifying.

A day after Geoff Cameron stated that he was brought into the U.S. camp to play centerback, Klinsmann pointed out that he would have preferred Cameron play more centerback than right back at Stoke, and said Cameron did an okay job at right back in March’s qualifiers. It really does sound like we might see Cameron at centerback in the upcoming matches. If that is the case, it will make for some interesting decision-making at right back, where Michael Parkhurst is the only natural right back on the squad. Brad Evans can play right back on Wednesday, while Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley are also options down the road at right back.

Klinsmann mentioned that Brek Shea needs two-to-three weeks to recover from a calf injury he suffered while with Stoke City, a time-table that would essentially rule him out of the national team’s next three matches, including their qualifier vs. Jamaica on June 7th.

The U.S. is holding an open practice on Tuesday evening at 5pm at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The pre-sale for Wednesday night’s match is 22,000.


What do you think of these developments?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I personally would like to see this is the Germany match.

    Fabian Johnson-Bradley-Jones-Holden

    I think that this lineup would be good because the back 4 would be solid since it is where each player has ben playing with their clubs, and have been in good form. The midfield would be able to create a lot more for Dempsey and Altidore due to the imagination and speed of Holden and Johnson, while Bradley would hold down the middle of the field with Jones.

  2. I gotta say, I really like Besler paired with Gonzo. Besler strikes me as the guy who had to make up for a comparative lack of natural ability by being smarter than the average player and honestly, that is what Gonzo needs next to him. Cameron is more naturally gifted than Besler, but lacks the sort of brain that makes Besler a better fitting next to Gonzo.

    And finally, just cause a guy didn’t get the call this go round (diskerud, gatt, torres) does not mean he is out of mind for upcoming dates. It’s a big summer with Gold Cup later on and that’s the chance for these younger guys to impress on to the big team. Give it until Fall before you start assuming guys have been written out of the plans.

  3. while I think it would invite a blowout against belgium and germany, might this be an opportunity to see what a back like with 3 CBs looks like? I’m not saying this is my first choice, but…


    • Three defenders with Lukaku and Betneke and Eden Hazard and Fellaini. That’s what I would call counterintuitive.

      • Three in the back usually means five or six in the midfield.

        Flooding the midfield means their guys can’t get anything going. Those great Belgian midfielders and forwards can’t do much if you deny them the ball.

        It only works if you have the right three backs. If Dolo, and Boca were healthy, fit and three years younger it might work with one of Gonzo,Besler or Cameron.

        And you would want an in form Donovan for your only offense, one or two counters on the night.

        Otherwise it’s risky mostly because the US hasn’t played that way for some time.

      • Pretty sure he means FJ and Castillo are playing as wingbacks. So it really is 5 in the back.

  4. Belgium might be good but when was the last time this team qualified for a a major tournament. Soccer is played on the field not on paper. These guys have not made the World Cup or Euro Cup. One more thing, I prefer Cameron on the wing than in the center of the defense. He is prone to ball watching, brain freezes and stupid fouls. I think he isn’t a smart CB. I didn’t like him and Gonzalez in that Honduras game. I didn’t like Cameron early on against Guatemala. he got caught out early on that early goal. I want to see Gonzalez and Biesler until they prove they are not good enough. If Cameron was good enough Stoke would have put him in the middle. He is serviceable on the wing.

    • This particular Belgium team is by far the best they’ve had in a long time. They will be in Brazil next summer.

    • Belgium is not playing in US region where it’s easy to qualify. So to expect them to be in every World Cup with even better players than their opponent won’t happen. Expect a clinic but low scoring win for Belgium

    • Cameron cannot provide the kind of offense a right back like Dolo can.

      The best remaining right back is Fabian.

      As a right back, Cameron reminds me of Phil Jones of Man U. a utility center back who can play anywhere. Man. U also had John O’Shea, and Wes Brown , center backs who also often played fullback. Smalling does this as well. Go figure.

    • Wow! Cameron is good. Not a god but good. He is a better CB than Besler and possibly OG too. And that is with out consistent playing time at his natural position. Name a CB who doesn’t get caught “watching”, out of position, making dumb fouls, etc.

      Just come off it. If you don’t like him, you don’t like him but don’t list some llame list of excuses or justifications that say nothing to really back up such a weak statement.

  5. I fear that Belgium is going to destroy whatever team the US fields. Have you seen that lineup?
    Mingolet, Vertonghen, Kompany, Hazard, Fellaini, Dembele, Lukaku, Benteke?

    And MOST interesting of all, why was “Fellaini” not underlined as a potential misspelling??

  6. I still wish Klinsmann treated Boca with a little more respect. Sure, he’s not the player he used to be, but he’s our captain.

    • News Flash: Dempsey is the captain now. Bocanegra is no more the captain of this team than John Harkes, unless he is called back up. It may be a bit harsh, and I do like Bocanegra’s toughness but that is reality.

      • News Flash: Tim Howard is the captain. Dempsey was the captain in the Costa Rica and Mexico because TH was injured.

      • Nooooo Dempsey has been captain for a while….from what I remember since like last summer

      • Edwin, you remember wrong. Howard captained the team last summer, Dempsey captained the March qualifiers in Howard’s absence.

        I haven’t heard whether Klinsmann has named a captain for the coming games.

      • ^this. Howard has been the captain since Boca has not been there. In March, Howard was not there due to a back injury so JK chose Dempsey to captain the Costa Rica and Mexico games.

  7. “suit Kljestan well as he faces a Belgium side featuring players he plays with and against as a member of two-time defending Belgian champion Anderlecht.”

    Since most of the top Belgian players don’t actually play in the Belgian league how is this an advantage?

    • They’re still Belgians, so maybe he can trick them somehow since he knows the local culture. It’s kinda like throwing Beckerman in against Jamaica.

      • +1 for you both lol

        Perhaps he will offer them chocolate and trapist ale while speaking Flemish and sporting a Tintin flip?

        It’s amazing how hard reporters will grasp to find connections…

  8. Very interesting comment re Cameron. With a full lineup, I can’t help but wonder if he’s #3 on the depth chart at RB (dolo/chandler) but is 1 of 3 generally equally-rated CB’s fighting for 2 spots instead of just 1. That said, that’s obviously not what we’re looking at for RB for these next 5 games considering #1 and #2 aren’t available, so I couldn’t imagine him not playing RB.

    • yep, malkin, that is an interesting comment about Cameron. Another example of Klinsmann tinkering around, wanting to play players out of the club positions and Cameron’s club position now is fullback. I find it disturbing that two years into Klinsmann’s tenure he is still pulling stunts like this. in the beginning, it seemed like just a passing phase, you know, Daniel Williams flopping several times at right back and Klinsmann playing Maurice Edu as attacking midfielder and Jose Torres at left back or left wing. Looks like we are going to get another big dose of this in coming games and, for one, find this worrisome.

    • Agreed.. it seems like JK is so focused on a system that has his outside backs up the wings as much as possible and center backs not playing kickball that he’s just tonedeaf to the personnel we have available
      Cam’s gotta be our right back the next 5 games

  9. Why was Brek Shea called in?!
    Does Klinnsmann not speak with players before publicly calling these guys in?

    I feel like there is always a situation during every call up that includes players not being fit and wasting a roster spot. I know this stuff happens but it seems every time.

    Edu was diagnosed with a sports hernia at the end of the season and Shea is still recovering. Why were roster spots wasted here?

    I try not too be that critical but it seems that during every call up there is a bit of ad-hoc that goes on. Last minute call ups, pre-injuries before guys show up, etc.

    Boy, are we going to be tested tomorrow night. One of the hottest european teams with a pretty stacked lineup. I would like to see Besler and Gonzalez out there and test this pairing vs. top teams outside of Concacaf.

    Lastly – very interesting about Cherundolo. Does that mean he is going to miss all of summer and we possibly wont see him until the fall qualifiers, the earliest? Wow, that is pretty big news but probably a smart move on his part leading into his last World Cup.

    • There was no maximum on the number of people called in, so those players are not “wasting” roster spots. Those not called in are not called in because they are not thought highly of at this moment, not because there wasn’t room for them.

      • If that was the case…..then it begs the question….why no Torres…..why no Gatt,….why no Diskerud, Donovan even tho we know he is still getting a Message sent by Klinsmann….

      • He will call those guys for the Gold Cup. JK has stated that except for maybe Holden, he is calling a different group for the Gold Cup.

    • It remains to be seen if Dolo’s move ends up being a smart one as the US is not qualified for that World Cup yet and is without their two top right backs with Chandler out as well.

      • Without Dolo and Chandler, they still have Fabian, DMB, Castillo, Parkhurst, Cameron, Fiscal, and Evans to cover both fullback slots. .

        That should be sufficient.

  10. I have my doubts that ‘Dolo asked out of three important WC qualifiers, especially knowing that our depth at his position is not great. The guy is first class and a warrior and he appears to have as much respect for a national invitation as anyone. I could see him asking to take the friendlies off (knowing, as we all do, that they are just USSoccer cash grabs) but never the qualifiers. If he was that concerned about his injury and next season, why play 90 min each in the final 2 meaningless Bundesliga matches? It all seems very suspect. I wish that JK had enough credibility that he could say something like this and I could believe him. Can we get a quote from Stevie himself? Could he even answer truthfully knowing how klinsmann handles players that cross him?


      The scenario you are outlining is definitely possible. It is hard for me to imagination that Steven Cherundolo at the very least did not want to be a part of this camp to have the chance to bond and build chemistry, especially after he missed the March camp. I am not saying that its not possible that Dolo asked to be left out that Klisnmann was telling the truth yesterday, but I am skeptical. And you are right, Dolo would ruin chances of a future call-up if he would set the record straight.

    • Tin foil hat alert!

      Couldn’t Dolo have been playing those two meaningless games at less then 100% fitness? His coach may have let him play to get that appearance record or to test his recovery from the injury who knows. While I don’t know if that is true its far less of a stretch than JK making up bold faced lies and hoping his snubbed player doesn’t call him on it.

  11. Hope Dolo gets time to let that knee completely heal with the rest. I know we’ll see comments disparaging the coaches and other players, but this is SOP for older players who must consider their family and livelihood as a balance with representing the country.

    Dolo is certainly not getting any younger and he has an impressive amount of mileage on his legs.

    • How is what Cherundolo is doing much different than the Donovan situation earlier this year? Veteran player needing some time off to let his mind and body recuperate. For the record, I have no problem with either player’s leave of absence.

      • Dolo is not taking a leave of absence from the club that pays him like Donovan did. The two situations are completely different.

      • Yes, they’re different in what you just said, but we’re not talking about club teams. However, he is certainly going to have to prove himself before coming back, just like LD has to do and what Chandler should have to do.

        That said, perhaps “proving himself” can be done by repeated strong showings at the club level (which LD hasn’t done…yet).

      • This is the main difference, I think. I actually have no problem with a player of Dolo’s or LD’s stature bailing on a set of international fixtures–they’ve earned a break. It’s that in LD’s case, he also temporarily quit playing on the club level, which, when you consider JK’s philosophy re: call-ups, is a big difference.

        And for the record, I had no problem with LD taking that sabbatical, nor do I have any problem with him being omitted from this set of qualifiers. If his form continues to improve, though, I’ll expect him to get called up for the fall qualifiers.

      • @Eric: Serious questions. What is “JK’s philosophy re: call-ups”? And how has the philosophy manifested itself for the roster that was called for this camp?

      • There is another difference and it is significant. LD plays in MLS on a different schedule…. he found himself recovering from multiple nagging injuries, 3 consecutive years with ZERO breaks and apparently physically and mentally tired, and no prospect for a break for another year. That break would be coinciding w/ the final stretch into WC and likely include Int’l friendlies. At some point, you have to trust a veteran player when he tells you he can’t give you what he’d like to. I think Cherundolo and LD have both earned that respect and trust. Long run…. LDs time off will benefit him and by extension the national team. He’s never going to be the blazing fast LD of 5 years ago, but think as he gets going he is/can still be a key creative force if this team is going to shine. Think without his sabbatical, we’d have been left with a broken down, burnt out, diminished version.

      • I mean… im confused at how you see any similarities to be honest.

        Dolo isn’t taking a break from the game. He is recovering from a bad injury and his choice is either risk ending his career with a further injury playing in wild conditions with the usmnt or prolong his career by sitting out a few matches to fully heal his knee and be back for later qualifiers and his club team.

        Donovan just bailed on everyone to hang out in Cambodia.

      • Yep, Mike E you definitely have a full grasp of the situation here. Why do you hate Donovan so much?

      • You’re turning a blind eye if you see no similarities. I’m not saying they are identical but they are obviously comparable. A veteran player skipping 3 World Cup Qualifiers, that he is healthy enough to perform in, to rest his mind and body after a long season.
        Like others have noted, Donovan didn’t exactly ask for permission to take time off and did not really give a timetable for his return, but to say the situations have no similarity is just ridiculous.
        The time off will be beneficial to the players, and to the team, in the long run when we have these guys ready physically and mentally for next summer.

      • @whoaaa Kemosabe: I agree with much of what you are saying, but I would have more respect for you if you had the guts to use your normal SBI user name and not simply make up a new user name to use just this one time to defend Donovan. Just sayin.

      • actually been using this name a little bit recently and can’t decide which I prefer. didn’t realize there was anyone who would notice or care.
        that said, how is it even possible you were able to see that?

      • The only similarity is that two players took breaks. Beyond that the reasons, handling of the situation, timetable are completely different and should be handled completely different.

        Cherundolo has had many injuries recently and is just coming off a major one and wants his body to heal. No mental toughness issues/not sure I want to play anymore wishywashyness in there. He is also making it clear this is to heal so he is 100% for his club next season which should help him be 100% for the US down the road. All good.

        Landon may have been carrying nagging injuries but none were major. More importantly that wasn’t his stated reason for taking the break if I recall. He wasn’t sure he wanted to play soccer and went on a soul searching journey to see if he wanted to play for club or country without a timetable for return at least initially. He had no time table so no one could make plans for him to be included later. He bailed on his club so his form and fitness was likely to (and did) suffer as opposed to taking the break in order to improve those things.

        Basically to sum it up Dolo is taking the break in order to help his club and with luck his future form with the US team. Donovan took the break solely for himself to the detriment of both his club and the US. HUGE difference.

      • Donovan’s absence hurt the team in the short term, during that period, but it could very well turn out that the sabbatical does for Landon what you are saying a break will do for Dolo.

        In other words, Dolo is taking a break (in the short term) to let himself heal so that he will be more effective in the long term. That is exactly what Donovan did.

      • I would have had no problems if Donovan had asked to sit out of any camps or friendlies during the MLS off season and decided not to go on loan either so long as he rejoined his club on schedule. He did not do that and that is the difference. If he had wanted a break in those 3 years he should have taken it during his scheduled offseason instead of going on loan every time. The big difference is the fact that he just dropped off the face of the Earth for months into is regular season. That is unacceptable from anyone. If he had been playing on a team in Europe it would have turned into a de facto retirement when he got cut. If you don’t see the difference you’re just too blinded by admiration or our glaring need at the flanks to see it.

      • The only difference I can see is Donovan kind of left things in the air as to what his plans were. Donovan took a long time to set any kind of time frame as to when or if he was going to return.

      • I was thinking the same thing. I guess the difference would be that Dolo asked for time off to rehab. I don’t think Donovan ever asked anyone with the USMNT for the time off just decided to go on a vacation for a while.

        I don’t have a problem with either taking time off and think it’s beyond stupid to leave Donovan off the roster completely. It’s a total cutting off your nose to spite your face situation by Klinsi.

      • “Beyond stupid” is exactly right. Klinsmann’s actions say a lot more about Klinsmann than they do about Donovan. As a Galaxy fan, I’ve been watching Donovan for years. He was always the ironman, always fit and never injured. A couple of years ago that started to change, he started picking up injuries and showing the signs of a physical and mental exhaustion. To his credit, he recognized the problem and knew what was needed to fix it. He’s now almost back to the top of his game. And in his current state I would still pick him over all but two or three of the guys on the roster. A month from now he’ll clearly be better than anyone else Klinsmann has available. “Beyond stupid” is exactly right.

      • I hope everyone comes out with their tail between their legs. The torches are scorched: Klinsi wanted Dolo in.

        Also, Donovan has turned down the US team for almost two years now. He also took a leave from the game and missed the beginning of the season because of that. Donovan is also a lot younger than Dolo. Dolo has been there for the US these past two years, and remains a professional.

        Donovan had a mental breakdown. Old man Dolo has had a body breakdown.

      • your continuous and ridiculous use of hyperbole really ruins all of your arguments.

      • Its not….its the same thing….and inconsistency on the coaches part and I agree I have no problem with either player doing it….

  12. Thank you, finally one of the adjustments I wanted to see. Play Sascha in his natural position, and watch him actually play well. Anybody who has watched Anderlecht play, knows that Sascha is the deep-lying playmaker in that midfield. I believe he can do the same for us, at least without MB there.

    • I’ll grant you that playing a person in their club position is the way to get the best out of them in a national team that often doesn’t have lots of time to redefine instincts and preferences, but do you honestly believe the side is better off without MB on the field?

      • I don’t think Sacha should start over Bradley or Jones, but he definitely could be a sub or spot starter in CM (since injuries and suspensions do happen).

        I think Sacha is poor on the wings, and I don’t have strong feelings for Edu, Beckerman or Williams, so I think this really is Sacha’s opportunity to move up the depth chart to #3 on the CM list.

        Of course Holden will try to prove he’s ready to be back too. The competition will be interesting.

  13. Hmmm. I have to admit that I like Gonzalez and Besler together in central defense more than Cameron and anyone else. Gonzalez and Besler just play so well together that I think you almost have to leave that tandem in their for the long haul. I like Cameron as a filler at right back in this camp.

    Nothing against Cameron, I have always been a fan, I just think we will be seeing Besler-Gonzalez together for quite a while.

    • Still pretty early in the post-boca era to annoint any cb pairing as one “for the long haul.”

      We need to be careful not to blow the azteca clean sheet out of proportion. Fantastic result on the day for a patchwork back line, but if mexico’s finishing had been a little sharper, there would have been a lot of “Never again, Besler” posts. Ditto dmb at left back.

      • Personally I think it would be a strong choice to see how a Cameron-Besler, and a Cameron-Gonzalez pairing would or would not work. This is one area of tinkering that is needed to really determine what our CB pairing will look like come WC time.

      • I’m an SKC fan and I think that Cameron–Gonzalez is a CB pairing with a slightly higher ceiling than Gonzalez–Besler. That being said, when Dolo retires (presumably after Brazil 2014), I think it would be an interesting experiment to run a backline of F. Johnson–Besler–Gonzalez–Cameron, with Timmy Chandler at right wing to give us some true attacking width and pace, since I’m willing to bet LD retires from international football after 2014 as well, and I’d like to see Zusi move back to his more natural central attacking role.

      • I could agree with that. But Cameron’s ceiling will be directly tied to how much playing time he gets and the position he plays with his club. Apparently JK and I both project Cameron as a CB, but if he gets stuck at RB with his club that may just become his “natural” position.

      • If the USA had Huth and Shawcross, we would be starting them as well. Cameron was originally meant as cover/pressure to this pairing, but he ended up being so good, that Stoke would rather play him out of position than others they have to cover RB/LB/CDM. Cameron is a great utility player for anywhere in the back 5. That said I am with those who tout the Gonzo/Besler synergy. I am really interested in trying Besler at LB as well. Or maybe even trying a wing back formation to help us get some width…

        Beasley Cameron Gonzo Belser F. Johnson
        Zusi Jozy Dempsey

        Something like that

      • You made the same mistake as Sloan in the other thread about predicting the line up (Part 2)

        You went with the defense at the top and wrote the mids underneath putting Beasley at Right Back/Wing wouldn’t it be better to have him on the left and someone on the right? and maybe Fabian in midfield… Zusi doesn’t convince me…

      • O.K., and if the U.S. would have been at full strength, Mexico might be saying”,”2-0 … again”.

    • I wonder how many people screaming at JK for leaving Cherundolo out of the lineup are stepping forward to eat crow?

      Turns out it was the player that asked for rest, not the manager excluding the player. People continue to pile on JK anonymously from the sideline.

      • JK deserves to be criticized

        * Mention player omissions the day of roster release
        * stop calling up Edu, Davis, Evans, beckerman
        * stop playing herc, dempsey, eddie on the wings

      • I’m not saying he’s exempt from criticism.

        In fact, I actually agree with a few of your points:

        -Stopping calling in Edu, Evans (I actually am in favor of Beckerman and Davis).
        -Stop playing Gomez/Johnson on the wings (I’m in favor of Dempsey playing in any advanced role)

        …but the gripe of “mention player omissions the day of the roster release” is petty, irrelevant and simply entitled on your part.

        You aren’t a player. Your emotional attachment to it doesn’t matter…and rightfully not.

      • …and again, if you’re going to criticize JK (especially for this “being accountable garbage”), also be accountable for when you’re wrong, i.e. whining about Cherundolo being left out of the squad.

        People choosing to pile on JK are looking for any excuse, regardless if it’s relevant or even factual. If it weren’t so ridiculous, it might actually be amusing.

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