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USMNT veterans embracing infusion of young talent

Jermaine Jones USMNT 97

Photo by Robert Mayer/USA Today Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

For U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the January camp represents an opportunity to give some of the pool’s younger players experience competing at the highest level.

By introducing a slew of younger talent, Klinsmann hopes that the team’s veteran core can impart some wisdom on an impressionable, inexperienced group intent on making its mark ahead of the 2016 Olympics. USMNT veterans insist that the new wave of players haven’t been the only ones to profit from the approach, as even the team’s most experienced regulars have learned from their younger counterparts.

“I enjoy it,” said forward Chris Wondolowski. “I think there’s a great balance between veterans and new guys where the young guys are able to pick our brains and be able to get some information, but also where we can learn from them. They’re all great players and I love their exuberance.”

The introduction of new faces — there are 14 uncapped players on the roster — has brought in brand new competitors at virtually every position. Even the team’s most experienced stars are now competing with players eager to prove their worth, not just enjoy the ride.

“This time around, Jurgen is going to be open to a lot of new faces, but the competition will never change,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando. “There’s always somebody knocking at your door to take your position or to be on this team.

“For me, it’s always about competition and it has to be to get better. Anybody that’s in camp right now is going to push the next guy in line and that’s what’s going to make us better.”

Rimando said he understands that while it is important to maintain his place with the team, the most important part of this camp is to better those around him. Heading into both an Olympic and World Cup qualifying cycle, the immediate future of the team begins to take shape with the January camp and the lessons learned both on and off the field.

“We have two great matches at the end of it to try and get these young guys integrated with the men’s team,” Rimando said, referring to matches away to Chile and at home against Panama. “Being there to mentor them, educate them with any advice we have and to lead them in the right direction to show them what it’s like to play at this level.

“Obviously, we want them to do well and, if they do well, ultimately we’ll do well in the future with the men’s national team. It’s just getting together with the guys not only on the field, but off the field and showing them what it’s like to be a men’s national team player.”

The upcoming slate of games will give every player, both veterans and newcomers, a chance to show that they are an integral part of both the present and future of the national team. Jermaine Jones, one of the USMNT’s main leaders, understands that regardless of the team’s past successes, each and every player on the roster will need to establish or reestablish himself in the coming weeks.

“I think we already showed, what I think, is that we played a good World Cup, but now it’s over,” Jones said. “We need to step up, everybody, and everybody has to show now a new face.

“A lot of young boys will come now and push the experienced players. We have to show, too. Obviously, it’s nice to play with the young boys, sometimes it’s tough, but it’s work. A lot of good games are coming and everybody is trying to be on board for those games.”

Comments

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  3. If you were to look at wondos play over the course of the tournament with all the footage put together in a random order and not know what minute each play took place in i think an objective person not knowing the minute or which game (group game 1,2,or3 or first round of knockout) his big miss took place you would see he actually had a pretty solid performance even including his miss.

    I think we would have had a better cup if he were utilized right when jozy went down rather than throwing in Johansson, Brad Davis, and the other attacking players that were not a part of klinsis initial starting lineup in game 1. Wondo was the best replacement for Jozy to line up with Dempsey up top and Klinsi screwed up by not utilizing him as such. He is an 80 to 120 minute man, not a guy meant to be pulled off the bench sporadically.

    His minutes were limited and scattered but while in he combined well while on offense, had good hold up play with passes that allowed forwards/mids to get involved, played as asked and killed the clock very effectively when required, and pressured opponents’ defenses well forcing a few turnovers.

    That, in addition to his play in mls where he is consistenty a top scorer on one of the weekest teams and because he is a good locker room guy that will gives 110 percent 100 percent of the time and will push others to do the same is why he is in camp and has a decent chance of making the next world cup team if he continues to be a leading scorer.

    His miss was not as much a gimme as people make out. It was a first touch from a lofted ball with an oncoming keeper received on the right third of the goal and he shot it wide and hi. Same thing has been done countless times by top forwards in top leagues.

    Reply
  4. Im getting very frustrated on the overall lack of any information coming out of this camp. I would love to hear who is looking good, who isn’t or basically what is going on. Is the camp closed or is nobody covering it?

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  5. JK should have brought in Charlie Davies into January camp. He is a great striker that is back in form. Rather than aging and worthless Chris Wondolowski.

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      • for real, his biggest asset was his speed, it was Yedlin-ish. for speed guys, u don’t break the biggest bone in your body (unless i’m excited 😉 ) and come back to the same speed and ability. As much as i want him back on the NT it won’t/shouldnt happen. That being said he still should be there over Wondo…. haha

      • Davies over Wondo on what basis? Scoring more goals against the same competition? or scoring a few goals in the run-up to WC2010 before he was seriously injured? or just cause you like the story of a great comeback?

        I just don’t see it.

  6. I don’t think there is any particular reason to be down on wondo. Every player in the world, Donovan included, has missed that shot.

    That game is behind us now, as is the Germany hand ball, or the harkes situation, or the Leonardo elbow.

    It’s all behind us….

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    • Those guys have other skills though. Wondo was only there for one reason the same as Brad Davis (who was there for free kicks) and like Brad Davis, Wondo was exposed.

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      • Same comment as I made above. He should have finished it, but it wouldn’t have counted if he had because the linesman’s flag was up for offsides.

      • Still, this a camp of MLS guys and Wondo scores more over the past few seasons than any of the others in MLS. It is hard to focus on one missed attempt and forget all the others he did not miss or if you like negatives why would you call in any of the other players who could not score as well as he can.

        Sure call in some young guys with “potential” but still this is about starting to build a team for the next Gold Cup; why would you ignore his success in trying to build a team? Others may be younger, faster, bigger, dribble better, but in the same league they cannot score as often. No coach is going to ignore that simple fact.

      • Yeah…if they wanted only potential they would have just called in the U23 team. They’re mixing potential with experience – guys who know the system, are good locker room guys, and who have won scoring titles…in other words, Wondo.

  7. “I enjoy it! I enjoy watching a younger player show me how to score when you’re wide open in front of the goal and everyone’s dreams are on the line” said Chris Wondolowski.

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      • I really, truly thought we’d pulled off the mother of all smash-and-grabs right there. Take it on the chin for 90+ minutes, and you give Wondo a wide-open look in extra time? You’d expect the guy everybody considers MLS’s best pure finisher to bury that 95 times out of 100.

        He’ll remember that the rest of his life. Unfortunately so will everyone else.

        Dude. You do one thing. You finish.

        Oh well. If he’d hit that shot, Belgium would never give us a waffle, ever again. Until the end of time. So there’s that.

    • He should have finished that chance, but keep in mind that the linesman’s flag was up for offsides. Wondo wasn’t actually offsides, but the linesman’s flag went up so the goal almost surely wouldn’t have counted even if he had scored.

      Reply
      • Also, what about Dempsey failing to finish on that amazing set piece towards the end of the second extra time? He was in alone on the keeper…
        Point being, the team had chances and it’s not just on Wondo’s shoulders.

      • the first thing you need to do to score is put the shot on goal………………………………….

        Clint did, Wondo didn’t……. Can’t score if u don’t give it a chance.

      • Ummmmmmm, you don’t get points for shots that were saved either so I don’t think that’s a valid argument. I don’t see many people saying “If only Wondo would have gone low and driven it into the keeper instead of going high and wide”.
        It’s not like Wondo was staring at a wide open net. He one-timed a ball out of the air at an on-rushing keeper and tried to go over into the upper corner. It didn’t work. His shot was worth exactly the same amount of goals as Dempsey’s shot that was saved after it went straight into the keeper because of a poor first touch.
        And if we’re going to count shots that were saved as more worthy than clearly the US was absolutely dominated by Belgium and didn’t deserve to go through based on the saves Howard had to make.

      • Us missing the point. A shot saved isn’t ideal but the reason no one really dwells on Clint’s shot is because at least his was on target. If you’re two people are shooting a bball freethrow and one chucks to the sideline bleachers and one shoots and it bounces off the rim obviously the former will get majority of the ridicule. What’s better: finishing a game with 3 shots, 3 on target. Or 3 shots with none on target. Sure, niether wins the game but one at least gives the team a chance

      • The linesman did not flag for offsides. There was some confusion about that but it was confirmed that the linesman was signalling for a goal kick. If Wondo scored it would have counted.

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