US national team

Jurgen Klinsmann, US veterans usher in new wave of talent to end 2014

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LONDON — Times, they are a changin’.

Down by the River Thames in London the USA will host No.3-ranked Colombia on Friday as a new era is being ushered in by the U.S. national teams’ veterans and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

[ PREVIEW: USA host Colombia at Fulham  ]

In a press conference at Fulham’s historic Craven Cottage stadium on Thursday, Klinsmann emphasized the need for his veterans to stand up and help integrate promising youngsters such as Bobby Wood, Julian Green, DeAndre Yedlin and many others.

The time is now.

“It is very important, the role that the veterans play. In many clubs nowadays you don’t see that anymore. You don’t see that leadership from more experienced players helping the younger guys to understand what it actually takes to become a real professional,” Klinsmann said when asked by ProSoccerTalk. “I was very lucky when I was coming up through the ranks, I had players looking after me who would give me a kick in my backside if I started flying too high. I follow that closely with many club situations where I don’t see that happening anymore.”

[ RELATED: Cameron on USA’s progress ]

Klinsmann revealed he mixed up his squad on purpose for this trip, and during practice all week you could hear the older guys dishing out copious amounts of praise towards the younger players. “Well done Julian!” “Keep going Bobby!” “Attaboy Brooksy!”

“We purposefully made that mixture now for this group,” Klinsmann explained. “I gave them the message, whether it is Brad [Guzan], Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Nick Rimando. I told them you have to talk to [the young players] communicate with them. Leave your cellphones off the table. Give them ideas what to expect and how their growth should happen.”

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The USA’s veterans are playing a leading role as the team close out 2014.

The USA’s coach is looking forward to leading his team out at a packed stadium on Friday in West London — the game is expected to break attendance records for an international at the Cottage — while also giving plenty of youngsters the chance to shine.

[ RELATED: Ibarra eager to learn ]

Klinsmann has called up the likes of Rubio Rubin, Miguel Ibarra, Alfredo Morales, Stanford University’s Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood in the past two to three camps but used them sparingly. This final batch of international matches in 2014 could give us a glimpse of the future as the youngsters step up to the plate.

“We don’t want them to waste time. We want them to break in quickly if they can,” Klinsmann added. “If it takes longer, then so be it. We want them to have that open dialogue because they have all the power in the world to put them in line, if needed.”

[ RELATED: Guzan leading US goalkeeping core ]

In Klinsmann’s latest squad 12 players have less than 10 caps, while the same number are under the age of 24. The youth element is strong and four-time World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley, now 32, is playing a key part as a leader on this squad.

“These type of games are where you can challenge these young kids and see whether they can sink or swim,” Beasley said. “So far they have got a passing grade but it is a long four years until another World Cup. These games against quality opponents like Colombia on Friday and Ireland next week is preparation for them to prolong their international career.”

Beasley’s international career began in 2001 and he’s still going. Four World Cup squads and 120 caps later, the Indiana native is keen to do whatever he can to help out. Just like other U.S. players helped him out when he first arrived on the scene.

“One of the guys played here,” Beasley smiled, looking up to the old iron rafters at Craven Cottage. “Brian McBride. He’s a guy that was always full of information and willing to help the young kids. Claudio Reyna. Eddie Pope, when I was younger they were always looking to bring a young guy under their wing and help them in any way. On and off the field. We definitely want to do the same thing as we pass the torch going into 2016, 2017… maybe some of the older guys such as myself won’t be here. So we want to make sure the U.S. national team is in good hands.”

[ RELATED: Besler on SKC, enjoying life in London ]

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Beasley, and other US veterans, have been asked to take the young guys under their wing.

Klinsmann agrees with Beasely, as a strong core of leaders has always defined the U.S. national team across generations and helped his team advance to the knockout stages at the World Cup this summer.

“I think that is a characteristic of the U.S. team for a long time. Long before I came on board,” Klinsmann said. “The experienced players always helped the younger ones and there’s always a special chemistry and a good spirit. That spirit was part of our path getting out of the ‘Group of Death’ this summer at the World Cup. Their role is vital.”

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan is settling into the leadership role, as he works alongside young stoppers such as Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid. With Tim Howard out of the picture until next September, Guzan is happy with the role Klinsmann is asking him to take on and believes a strong bond is developing among the USA’s current crop of players.

“The group is slowly coming together,” Guzan said. “That’s nice to see because there are some new faces and a few guys now that have been in one or two camps, where you would think they have been in five or ten camps. It is an easy group to come in to and the young guys train really well. From that aspect the week has gone well. And, more importantly, off the field the group is really coming together.”

Can this group of talented youngsters headlined by Yedlin and Green oust some veterans, and others who didn’t make this trip, off the roster? These two friendlies over the next week will have a big say if they’re ready to do just that.

“They are a hungry group, they are exciting and they want to do well, to prove themselves and prove they belong here, which they have done so far.” Beasley said. “We are excited about the future of this team.”

Veterans and youngsters intertwined, Klinsmann’s experiment of meshing age groups will be under the spotlight at Craven Cottage on Friday night, then again in Dublin next Tuesday. After that match we will have a good idea if times are a changin’ for good for the U.S. national team.

Plenty of surprises in US national team roster for Czech Republic friendly

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On Thursday the U.S. national team released details of their 22-man squad to play in a friendly against the Czech Republic next month.

Jurgen Klinsmann has gone with a largely European based squad for the Sept. 3 friendly, with goalkeeper Nick Rimando the only Major League Soccer player named in the squad.

[WATCH: USA vs. Czech Republic live on NBCSN]

A few surprises have cropped up in the first squad since the 2014 World Cup, as college soccer player Jordan Morris, a sophomore from Stanford, has been included by Klinsmann, as well as Fulham youngster Emerson Hyndman.

Bolton’s Tim Ream gets another call up, while Club Tijuana duo Greg Garza and Joe Corona also make the 22. European based youngsters Rubio Rubin, Alfredo Morales and Joe Gyau also get the nod as the U.S. give a new crop of talent the chance to impress.In total there are six players looking to make their debut and 15 players under the age of 24.

Speaking about the roster to U.S. Soccer, Klinsmann revealed his reasons for calling up so many new players.

“We look at this as the start of our project towards Russia in 2018, and in this first step we get to look at many of our talented young players based in Europe,” Klinsmann said. “We have some great youngsters coming through the ranks that are starting to break through with their clubs teams and are ready to challenge for spots on the Senior Team, and even most of our World Cup veterans from Brazil on this roster will be coming into the prime of their careers in the next four years, so this is an exciting opportunity.”

Premier League players such as Brad Guzan, Jozy Altidore and Geoff Cameron also get the call up as Klinsmann has gone for a mix of youth and experience.

The U.S. have a busy schedule coming up in the next few months with a friendly slated for Hartford, CT against Ecudaor on Oct. 10 and another overseas trip to face the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Nov. 18.

Below is the squad in full, as you can watch the U.S. in action on NBC Sports Network at 2:15pm ET on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

Full 22-man squad for USA vs. Czech Republic, Sept. 3 in Prague

GOALKEEPERS (3) : Cody Cropper (Southampton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (7) : John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton)

MIDFIELDERS (7) : Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Brek Shea (Stoke City)

FORWARDS (5) : Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Joe Gyau (Borussia Dortmund II), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich)

What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw

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Let’s not kid ourselves, Friday is one of the coolest days to be a soccer supporter. The World Cup draw (11 am ET) has made men pulling tiny pieces of paper out of little balls an intense event, and if any of us have the fortune of living to be 100, we’ll still only get to do this on a couple dozen occasions.

I’ll personally admit to a little consternation after reading the plethora of posts on the plight of the United States and their chances in a tough group. Aside from the dreaded Group of Death (or Pain, as Richard Farley prefers), fans of the Yanks need to get over their soccer inferiority complex. You’re the 14th ranked team by FIFA, nearly as close in points to the Top Five as falling out of the Top 25. You’re the team no one wants from Pot 3, so put on your adult pants and get excited. Heck, there’s a big part of me that wants England in the group again.

So, what would be the ideal way for the balls to fall if you’re a US Soccer supporter?

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POT 1:  I don’t want any part of the host nation nor a CONMEBOL team whose support will come streaming from a bordering nation currently in FIFA’s Top 10 and whose electric attacks bode poorly for a still unsettled and likely inexperienced US backline. Hope for a club as far away from home as possible. In order, hope for Switzerland, Belgium, Spain and Germany.

POT 2: With the added twist of the unknown! Earlier this week FIFA announced that it would be a random club from Pot 4, not France as UEFA’s lowest-ranked qualifier, that would join five African nations, Chile and Ecuador in Pot 2. My hope would be for Greece or England to pop into the group ahead of France, again due to defending concerns. In this instance, I’m hoping for Ecuador, Algeria or Cameroon, in that order.

POT 4: Oh, brother. There are nearly as many match-ups to rue here as there are in Pot 1. Portugal, Holland and Italy are the countries I’d rather avoid, with Bosnia-Herzegovina close behind (and for my money, a smart long-shot for the tournament).

So, while the nightmare draws have been dealt with at-length in this space (smartly, I might add, by our own Steve Davis), here’s what I’m hoping for come Friday, without doubling up on opponents for each successive scenario.

Number 1: Switzerland, Algeria, United States, Greece

Number 2: Colombia, Cameroon, United States, Croatia

Number 3: Belgium, Ecuador, United States, England

Agree? Disagree? Let’s have some fun here. Comment away!

Tim Howard: “Everton can cause Manchester United problems” – video

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Dissecting Manchester United’s performance in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur while working on the call for NBC Sports, U.S. national team ‘keeper Tim Howard believes his Everton side can approach Wednesday’s game against United with no fear.

Howard, who moved to Man Utd in his first playing stint overseas from MLS back in 2003, is looking forward to returning to Old Trafford and gave NBC’s Lead Soccer announcer Arlo White an insight into how the Toffees will set themselves up.

Watch the video above as White and Howard discusses Everton’s trip to the ‘Theater of Dreams’ on Wednesday, which you can watch live on NBCSN at 2:45pm ET and online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

USA drop one spot to 14th in latest FIFA World Rankings, Portugal surge to fifth

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The last update of the FIFA World Rankings before the World Cup draw takes place in Brazil on December 6 has thrown up some big winners and losers.

As for the U.S. national team, eh, not much that we didn’t expect as they drop one spot to 14th after their mediocre displays in two friendlies away from home in November, a 0-0 draw with Scotland and a 1-0 loss against Austria.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s men were hoping they could possibly sneak into the top ten but even if they did that, it wouldn’t have helped with their seeding for the 2014 World Cup as those had already been determined with Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Colombia and Switzerland the eight seeded teams.

Elsewhere the big losers were Belgium and England who slipped out of the top ten to 11th and 13th respectively, while the top four of Spain, Germany, Argentina and Colombia stayed the same.

(MORE: Full list of nations who’ve qualified for 2014 World Cup in Brazil)

Portugal moved up a whopping nine places and are now in fifth spot after they qualified for the World Cup with a playoff victory over Sweden. Overall the biggest improvement was seen from Cuba, as the Island nation moved up 27 places and are now ranked 47th in the world. As for the USA’s CONCACAF foes, Mexico rose four places to get back into the top 20, Costa Rica stay in 31st, Panama drop down to 37th, Honduras drop seven spots to 41st and Canada also drop three places to 114th.

Here’s FIFA’s World Rankings top 20 to take a perusal through at your pleasure:

1. Spain

2. Germany

3. Argentina

4. Colombia

5. Portugal

6. Uruguay

7. Italy

8. Switzerland

9. Netherlands

10. Brazil

11. Belgium

12. Greece

13. England

14. United States of America

15. Chile

16. Croatia

17. Ivory Coast

18. Ukraine

19. France

20. Mexico