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Klinsmann looking forward to development of Alvarado, Brooks following Gold Cup growing pains

Ventura Alvarado USMNT 75



A disappointed Ventura Alvarado emerged from the U.S. locker room Monday night.

The 22-year-old centerback went 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw against Panama to close out the 2015 Gold Cup group stage but lost Luis Tejada in the 34th minute to allow a cross to be turned in by Blas Perez for a Panama lead.

However, the Americans turned it around to find an equalizer in the second half and Alvarado rebounded to help the U.S. claimed a point. Frustrated by his role in the goal conceded, Alvarado was far from pleased with his play, although the young centerback did take positives from the performance put forth in the second half.

“Mentally, I felt real bad,” Alvarado said of his attitude after the first half. “I was real bad, and I got mad.

“I was like, ‘I’m going to give it all I have [in the second half], I’m not going to lose’, and I felt better.”

In the post-match press conference, Klinsmann acknowledged the mistakes made by Alvarado and his central-defense partner John Brooks, also 22 years old, but pointed out that the players are being evaluated on the basis of reaching their potential.

Brooks picked up a yellow card in the 16th minute and will miss the next Gold Cup match due to yellow card accumulation. However, Klinsmann says that the team has continued faith in the duo’s quality going forward while adding that, should they see the field again, the team will have full confidence in their abilities.

“We believe in everyone that starts the game, no matter if he’s young, old or whatever,” Klinsmann said. “It’s about the quality they bring and what they deliver at the end of the day. The only way for younger players to mature and get better and get stronger is to grow in these games and have that experience.

“I think Ventura and John grew with every minute. There were some situations that were a bit shaky in the first half, but in the second half, they cleaned it up. They were on top of things. This is a process.”

Klinsmann is very familiar with that type of process, as the head coach drew a comparison of the backline’s situation to his choice to hand then 19-year-old Per Mertesacker a Germany debut in 2004.

For Klinsmann, that process is one of his favorite parts of coaching, as the German coach is now looking forward to seeing how the duo develop in the face of adversity.

“One of the fascinating sides of coaching a team is to see players develop and go through some pain and go through difficulties,” Klinsmann said. “You have the big hope that they will mature, they will go through it, they have the right attitude, the willingness to learn and the ability to swallow setbacks. Setbacks will be with you your whole life.

“We read the potential of players and we hope to help them to reach that potential one day,” Klinsmann added. “At the end of the day, it’s them. They need to carry on and understand, and go through difficult moments and clean things up. It’s not going to be perfect.”


  1. Well seeing as how support from Jurgen is like getting a kiss on the mouth from Michael Corleone I wouldn’t be getting on any boats if I were Alvarado or Brooks.

    • mouf,

      Is that Besler or his teammates? Is he more responsible for that record than his teammates or are they carrying him? Or is it some combination of the two?

      How tough has the opposition been during the period in question?.

      Playing for SKC is one thing, playing for the US is another.

  2. Just watched the game last night – Tejada was offsides on that play when he received the ball.

    Not saying Panama didn’t deserve the draw – they had a number of good chances, and that first goal called off by the slightest of offsides, but still Tejada was off.

  3. No problems with Brooks and Alvarado…their upside is obvious. Alvarado might be an inch or two behind Gonzalez but he’s much more technical and athletic…and Gonzo, as we know, remains prone to too many mistakes and concentration lapses himself. Ream is definitely growing on me as well though I do remain…concerned by his lack of athleticism and size.

    My main concern is outside back. Left back we have Brek Shea, who is out injured, as he often is, though I like him and I think he’s a huge weapon off the left. Garza might or might not emerge; he’s obviously not there yet. Run DMB will probably hold up for Gold Cup but these last three matches are probably the last we can squeeze out of him. Who plays left back? We gotta start developing options there. I hate to beat the Robbie Rogers drum again but we might need to take a look. He’s got the size, speed, and athleticism you look for on the International level and he’s been with the team before.

    Right back remains another concern for me. Fabian Johnson is great but he’s one guy and Timmy Chandler…sorry, I’ve been prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt but he just has not progressed, and that strangely innocent clueless expression he wears after he commits the latest unfathomable gaffe is starting to wear on me. We need to start exploring other options…two Revs come to mind, actually – London Woodbury, but I might almost prefer Andrew Farrell. Farrell’s got size, speed, crazy athleticism, and intensity…and he looks very good when he surges forward. The guy is a force and I might take a look at him as a right back even though I know he now plays CB for the Revs.

    Another wild-hair option might be Jermaine Jones. I mean, why not? He’s got the speed. He’s got the size and the athleticism. He definitely has the technicality and the competitive fire and all the experience you would want, and he’s a pure intimidator and a force on the field…Klinsmann’s been looking for some way to keep Jones in the setup (so would I)…why not give him a run-out as a right back and see if he does what I think he’ll do? Who would you rather have on the field…Chandler or Jones?

    • We have Yedlin and Cameron (i.e. two RBs at PL clubs) and you want to play Jones there? Center back maybe but full-back seems like a stretch.

    • I believe that Ream has played left back for his club and, of course, F Johnson can play either left or right back. The situation is not so dire as you seem to think.

    • Today with current health situation and form and the way we want to play (with our outside backs going forward and stretching the opposing team) our best outside backs are FJ and Yedlin.

    • I think Omar is under rated because he doesn’t play a sexy style of soccer. Nevertheless he has been very good for the USA during qualification and at the World Cup (i.e., when the games actually count) and has been as important to the LAG run of championship as Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan.

      While it’s good for Jurgen to be constantly trying out new blood, even if only to light a fire under the backsides of incumbents like Omar, we should all be careful what we wish for.

    • Quozzel,

      Assuming everything goes to plan for JK, our back-line will be Yedlin, Alvarado, Brooks, FJ going forward. With respect to their deficiencies… and I would definitely like to see all 4 move to Seria A where they tech kids how to play defense… A lot has to do with the absolute dearth of time they have had together, and together with anything resembling a set MF. I look at these games, and I see the mistakes, but I am not seeing such a dearth of quality that these kids need to be tossed under the bus… I would still like to see the kids go to Italy though.

  4. it is dangerous in terms of hoping to be accurate in trying to interpret what Klinsmann says, but I’ll try anyway.

    After each game in this Gold Cup JK has gone out of his way to defend and even praise players who most people believe struggled in that game. Then in the next game those players find themselves not starting, or in the case of Altidore not starting and sent back to Toronto.

    That observation leads me to think Alvarado will not start the next game.

    • Unless your name is Chandler, in which case you can do anything you want on the field and still be assured of a starting spot in the next game.

  5. I’d just like to remind people of the following. A year ago a lot of people here were grousing because Klinsmann kept bringing in this young college kid named Morris nobody had ever heard of. Klinsmann also took Yedlin to the World Cup, leaving home experienced guys like Goodson and Parkhurst. He kept playing DMB at left back even though he had shown under Bob Bradley he couldn’t play that position. There are still people who think Zardes shouldn’t play so much. I could go on with other examples. But Klinsmann has been right enough, against “conventional” wisdom, that he has earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt about the potential of young players. While Klinsmann wants to win this Gold Cup, he is also looking to 2018 and Russia and even 2022, when Brooks and Alvarado will still be only 29, at the prime of their careers.

  6. I’m still not certain why JK risked yellow card accumulation with Brooks vs Panama. With that being said, this is a good time for Ream to step in and continue to impress while playing next to Alvarado.

    I’m still not a fan of Gonzalez, for the same reason I’m cautious about Alvarado. They both play solid but give up two or three clumsy scoring chances every single match. However, despite Gonzales set piece advantages, I’ll take Alvarado’s athleticism between the two.

    …if only Ream were right-footed.

    • I will take the 22 year old mistakes of Alvarado who is playing in MX over any MLS defender who doesn’t face the same level of competition this man is facing week in and week out. He is leaning every day what it takes to be a professional and understands what happens if his game does not grow and progress. The skill and the talent is there, the mistakes will diminish with experience.

      • Some defenders are capable of playing for 95 minutes without falling asleep. Most of those are older than 23. The knock on Ream is that he was likely to loose concentration one or 2 times during a game with disastrous results. That is no longer the case, at 27, that youthful attention deficit seems to be gone. Gonzo, I think, is a bit behind Ream in that maturation process, but not by a lot. Alvarado and Brooks both have a ways to go in that regard, but I think they are likely to be better in a couple years.

        It will be interesting to see how things shake out in 3 years or so. (Players like Miazga and Carter-Vickers who look very promising may play into that mix.)

      • The knock on Ream was more that he didn’t hold up in physical play. Strikers learned that they could muscle Tim off the ball fairly easily.

      • Give me 4 players in Mexico that are better than Giovinco, David Villa, Altidore, Dos Santos, and Dempsey?

  7. Ream and Gonzo are capable options…. nice to have them. That said… every time a CB makes a mistake, the calls predictably ring out to scrap this player in favor of the next best thing until…. they make their inevitable mistake. All players, particularly young ones make mistakes. When a CB makes one, it is often blatantly obvious and costly… often results in goal. Part of why young CBs are not so common. Part of learning/growing is being able to overcome them… particularly in game. Like the rest of the team, vets included who had no fewer mistakes in this game than the backline, both players responded with a much better second half. What our backline needs more than anything is stability and time to gain some cohesion.

  8. Regardless of the growing pains that Alvarado and Brooks are going through at the moment, the CB depth chart has never looked better with players like….Brooks, Alvarado, Besler, Gonzalez, Ream, Birnbaum, CCV, & EPB, Orozco, Hedges, Packwood, & O’Neill. The US Team has come a long ways from the days in 2009 when Gooch went down with his knee injury.
    There looks to be some real depth and progression at CB, CM, and even Striker. Now if we could only solve the Outside Backs & Wingers issues this team could be fantastic come 2017/2018 and beyond.

  9. Hopefully Alvarado has the balls to go overseas, not like Gonzalez or Besler.
    Alvarado has tougher competition in Mexico and has played libertadores and faces tough media every day in mexico.
    Alvarado should go for Portugal then a stronger European league.
    I’m not saying Alvarado or brooks are the best but they have the age to become something big and play in bigger leagues.
    Gonzalez got too comfortable in LA with Donovan and the weather. Now Gonzalez is going to become just another overpaid player in MLS. I say Gonzalez goes to Mexico and Alvarado to Portugal or holland.

    • So David Villa, Dempsey, Keane, ginovico, Altidore, Blas Perez, Kaka, Zardes ect aren’t attacking players that present a challenge and good experience for CBs in MLS? Who is a forward in the English Championship that is as good as Keane or giovinco or David Villa?

      Mexico is not a better league then MLS when it come to comparing top level talent in both leagues. the Mexican teams at the top beat MLS in the champions league because they a) the schedule in the knock out rounds favor them and b) generally the have better talent from places 6-18 on the roster. Of course the only comparison is top Mexican teams against teams from a league designed with parity. I would take the MLS team against any mid table Mexican team.

    • It’s the same old story.

      He’s still young and developing so if he were to move then wherever he goes to most important thing is whether it helps him become a better player.

      If Ventura Highway could find a club in Holland or Portugal where the manager really wanted him and he would get really good coaching and be able to compete for regular playing time , then absolutely it would be a good move for him assuming the money works out.

  10. These guys are young but I’m a little worried about them in the knockout rounds. Panama’s goal last night was amateur hour. All of our CBs have flaws but at least these guys have time for improvement.

  11. Brooks and Alvarado is the worst central defense pairing we’ve had since, well, whoever played before Lalas and Balboa.

    • The US tied Panama

      Goodson/ Marshall 2009 Gold Cup final vs Mexico, 5-0 Mexico win

      Goodson/ Boca 2011 Gold cup final vs Mexico 4-2 Mexico win

      Those center back pairs did not cover themselves in glory.

      • So what?

        You are saying a tie in a match where the US had already qualified is more important than two humiliating embarrassments in all or nothing finals with your so called greatest rival?

        The 2011 final probably was the final nail in Bob’s coffin.

      • If I recall correctly in the 2011 final v. Mexico Pablo Barrera scored 2 goals, Giovanni dos Santos that wonder goal where he had Timmy Howard crab-walk-scrambling around on the ground like a man possessed as he then looped a curling chip shot into the far upper 90 – ahhhgghhhh I am ruining my day remembering all of this. Anyhooooo, early in that game S. Cherundollo goes down with an ankle injury, F. Johnson goes from L back to R back, and in comes Johnathan Bornstein (Johnnie Torched-stein) who gave up at least two goals, while having a dismal, dismal showing at L-back.
        Posters blamed Bornstein, and poor half time tactical adjustment by Bob Bradley as the reason for losing that game (not the center backs), a game in which we were up 2-0 by the first 20 min of the game.

      • Mexico’s second and tying goal came from a botched clearance by Lichaj straight to Guardado who happened to be in the 18 yard box at the time.

        The US lost because Mexico took over the midfield ,overran the US and did whatever they wanted.

        Bornstein is blamed but all of the US players involved should be ashamed of themselves.

      • If I remember correctly, most of the Mexican attacks started from Johny B. side. Mexico knew full well, what they had in their sights.

      • What I remember is that once Dolo left, the US did not seem to be able to keep possession. Dolo was always a key part of that in addition to his overall calming presence.

        Mexico went down that side because Barrera and Gio, who were on fire, were operating there. JB did not play well but I’m pretty sure it would not have mattered who was at LB.

        Mexico’s utter domination of midfield was far more important.

  12. I will take Omar and Ream pairing over these 2 any day of the week… and Besler still can play with this team through the next WC…

    • Another amazing feat by a poster here. In the past we have seen people who can read the minds of people they have never even met. Now we find someone who can see into the future and tell us who will be a better player in 3 years. Man, I wish I had these super powers.

  13. Omar Gonzalez is 26?


    Go home grandpa

    I really hope Alvarado is benched.. he hasn’t shown well at the international level and these games now become win or go home..

    • you surely can’t think 26 is old for a CB….. perhaps I give you too much credit tho…

      • correct, 26 is the start of the prime of a good CB…

        young is <26 (25 really) which a good CB should at some point solidified a back up spot for the national team; this is what Alvarado is trying to do. Gonzales is the older CB in his prime.

        so i say, what exactly was your point?

      • JK needs to pay the young players so when they hit their prime they can be bench for a new crop of players that will not play well but have potential

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