Jurgen Klinsmann

KANSAS CITY, KS - MARCH 16:  Benny Feilhaber #10 of Sporting Kansas City works the ball around Dilly Duka #8 of Chicago Fire in the second half at Sporting Park on March 16, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Benny Feilhaber among US vets getting 2nd chance under Arena

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CARSON, Calif. (AP) Only a year ago, Benny Feilhaber thought he had no chance to get back in the good graces of Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. national team.

[ MORE: David Villa discusses MLS season, La Liga title race and more ]

So the frustrated Sporting Kansas City midfielder let them have it, sharply criticizing Klinsmann’s player selection in an unusual moment of bridge-burning candor for a frustrated veteran athlete.

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One year and one new coach later, Feilhaber has just completed a January training camp with the U.S. men, and he is on the 23-man squad for the first matches in a crucial year of World Cup qualification for the Americans.

“A clean slate,” Feilhaber said with a broad smile.

The U.S. begins the year Sunday with an exhibition against Serbia at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. New coach Bruce Arena’s MLS-based player group is clearly optimistic about the tests ahead, but the U.S. needs immediate improvements after two losses late last year put the Americans at the bottom of their World Cup qualifying group.

“It’s a new vibe,” Feilhaber said. “It’s been great. Everybody is fighting for positions, but united in the knowledge that we need to do something special this year in qualifying, and it starts in this camp.”

Feilhaber is an offensive midfielder who could provide a dimension that seemed lacking in the Americans’ attack in recent months. He is just one of several players getting newfound looks and increased attention after fading from Klinsmann’s favor.

Dax McCarty, Chris Pontius and Chad Marshall also might have thought they were all done with U.S. national team play after getting passed over by the German coach. Other younger MLS-based players, including Sebastian Lletget and Walker Zimmerman, still hadn’t attracted Klinsmann’s serious attention.

When Klinsmann was fired and Arena took over late last year, the veterans had already made their usual January vacation plans – and McCarty even scheduled his wedding this month.

They all reported to the Los Angeles suburbs for the start of another run under Arena, who has been determined to keep an open mind about anyone who could help his team.

“They don’t have to prove anything extra,” Arena said of the second-chance contingent. “But they’ve demonstrated they’re good players, and they’ve convinced me that they’re options. At the end of the day, we’ve got to compile all of this stuff after this camp and then look at our pool of players that are in Europe as well as in Mexico and try to see what makes sense for the games in March. It’s not going to be an easy exercise, for sure.”

The match in San Diego is Arena’s first for the U.S. team since June 22, 2006, when the Americans were eliminated from the World Cup with a 2-1 loss to Ghana at Nuremberg. After his first U.S. tenure ended, Arena moved on to build the LA Galaxy into a three-time MLS champion.

From veteran Jermaine Jones to youngster Jordan Morris, the MLS-based players appear to appreciate Arena’s confident style of management – while realizing the results will determine his real success.

“Bruce is very open with his players,” Feilhaber said. “He lets you know exactly what he expects from you, and he’s been very clear with me what position he would like me to play in, and what my responsibilities would be for the team. It’s very straightforward and easy to grasp what my job is. It’s been very few surprises.”

Jones speaks out on Tim Howard’s “dangerous” talk (video)

MANAUS, BRAZIL - JUNE 22:  Goalkeeper Tim Howard (L) and Jermaine Jones of the United States react after a 2-2 draw in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between the United States and Portugal at Arena Amazonia on June 22, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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New LA Galaxy midfielder and USMNT mainstay Jermaine Jones is hoping he can clarify Tim Howard’s controversial comments about dual nationals.

Howard said Wednesday that there were commitment issues with some of the dual nationals on the United States squad, adding that players like Jones and Fabian Johnson were great for the team.

[ MORE: Galaxy adds Portugal CM ]

Jones answered those thoughts on Thursday, labeling them “dangerous stuff”.

From ESPNFC’s Doug McIntyre:

“With all the respect for Timmy, I feel it’s not if you’re half American or full-American. It’s more what you have in here [taps his chest].

“If you go on the field and you give everything for this country, then of course sometimes there’s a situation where you’re not playing good.

“But it’s normal. That can happen to everybody, and that’s what you have to understand.”

Jones isn’t shy to share his comments on anything, and it was definitely a surprise to hear Howard’s thoughts on dual nationals. Salient words from Jones.

Jurgen Klinsmann calls his USMNT tenure “incomplete”

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 21:  Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States looks on prior to a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match against Argentina at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Fired USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann has spoken at length about his tenure in charge of the United States, calling his time as manager and technical director “incomplete.”

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, in his first interview since the decision to make the change to Bruce Arena, Klinsmann said that “I was not surprised” by the firing and that “we were let go because we lost two games,” referring to the pair of losses to Mexico and Costa Rica that leaves the United States bottom of the CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifying two matches in.

“In the professional world, you don’t have the right to put it that way,” Klinsmann said after being asked if he felt like he had enough time. “If the people that pay you, at the end of the day, think you lost two games and [they] decided to go in a new direction, you’ve got to give them the OK to do so.”

Despite being fired in relatively uncerimonious manner after 5-1/2 years in charge, Klinsmann says he thinks he had a lasting impact that will be noticed down the road. “We laid the ground for another generation of players,” he said. “But that cycle of players, they will need time to grow.”

“It was, in a way, an incomplete picture that was given,” Klinsmann said. “And you will never see if anything will be complete because it’s just kind of cut off. It just shows you how abrupt the business is. Incomplete may be the best word.”

So… where does Swansea City turn now?

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 21:  Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States looks on prior to a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match against Argentina at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Swansea City are in dreaded company after firing Bob Bradley on Tuesday, with none of the last three clubs to fire two managers inside one Premier League season holding onto its top flight status.

[ MORE: Bob Bradley speaks to PST on firing ]

Swans have two massive matches in the next seven days, six-pointers against Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, with caretaker manager Alan Curtis at the helm.

After that, it’s a brutal run of matches which includes Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton, and Manchester City.

Given the instability at the club, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins will have a hard time convincing a big name to take the helm. Francesco Guidolin was given the job after keeping the team safe but not allowed final say on transfers, and Bradley didn’t even get one window despite leaving his job at Le Havre.

[ MORE: Firing Bradley pre-window is baffling ]

Swansea simply have to open up the war chest and their trust tree for the new boss. Another Andre Ayew or Ashley Williams cannot be sold without a tested replacement. And frankly, Swans fans should be worried that players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente could ask to leave the mess behind.

Already the same names are being recycled as possibilities to take the job: Welsh heroes Ryan Giggs and Chris Coleman, as well as recently fired Palace boss Alan Pardew.

It’s worth noting that, in addition to only being first chair on a caretaker basis at Manchester United, Giggs has never been in a relegation campaign as a player or coach anywhere… ever.

Coleman would be a worthwhile risk and has hero status after guiding Wales in EURO 2016, but would he leave the national team gig despite his goal of helping them to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Pardew is available and will certainly believe he could handle the job. But his penchant for leading streaky teams should probably cool Swansea’s interest. It’s big risk/reward with “Pardiola”.

Other candidates tabbed for the gig are Roy Hodgson, who could go head-to-head with fellow ex-England boss Sam Allardyce in a relegation race, and many seem to think former Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett could be the man for the job.

And how about this one? Former USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann is listed by the oddsmakers as an option to replace Bradley. Surely that would also be deemed to big of a risk, as Klinsmann is another man who’s not afraid to ruffle his players and also hasn’t been involved in too many relegation skirmishes.

Then again, can’t you hear the phone calls from Wales to Germany?

“Timmy Chandler, it’s me, Jurgen… I’m getting the band back together.”

 

Follow @NicholasMendola

USMNT: Michael Bradley excited by Bruce Arena hiring

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: Michael Bradley #4 of United States looks on against New Zealand in the second half during an International Friendly at RFK Stadium on October 11, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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United States midfielder Michael Bradley says the players take the blame for the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann as boss of the national team.

Many speculated that Bradley and Klinsmann’s relationship was poor, due to changes in positioning and what Bradley seemed to intimate at times was a lack of organization from the coach.

[ MORE: Willian to Man Utd? ]

But Bradley maintains he was not pleased by the coaching change, taking responsibility for Klinsmann losing his job. The 29-year-old says, “as captain, nobody takes that harder than me.”

Bradley now gets another run under Bruce Arena, who gave the midfielder his first caps. Arena is also a good friend of Bradley’s father Bob, and most would assume the captain is excited for the opportunity.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Once a change is made, you have to turn the page quickly,” Bradley continued. “I’m very excited to work with Bruce again. He gave me my first opportunities with the national team. [We’ve] maintained a relationship from afar. I have a lot of respect for the career he’s had and the way he has gone about making every team he’s coached better. His record speaks for itself. I’m excited to work with him again.”

The expectation is that Arena will adopt a two-man defensive midfield, and it seems likely that Bradley will pair with someone other than Jermaine Jones (certainly for the first World Cup qualifier, as the German-born menace is suspended for yellow card accumulation).

One of the big hopes for USMNT supporters will be a return to national greatness for Bradley, whose play has slipped in a midfield with Jones. Arena will bring positional and tactical stability.

Follow @NicholasMendola