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Klinsmann impressed with form of Johnson, Brooks, Wood


A handful of Americans have proven in recent weeks that they deserve to be representing the U.S. Men’s National Team this month, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has taken notice.

The USMNT will head to Guatemala City to play its first qualifier of the year on March 25 before hosting the Guatemalans in Columbus, Ohio, four days later.

A good amount of players expected to be named to Klinsmann’s roster currently play in MLS. However, the 21st MLS season is only just two weeks old, and many Americans playing abroad have been shining for weeks on end.

“In the Bundesliga we have John Brooks doing really well at Hertha Berlin, Fabian Johnson doing well at Borussia Monchengladbach, and Bobby Wood scored another goal for Union Berlin in the 2. Bundesliga,” Klinsmann said.

“Moving over to the Premier League, Geoff Cameron is getting his time on the field and also Brad Guzan being back in goal for Aston Villa is a big message for us, no doubt about it. We monitor all of them, and we’re pleased with how things are going for the majority of the players and hope that they all come into camp healthy and really sharp for Guatemala.”

Klinsmann will be looking for their club form to carry over to the international level, especially the play of Johnson, who has been excelling for Monchengladbach this season. The U.S. head coach thinks Johnson has done extremely well playing as a midfielder for the German club, but he shied away from saying Johnson exactly where Johnson would play for the U.S. against Guatemala.

“I think it’s definitely a good thing that we can talk and discuss specific players in specific roles, and Fabian Johnson is a very good example because in his club he’s playing right now the left midfield role, but they also move him to the right side and even at right back like where he played a tremendous World Cup in Brazil,” Klinsmann said.

“Fabian is good with any of those roles. We would like to just have him continue the good performances that he has with Borussia Monchengladbach right now with the National Team as well. That gives us a better chance to beat Guatemala.”

The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will play Colombia on the same dates — March 25 and 29 — the senior team takes on Guatemala, causing a slight cause for concern when it comes to choosing the rosters for both teams. The U.S. U-23s must defeat Colombia in the home-and-away series this month in order to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

However, Klinsmann does not see the dilemma as a problem because the senior team takes precedence, so players like DeAndre Yedlin and Jordan Morris could very well appear on the senior roster instead of U.S. U-23 head coach Andi Herzog’s roster.

“At the end of the day, priority always is the senior team,” Klinsmann said. “Priority is World Cup Qualifying, so there are no compromises made like sending the players that are age-eligible for the Olympic team to the Olympic team already. We are convinced our Olympic team will do really well in Colombia and get a decent result there, and then we hope for big support in Dallas for the return game. We are convinced they will get the job done.”

Guatemala’s roster includes proven veterans in Carlos Ruiz and Marco Pappa, who currently plies his trade for the Colorado Rapids. Head coach Walter Claveri will be leading La Azul y Blanco first in Guatemala, where the USMNT failed win during qualification for the 2014 World Cup, and then in Columbus, Ohio.

“We expect both games to be challenge, starting obviously in Guatemala City which is a very difficult venue,” Klinsmann said. “Their team is already in camp, so they go in a week earlier than we do into preparation for that game, so we expect a very difficult game and a very hot-tempered game.

“But the goal is clear: the goal is we would like to beat them in Guatemala City and then beat them as well in Columbus in front of our fans. That will give us six points and will virtually qualify us already for the next round. This is the objective and we will do everything possible to get that done.”


  1. Klinsmann always likes the guys he’s picked. It’s his way of endorsing and validating his picks. This announcement is his way of saying they’re all getting called in. Not saying they shouldnt be called, just saying Klinsmann is totally predictable and he thinks people are stupid and don’t see what he’s doing.

  2. I think JK thinks of Bornstein, Clark, Feilhaber and Kljestan as “Bradley’s boys” and maybe views Ream, Chandler and Specter the same way. JK does not want to be seen going backwards even if that might be more perception than reality. Good arguments in favor of bring in Feilhaber and Kljestan can be made.

      • yes, in a way. klinsmann tried to drop bradley when he was first hired, quickly found out that we were horrible without him, and brought him back.

    • Except, he’s called up Feilhaber plenty of times. And has given Sacha numerous chances to establish himself, when he was playing better then he is at Red Bulls. Sacha, like Chandler, just never seemed to be able to bring his excellent club form to the national team.

  3. Mostly joking here, but also asking because it could be a possibility, but what about Jonathan Bornstein? He has experience (although admittedly some we’d all like to forget), and he’s getting run in Liga MX. At the very least he’s gotta be on the radar in the periphery somewhere, right?

    • Bornstein is actually looking really good at Queretaro that said why not go with a younger Villafana also doing well at Santos Laguna? i think the book is closed on that one regardless of how well his career revival goes as long as there is guys like Villafana, Acosta, Garza and FJ around..

      I hope Villafana gets on the squad and some minutes vs Guatemala (maybe at home, allowing FJ to move up) but I doubt Jurgen starts a national team debut in a road qualifier. Fabian Johnson will be the LB starter; its not exciting but its the correct conservative approach.

    • bornstein’s actually been doing well for a while now, but at this point i think he’s in the same ‘klinsmann category’ as lichaj and others: probably good enough, but not worth calling up when there are younger prospects at around the same level who may have higher ceilings.

  4. Let’s say Klinsmann does the sensible thing and starts Johnson in left midfield, who starts at left back? Maybe the better question is, who even gets called in for left back?

    I’ve seen some chatter about the good run of form Castillo and Villafana are on in Liga MX. Any insight?

    • Unfortunately even though LM maybe Johnson’s best position he’s also our best LB by miles right now where as we have more depth at midfield. So the sensible thing isn’t so obviously to start him at LM.

      • Fair point. And maybe “sensible” wasn’t the right word. Starting Johnson at LB, as you point out, is very likely the more pragmatic or “sensible” thing to do. And that’s partly why I asked for insight on who else in the pool could play left back. If there’s really no other option out there that won’t get absolutely run over and be a liability, then I agree, Johnson should play left back.

        The counter point would be that we’re playing Guatemala and it seems like a good opportunity to give some other options a chance to improve our depth at LB. Given our recent performances, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m taking Guatemala for granted. But from my perspective, if you give a less experienced guy some time at left back and surround him with veterans in the back, including Johnson at LM to offer support, that player may not be a liability that could cost us vital points (unlike the Gold Cup where we played a rotating back line of relatively inexperienced players). Plus, it could lead to a situation where we have our best players playing in their best positions and bring some continuity to the team. Which, to me at least, seems like the sensible thing to do.

      • Why play a left back at all when our strength is CBs? Just go with Brooks, Besler and Cameron in the back, FJ at LW, and you still have space for 4 MF and 2 FW… or 3 and 3 if you really want to put the pressure on Guate

      • Terkmenbashy- You keep saying this, but I don’t think you realize this isn’t a videogame. You can’t just up and install a new system and assume it’ll work. A 3 man backline is NOT something you can just decide to play on the fly. It requires a TON of chemistry to empoly. People complain that JK rotates his lineups, and our 2 CBs can’t develop chemistry… So now you want to throw an additional variable? We would literally have to up and change the last 3-5 years of US Soccer embracing one system throughout all levels, to now learn a completely new one.

    • i’d love to see villafana get a run out–he’s been solid for a while now, and i wonder if he can translate his form to the national team–but maybe not in these games where we don’t have much room for mistakes.

      if he stays in form, copa america is where i’d expect him to get some substantial gametime.

      • Villafana is a victim of timing. He moved after the MLS final, and needed time to establish himself at his enw club, preventing a Camp Cupcake callup. Now, during games we need to win (at a minimum get 4 points), he’s the odd man out.

        Personally, I still would’ve maybe have brought him in, to start developing that familiarity with the team, and maybe subbed him in if we’re up in a game. but I’m not the coach, and its not my job on the line.

    • Tim Ream is good enough for most of CONCACAF. Villafana has very little international experience so we need to give him some time in a friendly or two to see how well he pans out.


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