By FRANCO PANIZO
MLS clubs might still be jockeying for playoff positioning next month when FIFA’s October international dates roll around, but that will not stop U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann from summoning his best players.
Klinsmann stated Thursday that he intends to assemble the best team that he can for friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras on Oct. 10 and 14, respectively, while also including some of the youngsters that helped the Americans defeat the Czech Republic in Prague earlier this month.
With clubs required by FIFA to release players selected for international duty, the likes of Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin of the Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City duo Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, and Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley could all miss league matches as the MLS regular season nears its end. The LA Galaxy, who will already be without Landon Donovan as he gets a U.S. curtain call, could also be without stout centerback Omar Gonzalez for a piece of the important stretch run.
“Looking toward the October games against Ecuador and Honduras, we definitely look at the strongest squad possible,” said Klinsmann. “It’s exciting for the fans and for us. We look at bringing the players back that won in the Czech Republic, and also to mix them with the players here in MLS. We can make our comparisons and see where they are at.
“Obviously then for a coach, the most exciting part is choosing the starting XI for both games. The first game with the farewell to Landon Donovan is very special, so we want to give him the most exciting event possible. The second game against Honduras in Florida is another chance for players to make a statement. It’s fun to look forward to these two games.”
Earlier this month, Klinsmann expressed his distaste for MLS’s scheduling of games during international windows. Klinsmann talked about the conflict it presents, how often he has to sacrifice bringing in some of his premier performers, and offered a solution by saying MLS should extend its season to make room for the FIFA dates.
Klinsmann recently refrained from calling in his top talent, as he selected a roster filled with mostly young and inexperienced players a couple of weeks ago for a friendly with the Czech Republic. The U.S. won that match on European soil, 1-0, and Klinsmann now wants to see how some of the youngsters from that match fare in a camp with more veterans.
“The young players that were part of the camp in Prague and won against the Czech Republic sent a very strong message out there to the more established players,” said Klinsmann. “They sent a message of competition. They sent them a message to say we are coming through the ranks. They put themselves back in line, but they want to climb the ladder of hierarchy within the team and be part of the success going forward.
“This is what you want to have as a national team coach. You want these youngsters coming in not being scared or afraid, taking risks and making some statements. They did that in Prague, and that also means they have a very strong case of getting called back into camp for the games in October.”
If called up by Klinsmann, MLS-based U.S. players would likely miss any matches played during the league’s busy slate on Oct. 8-12.
What do you think of Klinsmann’s plans to bring in top talent during an extremely important time in the MLS season? Think he is trying to force MLS to reexamine how it schedules game? Which MLS players would you like to see brought in or left with their clubs?
Share your thoughts below.