With the USA’s 2-0 defeat to Ukraine highlighting some issues Jurgen Klinsmann must fix before the squad flies down to South America for the World Cup this summer, you have to remember one thing: he wasn’t able to select most of his squad for this friendly.
As Major League Soccer gears up for the start of the 2014 season this weekend, Klinsmann didn’t select any of his MLS contingent to travel to Cyprus on Monday night, then play on Wednesday before traveling home on Thursday and then playing in MLS on Saturday. Understandably the USMNT head coach thought that was too much, and used the Ukraine match to put his vast number of European-based players under the microscope.
Talking to reporters after the game, Klinsmann was asked if his team missed their MLS-based players in the loss to Ukraine.
“Definitely,” Klisnmann told MLSsoccer.com. “When you don’t have your main group together, there’s always going to be a bit of a drop of quality. That’s natural. That’s why our job is to zoom in and name 23 guys who are up to the task of the World Cup.”
One of the areas hardest hit by MLS absentees was the USA’s defense as both starting center backs, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, plus left back DaMarcus Beasley weren’t selected due to club commitments in the U.S. and Mexico. Klinsmann felt it was a great opportunity to look at others back there, but that he wasn’t expecting some miraculous galvanization of a makeshift back four.
“But we still got an opportunity to get Brooks back in there and we saw where Gooch is at,” Klinsmann said. “Geoff Cameron took the right back role and [Edgar] Castillo flew all the way from Tijuana and played, I thought, a decent game. So it’s understandable that it wasn’t clicking, it would be half a miracle if it was clicking. But we need these type of games.”
Chucking four guys together on the back line is never easy, and you saw that on Wednesday. But with Besler and Gonzalez to come back into the lineup for the friendly against Mexico in Arizona next month, the USA’s domestic players will get a chance to show what they can do. The extra-depth Klinsmann will get from essentially having two very different squads is quite remarkable and a unique situation that most national team’s won’t have.
Despite a loss which left plenty of questions about the USA’s chances in Brazil this summer, it’s not all doom and gloom. The MLS cavalry is about to arrive. Let’s see what these guys can do first, before making any rash judgements.