What Jurgen Klinsmann said about Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea and Aron Johannsson


A few of us saw a little something in Sacha Kljestan’s evening in Glasgow, as the Anderlecht man was assigned the “Dempsey” role, playing ahead of two midfielders and behind striker Jozy Altidore in the match against Scotland.

His ratings from some of the respected, uh, “ratings agencies,” weren’t bad. The New York Times, Soccer America, and ESPN.com all gave Kljestan a grade that was somewhere between “not bad” and “pretty good.”

But the only gradebook that really counts, as we know, belongs to Jurgen Klinsmann; the U.S. manager will make the career-defining choices next May, assigning 23 men to his World Cup roster for a trip into Brazil. And, well … Klinsmann didn’t sound overly impressed.

(MORE: What we learned in Friday’s draw with Scotland)

He did mention that Kljestan was in a less familiar role, playing higher up the field than he typically does for Anderlecht in Belgium. That said …

He did OK, but it was tricky for him because we wanted him to play in between their two lines, the back line and the midfield line, and to find him in those spaces closer to Jozy, rather than further back. His instinct tells him to drop a little deeper because that’s what he does at Anderlecht, and then suddenly we had three midfielders in the same area with Jermaine [Jones], Michael [Bradley] and Sacha. That’s not what we wanted. We wanted to find people between their two lines of four, so it was a bit tricky for him.”

Thing is, tough role or no, Kljestan is in a position, like a few others, where he needs to make an impression – even if that means making a gourmet meal from leftovers. At seven months until the World Cup, it is what it is at this point.

Meanwhile, Klinsmann was more positive in his assessments of Brek Shea and Aron Johannsson, who helped their cases for Brazilian roster placement.

Johannsson keeps moving up, perhaps already having lapped Herculez Gomez, who fell behind initially due to some summer injury trouble. Shea helps himself every time he gets the ball, points himself forward and tells himself “Go!”  Thing is, the United States has so little of that, so Shea provides a real change of pace. When a certain problem needs solving, he’s the only solution on this roster.

For everything that Klinsmann said about Shea and Johannsson, read his post-game comments here.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia

Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.