The United States national teamers de-camped from sunny So-Cal late Sunday night, leaving for Brazil for a portion of the January camp that might be more important than it seems at first glance.
All 26 players were on the overnight plane bound for Sao Paulo – and that’s pretty important in itself.
Jurgen Klinsmann said he was quite happy with the level of preparation for all 26 players summoned into this camp. (Remember, this one mostly for Major League Soccer types, who are out of season; no reason to bring in the European brigade, most of whom remain in season or soon to return from winter break.)
Yes, there is still a chance for a young gun (We’re still looking at you, DeAndre Yedlin … but those crosses need to get sharper, man!) to make a move and insert himself more forcefully into the World Cup roster conversation. But that’s not the real importance to examine, not in the big, big picture.
Klinsmann has been quite clear that his team is into serious business time now when it comes to World Cup prep. That message was clearly heard by a bunch of men who are either A) trying to catch the coach’s eye and make a late run at the Brazilian roster, or; B) working hard to keep their positioning, already in good standing along the all-important depth chart.
In the larger framing, Klinsmann’s overarching message is apparently being heard, and that’s the larger significance here. Klinsmann’s message from Day 1 in charge has been about how the players must push themselves, must always find ways to find more game in their game. I always call in the “blessedness of discontent,” and that’s what Klinsmann always wanted to see.
More than wanted to inspire the players, he sought to motivate them to inspire themselves.
One “for instance:” he rather famously advised them to take less time off. Rather than lollygag for two months, he said “Take two weeks, recharge your batteries … and then get back after it!” That was the message … and it was apparently heard.
All the fitness tests last week at the national team’s StubHub Center training site, all the blood tests and the eyeball tests showed the boss that the message was being heard. Previous camps, Klinsmann had said with a bit of a frown, he could see players who quickly exposed themselves as not quite fit, and therefore lagging behind in the soccer at international level.
For the whole group, he reluctantly had to spend time in January camp getting the vacationing players back into shape rather than working to improve the tactical tenets and overall speed of thought, etc.
Now getting settled for their time in Brazil, they can work on the soccer side of things, on getting acquainted with the surroundings and making contacts that might help this summer.
Why is that important? More on that later at ProSoccerTalk …