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Klinsmann explains roster decisions for European friendlies

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Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

For months, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann promised to bring in the strongest team possible for the team’s upcoming friendlies, but when the roster was released over the weekend, some of the team’s more familiar faces were left with their respective clubs.

Defensive mainstays Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron were left off the roster in favor of a group with much less experience, including the uncapped Ventura Alvarado.

For Klinsmann, leaving some of the team’s regulars, and Cameron in particular, off the roster was a difficult decision, but one that the coach feels could be a productive one in terms of getting a closer look at prospects for the upcoming Gold Cup.

“Similar to the situation with Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler coming out of MLS and not being on the roster for these two games is Geoff Cameron,” Klinsmann said in an interview released by U.S. Soccer. “Geoff is obviously in a good swing with Stoke City and the Premier League, but I had long conversations with him and explained that just now I would love see other players coming in and proving to us how good they are. So here and there, there are these 50-50 decisions where you have to leave a player out that is usually a regular on your team.

“Geoff is that one right now. We know he can play centerback, he can play right back, he can play defensive-mid. He’s so versatile he’s always of great help to the team, but I wanted to see other players now coming in and therefore he has to swallow that pill real quick of being left out in these two March games.”

While Cameron is thriving with Stoke City, Klinsmann’s roster also includes a pair of youngsters struggling for action, as DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green are set to join up with the team despite their lack of time on the field with their respective clubs.

Both players are eligible to join up with the U.S. youth teams, with both the Under-20s and Under-23s in action in the immediate future, but, for Klinsmann, the call-ups represent a chance for the two to regain some confidence while also continuing their development with the senior team.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to break through no matter what,” Klinsmann said. “Deandre Yedlin, you’ve got to kick somebody out of Tottenham to play there. Julian Green, you’ve got to kick somebody out in Hamburg to play there. So the message is the same to all of them. In that process it’s not only what happens on the field, it’s also what happens off the field.

“You have young players getting in a different environment, struggling maybe with a new country with a new club environment, so we’re also there to help them develop. This will always be a big discussion point with Tab and with Andi Herzog when we talk about those players.”

Two other younger players that Klinsmann opted to bring in come via Mexico, as the roster includes the uncapped Alvarado and goalkeeper William Yarbrough.

The pair of Mexican-American dual internationals have recently impressed in Liga MX, and Klinsmann has kept a watchful eye on the development of the two youngsters as they have emerged as bonafide starters for their clubs.

“We have a network of people in Mexico, which was really established by Martin Vasquez when he was with me as my assistant,” Klinsmann said. “So we have very good contacts, I can always kind of call people. I can always ask questions about specific players coming through the Liga MX. So William is a great example of how this network works. They call you and they tell you that there’s kid that was born in Mexico to American parents, so he thinks both ways. So we had a close look at him. I had people go to his games. I called him myself and talked to him at length to see where his head is and he was thrilled.

“I think Ventura Alvarado is a great example to show how fast it really can go if you break into your club. Obviously a club with the caliber of a Club America is huge. It’s very difficult to break through there, so we understand that. We went down there to watch him several times, been in touch with him for months to see his progress, and we’re excited. We had conversations with him, and he was clear that he would love to represent the United States, that he would love to play for us. So this is a good time.”

Overall, the March friendlies are a good time for Klinsmann a chance to look at both regulars and prospects with one eye on this summer’s Gold Cup. Klinsmann hopes to make a statement with the upcoming pair of matches, while also seeing each player step up and earn their spot in the side.

“We want to prove that we can really compete with these guys in their countries, in their homes and get results there,” Klinsmann said. “We want to see that the players give everything they have in terms of making their own cases for the Gold Cup, because the Gold Cup should obviously should take us to the Confederations Cup 2017 in Russia, so we need to be spot on. This is the way to showcase yourself in these two games.

“I think this is a constant work in progress that we’re going through, which obviously gets then to a critical moment once you approach a bigger tournament and you have to make your cut and you have to say these 23 will play the Gold Cup, these are the guys that are going to go through in order to qualify for the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017.”

Comments

  1. We have a network of people in Mexico thanks to a Klinsmann assistant???

    Dude, you didn’t discover Mexico. You have overlooked Mexico.

    Soccernomics — read the book. Klinsmann continues to prove the theory that star players don’t make good coaches.

    Our shot at the Gold Cup and Confederations Cup is not looking good.

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  2. The only consistent thing about Klinnsmann is that he’ll always put his ego first and continue to make even the most indispensable players insecure about their positions. Unless of course you’re Julian Green (the German Freddy Edu) who can’t get on the field after being loaned.

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    • The kid is 19 years old! Give him a break, how many 19 years do you know that played in the Bundesliga week-in and week-out? Marco Reus? NO. Phillipp Lahm? NO. Toni Kroos? NO. Only once in a generation players like a Mario Gotze or a Bastian Schweinsteiger actually play consistently at that age.

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    • Hamburg’s coach was just fired mid-season. That is a bad team and they had a bad coach. Not a great situation for any loan player to get time, especially a young one.

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  3. We all know JK backtracks on his word consistently and this roster selection is again proof of that but I really like the team because I think we could use a shake up in the backline which Ream and Alvarado provide. Danny Williams seems to be back to his influential ways in the Championship and Morales has is club on the path to promotion to the top flight Bundelisga so all in all some good readditions to the squad!

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  4. If you ever expect Klinsmann’s statements to be consistent or to make any sense at all, you’re fooling yourself. He does what he wants then makes up a story to fit what he did. If he’s going to go young and weak, then why include Bradley or Dempsey? They can’t carry the team. He would be better off going young all the way. Dempsey won’t be around next cycle, most likely Bradley won’t either. So why waste minutes on them?

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