As it turns out, Jurgen Klinsmann might just call in U.S. Men’s National Team players who are still involved in the MLS Cup Playoffs for this month’s European friendlies.
The exact opposite – that such MLS occupied players would not be selected for the friendlies against Scotland and Austria – had been reported by Sports Illustrated just two days ago.
Discussing his plans on U.S. Soccer’s website, Klinsmann suggested that players who choose to participate in the games on November 15th and 19th would prove that they are “really 1,000 percent dedicated” to the program.
“Because MLS scheduled their playoffs with respect to our FIFA fixture dates, it’s basically working hand-in-hand,” said Klinsmann. “We’re going to bring the best players into Scotland and Austria no matter where they play. No matter if they play like Michael Bradley in Italy or the guys in the [English] Premier League, the Bundesliga or the guys in Liga MX in Mexico and MLS.
“Because of MLS creating that window between their playoff games, that helps make our two games really exciting.”
FIFA statutes require clubs to release players for matches coming during the international breaks like the one next week, meaning teams involved in the MLS Conference Championships may be shorthanded in upcoming matches. It’s a situation that’s guaranteed to infuriate managers still involved in MLS Cup.
“We are trying to bring in the strongest group possible, so we follow all the games happening right now, if it’s in Europe or especially if it’s here in MLS with the playoff games,” Klinsmann said. “It always helps when they come in every game and train together. We see so many things in training and in games.
“So for us, in the few opportunities we have to see them directly together, we can send out specific messages, and we can discuss with a lot of players – especially players from MLS and Liga MX – what their offseason should look like after the playoffs are done.
“Having everybody on board, getting everybody together and having those meetings are very crucial to us because we build chemistry for the World Cup. We want to see who’s really 1,000 percent dedicated to everything we do.”
As to the strain on players involved in MLS playoffs, Klinsmann views it as a positive for what he’s trying to accomplish on the international level. “If you’re the [USMNT] coach, it’s where you want to see your national team players stepping it up,” the coach said. “You want them to put their stamp on the game. … This is big-time now.”