Get ready for weeks worth of USMNT news now that reporters are hanging around Jurgen Klinsmann’s training camp (let alone the news that comes away from camp).
This morning is no exception, as two United States hopefuls, one lock and one frustrated non-USMNT participant talked World Cup.
We begin with Michael Bradley, the seemingly natural-born leader who has embraced his guts as the engine of the United States.
It’s easy to forget the changes that occur between a player’s World Cup appearances, and SFGate’s Tom FitzGerald gets his lead just right:
Since making his World Cup debut four years ago,Michael Bradley has gotten married, become a father, joined Aston Villa of the English Premier League on loan from his German club, played for two clubs in Italy’s Serie A league and was sold toToronto FC of Major League Soccer.
He is the man coach Jurgen Klinsmann is building his midfield around. A great deal is expected not just of Bradley’s playmaking but also of his leadership in the run-up to the tournament in Brazil.
“I embrace it, absolutely,” he said Friday between workouts at Stanford. “To be a player that is counted on by his coaches and his teammates to make a difference, to make plays, to be a leader – the challenge of all that excites me.”
That moves us on to a pair of midfielders who are perceived to be on the bubble for 2014 in Brazil: Mix Diskerud and Maurice Edu. The former is a 23-year-old hoping to cement his role as a Yank after choosing the USMNT over Norway in 2010.
And he’s thriving off the confidence he received in helping the States to the 2013 Gold Cup winners title.
“Every time we played a game, we were kind of certain, not cocky, but we knew we were going to win because we had good players,” Diskerud said. “And that’s a great mentality. It’s kind of the American mentality, I would say. You feel like you can beat any team, [whether] it’s Germany or Panama or whatever.”
The brashness of “Germany or Panama or whatever” is a brilliant bit from the middle man as he battles with elder statesman Maurice Edu for a place on the squad (though not exactly directly, there are only so many spots to be had).
Edu’s a curious case, having had a volatile time in his club career. He’s seen a historically-strong club go through a brutal shift (Rangers), watched as a high-profile move to the Premier League fizzled to find even fits and starts (Stoke City) and returned home to become an integral part of the 2014 Philadelphia Union.
And it’s almost all a continuation to the consternation felt by Edu when his status as a clear-cut American legend was stripped from him after Malian referee Koman Coulibaly took away his potentially-decisive goal against Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup.
“When it first happened, I watched it a few times and didn’t know the call on the pitch, didn’t know the call afterward,” Edu said Friday. “To have been that close and have it taken away did kind of suck, but now the focus is try to do it again and have it count.”
While Edu admits that he still harbors regrets and “What ifs?” about his last World Cup, there’s an in-form MLS midfielder who may never get to ask those questions about his experience. Seattle Sounders maestro Osvaldo Alonso, 28, is now an American citizen but cannot get a release from the Cuban federation.
As MLSSoccer.com points out, Alonso received public plaudits from Klinsmann and could’ve easily made a dent in his World Cup plans over the past year:
“It’s been two years waiting for FIFA, Cuba and waiting for the paper,” said Alonso, who now says he’s 100-percent fit after battling various injuries early in the season. “I’m frustrated, talking with some people here, talking with some people there, nothing happens. I’m very upset. But I need to be ready to be (in Seattle).”
Thanks for nothing, Cuba.
That’ll do it for this morning’s wrap (in theory). Sixteen days ’til Klinsmann has to have his roster set at 23, and surely there’s plenty to come.