Photo by Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
Just three games into his U.S. Men’s National Team senior career, fullback Greg Garza is turning some heads.
The 23-year-old Tijuana defender made his third appearance in as many games in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Honduras and put in another strong defensive shift. Garza, who had previously been capped by the U.S. at every youth level, has earned the praise of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has already found some familiarity with the young fullback.
“Greg Garza looks like he was always with us,” Klinsmann said of his left back. “I don’t know. It’s really fun to watch this guy. I’ve known him for quite awhile, but he didn’t play on a regular basis with Tijuana. He made kind of his own way through the system. He came through Tijuana there and pushed Edgar Castillo to Atlas, pushed him out in a certain way as a left back, and played focused, defensively strong.
“When there’s a chance to go forward, he goes forward, but first and foremost, he’s a left back, so he’s a defender. He plays with discipline, which we like. These games help us a lot there to see that potential.”
Here are some more USMNT news and notes:
IBARRA A CANDIDATE FOR JANUARY CAMP
Miguel Ibarra is officially a national team player.
The 24-year-old Minnesota United winger made his first international appearance Tuesday to put a stamp on what has been one of the most unlikely rises in recent USMNT history.
Ibarra, who became the first non-MLS based domestic player to play for the U.S. since 2005, faced his share of struggles during his national team debut, but Klinsmann was also quick to point out the positives that he’s seen from Ibarra thus far.
“I think Miguel, obviously, in the beginning in the first one or two days, was really nervous,” Klinsmann said. “That’s fine! We told him that and then he started to play with the guys. He can play. We wanted to give him a first taste these 10 days.
“I think he takes a lot with him back to Minnesota and we’ll keep on following him. There might be a good chance for the January camp with him coming up. We have our eye on him. We’ll give him so advice to follow through with going back to his club and I’m thrilled for him. He’s a national team player.”
ALTIDORE PREACHES PATIENCE DUE TO ‘GROWING PAINS’
Much like their previous game against Ecuador, the U.S. left FAU Stadium Tuesday night feeling a bit disappointed.
The U.S. conceded their second lead in as many games and were forced to settle for their second 1-1 draw of the week. Despite the draw, goal-scorer Jozy Altidore remained confident, as the Sunderland striker said he understands the difficulties that come with introducing a new group to the international stage.
“I think it’s a little bit of growing pains,” Altidore said. “It’s going to happen. You have a lot of young kids that hadn’t been a part of the program. A lot of them were just starting with their club teams that played, so it’s going to take time. I think it’s there.
“You can’t put too much pressure on these guys because there’s a lot of them,” Altidore continued. “Normally it’s one or two, but now we have five, six, seven of them, so you have to give them time.”
That message was reiterated by Klinsmann, whose liberal use of substitutions gave the coaching staff an opportunity to get a look at some new faces.
“I think it still gives us a lot to look at,” Klinsmann said. “That’s what these games are for. You definitely want to win these games, there’s no doubt about it, but most importantly is to see these guys coming in and breaking into this group and get a little bit of feeling for this environment and the expectations, get to know their teammates a little bit better.
“In that process going forward, it’s really really important and therefore you take that risk making all the subs and maybe get that interruption of our rhythm at the end.”
What did you make of Garza’s performances this week? What do you think Ibarra needs to do to become a regular international player? Which new faces stood out to you over the past few games?
Share your thoughts below.