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Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT youth coaches wading through player pool for congested March fixture dates

Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT 10

photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports


For Jurgen Klinsmann, this month’s FIFA fixture dates bring with them an interesting challenge.

The U.S. Men’s National Team is set to play in a pair of friendlies in Europe at the end of the month, but will not be the only American side in action. Both the U.S. Under-23s and Under-20s are planning to hold European camps as well, making for a congested schedule that is forcing Klinsmann and the other U.S. head coaches to carefully consider which players go to which team ahead of this weekend’s roster announcements.

Klinsmann has already stated that he intends to bring in a strong squad for the senior side’s upcoming matches against Denmark and Switzerland on March 25 and 31, but how the youth team squads get filled for the upcoming camps has been more like fitting together jigsaw puzzle pieces for the German-born head coach, U-23 manager Andi Herzog and U-20 boss Tab Ramos.

“Is there a younger one maybe coming with me to Denmark and Switzerland, or is he going with Andi Herzog to be with the U-23s in Bosnia and Denmark, or do we keep an 18-year-old player with Tab because he is going to go to the World Cup this summer,” said Klinsmann in a wide-ranging Q&A released by U.S. Soccer. “We will juggle these things and we will balance it out. At the end of the day, the priority is always the senior team in order to be the strongest team possible, but at the same time it’s great for us coaches to see everybody competing for his spot and his future opportunities.”

While Klinsmann’s main focus right now is on preparing the senior team for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense, the importance of developing the next wave of talent through the various youth teams is not lost on him. Especially when they have important tournaments of their own to play in later this year.

The U.S. U-20s are gearing up for their World Cup campaign in New Zealand this summer and the U-23s have Olympic qualifying on the agenda this fall, two competitions that will expose the up-and-coming players to a high level of the game. To help prepare for those tournaments, the U-20s will head to London this month to partake in a camp that will include a pair of yet-to-be-announced friendlies while the U-23s cross the pond to take on Bosnia Herzegovina and Denmark in exhibition matches.

It is all serving as a way to fine-tune the youth sides and enhance their chemistry, but also to Klinsmann identify the prospects that might soon be ready to contribute to the senior team.

“For me and the senior team perspective, I’m looking at all these youngsters and thinking who can come through these periods and develop the fastest possible in order to make himself a strong competitor for the senior group,” said Klinsmann. “So this is a great time now, and we can’t wait to get these games going at the end of the month.”

As for Klinsmann’s team, the time to ramp things up is fast approaching. Klinsmann has summoned a number of young and inexperienced players to all of his camps since the end of last year’s World Cup in an effort to gauge potential contributors, but he’ll be leaning heavily on the established players when the U.S. visits both Denmark and Switzerland on March 25 and 31, respectively.

Klinsmann has not had the luxury of having a full pool of in-form players to choose from since last fall, but he will this month and is eager to get them together as July’s Gold Cup looms large.

“We are going to bring in a very strong roster into Denmark and Switzerland,” said Klinsmann. “It’s a bit tricky obviously because MLS has just started and it’s early in the season, so those players don’t have a rhythm yet. Meanwhile, the European-based players are in a full rhythm and the Mexican-based players are in a full rhythm, so we will bring what we believe will be the strongest roster into these two friendlies.

“It will be an interesting mix. We are there to learn, to play against very good opponents, but also to get results.”


  1. I think the next year will be an important one. If Klinsmann doesn’t have this team looking good he could be on his way out.

    • The most important thing is not so much the results but wether it looks like the team is being positively or negatively influenced by klinsmann’s presence.

    • only if Gulati is out as well-he can’t afford to wear the egg on his face in front of the Board for having only pursued one serious coaching candidate over the past decade and paid him multiples of his predecessors for marginally better Senior team performance and worse youth team output….

    • Thanks for the laugh. He’s signed through the 2018 World Cup and the USSF would have to eat 3 years of his salary if they fired him this year. And who would they replace him with? It’s just not going to happen unless there is some catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. I’m always amazed how people can throw out ideas like this without even thinking it through.

    • No chance of a firing based on a bad GC. Klinsmann has a huge amount of goodwill at the moment with the USSF, as well a long-term development mandate in early implementation. There isn’t much that could happen at the Gold Cup to cost him his job. Klinsmann would probably have to lose all three group games by a minimum 10 combined… while he lounged on the touchline in an antique SS outfit, roasting s’mores over a burning US flag and calling 900 numbers using Gulati’s phone..

      BUT I do think there are some combinations of bad events that could see Klinsmann replaced as head coach prior to Russia. A poor showing in the Gold Cup, coupled with a failure to qualify for the Olympics and a bad Copa America could force some people to re-evaluate, particularly if there is a bad showing on the Women’s side, and Gulati begins to take some heat.

      Of course,I’d think Klinsmann himself would be the first to make that assessment, and might very well look to accelerate his transition to solely Technical Director if he starts to think he’s in danger of performances that could cost him the.entire US gig First-team manager is the easiest job in the sports industry (if not the world) to get fired from, as Klinsmann has experienced. Every tournament is a fresh opportunity to add signatures to your death warrant, we have a lot of soccer to play before 2018.

      Don’t sweat it though. It will be fine.

  2. No roster guesses from anyone?

    This is what I could see happening (although I don’t think Shea or Besler should be there)

    GK: Guzan, S. Johnson, Hamid (3)
    D: Garza, Cameron, Brooks, Ream, Orozco, Besler, Gonzalez, Chandler, Yedlin (9)
    MF: Morales, Bradley, Bedoya, Diskerud, F. Johnson, D. Williams, Shea (7)
    F: Johannson, Rubin, Altidore, Dempsey (4)

    (No Jones (injury), No Wood (injury), No Boyd (injury))

    • good roster but I think a few changes are in store from JK….I’m not so sure Yedlin gets the call up because he’s lacking game time and is probably best served training with Tottenham at the moment thus I could see Lichaj filling that other RB slot. Lichaj has been playing at a high level in the Championship and I know Jurgen has been paying attention but will he call him up is another thing all together, hopefully he does. Geoff Cameron probably gets moved up to the midfield in my opinion because that’s where he’s been playing with Stoke and Alvarado replaces Orozco, whose service I think is done with the NT. Zardes is making this roster whether it’s at Midfield or Forward which to me would preclude Rubin, who I see with either the U-20’s or 23’s for this international fixtures window! By the way, I love the Ream inclusion, he’s been playing at a high level as well and Danny Williams has to be back on the radar of JK after a promising start to the season! Thoughts?

      • Disagree on Yedlin. Proximity and need for game time = a call-up for him under JK.

        I agree on Lichaj. I would like to see him in camp. His inclusion over Shea would be great with me.

        Cameron is in, regardless of MF or D.

        Disagree on Orozco. Consistent playing time, bite and pace. In my opinion, he should have been on the play to Brazil and should certainly be in this camp.

        Zardes is a good call. I could see him included with Rubin going with the U-23s. Although the travel involved for Zardes may play into him being left behind.

        We will see.

    • Wouldnt surprise me if he leaves most of the mls crop home.

      He always says he’s going to bring a strong team or the “strongest possible” team, then makes obvious compromises based on players’ club duties. Nothing wrong with that, just saying we shouldnt read too much into his statement.

      • Wouldn’t surprise me, either.

        The thing is, if you leave the MLS guys,there’s probably not enough Mexican-based and Euro-based guys to fill out a roster. Try it and see.

      • Dinho,

        How many guys do you need for a roster? I believe all these guys are currently healthy and have played recently

        GK Guzan, Cropper

        D: Lichaj, Chandler, Garza, Brooks, Ream,Orozco, Alvarado, Spector

        MF: Cameron, Corona, Williams,Fabian, Bedoya, Castillo, Morales

        F: AJ, Green, Rubin, Herc Gomez, Wooten

        And of course if GZ is eligible by then (?) you can add him into that mix.

      • half of those defenders are “off the radar” to say the least, with three of them being on the proverbial sh!t list for some mysterious reason

      • True, but dinho wanted a Non MLS roster and I gave him one.

        This roster also gets more interesting once injuries heal ( Boyd, Gyau, Gatt, Torres ).

        And the dual national potential is ever present.

    • Who would you get? Free agency? Or trades?

      Whoops, those options aren’t possible.

      So, the better question is who in the player pool should play ahead of Jozy and Clint (if you consider him a forward).

      • Dempsey didn’t start off automatic forward. I remember Dempsey’s debut vs Colombia as a midfielder, in Fullerton, CA.

        I pair Novakovic and Arriola (typicall #9 and creative type) with an expierence midfield.

    • We also need a new coach.

      From Grant Wahl on (note the part I placed in bold):

      The story involving Jurgen Klinsmann, MLS and the fitness of his U.S. players isn’t dying down. I’ve learned that right before the first MLS matchday, Klinsmann asked multiple MLS teams if they could conduct a special fitness test of their national team players just for the U.S. coach.

      The teams all refused, in part due to the timing and in part because, as one team official told me, the request was “absurd.” U.S. Soccer says one team did share some of its own fitness data with Klinsmann, and there has been some data sharing from U.S. Soccer as well.

      But the U.S. coach is having a hard time striking a balance these days. On the one hand he feels like he needs to push everyone in his program.

      On the other hand, I’m told morale is low right now and some players are starting to tune him out.

      • it’s an interesting note there at the end, but we heard this before. and what happened? we went on a record run in 2012 all the way to the WC. so we’ll see. not to mention it specifies “some players” which are likely the same ones with “low morale”. based on Besler’s comments, i’d say he is one of them.

      • Bryan, Klinsmann didn’t do anything in last year’s World Cup that Arena didn’t do in 2002 nor Bradley in 2010. As far as the “record run” goes, Mexico was in utter chaos during the last qualifying round. Not until Herrera became the coach did the team settle down — and that was mostly because he picked players from his former club team.

      • Yeah, Ives said on the last podcast Klinsmann showed reporters the players test scores to back up his claims the team isn’t fit.

      • If clubs don’t want to “play ball” with Klinsmann then they might not have US national team players, and that marketing point, much longer.

      • Really, Jack? How many dual nationals can Klinsmann recruit to replace Besler, Gonzalez, Jones, Bradley, Altidore, Zardes (whom I believe is a legitimate first-teamer), Dempsey and Diskerud, for starters?

      • JDH,

        If you follow the media on the big boy national teams, these sorts of stories are typical. But, until Strauss, you almost never read anything negative like this before.

        Which means the USMNT is now a big enough deal to generate gossip like this.

        That’s progress.

      • I agree that this could be seen as progress for the culture of the game in the US, but I would not call it progress in terms of Klinsmann’s reign.

      • GW, just look at Klinsmann’s track record with Bayern Munich. He managed “big boy” players — Ribery, Toni, Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Lahm, Klose and Mueller — and lost that locker room in pretty short order.

        I understand that no coach is going to be popular with every player. That’s an occupational hazard of coaching. But Klinsmann’s behavior doesn’t lend itself to building morale. He plays favorites. He demonstrates tactical incompetence. He’s as mercurial as a teenaged girl. In short, he’s a fraud.

        Germany 2006 is beginning to look more like an exception rather than the rule, as it were.

      • Joseph,

        “GW, just look at Klinsmann’s track record with Bayern Munich. He managed “big boy” players — Ribery, Toni, Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Lahm, Klose and Mueller — and lost that locker room in pretty short order”.

        I take anything out of FC Hollywood with a grain of salt. After all this is the team and the players that said that Landon Donovan, who JK brought in, wasn’t as good as their reserve team players. Was that because he was JK’s “boy”? Because he was an American? Or because he just wasn’t that good? I couldn’t tell you.

        “He plays favorites.”

        This is what was said, with great vehemence about Arena and BB. Maybe you remember who Jonathan Bornstein was? Actually, you will hear that about a lot of the really good managers in all sports. I’m not sure it means much.

        “He demonstrates tactical incompetence”

        Bob Bradley was fiercely crticised for being tactically incompetent. JK and BB both won a lot of games with the US for a tactically incompetent guys.

        • US winning % 57.69 130 USMNT games
        • Career Overall 52.72

        • US winning % 53.75 80 USMNT games
        • Career Overall 49.48

        • US winning % 55.74 61 USMNT games
        • Career Overall 56.83

        I don’t see a really significant difference in the winning percentages of the three. My guess is that is because they had essentially a very similar pool of players. Going forward, what will tell the tale is whether JK can do a better job building a solid foundation than Arena did and whether he can have a better second World Cup than the Bruce did.. .

        “He’s as mercurial as a teenaged girl.”

        That is one view. By the way, I know quite a few level headed teenage girls.

        The other view is that everything he says and does is calculated for effect. To what end I’m not exactly sure so you’d have to ask him. I do know that the USMNT has a much higher profile than it has ever had in the sporting world of the US.

        And I am fairly certain that no one on the USMNT takes their spot for granted anymore.

        He has had a lot of controversy lately but this is nothing compared to what he is used to.

        So I doubt a nasty article by Wahl means much to JK.

        “In short, he’s a fraud.”

        A fraud is someone who pretends to be something he is not. JK IS a manager. He led a country to a third place finish in the World Cup something very few non-fraudulent managers have ever done.
        He IS also the US’ Technical Director of Football.

        That is a fact.

        In your opinion, he may not be a good manager or a good Technical Director but he really does have those jobs. Just ask Ives.

        “Germany 2006 is beginning to look more like an exception rather than the rule, as it were.”

        Getting your team to third place in the World Cup rarely happens for most teams so yes it was exceptional.

      • Till the day I die, I will never stop suspecting that Grant Wahl had his fingerprints all over that Brian Strauss story. I think they are both excellent soccer writers, but the circumstantial case suggesting Wahl procured the source material is unbelievably strong.

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