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Klinsmann plans to involve USMNT youngsters more in 2015

JurgenKlinsmannUSMNT2-Ecuador (Getty)


Get ready to see even more fresh faces donning the U.S. Men’s National Team jersey in 2015.

In addition to the likes of Rubio Rubin, Emerson Hyndman, and Jordan Morris, a whole host of 2016 U.S. U-23-eligible players will be given their first taste of the national team this month when the USMNT assemble for their annual January camp.

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann called it his “main task” in 2015, setting up the U.S. U-23 team and avoiding the disappointment from 2012, where the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

“We will have about 8-10 Olympic team players in the January camp just to come with the senior group and to try to start building them already,” Klinsmann said in his first remarks of the new year. “Obviously we have to work out an agenda for them, a calendar for 2015 that really gets them off to a good start.”

“The main task for 2015 is definitely the Olympic team, the U-23 team, to get that off the ground. To identify players, get camps on the agenda, get games on the agenda for that team, and help them to kind of build a core group towards the qualifiers. We want to make sure that what happened with London 2012 is not happening again. We put this on a higher priority level and I think that’s exciting.”

On the back of that, Klinsmann issued a challenge to many of the young players on the cusp of the USMNT, stating that there’s no time better than the present to have a breakout season.

“Especially (in) the first part of 2015, where we have some friendly games leading up, we want to see a couple of the younger players breaking through or at least making a mark and making them noticed,” Klinsmann said, singling out Bobby Wood and Rubio Rubin as two youngsters who have caught his eye, despite issues on the club level for Wood.

“We want to see younger players taking their game to another level,” Klinsmann continued. “We want to see the Under-20 team with Tab in Jamaica for the World Cup qualifiers, who of that group can make it to the senior team. We want to see growth and we want to see those youngsters becoming confident and strong and giving us, coaches, alternatives to the already established players.”

While Klinsmann wasn’t clear about which Olympic-age players or U-20 players could be making the jump to the senior team, he did confirm that Brek Shea would be given another chance with the USMNT in the upcoming January camp.

After two unsuccessful seasons in England, Shea returned back to the USA and joined Orlando City in a transfer from Stoke City on Dec. 19. Klinsmann hinted though that it could be the last chance saloon for the lanky 24-year-old, mandating that Shea will need to play regular minutes to earn any more USMNT call-ups in the future.

“We see all our players in their own individual situations trying to find solutions and Brek Shea is a good example,” Klinsmann said. “He’s tried badly to find a solution for quite a while because he couldn’t break into the Stoke City team. He tried to go on loan and tried to figure out other solutions and now he found his solution going to Orlando City and starting all over again.

“I think it’s exciting because he made the decision himself, that shows me he’s starting to grow and starts to take things in his own hands. Hopefully he picks up the rhythm right away in the January camp and going into an exciting first season for Orlando City. I think he understands that he has to play, the players need to play in order to be part of the national team program.”

Klinsmann revealed that he intentionally scheduled a grueling first half of the year for his team, with road matches in Chile, Holland, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland to go along with home games against Panama and Mexico.

Considering the difficulty of the opponents they’ll face, Klinsmann admitted that the team could be low on confidence heading into the ultra-important Gold Cup, which will help determine CONCACAF’s delegation at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

It’s a chance though that Klinsmann is willing to take in the present time.

“If you play the top teams in the world, you might risk the result,” Klinsmann said. “Results obviously matter because the wins give you confidence and especially when you go into the Gold Cup, you need to have confidence to be the No. 1 team in CONCACAF and come out the winner.

“But I think it’s more important in the first part of 2015 that we continue to grow as a team, we continue to grow individually, every singly player (understanding) where the higher benchmarks are.

“They understand why they are not where other players that play for Chile, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, or Germany, why they are where they are. (It’s) because they’re consistant for 11 months a year. They know how to grind it out. They know how to be focused every four days in a game. They play up to 50, 60, 70 games in a year.

“It’s important for our players to understand that it takes a lot more work to one day hopefully catch up with them and beat them. Results matter but in this case I’d rather have a negative result in a growing path.”


  1. ““I think it’s exciting because he made the decision himself, that shows me he’s starting to grow and starts to take things in his own hands. Hopefully he picks up the rhythm right away in the January camp and going into an exciting first season for Orlando City. I think he understands that he has to play, the players need to play in order to be part of the national team program.”

    I always find something to laugh at when ever JK is quoted. Let’s analyze this. Brek had no viable options in England. He wasn’t wanted anywhere nor had he managed to impress enough to even get meaningful minutes. So he comes limps back to MLS and somehow this is exciting? What happened to to “play at the highest level bull he tosses out all the time. For Shea, this is a good move but for others, he’s not happy about it. News flash JK, Shea will not be any better then he was when he left and that wasn’t good enough. Why would he ever get more chances?

    Now look at the last sentence. I think he understands that he has to play, the players need to play in order to be part of the national team program.”

    Is this a special rule for Brek? It certainly doesnt apply to Sir Jozy who has played little for a very long time

    • Rex,

      “Is this a special rule for Brek? It certainly doesnt apply to Sir Jozy who has played little for a very long time”

      Did JK issue you a detailed memo on the rules and regulations he uses in selecting players?

      Because I must have missed the memo.

      Here I was thinking that JK was just like most other managers in sports on that subject i.e. issuing a lot of general clichés about his basic principles in terms what he is looking for but also, if you look closely, enough wiggle room so that players with characteristics that may be desirable but do not fit the stated “template” can be fit in.

      In other words, they like to leave themselves room for exceptions. Which is not a bad idea with a talent pool that is a little short on talent.

      In Brek’s case It seems to me that if he could get back to his best, the US could always use someone like that.

      So are you going to share that memo with the test of us?

    • I hope so too but not if it means the exclusion of Sr level MLS based players. If he’s talking about in addition to the ones he will call then Im OK with it

      That being said, I have learned never to expect JK to be held to anything he said yesterday since today’s a new day

  2. For a second I thought Klinsmann said “We want to make sure that what happened with Landon 2012 is not happening again.” I was going to be all for that.

  3. American players a weak. Sure, they can run all day and do more push-ups than anybody but when it comes to being mentally tough we’ve seen time and again how they crumble to pieces once they leave the comforts of home.
    Socioeconomic level has nothing to do with it either. I doubt the German NT players learned to play by kicking a tin can on a dirt field. Their system is successful because it weeds out he mentally weak players. Those not ready to fight day in and day out for a spot on the team while ours are anointed “world class” before they even see a first team minute, or even worse, spend four years becoming even softer playing college ball.

    • I once read an article in the Guardian that criticized the German system for producing players that were somehow “too professional.” Saying that focus had replaced passion. In some ways they are right.

      Professional systems get you guys like Kroos, Xabi, and Xabi. The street football low income background guys give you players like Alexis Sanchez, Neymar, Suarez and even Messi(a bit).

      You are right that there is more than one path to mental strength but you do need it.

      • I agree. Success has more than one background and I agree that the German system feels more like a full time job than a passion. I probably went that route because our system is a lot more similar to Europe than to South America. We cater to those with money regardless of passion and discard those with passion and no money.
        I still maintain that American players are mentally weak not having the European focus nor the South American passion.

      • When I coached my son’s U16 to U18 team, we had a player from Colombia, he did not have the advantages most of the other team members had. He was also very talented. He was often invited to play in an Hispanic men’s game wherein each player put in $50, a significant amount for guys who mostly made minimum wage. The winning team was supposed to take it all. It seldom happened since when the result began to look like it was going to one team, a fight would break out. He said he was never in a game that finished.

        You might think that would make him mentally tough , but, this player was not particularly mentally strong and shanked shots that were gimmees or PKs when they mattered most. When asked about a badly missed PK, he said “I got scared”.

        He was just so skillful with the ball that it was always fun to watch him play, but just not the guy to perform well under pressure. I don’t think there is a big correlation between being privileged or not, with mental toughness. Of the players on that team, arguably, the two best under pressure were from families that were probably the wealthiest on the team and would be considered privileged anywhere in the world.

    • Plato, I see what you are saying and kind of agree with you but I would not say we have mentally weak players, our players lack that bite and nastiness JK always talks about.

      Weak players tend to cause teams to crumble and so far we have have put out string team after strong team. The French have great players and have won a tourney or two but there is where I would use the term mentally weak – unwilling to cope with the changes brought on by the slightest of misfortunes or things going off script.

      Our players lack bite and nastiness – the kind you can see when Colombia turned things on in the second half, or what pretty much every good team does to us in the second half of games where we had a good first half. Folks on here like to chalk it up to coaching and substitutions but I think it’s more than that. It’s fighting, scraping and telling the opponent that you want that ball more than they do. It’s imposing your way on the other player on the other team. It’s fighting with the same intensity from min. 1 through min 125 if necessary. It’s doing what it takes to win the game, no matter who the opponent. Maybe there’s a mental side to it, yes, but I would not characterize it in the form of weakness you are portraying here. Does that make sense?

      That bite and nastiness is why Germany can walk into Brazil and punish them every time throughout the game. Our guys only put that kind of hurt on lower teams and even there after a 3rd goal you tend to see our guys slow down the game – that ticks me off like you would not believe. We need the kind of bite and nastiness that says I don’t care who you are or what you have done or how much you make – you have to show me what you’ve got every time like we’ve just met for the first time. That’s what will get us the kind of players who will do whatever it takes (cleanly of course) to be the best.

      • It sounds like you’re reducing the game to a sort of measure of determination. What about skill with the ball? Tactics, positioning?

        The beautiful game is many things combined.

      • I’m probably going to get flipped a lot of s*%t for this analogy but think of it as a Mid-Major versus BCS caliber NCAA college football game. Lots of variables involved. Bottom line is: Talent and depth. Under ideal conditions, mid-majors can go toe-to-toe with a BCS starting eleven. After that, BCS teams usually have comparably talented reserves and “grind-it-out” experience to shift gears and pull ahead.

        Perhaps at this time, the MNT is arguably FIFA’s version of Boise State. Disciplined, dangerous, and always tough to play against. Yet, match them against Oregon, Alabama, or Ohio State…and odds of victory becomes not entirely impossible, but heavily few and far between. Think USA vs. Portugal this past summer. With that said, I’m totally looking forward to the development of MNT 2015 and beyond.

      • +1 Awesome. Though I would say the late free kick against Belgium might have had a little BSU flavor to it.

  4. From the title of this article, you might get the impression JK is going to call in bunches of U-23 players for the upcoming friendlies. I think it will not happen, sure a few young players might be on the squad some of the time, but it is very likely the only time most of the will be with the senior team is during camp cupcake.

    I fully expect to see most of the MLS based (uninjured) senior squad at that camp. So I think that people can get ready to start complaining about Wondo, Gonzo, Besler, Beckerman and probably Zusi being included in the January camp. (I assume there will be fewer complaints about Dempsey’s, Jones’s and Bradley’s inclusions). Includion of many of the senior players is needed for the camp to be productive.

  5. Jürgen’s favoritism is astonishing. I do hope to see new faces. And, I agree, him & Tab cannot fail to qualify for Olympics again. But, Shea???

  6. Also, why has on more than one occasion Klinsmann implied US plAyers don’t work hard enough yet for years the American players’ great work ethic has been a consistent, and one of the few, compliments that foreign coaches such as Sir Alex, Roy Hodges, Martinez, etc would make about Americans

    • OK, Doc, I’ll play. I am sure you know exactly what JK is talking about but choose to use the literal to make whatever weak argument (veiled in an inquest) you are feeding us here. Hustle does not equal hard work. Also, hard work does not equal smart work. Finally a great work ethic is does not a top rated player make.

      – Our guys have hustle, we can run with the best of them – as was evident in the WC and in most tournaments, but hustle only takes you so far.

      – Just because our guys “work hard” does not mean we consistently work smartly. You can run around all you want or bunker in all day but the smart players and smart teams will figure you out and make you do all the hard work as they make their way to the points and the win.

      – Finally, a great work ethic is not the only ingredient that produces elite players. Yes, our guys train hard and probably do everything asked of them on the training ground – a huge plus, you can’t knock that. But there’s more than just showing up for practice and team meetings on time and then doing the extra stuff that gets you on the bench or gives you the start.

      It is quite clear that there is a reason why our players are where they are (for now) and if we are honest with ourselves understanding that will help us on our way to getting us where we need to be, where we want to be. But don’t fool yourself we are nowhere near there yet. Hard work and good work ethic and all.

  7. ““They understand why they are not where other players that play for Chile, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, or Germany, why they are where they are. (It’s) because they’re consistant for 11 months a year. They know how to grind it out. They know how to be focused every four days in a game. They play up to 50, 60, 70 games in a year. . . . It’s important for our players to understand that it takes a lot more work to one day hopefully catch up with them and beat them”

    If this is what is holding US players back, then I wish Klinsmann would explain why the USSDA teams are only allowed to play a maximum of around 32 games a year and aren’t allowed to play tournaments. “Less but more meaningful games” is the mantra of US Soccer and the Dev. Academy. Also, if this is the case, why is one of Klinsmann’s and US Soccer’s main criticisms of high school and college soccer that the schedule is too grueling and condensed.

    • That comment wasn’t on youth development but about top tier full professionals. Its also notable that the only way anyone plays that many games is if they are in Europe playing europa league or champs league. Which guys like Robben, Ozil etc do.

      • I fail to see the difference. Guys like Hyndman and Rubin are the same age as players in the USSDA. If 50, 60, 70 games and a lot more work is needed why is that only okay when you’re a top tier professional? What is wrong with that type of hard work when you’re not a top tier professional.

      • Actually those guys are older than most DA players, which now goes down to u-12 I believe. But if you notice, they also don’t play every game. Hyndman has only played in about half of Fulham’s games for example. Rubin played in a few more games but I think he also had a few sub appearances as well. He isn’t playing the full 90 every single game.

        I don’t think 70 games a year is a good idea for anyone, including grown professionals. Sounds like criticism for criticism’s sake from JK.

      • Ya, its a bit off in that he isn’t being clear what he means.

        I honestly think its more of a comment on the Post WC hangover the US team had. Guys like Johnson and Besler are totally out of it right now. It would be nice to have guys who can play 50 games a year without blinking and eye or really going off form but we don’t have anyone with that physical quality outside of maybe a younger Jermaine Jones.

      • Hyndman and Rubio are 18. There are plenty of 18 yr olds in the USSDA. And Hyndman is playing every game because he still struggles in a man’s game which isn’t surprising.

    • I agree with JK that high school and college schedules are laughably condensed and crowded. There are sometimes 4-5 games a week in high school crammed into a two month season. It’s silly. In my experience working with high school players, by the end of the season, half the team is carrying some sort of injury. In addition, this format leaves little time for practice and implementation of tactics and strategy. This is why development academy players aren’t permitted to play HS soccer. It’s a waste for elite players. My understanding was that youth players in Holland played maybe once a week and practiced 4-5 times a week so that they could really prepare for and focus on each game while developing skills and tactical awareness.

      Not really sure why JK thinks we’re behind Denmark and Switzerland though.

      • Ya, New York times had a good article about the Ajax academy a while back. They don’t play often. Maybe once a week.

        Yeah, College is a horrible set up. Its well recognized these days.

  8. Curious to see people’s “HYPE XI”. Comprised of all players 25 or younger, essentially a mix of our current young players and the 17-21 year olds on the come up.

    Morales—-D. Williams

    Bench: AJ, Zardes, Rubin, Green, Hyndman and Shea….. haha

    • Bang on! We should wrap them all up, tightly, in bubble wrap and stuff them in an unbreakable space aged box with next generation packaging peanuts before carefully – with computer precision min you – placing a “Do not open until Gold Cup 2015” sticker on that bad boy!


      • JK is known for over training players, then those players pick up injuries during games cause their bodies have not had the proper time to heal.

      • I agree with Texas about the over-training and over-working players based on two things:
        1. Several players pulled up lame with injuries in the WC. Not “torn ACL” type injuries, but “strained hamstring from over exertion” types of injuries.
        2. We cough up tons of goals late. Part of this is Klinnsman not making good tactical adjustments and subs…but it’s also due to players spending 90 minutes sprinting around trying to press and cover ground, which leaves them exhausted in the final 15 minutes.
        I don’t think suggesting that the team adjust training or tactics is the same as saying enclose them in bubble wrap or just have them play FIFA on Playstation.

      • Love that they are attacking more, but funny how the team seemed to be in great physical condition under Bob Bradley, but less injuries. Too bad JK couldn’t have continued that and just focus more on tactics.

      • AC,

        Do you really think the causes of the USMNT injuries are so easily determined?

        And do you really think the USMNT fitness staff are amateurish and incompetent?

        As for the BB guys who are still with the team, they are 3+ years older and with an awful lot of wear and tear on them. If they are a bit more prone to injury why are you surprised?

    • Agreed about Shea. He’s generally performed well for the US, but I’d rather see other MLS wingers like Wenger and Finlay get a chance in the January camp. They earned it with their solid seasons last year

      • no, Shea has not played well for the USMNT. He put in a couple of decent shifts as sub and he dominated the U-23 Cuba squad in Olympic trials, otherwise his starts have been lackluster at best.

      • I also hope we can avoid the proverbial noid. With the exception that we see some real growth and production from him over the next several months at OCSC.

      • +1 If he plays well with OC, I see no reason not to call him in… but the charity call-ups need to stop now. No more excuses.

    • “Just to come with the senior group” — my guess is in addition

      Good timing with the qualifiers ending right before the Chile game.

    • 8-10 players among the January camp squad. Doesn’t have to be 23. Last year was 26, with Yedlin, Luis Gil, and Shane O’Neill as additional players.


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