Italy v USA - International Friendly

A lengthy chat with U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann

Leave a comment

CARSON, Calif. – Most news coming out of Southern California this week is about MLS Cup. But since U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann lives in Southern California, there was a small window of availability Friday morning near the Home Depot Center.

Klinsmann addressed a wide variety of topics, speaking casually over breakfast to a small group of journalists (including me).

Among the topics covered extensively (the man does love to talk soccer – which is a blessed thing for a journalist):

  • The January camp (more on that down below)
  • His ongoing dialogue on getting players to get more from themselves
  • Landon Donovan
  • Timothy Chandler
  • Jozy Altidore
  • Carlos Bocanegra
  • Fabian Johnson
  • Michael Bradley’s splendid progress and new role in the locker room
  • Evolving player roles as it relates to Bocanegra
  • Enjoying when players prove him wrong
  • Playing an early 2014 match in Brazil (assuming things go well in World Cup qualifying through 2013)
  • Playing Germany next year somewhere in the United States
  • Explaining Jermaine Jones’ value on and off the field
  • Lots more

Over the next few days, I will go deeper into each of these topics, as well as others covered by the U.S. national team boss, who has been on the job now for 16 months.

As for the January camp, it will begin on Jan. 14 and include no more than 23 players. Most likely, it will be held at the Home Depot Center and, as usual, will be limited mostly to MLS men and players from the Scandinavian leagues (because they will be on winter break).

Klinsmann wants to end the camp with a friendly (also at the Home Depot Center, in all likelihood), mostly to give the athletes a little reward at the end of what will surely be tough training sessions.

Klinsmann will name a different set of 23 (although it will surely include some of the same names) immediately upon conclusion of the January camp. That group, including the European based players, will assemble in Miami and then fly to Honduras to open final stage World Cup qualifying on Feb. 6.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
Leave a comment

Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
1 Comment

Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.