The significance of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann taking all 26 players to Brazil

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The United States national teamers de-camped from sunny So-Cal late Sunday night, leaving for Brazil for a portion of the January camp that might be more important than it seems at first glance.

All 26 players were on the overnight plane bound for Sao Paulo – and that’s pretty important in itself.

Jurgen Klinsmann said he was quite happy with the level of preparation for all 26 players summoned into this camp. (Remember, this one mostly for Major League Soccer types, who are out of season; no reason to bring in the European brigade, most of whom remain in season or soon to return from winter break.)

Yes, there is still a chance for a young gun (We’re still looking at you, DeAndre Yedlin … but those crosses need to get sharper, man!) to make a move and insert himself more forcefully into the World Cup roster conversation. But that’s not the real importance to examine, not in the big, big picture.

Klinsmann has been quite clear that his team is into serious business time now when it comes to World Cup prep. That message was clearly heard by a bunch of men who are either A) trying to catch the coach’s eye and make a late run at the Brazilian roster, or; B) working hard to keep their positioning, already in good standing along the all-important depth chart.

In the larger framing, Klinsmann’s overarching message is apparently being heard, and that’s the larger significance here. Klinsmann’s message from Day 1 in charge has been about how the players must push themselves, must always find ways to find more game in their game. I always call in the “blessedness of discontent,” and that’s what Klinsmann always wanted to see.

More than wanted to inspire the players, he sought to motivate them to inspire themselves.

One “for instance:” he rather famously advised them to take less time off. Rather than lollygag for two months, he said “Take two weeks, recharge your batteries … and then get back after it!” That was the message … and it was apparently heard.

All the fitness tests last week at the national team’s StubHub Center training site, all the blood tests and the eyeball tests showed the boss that the message was being heard. Previous camps, Klinsmann had said with a bit of a frown, he could see players who quickly exposed themselves as not quite fit, and therefore lagging behind in the soccer at international level.

For the whole group, he reluctantly had to spend time in January camp getting the vacationing players back into shape rather than working to improve the tactical tenets and overall speed of thought, etc.

Now getting settled for their time in Brazil, they can work on the soccer side of things, on getting acquainted with the surroundings and making contacts that might help this summer.

Why is that important? More on that later at ProSoccerTalk …

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)