Tag: Jurgen Klinsmann

United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann reacts during the first half of a international soccer friendly match against Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Klinsmann praises Nagbe, full back concerns, challenges USMNT youngsters

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With a tumultuous 2015 in the books for the U.S. national team, head coach and technical director of U.S. Soccer Jurgen Klinsmann has been reflecting on the past 12 months.

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In an interview posted by U.S. Soccer on their website, Klinsmann, 51, spoke about a variety of topics but a few things stuck out.

The German coach had high praise for Darlington Nagbe who played in both of the USA’s World Cup qualifier in November with the Portland Timbers midfielder finally getting his U.S. citizenship.

Klinsmann also expressed concerns over both full back positions, is more than happy with four points from the USMNT’s opening two 2018 World Cup qualifiers and challenged the youngsters in his squad to battle for starting spots internationally and reach the highest level possible in club play.

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Below are a few snippets we’ve selected from Klinsmann’s chat. Overall, 2015 has been one that has had highs (beating Germany and the Netherlands away from home in friendlies) but there have been plenty of lows with the Gold Cup failure and the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico. Its also been a tough year for Klinsmann as many are calling for his departure as USMNT boss but U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati is sticking by his man.

What have your impressions of the U.S. national team in 2015 been? Are you hopeful for 2016 as World Cup qualifying continues and the Copa America Centenario takes place in the U.S.?

Here’s what Klinsmann had to say on a few selected topics from U.S. Soccer…

Gyasi Zardes, Jozy Altidore & Bobby Wood, USMNT

The challenge to younger players has been to push the established guys for starting spots. What is the importance of that process and how has it gone within the team?

JK: “When asking the younger players to step up and challenge the experienced ones, you want them to challenge themselves on a higher level, whether it’s going to the highest club level as quickly as you can and become a starter there and make your statement, like DeAndre Yedlin does now at Sunderland. In camp, we want them to fight harder to push established players for the spots, because if you want to steal the spot, you have to do more to try and move him out. This is an interesting process between two World Cups. Taking the example of Jones, he’s not ready to give his spot up. He’s 34 years old, but he’s a rock. He’s in there every time it matters, he stands his man. He makes it clear to the younger players that he’s not giving up his spot. These kind of competitions are real important with the team.”

A lot of people had positive things to say about Darlington Nagbe. What did you learn about him from this camp?

JK: “We found a player that is really good handling the ball in both directions. He is responsible defensively, to always go behind the ball and to defend, and help out. When we go forward, he knows when to pass, when to dribble, when to keep things racing forward, and also when to take some risks in a certain moment. He has a change of pace in one-on-one situations when he goes at defensive midfielders. He has the confidence to get past them and to get closer to the box. Darlington is a real nice option now going forward. He had to wait a long time, and we’ve been waiting for him as well, but it’s a great fit and we are glad to have him on board.”

In these last two games you also expanded the team’s options at key positions, including both fullback spots. What type of flexibility does this provide moving forward?

JK: “2015 made it clear that we struggled in a couple of areas. The most difficult area for us is the fullback positions. We moved the center backs to the fullback position. We moved Fabian Johnson from left back to right back, which is the position he played in the World Cup – and was probably one of the best right backs in the World Cup in Brazil last year. But he ended up in his club team in Germany playing left winger. So moving him constantly from left winger to left back or to right back, it doesn’t really help him. And for us, one question remains: how do we fill in those left back and right back positons with a high-quality solution? In the last games, we had Tim Ream helping us out as a left back. He plays center back in Fulham. We had Michael Orozco out as a right back, which he did tremendously well, but he’s playing center back for Tijuana. Hopefully in 2016 it will help us develop younger players in the fullback positions. For us, the next important team to look at is the Olympic team and see what Andi Herzog brings through that team in order to develop a younger player into that full back position for the senior team.”

Going into Port of Spain, Trinidad to face the Soca Warriors was a tough match. Are you pleased with how the team dealt with the challenges of that game on the road?

JK: “I think with the game in Trinidad & Tobago, we all knew it was going to be a tricky one. It’s a good team that proved that in the Gold Cup. And away from home, there’s a rule: don’t lose. At least get one point and don’t give the home team the three points. I think we achieved that. Did we want to win both games? Yes, it would have been nice to have six points now, but four points is ideal going into the two games now with Guatemala. Winning those two games would mean that we are qualified for the next round, so our big goal for March is going to Guatemala and get three points right away, at home in Columbus, one of our favorite places to go, and then look forward to the next round.”

Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones

How do you view the midfield partnership between Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones?

JK: “It’s real critical between Bradley and Jones, like all the fans know, they are important to our team. These two always coordinate themselves on the field. They are experienced and know what to do in specific situations. We constantly go over their tactical approach in a game because they can play many different ways. Now you can complement a Jermaine Jones or a Michael Bradley with a more defensive midfielder, like a Kyle Beckerman, or you can complement them with more offensive midfielders, like a Darlington Nagbe or Mix Diskerud. But the heart of this team is always in the center of the park, which is Bradley and Jones.”

What did you see from Jozy Altidore throughout 2015?

JK: “2015 for Jozy Altidore has been a transition year, but it has become a year where he has gotten stronger toward the end. He had some injury issues. He had some fitness issues in the beginning of the year. We had the episode in the Gold Cup where he was not in the shape where he needed to be. Toward July, August and September he got more into a flow. He started to score goals for Toronto and he got stronger for the National Team, as well. This is a very positive sign for us to have Altidore playing well. We plan to bring him into a very busy 2016 with the biggest highlight of Copa America next June.”

Men in Blazers podcast: Honigstein on Germany, Klinsmann

Men In Blazers
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Rog speaks with “Das Reboot” author, Raphael Honigstein, about the German football revolution that lead to the 2014 World Cup, and Jurgen Klinsmann’s role in that process.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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Sounders offer USMNT, Stanford striker Morris “richest” Homegrown deal yet

Canada defender Luca Gasparotto (5) clears the ball away from USA forward  Jordan Morris (9) in the second half of a CONCACAF men's Olympic qualifying soccer match, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Kansas City, Kan. USA beat Canada 3-1. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Brale

New frontiers, friends. New frontiers.

In a story you’d never see in another American professional sports league, Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders are offering an unprecedented deal to present college student Jordan Morris to convince the USMNT player to sign a professional deal.

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A report on the Sounders’ web site says GM Garth Lagerway can’t talk to Morris until his junior season ends — Stanford is the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament — but that they’ve offered the “richest Homegrown Player” contract in league history.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“It’s up to Jordan,” Lagerwey said. “Jordan will come out when he wants to come out, and he’ll go where he wants to go. We hope he signs with us, but it’s out of our control.”

Of course there will be interest abroad, but reports have stated that Morris will get a guaranteed $200,000 for staying home in Washington.

Jurgen Klinsmann prefers his players test themselves at the highest level, and no doubt Morris will be interested in keeping the favor of a man who gave him a chance to be a full international while in college.

Regardless of what’s best for Morris,

Klinsmann content with USMNT draw in Trinidad and Tobago

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - NOVEMBER 17: USA's national team coach Juergen Klinsmann is focused during a World Cup Qualifier between Trinidad and Tobago and USA as part of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Russia 2018 at Hasely Crawford Stadium on November 17, 2015 in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo by Ashley Allen Getty Images)

The U.S. national team drew 0-0 at Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday in the second game of the fourth round of 2018 World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.

[ RECAP: USMNT 0-0 T&T ]

Jurgen Klinsmann’s side came closest to scoring with Gyasi Zardes guilty of wasting a glorious chance and Jermaine Jones striking the crossbar from distance in the second half, while T&T looked dangerous on the break with Kenwyne Jones proving a handful up front.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings ]

Speaking after the game, Klinsmann was happy enough with a point on the road against the USMNT’s toughest opponents in Group C as they sit top of the standings with four points from their opening two games and are well on their way to qualifying for the fifth and final round of qualifying, the Hexagonal.

“All in all, a draw on the road is okay,” Klinsmann told reporters in Port of Spain. “It keeps us at the top of the group as we move towards Guatemala in March. As expected, it was a tricky game. There were chances on both sides, I think we had the better of them… We should have put one away.”

Defensive solidity was key for the U.S. against a T&T side who scored plenty of goals and performed well at the Gold Cup in the summer, plus had impressive friendly results and beat Guatemala on the road in their first Group C game. The U.S. started slowly and could have gone behind in the first minute but as the game played out the U.S. looked more likely to snatch all three points.

Klinsmann’s reluctance to be overjoyed with a point in Port of Spain is understandable but with Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler continuing their strong partnership in central defense and Tim Howard in goal, the USMNT looked strong at the back and it was a mature display, at least defensively. Going forward there were some issues with DeAndre Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes getting into some good positions out wide but failing with that all important final ball or effort on goal. Jozy Altidore ran himself into the ground up top but it was tough for him without any help as the lone forward in a 4-5-1 formation which was primarily deployed to secure at least a point on the road.

That’s exactly what the U.S. got and although they’re likely to qualify comfortably for the Hex, concerns about being happy with a point on the road at T&T remain.

T&T coach Hart: “I was overjoyed” to see Dempsey left off USMNT roster

Clint Dempsey, USMNT
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Clint Dempsey‘s name was, perhaps controversially, left off Jurgen Klinsmann’s very first roster of the U.S. national team’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign — much to the surprise of many, including Landon Donovan.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

While some supporters of the USMNT aren’t ready for a world in which Dempsey isn’t a key player for USMNT, the opposite emotions have been invoked in the hearts of Tuesday night’s opponent, Trinidad and Tobago. T&T head coach Stephen Hart admitted on Monday that he was “overjoyed” by Dempsey’s absence.

[ MORE: Three keys to three points vs. T&T ]

Hart’s admission seems to imply that he would have believe T&T to have no (or a lesser) chance of beating the USMNT on Tuesday if Dempsey was on the field. Now, with his omission, Hart, and presumably the rest of the Toca Warriors, envision themselves pulling off a famous upset in Port of Spain.

[ MORE: Klinsmann laughs off criticism — “It’s immature” ]

Dempsey (48 goals) is the USMNT’s second-leading scorer of all time (Donovan – 57). If Klinsmann has decided that Dempsey’s international career is coming to an end — it remains to be seen whether or not that is the case, as well as whether or not it would be the “right” or “wrong” decision — then now, 32 months before the World Cup, is the time to begin the process of cutting Dempsey out of the squad, not two weeks before the tournament, as he did with Donovan in 2014.