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Klinsmann prioritizing looking at USMNT’s inexperienced youth

Julian Green

Photo by USA Today Sports Images


The U.S. Men’s National Team begins its road to Russia 2018 with its first friendly next week, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is wasting no time in trying to identify talent in the pipeline that could potentially help along the way.

Klinsmann unveiled a 22-man roster on Thursday for the Americans’ first friendly of the new cycle, and while veterans like Jozy Altidore and Fabian Johnson were on it, much of the talk was about how it included several young players with little to no caps to their names. Julian Green, Bobby Wood and Alfredo Morales were some of the youngsters on the team with limited international experience, but they could be seen as veterans when compared to some of the six uncapped players that were summoned for the Sept. 3 road match against the Czech Republic.

It’s all part of a calculated move by Klinsmann, and one that he thinks will help lay out a foundation for the next four years.

“When you start a new cycle, you want to see as many new players and young players breaking in as possible,” Klinsmann told “Obviously you always respect your established players and you always want to give them the space to continue their good work, but you also want to use that opportunity going forward to introduce young blood into the program, give them time on the training field, and you also want to give them time in a real game and prove a point. Show us what you have. Show us your talent, be confident and go for your next level.

“This is what comes up in the next couple games. It’s about young players coming in and hopefully doing well, with the established ones being part of it as well. We try to mix things up, but we are curious about the next generation of players breaking in. It is also very vital towards Russia 2018 that we already communicate now, four years away, that there is a path for you laid out, but you as a player decide at the end of the day whether you make that path or not.”

As part of this approach, Klinsmann and his staff have already begun talking to a lot of clubs throughout the world to discuss the young talent that the U.S. could introduce in the short term. Looking at inexperienced players is a priority right now, especially for the foreign-based bunch which cannot partake in the annual January camp and has seldom other chances throughout the international calendar to earn a close-up look from Klinsmann.

That is why Emerson Hyndman, Rubio Rubin and Greg Garza have been selected over veterans like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley for this upcoming friendly. The youngsters are relative unknowns and Klinsmann wants to see which of them can handle the rigors of the international game and which need a little more work.

“You want to take some risks to introduce young players, players that haven’t proven yet what quality they have,” said Klinsmann. “We always will juggle both things: we want to get results because we want to get the confidence and we want to build more credibility, and we want to get more respect towards all the other nations from around the world.

“At the same time we’re also responsible for developing players, and players only can develop and get to the next level if you give them a chance to play, so maybe if there’s a 50/50 situation between an established player and a younger player, and we maybe don’t know some of the answers yet about the younger player but we know a lot about that experienced player, I probably will take the younger player because it just makes more sense,. This is what we’re going to try to do and we will also communicate to everyone.”

While Klinsmann had plenty of surprises in the squad released Thursday, no one inclusion or omission was as big as the selection of Jordan Morris. Currently a forward at Stanford, Morris is the first player in recent memory to receive a call-up despite having no professional experience.

The U.S. coaching staff is high on him, however. They saw him play a bit with U.S. youth teams and are quite intrigued by his potential.

We have watched Jordan through our Youth National Teams and in the Development Academy for the last couple of years, and he is a very promising player,” said Klinsmann. “We saw him during our two weeks at Stanford for the World Cup preparation camp, and also from his play with U-23 team in the Bahamas, and we felt like this was a good opportunity to introduce him to the senior team.”

All this youthful exuberance is not to say that Klinsmann is going into next Wednesday’s match in Prague with a loss in mind. Far from it, in fact.

With grizzled veterans like Altidore, Johnson, Brad Guzan and Alejandro Bedoya in camp to help groom and lead the youngsters, the U.S. intends to play for a win vs. the Czech Republic. It might no be that easy to do, but starting the new cycle with a victory on European soil is something Klinsmann wants to accomplish just as much as he wants to integrate young new talent.

“Do we want to win this game? Absolutely, but we also know the great players that are on the other side, players like (Tomas) Rosicky that plays for a big club and other ones who deserve a lot of respect,” said Klinsmann. “But I think that we built more and more confidence, we build more belief that we also go to Europe and say, ‘We are here to give you a game and to beat you’. This is what we’re going to try to do in Prague.”


  1. Are any of those players known ot score goals in bunches? I don’t see Jozy doing it. My guess is that this group will not win against the Czech Republic. The midfield is not strong enough without Bradley or Beckerman.

    • Birgit,

      How many USMNT players are you aware of that score “goals in bunches” with any kind of regularity.

      If that is your criteria, JK will have a very hard time calling anyone up.

    • Since when Beckerman moved to the “Bradley” status?

      I doubt we will see our NT play with 3 DM for any friendlies or GC. I still envision our customary Jones/Bradley duo for the next 18 months, after, we may see a change in the guards. I thought Jones would clearly be replace after the WC but he had such a strong tournament that now I’m not so sure.

      • I remember when Beckerman, who JK played in JK’s first game in charge, was proof that JK was an idiot.

        JK must have been the only person in the US who seriously thought Beckerman was World Cup material.

      • I remember when Beckerman, who JK played in JK’s first game in charge, was proof that JK was incompetent.

        JK must have been the only person in the US who seriously thought Beckerman was World Cup material.

  2. This being the first USMNT Camp in a new cycle it is expected to see a very young and inexperienced group of players called in for evaluation. 4 years is a long time in the life of a professional player, so the possibility that a couple of these guys making the 30 player preliminary roster for 2018 isn’t far fetched. A little shocked at a couple names called in (Morris, Garza, & Shea)….and a few that were left off (Stanko, Lichaj, & Agudelo); but there are a LOT of opportunities to test the depth of the Player Pool over the next couple years.
    The next 2 camps should represent mostly US/Mex based players so hopefully guys like Klute, Powers, Trapp, Ferrell, Sarkodie, Arriola, Gil, etc… will get a shot at making a claim for consideration.

  3. Would have liked to see a Lletget call up. Hoping he gets some first team action this season to garner some attention for a call up.

  4. On a side note: I’ve read that Ged Zelalem needs to get US Citizenship before his 18th birthday if he wants to represent USA. There’s 5 months left for that. Anyone hear anything? I realize he’s a ways away from being ready for us, but I figure it’s still worth following for such a highly touted prospect.

      • His quickest path to US citizenship right now is connected to his father beckoning a citizen and him being a minor dependent at the time his dad becomes a citizen. If his dad isn’t a US citizen before he’s 18, he’d have to qualify for citizenship on his own, and that would take years of residency that he won’t have unless he moves back to the US full time.

      • I believe that most importantly he loses his German citizenship, and EU work permit if he gains another citizenship after 18. As a minor, he would retain both citizenships and still be able to play for arsenal. Without that, there’s no reason to believe that he could get an English work permit.

      • correct, Goff had a great summary on the situation back in very early May. he said, to your point:

        “Germans must relinquish citizenship when they are naturalized elsewhere, but because he is a minor, Zelalem would keep his German passport — thus, maintaining European Union credentials and avoiding England’s strict work permit guidelines.”

        so we all need to hope his dad can get citizenship before Zelalem turns 18.

      • In addition, my understanding is that Germany does not allow you to keep two passports.but if you have dual citizenship before, 18 Germany won’t make you choose between the two.

        This would allow Zelalem to keep his EU player status, important to Arsenal, and keep him eligible for the US and Germany.

  5. “That is why Emerson Hyndman, Rubio Rubin and Greg Garza have been selected over veterans like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley for this upcoming friendly.”

    I’m guessing the “why” has a lot more to do with the MLS season than anything else.

    • Plus the fact that Beasley is likely done in terms of National Team service. Dempsey is borderline, but still looks pretty good out there; of course, 4 years is a long time. Bradley will be starting in Russia, most likely. Not sure why it was even necessary for the writer to throw these names out there.

      • You guys all must have missed JK saying just after the World Cup that he was not going to be calling up too many veterans for these games as he wanted to see what the new kids could do.

  6. i’d start this:


    then make some half-time changes depending on how it is going. Gyau, Green, Hyndman, Shea, and Wood for sure. then either Ream or Rubin, and if i had to guess between those two, i’d say Ream. to me, Rubin and Morris are there for the experience. Hyndman gets in simply because CMs are so important.

      • totally plausible. it depends on what JK wants to do with FJ. we know FJ does not want to play RB or LB, he wants to play midfield. we also know JK wants him to be a midfielder for the US moving forward. so does he stick with that or put FJ somewhere just to allow for a guy like Green to get time at LM? tough to say. but i think his starting lineup will mimic, as best as possible, what we would see in competitive games. so that’s why i’m betting on FJ playing in the midfield.

      • it’s very simple, with six subs you just have to choose which player you would rather see and then fit them in….

      • nah, just guessing who might get thrown on for a look in the last 20-30 minutes and based it off of the remaining guys i hadn’t listed.

    • There were no MLS field players called into this squad. Perhaps he will get a look for the Ecauador friendly or (more likely) the January camp.

      • Rimando, but otherwise your point is taken. He isn’t asking MLS folks to fly over to Europe mid-season.

    • I saw the highlight where he scored a goal on a header for the U-23s against the Bahamas recently. I would guess with some digging, there are highlights available of some his play at Stanford.

      • You will though. You will…Jozy is gonna have him breathing down his neck. He is big like Jozy and fast. He actually like to play big as well.

  7. so will Jozy be captain for game? in fact maybe best he stays at sunderland or would a good game against czech republic help his morale?

  8. No Eric Lichaj. Guy is just 25. Made a great goal line clearance the other day versus Reading. Is recovering nicely from his surgery from last season. WTF Klinsmann? Bring in Pekerman.

    • Bring in Lichaj for what exactly? He’s a good player but you can tell he’s not good enough for this team from a mile away. His competition is really stacked

      • disagree. he is playing for Forrest but only after a lengthy injury layoff. I bet this is why he doesn’t come.

      • not sure how you can tell greg garza is better than him, or as versatile. i mean, he may be, i just don’t see how you could tell. if only there was an opportunity to bring them into a camp together…

      • +1

        The only edge Garza has here is that Klinsi has seen Lichaj in ONE camp (where I believe he was a late addition). Lichaj even got some PT and looked decent (although the team underperformed as a whole). That said, he overlooked Lichaj for a looong time, through a very sparse period for USMNT fullbacks.

  9. Bringing in young, untested guys at the start of a new cycle is commonplace, isn’t it? It’s not a “youth movement,” it’s business as usual when any team turns the page from one WC cycle to the next. Is there a story here?

    • There’s never really a story. We’re talking about a children’s game.

      But no, naming a youth side is not a formality. Our roster for the first friendly following south africa included boca, dolo, goodson, buddle and gomez.

      • We can debate all day long about why someone who can run really fast in a straight line is more highly regarded than a teacher that influences countless lives over the course of their career. But this is not the place to do it. Sports in general produces massive amounts of revenue, creates a lot jobs (not just for the athletes), and is watched by huge numbers of people. Is this right or wrong? What does this say about human society? I don’t know, but it is just the way it is. Watch it or don’t.

      • It says the world is a dark place where bad things sometimes happen and there’s no guarantee of an eternal reward.

        So, we have sports, music, sex and movies to take our minds off of the fact the our existence on this planet is, for the most part, Birth, School, Work, Death.

        Children’s game? Sure

        Necessary for our sanity? Yes

      • Whoa hey guys I love soccer, maybe more than my family and friends.

        I was just taking the piss out of a guy who questioned why a soccer blog would post a story on the makeup of a roster for a usmnt match.

      • Not really but this pitiful prose is a window into your soul. Dark place bro…dark place.

        You ever try Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”?

      • And a 17 year old Agudelo, Gale Agbossoumonde, Teal Bunbury, Logan Pause, Nat Borchers and many other fringe guys. Nice misrepresentation though.

  10. Besides being very excited/intrigued by the young players on this team, I am most curious to see if Fabian Johnson will be our right or left-back, or if he plays in midfield. Depending on where he plays, that sets up the rest of the roster and makes it fairly easy to guess the rest of the starting line-up.

    Too bad Josh Gatt got injured. Would have liked to see him on this roster.

      • When your game is built around speed and you keep re injuring yourself in places that affect your speed, you have to wonder about your career

    • He’s not bringing Greg Garza all the way from Mexico to sit him. He’ll slot in on the left with Fabian on the right. Potential for Orozco to come in on the right and Fabian to push into the midfield as well.

      • don’t think he’ll play either, but orozco’s more likely to play left back than right. he’s left-footed.

      • he’s much more likely to play on the right. he plays RCB in a 5 man (3 man, depending on how you look at it) defense for Puebla. even plays RB at times. has played RB for the US under JK. i’d say it is almost guaranteed he plays on the right. especially with JK referring to Brooks as a LCB during the World Cup (that was why he came in for Besler and not Omar).

      • interesting. i’ve seen him play left back for his club, lcb for usmnt (first cap under klinsmann), and he’s definitely left-footed. that’s really good that he can play both sides; i still hold out hope for him that he can be a major contributor for the next four years.

      • he may have at San Luis or Chiapas, but at Puebla he has been almost exclusively a right-sided player.

        but yes, he is left footed and i will never forget his red card in the Olympics playing as a LB.

        i agree though, i hope he can play a decent role. he is a great passer, he’s quick for a CB, and it’s not like he is weak in the air. he could pair nicely with Brooks.

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