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

4 Comments

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.”

source:
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 ]

source:
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.

Transfer rumor roundup: Mari to Arsenal; Defoe makes permanent Rangers move

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s biggest transfer rumors, including those involving Premier League outfits.

[ MORE: Premier League January transfer needs ]

Arsenal are reportedly hours from adding a defender to Mikel Arteta‘s squad.

Flamengo’s Pablo Mari has reportedly arrived in London and set for a medical at Arsenal, Sky Sports reports. The 26-year-old Spaniard will join the North London side for the remainder of the season with an option to buy.

It won’t be Mari’s first time signing for a Premier League side, however.

In 2016, the center-back signed with Manchester City, but never featured for the defending champions, instead making appearances for Girona, NAC and Deportivo La Coruna on loan.


Jermaine Defoe is not returning to Bournemouth.

On Saturday, Rangers announced that Defoe signed a pre-contract to join Rangers on permanent basis in the summer.

The storied 37-year-old English striker has 20 goals in 57 appearances since joining the Scottish giants last January on a 18-month loan. Defoe’s new contract runs through the 2020-21 season, a one-year deal.

“It’s fantastic news,” Rangers manager Steven Gerrard told the club’s website. “It’s something we have been working on over the weeks and it is great to finally get that done and dusted.”

“He is an incredible professional with the way he goes about his work on and off the pitch – he is a credit to himself and his family. And also on the pitch, which is the main thing. He is still contributing heavily – he is a major part of this group, this team and this squad and hopefully together we can go and share some success as I think he deserves that.”

This season, Defoe has scored 16 goals in 28 games.


Crystal Palace are in talks to sign Belgium international Yannick Carrasco, according to Sky Sports.

Carrasco, 26, wants to leave Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang and is currently training in Belgium, ahead of a return to European play.

Carrasco has scored 24 goals in 52 appearances since making a move to China from Atletico Madrid in February 2018.


Norwich City are actively pursuing Danel Sinani, according to the Daily Mail.

The 22-year-old Luxembourg winger is out of contract with Luxembourg side FC Dudelange this summer. If the parties involved can’t reach a deal this week,  the Canaries are reportedly ready to propose a pre-contract agreement.

Mourinho hints Spurs to sign Lo Celso permanently: ‘I think the boy is earning the decision’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur loanee Giovani Lo Celso is closer to permanently stay in North London than he is to return back to Sevilla.

[ MORE: Spurs, Saints draw and force 4-th round FA Cup replay ]

The 23-year-old Argentine, who arrived at Spurs from Real Betis last summer on a season-long loan, experienced a rocky start in the Premier League. Lo Celso – with only 44 minutes of English top-flight playing time under his belt – suffered a hip injury with Argentina, ruling him out two months in the fall.

Since, the attacking midfielder has worked his way up Jose Mourinho’s pecking order, featuring heavily in the Portuguese’s scheme over the past few months. Most recently, on Saturday, Lo Celso displayed his well-balanced virtues in Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Southampton in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Following the match, Mourinho addressed questions on whether or not his club is going to sign the midfielder on a permanent contract. Praiseworthy of Lo Celso’s learning abilities, Mourinho hopes the midfielder will be a part of the club’s long-term plans.

“It’s not an obligation, it’s an option,” Mourinho said of Lo Celso, who is reportedly available at reduced price of $35 million. “I think the boy is earning the decision. He’s making an easy decision for the club to execute the option.”

“Incredible evolution since I arrived,” he added. “Barely played a game, I think he played against Red Star Belgrade, with me a little bit difficult to come in the first few weeks. But he understood what we wanted. Good learner, good kid and I think by himself he made the decision that the club is going to execute the option. That’s normal, he earned it.”

With Christian Eriksen on the verge of departing the London side, Mourinho and company will have additional funds to land Lo Celso this winter before his price spikes in the summer.

Everything points to the creative midfielder having a future in London, but will Spurs brass follow suit and make it official soon?

Netherlands forward Rob Rensenbrink dies at age 72

Getty Images
Leave a comment

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Rob Rensenbrink, the forward who was centimeters away from delivering the Netherlands a World Cup title in 1978, has died at age 72, the Dutch football association said Saturday.

“We have heard with sadness of the death of football legend Rob Rensenbrink,” the association said in a tweet.

Rensenbrink played most of his club football in Belgium with Club Brugge and Anderlecht, where his weaving runs earned him the nickname “Snake Man.” He also played briefly for the Portland Timbers in the United States in 1980.

He was a regular for the Netherlands national team in its period of dominance in the 1970s.

He played 46 times and scored 14 goals for the Dutch team known for its slick, position-swapping “total football.”

But he will always be best remembered for the goal he didn’t quite score in the 1978 World Cup final.

With the scores tied at 1-1 between the Netherlands and host Argentina and the seconds ticking away in injury time of the final in Buenos Aires, Rensenbrink’s shot hit the post. The match went to extra time and Argentina scored twice to win 3-1.

It was the second straight World Cup final defeat for the Netherlands, which has appeared in three finals and lost them all.

Rensenbrink was diagnosed with a muscle disease in 2012 and died as a result of the illness, according to Dutch national broadcaster NOS.

Anderlecht said he died Friday night.

“Thanks for everything Robbie!” the Belgian club wrote on its website. “We will never forget you.”

Serie A roundup: Ilicic powers Atalanta in historic win over Torino (video)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Atalanta’s historic and overpowering win over Torino highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Torino 0-7 Atalanta

Josip Ilicic scored a hat-trick, including a center-line strike, as Atalanta humiliated Torino 7-0 on Saturday, handing the hosts their worst home loss ever in Serie A play.

With only nine men on the field towards the end of the match for Turin-based side, Atalanta were able to capitalize, elevating their goal count to 57 goals in 21 games this season. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men, who are back in Champions League contention, lead the league in goals.

Robin Gosens and Duvan Zapata, who scored a minute before the break, added to Ilicic’s first of three. A three-goal advantage after the first 45 minutes foreshadowed what Torino was going to encounter in the second half: more goals.

Eight minutes into the final 45 minutes of Saturday’s bout at the Olimpico di Torino, Ilicic quick-fired two more past an exposed Salvatore Sirigu.

With less than 10 minutes to go, Luis Muriel took the field for the visitors. And just six minutes after his first foot on the natural surface, the Colombian striker had a brace to his name.

“All we can do is apologize,” Torino coach Walter Mazzarri said. “In so many years of my career I had never had such a game.”

In fourth place with 38 points, Atalanta look to increase their seven-goal performances this season to three as they host struggling Genoa in a weeks time. Torino, on the other hand, meet AC Milan on Tuesday in the quarterfinal’s of the Coppa Italia.

Elsewhere

SPAL 1-3 Bologna

Fiorentina 0-0 Genoa