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USMNT Notes: Klinsmann praises Garza’s discipline; Ibarra a candidate for January camp; and more


Photo by Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports



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:


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.”


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.


  1. Garza was the one revelation. Others showed potential but had some bad moments. I guess if you want to nit-pick you could argue that he should have put that long-range shot on frame or that his crosses were supposed to hit a guy wearing a US jersey on the head, not a Honduran. But, that is really nit-picking! In addition to defending well, he did combine to make short passes out of the back rather than knocking the ball aimlessly forward.

    • Went 90 in a rivalry game on Friday, then had to make his way from Seattle to Boca Raton for a meaningless friendly on Tuesday. I will give him a pass this one time.

  2. I hope Garza keeps it all together. If he can keep playing that consistently instead of comparing him to Castillo, they’ll compare him to Cherundolo.

    • Definitely see the Cherundolo comparison there, would be great to finally have a successor to Steve. Obviously he plays LB instead of RB, but I really just mean having that steady yet skilled presence that you can rely on in the back. Dolo was the type of player that you rarely noticed but you just would assume had a solid game at the very least.

      Hope Garza keeps it up, his game has really improved the last year or 2. I really noticed him in that Champ League game vs the Galaxy.

    • Wow, can you guys see out of the Kool Aid bowl or are you eyeballs deep in it? Garza is a good LB. He has played 2 games in which he performed well. Comparing him the Dolo without proving anything yet is ridiculous.

  3. One thing I like about guys like Ibarra getting called in and NASL/USL guys going into US youth teams is these lower division clubs are starting to do multi year contracts with their players enabling the clubs to possibly make some money off of some of these guys when MLS comes knocking. This will only help the soccer landscape in this country. Exciting times.

    • he is defiantly down in the depth chart but not necessarily due to Garza’s rise. Edgar never played well as a LB for the national team; he isn’t disciplined enough to play defense at the international level. He is doing well and playing at Atlas but is still behind a number of players for a LW position on the USMNT.

      so ya.. long shot for another shot at the national team.

    • castillo’s mnt career should never have been dependent on him playing LB. he’s a concacaf wingback, which–at the international level–usually translates to LW, not LB.

      i still wouldn’t mind seeing him on the wing for us in the future, as long as he’s not primarily expected to defend.

      • True enough, but if the team is gradually morphing into a 4-3-3, in which (I am given to understand by the comments of those more knowledgeable than I am) all three midfielders are expected to defend as well as attack, does that leave Castillo out in the cold? Or is his defensive ability (as well as his commitment to defense) sufficient to allow him to play as one of those midfielders?

      • if you’re asking my opinion, then i’d say that yes, his defensive ability is more than sufficient to play as a wide mid, but that in a typical 4-3-3 (if that is what klinsmann’s going for), the fullbacks and forwards provide the width, and he’s not really either one of those.

        so i don’t really see him fitting well in a 4-3-3 (although he could surprise as a LW up top); but i do think he could still be a very useful option when we need a different look.

  4. Agreed re Garza. First two times I’ve seen him. Reliable and impressive. Can’t remember anyone beating him down the left side and he goes forward well.

  5. Klinsman preaches the importance of playing at the highest levels but calls in NASL and College players? Not saying Ibarra or Morris aren’t deserved of a look but that isn’t a very clear message in my opinion.

    • I think there is a difference between telling established players what they should do and finding new players who are capable of playing at higher levels.

      • Ibarra is 24. Not exactly the ideal age for making the big jump overseas. Like I said, I understand giving them a shot with the potential they’ve shown and the immediate impact they can perhaps provide.

      • i actually think that’s an ideal age for jumping overseas, but his lack of pedigree to this point pretty much takes that out of the equation. Now, if Ibarra isnt in MLS next year, then I think he could be faulted for the lack of playing to your highest possible level (this assumes he’s good enough for MLS given his callup).

    • I think Jurgen wants players to push and challenge themselves to play at the highest level and not settle for a lower more comfortable level (Bradley for example). In Ibarra’s case he is pushing himself and trying to make his way up the ladder, I’m sure he isn’t content playing in the NASL. He is rewarding a guy who is working hard to get where he wants to be and making people take notice of his talent.

      Just because Jurgen wants his players at the highest level, there is still a thing called reality and he has to work with the pool he has.

      • Pretty much. Shouldn’t we want a coach who pushes his players to play in the best leagues? I’m sure Ibarra wants to play in MLS (the next general step). And if he continues, some team might give him a shot. Thing with Bradley is that he was there and left. Maybe he wasn’t getting time at Roma, but he could have stayed in Serie A. It seems like the big thing was he chased the money. Totally understandable.

      • don’t you think each case is different, how to define the best situation for each player? consider Kyle Beckerman, an MLS lifer in a good situation on a good team that plays a style that translates well to the USMNT; that worked out well but the MLS is not considered one of the “best” leagues by many

        there are other examples where “best league” may not be “best situation”. and if Beckerman honed his game and kept sharp in MLS, so can others like MB, don’t you think?

      • I see what you’re saying and I agree that everyone has the level where they fit in and get the most out of their talent. I also feel like Jurgen sees players like Bradley, Landon, Dempsey etc. who have the ability to succeed at higher levels and wants them to push themselves to their limit.

        He seems to actually really admire and appreciates Kyle’s game and I think he sees him as someone who did get the most out of his talent. His peak talent level just may be as a very good MLS holding MF while he thinks Bradley should’ve been striving for a top level MF on a Champion’s League (Eurpean) side.

        I think a lot of his mentality comes from his playing days and in the environment he was brought up in. It was a lot more cut throat and he had to push it to the limit to be a success for club and country.

      • Iwatched him play, I remember him well, and the Germans before him. that’s all we got out here in the states for a log time. it’s different here, up and moving your roots and family is a different equation. MB actually did it and played out there already

        re. Beckerman, I don’t think you get my point, which is at the World Cup he played great, that’s his level, wherever he honed it or continues to display it

        fun to talk with you

      • Fun to talk with you as well..always nice to be able to have different views on a subject without trying to take a shot or insult someone’s opinion haha especially since just about everything we commentators say is just our opinion.

      • I completely agree with this. I think Klinsman needs to elaborate on this theory of his. I think player potential isn’t develop through black and white means. I’d hate for a young flavor of the month kid to by pass consistent playing time for a “bigger league” where he would rot on the bench or in the reserves. There’s no fixed path to greatness. Players in Brazil and Argentina and even Mexico become very strong squad players staying home. Landon and his temperament, probably never would have progressed if he’d of stayed in europe in his youth. He’s a guy that needs to feel comfortable. Love it or Hate him for that, he still became arguably the best player to ever put the US jersey on playing the good ol’ US of A.

    • Never try and make any sense of anything JK says. He has different rules for different players and doesn’t have any faith with Americans but a few.

      The fact is that most of those that have drank the JK Kool-aid end up in some lower division team that may or may not be better than MLS. Thats if they make the field at all.

      We need a coach that believes in Americans, believes in MLS and that will look here first for players. JK is not that man and I wish he would go elsewhere

      • oh willie….you of the simple-minded ignorance. I wish I your philosophy aka why try to understand something when you can just make denigrating statements

      • Mr. Wille,

        This topic reminds us that many forget the difference between club soccer and national team soccer.

        The USMNT has always had guys who could play at the necessary World Cup level.

        Look at the 2002 WC when even our best players, Reyna, JOB, Sanneh, McBride for example, did not play at the highest level clubs.

        You are talking about 3 games minimum , 7 games maximum.
        It is one thing to do well in a supportive national team environment with your buddies in a tournament like the World Cup and very much another thing to move to a Bayern Munich , a Juventus, a Manchester United and so on and maintain that 3-7 game form for 40-50 plus games required to keep your spot at a top team for big money. Add on to that the fierce pressure of relegation/ promotion and the point of players moving to Europe is that it makes it easier for USMNT managers to do their job.

        Since 1990 who has consistently maintained World Cup form over time by playing exclusively in our domestic league? Landon and Eddie Pope.

        Most of you don’t even know who Eddie Pope is.

        Except for the fact that he has only played two WC games and is most likely not going to ever play another one, you might throw the Crofton flash in there but Beckerman is another exceptional player that 99% of people on SBI did not want in the World Cup and never would have been a World Cup guy if not for JK., who supported him from JK’s first game on the job.

        That is not a lot of players that you can be very sure about over the span of 24 years.

        It is really very simple.

        MLS is what it is and the USMNT manager can’t change anything about it.

        If you were the manager of the USMNT would you want all your players coming from a league where only a few of the teams play meaningful games for a small part of their schedule?

        Or do you want your players trying to beat out competition from all over the world where failure has serious life altering consequences? If a guy like Rooney does not make it as a pro footballer what do you suppose he would do for a living ?

        The reality is your base group will come from the domestic league but which situation is likely to provide you with tougher, better, meaner, hungrier players? The players who will make the difference.

        LD was a difference maker for example in 2010 but would he even have been in a position to do so without his Euro based buddies like Clint, Jozy , Mikey , Dolo and Timmy?

        On “that” famous Algeria goal, Howard outletted the ball to LD on the right wing who then passed it to Jozy who took it down the wing and centered into Clint, whose shot was charged down but the rebound was then slotted into the net for arguably LD’ greatest goal.

        Anyone who thinks that, currently or in the near future, the best possible USMNT team can be assembled without European trained players ( Clint and Mikey are not MLS products.. They play in MLS but learned their trade in Europe) is misguided.

      • Agree with just about all of what you said except that Dempsey is actually a College and MLS product…although it can be argued that his game went to the next level when he went to Fulham. Which kind of supports the point you were getting at anyway.

      • Not sure Eddie Pope is a good example. In the 2006 WC, he was one of the big reasons we lost to the Czech Republic (he was on the down side of his career and probably better than other options, but he was never a big body who could handle strong forwards and that was his downfall there.)

        Of course, moving to europe would probably not have caused him to bulk up and get stronger either.

      • Eddie is a great example.

        That Czech team in 2006 was pretty awesome and while Eddie could be dominant in the air,, against Dortmund’s 6’8″, 220 pound Jan Koller who was at his peak, that was just a bridge too far

  6. It seems like the logical next move for Ibarra would be MLS, right? I wouldn’t be surprised if MLS teams raid MN United for him and Ramirez.

  7. I’m not sure that Garza really “pushed Edgar Castillo out” at Xolos. Often, Liga MX seems to sell players for financial reasons rather than performance. Castillo started most of the games when he was available until he was traded, and is doing very well at Atlas. Garza is probably a better defender than Castillo, but not as speedy and less of a threat offensively.

    • Not probably. Definitely. US fans would cringe every time Castillo went back on defense. With Garza, even in these early days, it feels like there’s someone solid back there.

    • I got to see Garza up close at the game. The dude is solid, like a wrestler (check out his guns in the picture). Although he’s fairly short, he’s not going to get pushed around like Castillo or even Beasley. Just hope he’s not a flash in the pan.

    • Atlas is actually a bigger and better team than Xolos right now, if anything Castillo made a step forward in his career moving from a midtable team to a championship contender. Castillo is a wingback rather than a fullback like Garza, Atlas was the perfect fit for him.

      • Castillo looks good in the USMNT when a Defensive Midfielder or two drop back into CB territory and we effectively have at least 3 CB’s, but Klinnsman runs another weird system.

  8. One of the major takeaways from last night is that I no longer see where Zusi fits in with the National Team. Like Brad Davis, it is hard to justify keeping a guy around solely because he is good at set pieces, and that is the only use I see for Zusi at this point. I think he has had his moments, for sure, but the window may be closed.

    • Zusi is not going to be a superstar at this level, but he is steady and serviceable, and still in his prime. Come the gold cup next summer I would much rather have him on the field than someone like Corona, Ibarra, or Wood.

      For the most part, it’s pretty clean with the young’ins who is ready (Yedlin, Garza, Gyau, Diskirud) and who is not.

      • He’ll get a shot at the Gold Cup to make his mark. If not, he will probably get one last chance as one of the 3 older players who get to play on the Olympic roster (if they qualify).

      • Yeah, the ability to dribble past a person is not allowed on the USMNT. It’s forbidden to do so in the USMNT.

      • You have guys like Gyau and Green already pushing the wingers. Then you have guys like Yedlin and FJ pushing. And you have young’ns and possibly returning vets (Shea) who’ll be in the mix.

        Zusi has no place. We already have Bedoya for the “lots of stamina, poor technique” role.

      • I prefer to see Zusi play the #10 playmaker role in a formation built for a #10 position. I think his accurate passing will be much better and he will pass more often in the #10 role. Also, his speed would be no issue in the middle of the team. If Jones can play CB then Zusi should be given a game at the #10 spot.

      • Zusi does basically the same thing as Brad Davis albeit on the right side instead of the left. I would rather have someone on the wing that will dribble past their marker and get off an easy cross or score a goal themselves than wait for a slow-footed limited skill set player like Davis or Zusi take a corner or a free kick in the 87th minute. IMO, the team played better when it was younger and more inexperienced. The only guy who had a better game was wood and that was because he made fewer glaring mistakes. But Zusi should be shelved unless necessitated by injuries or other reasons. We ‘ve struggled. Three straight games with just one goal. Counting the WC, that’s five straight.

    • Definitely agree. Suddenly we’ve got a lot of interesting prospects at a lot of positions–even at the left and right back positions, allowing Yedlin and Johnson to enter into that crowded midfield discussion. For a brief window Zusi served his purposes, but that window appears to be closing. I will be interesting to see how quickly that window opens and closes over the next few years as more and more youngsters mature. Will today’s promising young star, even if they fulfill their promise, have enough to be that star in another four years? Many are still raw but with all the tourneys over the next cycle, there will be plenty of opportunity.

    • He has what I call “CONCACAF Talent”. Shows really well in MLS and weak regional games, but isn’t quite good enough to make it at the WC level.

      • He’s just lacking the control in tight spaces or explosive pace that you need to succeed against the top teams. He can’t really create any space for himself, and it shows.

      • I’m not even sure he has CONCACAF talent any more after last night’s game. I’m ready to see wingers who are willing to take defenders on 1v1. That is not Zusi.

    • I read things like this and wonder, didn’t you see any of the games last year. For example, the time where he hustled back to make a great defensive play, I believe in Mexico, and stop a certain goal. Or a crucial goal he scored in one of the qualifiers. Have you forgotten that he was nowhere until JK gave him a shot and he played his way onto the team; it’s not like the position was gifted to him.

      • Klinnsman should have put him in the #10 role. It’s not Zusi’s fault. Zusi did his absolute best he could on the wing. I would too, but I think an attacking MF role is better suited for his skillset. Klinnsman tried to create something that lacked the requirements: world class speed. He’s not the only person being played out of position…just look at Fabian Johnson. With Chandler and even Garza showing up consistently as Backs this opens the door to place Fabian Johnson in a position where he can best use his talents: Midfield!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Do you think Zusi would have been a better option at Attacking Midfield than Bradley or Mix? Will he even be at the same level as Hyndman come next World Cup? I don’t think he would trump those guys in that position.

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