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Klinsmann, USMNT turn focus towards Gold Cup for team’s defining moments of 2015

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Photo by Thorsten Wagner/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

With victories over the Netherlands and Germany now fully in the rearview mirror, Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. Men’s National Team are now facing the team’s defining moments of the 2015 campaign.

After nearly a year of friendlies and development, the Gold Cup now sits just weeks away, giving the U.S. an opportunity to earn a highly-coveted spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

For Klinsmann, the time for development and tinkering is over. Having named a 35-man roster that is soon to be pegged down to 23, Klinsmann knows that the ensuing weeks are about being the very best. Despite remaining early in the stages of a transitional period, Klinsmann understands that the time has come to demonstrate the talent on the field while putting the future on the hold for the time being.

“It’s not about developing players for the next couple of weeks, it’s about winning that Gold Cup and qualifying for the Confederations Cup 2017,” Klinsmann said in an interview with U.S. Soccer . “So we’ve got to put the development side on the backburner for a few weeks, and then we’re going to pick it back up because the only way we can develop the players and get them better and better is by giving them opportunities.

“If you look at some young players where they were right after the World Cup and in joining our program and where they are right now, it is really encouraging for everybody involved because they see now that there’s always a chance, there’s an opportunity, there’s help and there’s support from the national team program on and off the field.”

For Klinsmann, the next step in the Gold Cup process does not come from the players looking to make their case or leap their way into the national team picture. Rather, the next part of the process will come from Klinsmann himself.

As the tournament approaches, Klinsmann will be tasked with making some difficult decisions on who does and doesn’t make the roster’s final 23. However, Klinsmann insists that he remains calm due to the vast amount of talent at his disposal, as well as his ability to tinker the roster as the tournament goes on.

“Finalizing the 23 out of the 35 is not a big deal because we have the opportunity to switch six players after the group stage, and we have a pretty clear picture,” Klinsmann says. “We have to approach the games different mentally because the opponents now will be very different.

“The opponents will be mostly defensive minded. We need different types of elements in our game to break them down, but at the same time we want to open up the energy that we’ve now generated with wins like in Holland and in Germany to give our players an extra kick in order to win this very, very important Gold Cup.”

Riding the confidence of the pair of European victories, Klinsmann hopes to apply lessons learned towards the always important Gold Cup.

While out in Europe, the U.S. didn’t just demonstrate that it could go toe-to-toe with elite opposition, but that the team could beat them. With that confidence instilled and hard work rewarded, Klinsmann is now asking his players to take those ideals and apply them to a Gold Cup in which they are now the hunted.

Entering as favorites, the U.S. now becomes the Germany or Netherlands in the eyes of the opponents. Klinsmann says that that is okay, and that he believes his team will be fine going forward as long as the unit continues to work as hard as it has in recent weeks.

“When you get results like we did now in these last 10 days and a couple of other results over the last few years,” Klinsmann said, “over time it will add up and it will kind of set a new mindset within our players that, yeah it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work and you’re going to have to give everything you have, but it’s actually doable.

“You can also beat those nations on any given day and maybe more often if possible, so from a learning perspective it was very, very valuable.”

Comments

  1. klownsy: have to put the development on the backburner and win gold cup
    every sane person in world: so why wasn’t that the case for most prestigious tournament, the world cup? tool.

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  2. Interesting to note that in Mexico there is hot debate right now over naturalized players playing for Mexico after the Argentine born Matias Vuoso helped Mexico earn a point with a brace against Chile in Chile.

    The Mexican fans and press don’t seem as accepting of it compared to American fans and press, even after a standout performance by the Argentini.. err.. I mean Mexican. Are American fans more accepting or just more desperate for soccer talent?

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    • I have no idea why they are so in their feeling about it, they have used Argentinian players in the past like Franco before.

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    • In Mexico you have millions of die hard fans who are well informed. In the US you have thousands of die hard fans who are well informed. I would guess that most US fans follow their local MLS teams and watch the national teams when they are playing in a tournament and really have little idea of the background of the various players. On this site there are some who believe only “real Americans” should play for the US, but have an ill defined or undefined notion of what a real American is. Of the US players who could play elsewhere, all were born US citizens, with only one exception that I can think of. That exception is Gideon Zelalem who just played for the U-20’s and was recently naturalized. He spent much of his youth in the US, but was born in Germany i think and immigrated with his parents. So, because the fan situation is so different, plus the fact that the one US player who is naturalized is a youth player, it is hard to compare the two countries.

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  3. No kidding. Costa Rica has always been more than decent, but they really pulled it together last year. They could be a serious challenge.

    They won by bombing forward and overwhelming defenses though, on top of amazing keeping. I’m not sure that will fly against the USA at home, especially with our speed on the wings.

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  4. I for one hope JK noticed that we beat two top 10 teams WITHOUT Altidore or Dempsey. We also scored 6 goals in two games. That alone has to sink into JKs thick head or he’s blind. It’s bad enough he dragged Beasley out of retirement but to carry Wondo and Gordon would be insane.

    To the guy that was raving about improved youth program and our depth……… the problem with that is there is little migration to the senior team. JK is filling roster spots with any German eligible he can find coupled with too old Dempsey, Beasley, Wondo and under performing Jozy. There is no place for rising stars go under this administration

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    • Your categorical statements — e.g., {[T]here is little migration to the senior team.” and “There is no place for rising stars go under this administration,” — may not be accurate, but I agree that the Gold Cup will be a test for JK in terms of roster and game-day player selection. The youngsters are banging the door down. Will Jk finally give them a chance in meaningful games in a meaningful tournament?

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      • Where are the young guys on the 32 man roster? There are none except Morris and his discovery was an accident. NAT scrimmage against Stanford. Great scouting. If his name was Jens or something then maybe he’d get noticed.

        There are many young players in MLS that can’t get a sniff while JK brings in friggin Beasley. I am a Revs fan. On the Revs there is London Woodberry, Andrew Farrell and Scott Caldwell. All three could evolve into NAT material but as of right now… not even a sniff. Better to dust of Beasley than give a rising, young player a look. Such crap

      • Thank you Yoda and Rickster. Having spent a very long time in the national youth system we need to realize it is only slightly better.
        Can you imagine if we really had a plan how good we would be?

    • How about Wood, Zardes, Morales, Alvarado, Brooks, Rubin, Yarbrough, Yedlin, Morris, and Ibarra all brought in during the last 18 months to two years? I believe that it was Klinsmann who first brought in Johannsson, He’s also brought Kitchen into a friendly and gave a chance to Nguyen, Julian Green who may or may not pan out, and I’m sure I’m forgetting several others (for example, I’m not sure if he was the first to bring in Garza). I think in the time he has been national team coach he has given a chance to over 70 different players. Yours has to be one of the densest comments I have seen lately.

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  5. GK: Guzan, Rimando, Hamid
    LB: Beasley, Shea (& Yedlin)
    CB1: Gonzalez, Brooks
    CB2: Alvarado, Besler
    RB: Chandler, F. Johnson (& Besler)
    CDM: Beckerman, Williams
    CM: Bradley, Diskerud
    RW: F. Johnson, Zardes, Zusi
    LW: Zardes, Yedlin, Bedoya
    ST: Altidore, Dempsey, Morris, Johannson

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  6. Just about every one except US MEX CR and PAN. The top 3 will play regular soccer while the rest of the field plays bunker ball with the hopes of grinding out a draw or 1-0 win. It’s not going to be a pretty tournament. Not until the semis.

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    • Both Costa Rica and Panama will bunker too, they are just a little more dangerous on the counter. Only Mexico will really try to come after us.

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  7. Klinsmann’s comment: ““We have to approach the games different mentally because the opponents now will be very different.
    The opponents will be mostly defensive minded. We need different types of elements in our game to break them down, ”
    would seem to indicate that he will indeed change players in the course of the GoldCup. I expect it means Gordon as well as Wondo will be in the first 23 for the games in which he expects the opponents to bunker, while those guys will be dropped in favor of more speed later on.

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  8. Mexico’s team might be one of the most talented (on paper) that i have seen from them in a long while. Usually they don’t have such a big European base to their team.

    This could work to our advantage though since Mexico’s problem last cycle was chemistry issues on the field. Add to that the fact that the U.S. has been playing games but Mexico’s gold cup team has been inactive due to the Copa America team getting all the run, and we should be able to win this. Costa Rica remains a big concern though.

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    • True, Mexico’s problem was cohesiveness but that was before Herrera took over. It’s going to be an interesting GC.

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  9. The US now has enough depth that in the group stage we could play two different teams and alternate them through play and qualify for the knockout round. On defense you have these pairs. Alvarado’/Orozco and Brooks for CB, Besler and Gonzalez for another CB pairing. At right back you have both Chandler and Yedlin. Left back you have Beasley, Garza and Shea. For midfield and attack, you can choose from Dempsey and Altidore, of course, Zardes, F. Johnson, Bedoya, Beckerman, Bradley, Johannsson, Morris, etc. You can also deploy Shea and Yedlin on the wings. And I’m probably forgetting some, too. This is depth like the US has never seen before. And it’s quality depth, which is even better.

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    • It is depth like we’ve never seen before; the result of more and more quality players funneling up through an improved youth system. The pool should continue to deepen and improve in quality. Note the youth national teams who can play with anyone. They may not be favorites in international play yet, but they’re good enough that no one is surprised when U17s win over Brazil (a couple years back) or U20s come a PK shootout from the semis of the recent U20 World Cup.

      That said, there’s still a gulf between the U.S. senior pool and some other nations. That German B team, for instance, may be good enough to win a senior World Cup. We have more quality and depth, but nothing like that… yet.

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