Jozy Altidore will be a late arrival into the U.S. camp. So will Michael Bradley, and possibly Clint Dempsey, too. Maybe others still, depending on playoff possibilities.
Is that a problem?
For that matter, are the late-May, early-June friendlies a problem? As in, should the United States even be playing these contests, which fall on non-FIFA dates and therefore do not obligate teams to release them?
The answers are “no” and “yes.”
Altidore is a special case because the striker’s Dutch club is being difficult, as we talked about before. Others who may miss the early part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s next camp will be playing or, at very least, training with their clubs.
Bradley, for instance, will stay sharp while training with Roma ahead of the May 26 Italian Cup final in Rome. So, check the box under “Not an issue.”
Same for Dempsey (pictured) if he is late to report into the U.S. camp that begins May 21 at the Home Depot Center outside Los Angeles; presumably, in that case, he would continue training with Spurs ahead of their May 23 friendly against Jamaica’s national team in the Caribbean. (We’ll see if Dempsey can wiggle out of that one, or if the match contract calls for certain men to be availiable.)
Either way, it’s not a critical issue. Same for the others who could tangled up in German or Mexican league playoffs.
Altidore not being available could be a much bigger deal if he isn’t training – which is exactly the point to the friendlies; The United States meets Belgium in Cleveland on May 29, then Germany three nights later in Washington, D.C.
The Bundesliga season ends on May 18; the season in England’s Premier League ends a day later. That means a good chunk of the most important U.S. men could have been away from high-level training for two weeks or more. If the United States waited until days before the June 7 World Cup qualifier against Jamaica to start a shorter camp, most of those players – think Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Steve Cherundolo, Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones – would be risking match fitness.
Can a case be made that they could benefit from some rest? Probably. But most countries don’t see it that way. Germany, Ireland, England and Ecuador all play friendlies on May 29, same day the United States meets Belgium.
Japan plays a day later, while Italy, Mexico and Nigeria are in action one day past that.
It’s all tricky math, for sure, which is why Klinsmann will summon 23-25 guys for the upcoming camp, even though he will probably lean on just 15 or 16 of them for those critical June qualifiers. Here’s what he said about it all.
It’s a tricky picture because the players are all on different schedules. You have players going possibly going to relegation playoffs games in Germany with Hoffenheim and Augsburg. The Mexican league is still going on with playoffs where Herculez Gomez is, Tijuana [with Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo] is in Copa Libertadores, and Michael Bradley playing in an Italian Cup final on May 26, so all the different time tables play a role in how we build our camp starting on May 21. Ideally we’d like to have them all in camp from the beginning, but practically it’s not going to happen. You adjust to that. You respect their club schedule. They want to finish their season the right way on the right foot. The European guys have had a very long season and the Mexican guys have as well, so this all plays a role in it. It’s just part of a National Team process. We just have to make the best out of it and go from there.”