USSoccer.com occasionally drops an interview with Jurgen Klinsmann on its shores, and the manager will wax poetic on any number of topics related to the development of soccer in America.
January’s version is an especially interesting talk with the oft-candid United States men’s national team coach, as Klinsmann talks Brek Shea to Orlando City, John Anthony Brooks’ progression at Hertha Berlin, the goals for the US Olympic team and the tough slate of friendlies he’s scheduled before the Gold Cup.
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With USMNT camp call-ups for January looming, Klinsmann says that at least 8-10 players on the camp roster will be prospects with a view toward qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The States fouled up big time in the last go-round, failing to make it to London, and Klinsmann obviously doesn’t want to repeat the qualifying errors made by Caleb Porter’s unit in 2011.
“The main task in 2015 for the Under-23 team is to keep identifying players, to get camps on the agenda, to get games on the agenda for that team and help to build already a core group for the qualifiers. We want to make sure what happened with London 2012 doesn’t happen again, so we put this on a higher priority level, which is exciting. We will have eight to 10 Olympic-age players in the January Camp to come with the senior group to just try to start building them already. Then we have to work out an agenda for them, a calendar that really gets them off to a good start.”
Whether these 8-10 will be presumed locks for the roster, like Utrecht’s Rubio Rubin and Fulham’s Emerson Hyndman, a group of long shots or a blend of the two remains to be seen.
Klinsmann also explained the logic behind his murderer’s row of friendly opponents leading up the Gold Cup, and why he doesn’t fear a poor run of results despite match-ups with Germany, the Netherlands and Chile amongst others.
“Concern about the results if you play the top teams in the world, yeah, you might risk here and there a result. Results obviously matter because wins give you confidence, especially going into the Gold Cup, you need to have confidence to be the No. 1 in CONCACAF and come out as the winner.
“I think it’s more important in the first part of 2015 that we continue to grow as a team and grow individually as players, so that they understand where the international benchmarks are, so they understand why there are not where other players who play for Chile or Switzerland or Denmark or Holland or Germany are and why those players are where they are – because they are consistent through 11 months a year. They know how to grind it out, they know how to be focused every four days; they play up to 50, 60, 70 games a year. So it’s important for our players to understand that it takes a lot more work to one day catch up with them and beat them. Results matter, but in this case, I’d rather have a negative result in a growing pattern.”
Say what you will about his on-field methods, as he certainly has his critics there, but Klinsmann usually comes off quite well when spouting his philosophy. There’s not much arguable in his answers and, though you’d expect that for a PR-savvy manager in an interview on the team’s web site, his philosophy tends to work out well “on paper”.