By DAN KARELL
Jurgen Klinsmann has his eyes locked squarely on one goal. A 2015 Gold Cup title and the place in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup that goes with it.
Before the U.S. Men’s National Team can get there, Klinsmann is putting his team through a daunting set of obstacles in Europe prior to the start of the biennial CONCACAF tournament.
Friday marks the beginning of the USMNT’s path to Gold Cup glory, as the U.S. take on the sixth-ranked team in the world, the Netherlands, at the Amsterdam ArenA in Amsterdam.
While the challenge of winning on the road in the Netherlands was asteroid sized in the first place, the odds of a U.S. result decreased with the injury absences of starters such as Jozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, Gregory Garza, and Geoff Cameron, while Clint Dempsey misses out due to the upcoming birth of his fourth child.
With so many regulars missing, it provides a chance for some of the fresher faces to make a name for themselves, with Ventura Alvarado, Juan Agudelo, and Gyasi Zardes all looking to cement a place for themselves in the lineup and squad.
Even with so many big names missing, and the overall goal to get this team prepared to win the World Cup, Klinsmann isn’t losing sight on the immediate goal of picking up a positive result in the Netherlands.
“Expectations are that we get a lot out of these two games because it’s very rare that you can play two nations like Holland and Germany on a trip here, so the learning curve will be huge for us,” the U.S. head coach said at a press conference on Thursday. “Are we coming here to get results? Yes we are. We want to compete with them, we want to give them real games, and we want to see a lot of things from our players, just a couple of weeks away from the Gold Cup opening.
“This is a tremendous opportunity. Opportunities like that, you’ve got to take them right away, and that’s why we’re excited.”
The match against the Netherlands is the latest in a series of friendly matches that Klinsmann has scheduled over the past few years against European opponents.
With somewhat low expectations heading into the 2014 World Cup due to the 2012 European Championship debacle, the Netherlands flew out of the gates with a thrilling 5-1 win over the defending World Cup champion Spain and then went on to defeat Australia and Chile to win their group.
The Netherlands controversially defeated Mexico on a late penalty kick thanks to a suspect call on Arjen Robben, who is not in the current Netherlands squad, and eventually finished in third place after routing Brazil, 3-0, in the third-place match.
Klinsmann once said following a friendly defeat to Belgium that he would rather face a team like Belgium, or say the Netherlands, once, than a CONCACAF minnow 100 times, and even without Robben or playmaking midfielder Wesley Sneijder available for Friday’s game, the U.S. will certainly be faced with a big test.
The USMNT can expect to see some of the best attackers the Netherlands has to offer.
According to a report in De Telegraaf, Netherlands head coach Guus Hiddink has decided to start Robin Van Persie and Klaas Jan-Huntelaar up top, with new Manchester United signing Memphis Depay as a left winger and either Luciano Narsingh or Quincy Promes on the right wing position.
Perhaps luckily for the USMNT, Sneijder isn’t expected to play on Friday after playing for Galatasaray in the Turkish Cup final on Wednesday, with Hiddink saving Sneijder for the Netherlands’ Euro 2016 qualification game next week against Latvia.
Hiddink is also set to start Bruno Martins Indi and Jeffrey Bruma in central defense, Daley Blind in central midfield, Jetro Willems at left back, and then both Daryl Janmaat and Gregory Van der Wiel will each play one half at right back. Goalkeeper Jesper Cillessen is set to start for the Oranje in between the pipes.
“It’s an enormous quality in that team and they can feed from a bench that’s pretty even to who starts,” Klinsmann said. “This is the big advantage of the big soccer powerhouses around the world, that’s it’s not down to the first XI, it’s a deeper pool of players that they can call in. If somebody misses one game, they have another two/three out there that are almost at that level.”
With the U.S. as an underdog in the match, players are using the game as an opportunity to impress the coaching staff and solidify places for themselves on the eventual Gold Cup roster.
“Obviously it’s a huge opportunity with both of these games against top five teams in the world,” USMNT forward Aron Johannsson said. “It’s a huge opportunity for me personally to show that before the gold cup that I should be in that team. I just have to play at my best level and as good as possible to show to coach (Klinsmann) that I should be in the starting XI.”
When asked how many members of the current squad were already earmarked for the Gold Cup team, Klinsmann didn’t answer the question directly. But he did say that a high percentage of the current squad make the 23-man roster for the Gold Cup.
“We don’t know what will happen in the next two, three weeks, but the percentage is very high,” he said.
Here’s the lineup:
#USMNT XI: 1-Guzan; 11-Shea, 6-Brooks, 19-Alvarado, 21-Chandler; 7-Morales, 5-Beckerman, 4-Bradley-c; 20-Zardes, 9-Johannsson, 23-Johnson
No Agudelo? No like.
Hopefully Zardes can prove to be a handfull
How is Guzan playing? Shouldn’t Given get the start instead?
“This is the big advantage of the big soccer powerhouses around the world, that’s it’s not down to the first XI, it’s a deeper pool of players that they can call in. If somebody misses one game, they have another two/three out there that are almost at that level.” Klinsman said.
But, according to Klinsmann enthusiasts around here we have a very “deep” pool to choose from now. Are Klinsmann and his minions on the same page?
@ El Comandante
If you didn’t have us to sh*t on, Mexico would only have itself to think about and how you guys always fizzle out and fold when under pressure. For all the talent Mexico has, and the way some fans walk around like your junk is too big to be between your legs, why do you always get stage fright and things shrivel up?
For a country that’s been playing the sport for as long as their South American counterparts, don’t you think you should have won something by now? Uruguay, with a population of 3 million has won 2 more world cups compared to Mexico and their population of 118 million.
The saddest part will be when the United States wins a world cup before Mexico. A sport we never even cared about, while Mexico adored and appreciated for so many years before us, we will have won. And you know what I hope we do it with a whole bunch of Oguchi Onyweu types too, just to spite you. Just 12 superior physcial specimens of the human anatomy that can’t even kick the ball properly.
Just an observation, I use Mexico as a yardstick for our progress. That’s my whole relationship with that country in football (soccer). As for “when the United States wins a world cup” I hope we do so before I die, but I am a realist and that, again in my lifetime, would be a miracle.
That isn’t much of a yardstick, at least at international level. We are already as good, if not better, than Mexico and have been for some time.
I’m more interested in measuring progress against teams at a higher level, like the two we are playing in the next few days. When we get to the Germany/Holland level, that’s something to celebrate.
Agreed, Mexico has pretty much become our whipping boy. The last time they actually beat us was 4 years ago. I repeat, 4 YEARS AGO.
You must be delusional if you really think we have achieved more than Mexico in international soccer. Do not make me collect all the stats that proves you wrong.
slowleftarm said the USMNT has been as good if not better lately. He did not say that the US has achieved more than Mexico internationally.
Historically Mexico has won more and gone further in international tournaments.
El Tri have 2 quarterfinal finishes in the WC to the US’ single quarterfinal appearance.
Since it was held in the US Mexico have 6 Gold Cups to the US’ 5. They have gone further in Copa America and have won the Olympics and the Confederations Cup which the US has not.
But that was then and everyone here is talking about NOW.
As things stand now, it is likely that both teams are on par and will be for some time.
Yes please let us know the “stats.” And don’t go back to 1970 or some nonsense. We are as good as Mexico now (or better) and have been for at least the last 15 years or so. That’s what I’m talking about and would love to see the “stats” that disprove that. I’m not talking about pointless age-group wins either, I mean the full national teams.
I don’t think that’s the case at all. I honestly just think you just hide behind that veil so you can troll as much as you want.
It takes a lot of effort to continuously sh*t on anyone who says anything positive about the US, even if they are usually exaggerated or farfetched. You’d have to really enjoy it.
You say that’s your whole relationship with that country in terms of football, but can I ask, are you Mexican or Mexican-American? If not, are you Hispanic? I just want to see if there’s any correlation between my statement and all your remarks. If not, I apologize and I’m sorry, but again, to genuinely convince someone that your such a hater your from another country says a lot about the precedent you’ve set with your comments.
If he is hispanic, he gives us a bad name if he needs to troll with his comments, unintentional or not. A lot of the vitriol he says doesn’t help creating a healthy discourse about the US game, but only gets him the attention he wants. It’s really sad.
And this is exactly why I’m calling him out.
Old Man- your obvious troll in this conversation.
you suck just as much as your broken english
You call names, you insult, you are less credible and lost any argument you might’ve made.
Versus what? I’m a Troll? He’s doesn’t like what I have to say about fans of Mexico or Mexico’s record. What I have is still act and not an argument.
The USMNT and El Tri play each other in various competitions and from that standpoint the teams records can be compared.
Mexico are an interesting team but one that ultimately is so fundamentally different, from a player , management and organizational standpoint, from the USMNT that measuring them against each other is a waste of time.
I mean by results and status. Every other fan I know from another country would rather face the USMNT than Mexico. Why, you must ask?
Your grammar is really bad. English is obviously not your first English and your an idiot to assume you can get away with this whole act.
Why? Well I doubt that’s true but if so, the fans you’re speaking about must be uninformed.
You must not know a lot of fans.
But really, don’t ask the fans , ask the players who they would rather face.
I could look it up but I’m too lazy – are all the missing starters expected back for the Gold Cup? I know Jozy is a question mark but how about the others?
If Klinsi likes them they will be back. Sure slots for Ibarra, Rimando, Beckerman and now Morris. The rest, I just do not know anymore.
Brek Shea is a lock for sure as well. Die Klinsy loves the rooster.
Fingers crossed, I believe so. Other than Jozy, the only other injuries that I heard of was Bedoya and Jones. But they sounded minor?
Personally, I think it is best that Jones was left out for these friendlies. He needs to get himself in form again for the Revs after having a late start to the season. As he does, for better or worse, he would have tried to play “superman” against these big teams. Not being in form, I think we all know that would have been ugly.
Jones re-injured his groin and will most likely miss the Gold Cup.
Gonzo seems to think he will be in the Gold Cup squad.