By FRANCO PANIZO
BOSTON — Seeing one of your more promising defensive prospects demoted to second-team duty at the club level might be a real cause for concern for some international coaches, but not Jurgen Klinsmann.
John Brooks was recently sent down to the reserves at Hertha Berlin due to inconsistent performances with the first team, and it seems he will remain there for the foreseeable future after manager Jos Luhukay made some less than flattering comments about the 21-year-old centerback’s play in the press.
That decision has forced Brooks to settle for games in Germany’s fourth division, a far from ideal competitive setting for someone who is a U.S. Men’s National Team regular these days. But Klinsmann is not overly worried about Brooks’ situation, convinced that this is just part of the growing process for a professional in the early years of his career.
“It’s typical up and downs of young players,” said the U.S. head coach. “We’ve got to take it the way it is. We won’t change the minds of their club coaches. They go through difficult moments, so we want them to go through it and to prove a point to their coaches.
“If they get the opportunity to play now (internationally) that’s a good moment to do that but also when they go back into training, they start fresh again and hopefully convince their coach to put them back in the lineup. This is just something that is happening in the early stage of your career. That is what John is going through. It’s not an easy time for him, but there’s no other way.”
Since being sent to the second team in late September and before arriving to the U.S.’s camp earlier this week, Brooks started and went the distance in two games with Hertha Berlin II. It is a major drop-off from the level Brooks played at this summer, when he came off the bench and scored a game-winning goal for the U.S. at the World Cup.
Still, Klinsmann believes this test of character can help Brooks in the long run.
“You’ve got to learn how to handle it. You’ve got to go through problems and issues, and it makes you only stronger,” said Klinsmann. “That’s our message to him: You go through that tough, tough moment, then it makes you stronger going forward.
“We know what this kid can do. He proved it already a couple of times with us. He has tremendous amount of talent, but he has to become more consistent, he has to become more stable, and hopefully we can help him doing that.”
Here are more notes from the U.S.’s camp:
MORALES COMMITTED TO USA
Alfredo Morales is not yet cap-tied to the U.S., but the chances he plays for another country seem slim. Very slim.
Morales is eligible to play for Germany, Peru and the U.S. due to his lineage, but it seems unlikely that the reigning World Cup champions call for the versatile FC Ingolstadt midfielder given their embarrassment of riches. Peru, on the other hand, has repeatedly expressed interest in Morales, who has only ever represented the U.S. on the international stage and has two caps with the senior side since 2013.
That has not dissuaded Peruvians from holding out hope that the 24-year-old Morales could switch allegiances, but do not expect to ever see that happen.
“Yeah, of course it’s an option, but not for me, not in my life,” said Morales.
ALTIDORE TALKS YOUNGSTERS’ ADVANTAGEOUS POSITION
Despite still only being 24 himself, Jozy Altidore has been around the international game long enough to know how privileged the new crop of youngsters are.
Altidore is entering his third World Cup cycle with the U.S., but never before in his time with the team has there been such a potentially congested schedule. The 2015 and 2017 Gold Cups and 2016 Centennial Copa America are on tap, and so too could be the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Confederations Cup.
The amount of competitions the Americans will play in in the coming years – not to mention the World Cup qualifiers for Russia 2018 – will test the squad as a whole. But with those games come more opportunities to impress, an advantageous scenario that will provide youngsters coming through the ranks experience in top-notch, pressure-filled matches that should only help their development.
“They’re very lucky,” said Altidore. “We’re all very lucky to be here, but they’re taking part in the program in a time – where I don’t think the USA has had this time before – with two Gold Cups, Copa America, maybe even a Confederations Cup, the Olympics.
“It’s incredible to be a part of the U.S. National Team at this moment in time, so it’s a big opportunity for all of us.”
What do you make of Klinsmann’s stance regarding Brooks’ situation at Hertha? Still want the USMNT to cap-tie Morales ASAP? How big of an opportunity do the youngsters have in these comings years?
Share your thoughts below.