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Klinsmann discusses roster selections for USMNT January camp

Jurgen Klinsmann

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When U.S. Soccer announced the U.S. Men’s National Team roster for the January camp, it was as much about seeing old faces as it was identifying new talent.

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann selected a heavily Major League Soccer-based roster, which sees USMNT regulars such as Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan, and Omar Gonzalez return while also giving opportunities to players like Mike Magee and youngsters like Luis Gil, Shane O’Neill, and DeAndre Yedlin.

Speaking to U.S. Soccer about the roster announcement, Klinsmann mentions how important the January camp is for their preparation, especially the fact that they will travel to Sao Paulo for a 12-day period to test out their facilities for the World Cup. In addition, just as Zusi and Matt Besler have emerged after participating in January camps, Klinsmann wants to see at least two or three players on the fringes push themselves into World Cup contention.

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  1. At least at the end of this, some will get to tell their grandchildren that they played on the same field(s) that the WC was held on, That’s as close as some from this group will ever get.

    What I dont get is giving a lot of minutes to known entities. What can we learn that we don’t know from yet more outings from EJ, Donovan, Beckerman, Zusi, Matt Besler, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson??? Meanwhile there are other young upcoming players like Kelyn Rowe or Andrew Farrell that could have at least got a look and gained camp experience. Those two are better than some that were called by a long shot

    • Juan,

      You want to know how these new guys will do for the USMNT right?
      If you field a team of eleven guys who have never been capped before how are going to learn anything?
      If you want to know how a center back will do with Besler or Goodson or how a midfielder or forward will link up with Donovan and Zusi, then does it not make sense to you to play that rookie with Besler and Donovan?

      Or am I missing something here?

      This is a dress rehearsal Juan. There is not a lot more time left to f**k around.

      • There may not be a lot of time left to F*$k around BUT we are far from having a competitive 11 so maybe we need to f*$k around quite a bit more of get used to the idea of 3 and out.

        I understand what yur saying about a fielding a full team of rookies but JK has more than a few holes to fill and maybe, just maybe, one of these guys might be able to help…Of the forwards, only Magee is of interest and to be honest, I think he has no real shot. Wondo is practice team only and EJ and Donovan are know entities. Of the Midfield, only Benny or Gil are of interest for the same reasons At the defense, I thing none are of interest. The new guys would have to have a fantastic outing to get into the mix at this point.

        Not that I think our defense is that good, it isn’t, but JK has not really found a back 4 that is dominant, It won’t change after this camp and in the end, the fact that he hasn’t found a solid 4 will kill us this summer

      • Juan,

        Well you don’t like the regulars.

        And you don’t like the new guys called into camp.

        Do you want to tell me where you propose to get the guys who will save the US from a three and out?

        Have you considered rooting for another team in Brazil this year to save you from the pain of humiliation?

    • I would guess that this is true of at least 90% of comments by all managers/coaches in all sports at the top level. But at least he sounds good when he says it. By that I mean I don’t think he is as cliched as many others.

  2. Statistically, Gonzalez leaks the most goals among the four USMNT CBs (Besler, Cameron, Gonzalez, Goodson). The fact that most supporters don’t realize this astounds me. We need to start defenders that are not just physically imposing or extremely athletic, but have the intelligence to be in the correct position much like Bocanegra in his prime and now Besler. There is no doubt that Cameron should partner Besler by default, but then that raises the question as to who plays RB. Chandler remains the best option and offers enough experience competing against regular internationals in the Bundesliga. Cherundolo does not have the legs to keep up with Ronaldo, Evans does not offer much going forward, and the Lichaj/Yedlin supporters have to recognize that neither have enough experience going head-to-head against the worlds greatest attackers due to the leagues they play in.

    • Excluding the Gold Cup, this year Gonzalez played in 13 matches giving up 11 goals for an average a goal every 1.18 matches. Besler 9 matches 8 goals, avg 1.12, Cameron 4 matches 5 goals, avg .8, Goodson also 4 matches 5 goals, avg .8. So statistically both Cameron and Goodson leaked a goal in less then a full appearance, making them on average worse then Gonzalez.

    • USMNT fan,

      You are easily astounded.

      I’m a USMNT fan not a Gonzo fan who I see as just another replaceable part in a team full of such parts.

      FIFA players and American fans in general are excessively and irrelevantly stats crazy. And you have to be very careful with individual player stats in soccer.

      Your Gonzo stat reminds me of the NHL’s plus minus stat but that sport has only six guys on the ice versus eleven in soccer. This means a given individual in hockey has far more overall influence on the game than is the case for a given individual in soccer. Both were/are all time greats but Gretzky was a far more universally influential figure than Messi is, for example.

      The point being an individual’s stats in soccer are far more strongly related to how the other ten guys are doing.

      Stats first, last and always, have to be viewed in context.

      Many USMNT fans seem very ungrateful, spoiled and entitled which is rather strange given how far the team has come since 1990. That is 23-24 years which means this period is about as old as Freddy Adu. This may shock you but the USMNT has just had a very good year.

      It is astounding that you seem so close to the edge of despair about them. Cue in the weeping and gnashing of teeth.

      If the team looks good and gets results with Gonzo and Besler as your central pair, then there probably a very good reason Gonzo plays as much as he does. And those reasons may not always be quantifiable in a statistical sense. I’m not opposed to dropping Gonzo but I wouldn’t do it just on the evidence you cite.

      • Most AMERICAN clubs use analytics on some level to determine personnel moves. When there is a large investment in such groups by ownership among several sports then the numbers need to be taken into account. CONCACAF does not offer the level of competition one experiences in UEFA or the World Cup. Thus, against lesser opponents the USMNT statistics should be positive across the board. The fact that Gonzalez struggles at CB against this competition does not bode well for the USMNT if he continues to start against Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Klinsmann has made it clear that Besler is his number one option at CB and has stated that Cameron’s best position is CB. That should be the partnership moving forward against better opponents.

      • USMNT fan is obviously a Besler fan boy and can’t handle the fact that the majority of the US’s CB’s are better than him.

      • If the majority of CBs were better than Besler, they would be playing instead of him. Yet Besler is half of the 1st choice pairing, even more so than Omar.

        I could speculate you’re another SKC hater, who assumes none of their players are good enough, since they don’t get overpublicized like the Media favorites on the coast do. But Besler’s earned his place. He’s steady, smart, and reads the game better than any back in the pool.

        Bottom line, Klinsman, who sees these players more than any of us, disagrees with you. As do Besler’s peers.

        I think Gonzalez is the best partner for Besler, when he’s focused. But he does have a nasty habit of losing concentration on his marking assignment 2-3 times a match. He gets away with that (Usually) because of his talent in MLS. But that doesn’t fly on the international level.

      • USMNT fan,

        You want to replace Gonzo just on the stats? That’s not enough for me. All the CB pairings are, at best, adequate. Gonzo and Besler are the regulars and I would stay with them if only for consistency given that none of the other pairings have particularly impressed.

        Stats are important but they aren’t the entire picture. One reason they are a little less relevant in soccer is that unlike the majority of American sports, like the NFL, NBA, NHL , MLB, etc. there is no unlimited substitution ( although in baseball once you are pulled out you can’t come back). In soccer, other than the three subs, you are pretty much stuck with your starting eleven for the entire game. This reduces the amount of manipulation based on stats that soccer coaches can do, especially in comparison to what coaches do in most American sports. That is one reason versatile players matter so much in soccer.

        Your argument that “well if you do bad against CONCACAF opponents it is a given you will do bad against World Cup opponents ” is flawed and not always accurate.

        Is Gonzo proven against what he is likely to face in the World Cup? No, but no one, including and especially, Besler, on the USMNT is. JK’s team has never played in a World Cup atmosphere. Beating Bosnia and H or Germany in a friendly is one thing. Facing them in Brazil would be entirely different.
        Of the US World Cup vets who are likely to feature in Brazil only Howard, Bradley and maybe Jozy are likely to be as good or better than they were in South Africa.

        Guys like Cameron or Jones face top opposition regularly but not while playing with the US so there is no guarantee that that will translate well. CB is ultimately Cameron’s best position. It’s also a position he hasn’t played very much in a very long time. And when he has played there for the US I’ve seen him blow hot and cold just like Gonzo. Now if Stoke start playing him there as I think they have lately then that is something else.

        Besler is proven against CONCACAF teams. That is the highest competitive level he has played with this USMNT so going into the WC he is no more of a proven quantity than Gonzo. Gonzo has had more bad games than Besler but different players learn at different rates.

        The question is has Gonzo improved? Is the Gonzo/ Besler partnership more consistent now than it was a year ago? Overall, I would say the partnership has been just barely consistent enough to earn their place and I would not blame all the negative stuff on Gonzo.

  3. sidenote: I’m not going to get my hopes up for the S Korea match. I recall that by the time the match rolled around last year, everyone looked exhausted and they didn’t play well as a group (understandable for a long camp where each is looking to shine individually). Even the ones who ended up getting called up again didn’t show too well in that one.

    Of course Klinsmann sees them the whole month and the match at the end isn’t the point – I just hope to be surprised by a better quality showing this time.

  4. Surprised and pleased to see Seth Sinovic get a look. I guess I can’t call him the most underrated fullback in MLS anymore.

  5. Happy to see Benny back in the fold. Excited to see how Klute stacks up. I didn’t see that many Rapids games, but the ones I did, he was quite impressive.

  6. I am glad Mike Magee got called in. I have enjoyed watching him play since he was signed by Bradley for the Metrostars as an 18 year-old. He, Eddie Gavin and Michael Bradley were a trio of young players for the Metrostars who were fun to watch develop. Both Gavin and Magee spent some minutes in goal for their MLS teams on an emergency basis. Magee has always seemed like he really has fun playing. I never thought he is particularly strong or fast, but he has always been able to use his smarts to find ways to help his team. Any young player who wants to learn to score goals could do worse than to watch and learn from Magee’s movement to get open and into good spots to score from.

  7. I’m kinda annoyed that Ogunbiyi, Steve Clarke, and Conor O’brien didn’t get call ups and called up Chance Myers, Tally Hall, and Dax McCarty instead. O’brien is a bit better than Mix in my opinion. Same as Mix only difference O’brien doesn’t get muscled off the ball as easily. Tally Hall well he just doesn’t compare against Clarke

    • The Danish season runs like continental Europe and Ogunbiyi probably has to report to training for the match against Randers on 2 Feb. I’ll just convince myself that that is the only reason he wasn’t called. But you’re officially a Scandinavian coach, you probably already knew that.


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