As the U.S. Men’s National Team convenes in Washington, D.C. on Sunday to prepare for their final friendlies before taking on Mexico in the October 10 Confederations Cup playoff, the message from head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is clear: “Prove a point that you want to be at The Rose Bowl.”
The two friendlies against Peru and Brazil have taken on a new meaning from the time when they were originally planned. Scheduled with an eye on preparation towards November’s World Cup qualifying matches and next year’s Copa America Centenario, the two games now serve as the ultimate proving ground for veteran and young players alike to make their case for the October playoff.
“This is now a huge opportunity for the players to show us that they deserve to go to the Mexico clash,” Klinsmann told ussoccer.com. “With these games, it is not the time to be patient. This is really now time for the guys to make a really strong impression that they understand the situation because of what happened in the Gold Cup. Experience or no experience, this is not about developing things. This is about proving a point.”
While 15 players return from July’s Gold Cup roster, Klinsmann’s eye towards more competition in the team has seen the return of four World Cup veterans in goalkeeper Tim Howard, midfielder Jermaine Jones and center backs Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron all returning after varying levels of absences over the last year.
Besler and Cameron rejoin a U.S. center back pool that also features Gold Cup starters Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks as well as Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orozco and Tim Ream.
MNT defender Tim Ream battles Panama's Adolfo Machado during the 2015 Gold Cup.
With seven options providing a good mix of youth and experience, Klinsmann made clear, “The heat is on in that position.”
“Some positions are definitely there to grab, but you've got to grab them with a lot of determination and a lot of ambition,” he added. “That's why bringing back Tim Howard now and Jermaine Jones and Geoff Cameron kind of signals the fight and the competition now happening between the older established ones and the new wave of players. This is what we want to see from Sunday on in training. We want to see competition, and then we're going to make some calls. Obviously the most crucial calls come for the roster that goes to the Rose Bowl.”
After taking the summer off following strong performances in the June friendly wins against The Netherlands and Germany, forward Bobby Wood and midfielder Danny Williams also returned to the fold, while the lone newcomer in camp is forward Andrew Wooten. The 25-year-old striker has been tracked by Klinsmann and his staff for two years and has started the 2.Bundesliga season off strong, scoring five goals in five matches for Sandhausen.
“We like how dynamic he is and we like his nose for goals. He has a very good instinct of where the ball will drop in the box and knows how to finish things off. We don’t look at him as a youngster coming in because he's 25 years old and in a certain way he's a late bloomer. For him it's important not to lose one second of time to impress his teammates and obviously the coaching staff. It's a chance that he has been waiting for for a long time, and because he’s on a good run right now he deserves that chance, but he needs to jump in the cold water right away and swim really fast.”
Wooten’s good form and entrance into the National Team picture has come at an opportune time for the striker as he comes into the fold with no clear cut pecking order after Clint Dempsey. Though the U.S. veteran won the Golden Boot with six goals at the Gold Cup, injury issues will force him out for at least the Peru match, leaving Wooten, Wood, Aron Johannsson, and Jozy Altidore a chance to prove they belong in the squad come October.
“I think the situation with our forwards is wide open,” Klinsmann said. “Obviously the most consistent player over the last years with us has always been Clint Dempsey, but Clint right now also has some injury issues and is obviously not the youngest anymore, so we constantly try to develop the next wave of forwards and so far nobody has a real big advantage over another guy. This is really crucial for them to understand. There's a time period to break in and make yourself comfortable and be a part of a group, but there's also a time to understand the moment to step up and build your future in the team.
“Now after a year that we called a transition year where we developed young forwards like an Aron Johannsson and a Bobby Wood and obviously some others, we are eager to see the next generation of forwards becoming consistent. By that I mean first of all scoring goals.”
MNT forward Aron Johannsson controls the ball in the USA's match against Jamaica during the 2015 Gold Cup.
While Dempsey and captain Michael Bradley will miss out on the Peru match, other regulars that would have otherwise been part of the camp were ruled out due to injury.
“Of course this is normal whenever we have international games,” Klinsmann said. “Unfortunately for Fabian Johnson he got injured a couple weeks after a very good start to the season with Monchengladbach. We have some cases where guys are nursing some injuries, like Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman in Salt Lake.”
Originally slated to continue with the National Team after coming out of international retirement last month, veteran DaMarcus Beasley was also forced to pull out of the squad after suffering an injury over the weekend with the Houston Dynamo.
With the experimental period following the World Cup now coming to an end, Klinsmann put an impetus on the younger players that have received opportunities over the last year to sink or swim with established veterans back involved with the team.
“We gave the younger generation a lot of confidence and a lot of support and a lot of help, which is our job from a coaching standpoint,” he said. “Now the moment comes and they have to prove it. They have to go face-to-face with the established guys and try to steal their spot. This is what it’s about now. We will find out if they are ready for it. We have the playoff game for one, and then we have World Cup qualifying which is not experimenting any more. In a certain way you can tell that the transition phase comes to an end and now they need to prove if they are still in the top spot or not.”
ussoccer.com: What was the approach to putting this roster together?
Jurgen Klinsmann: “The bigger picture is to get some answers for how we put things together for Mexico game a month from now. Obviously we want to continue to have a good flow of guys from the Gold Cup, but also to bring back guys who are in position to compete for a spot on the roster for Oct. 10. Our message to these guys is simple: prove a point that you want to be at the Rose Bowl.”
“With these games, it is not the time to be patient. This is really now time for the guys to make a really strong impression that they understand the situation we’re in because of what happened in the Gold Cup. These games are not about developing things for the future. This is about proving a point towards the Mexico game.”
ussoccer.com: What is the objective for these matches?
JK: “Coming into two games like this against Brazil, whose accomplishments speak for themselves, and Peru coming off a third place finish in Copa America, this is now a huge opportunity for the players to show us that they deserve to go to the Mexico clash. Initially with the games – and also going back to the games against Holland and Germany – our goal was to get these experiences for World Cup qualifying and Copa America next summer. Now obviously the focus has shifted and we are zoomed in on the CONCACAF Cup and qualifying for the Confederations Cup 2017 in Russia.”
ussoccer.com: How will having some of the veterans back help this team in camp?
JK: “We will just want to make it very, very intense and competitive from the first day on in training, so the veterans need to set the tone and they need to understand that there's a high energy there. The ones that were not a part of the Gold Cup, and the other ones that were with us before like a Danny Williams or a Bobby Wood, they need to prove a point now. This is really now about truly competing. It’s about competing for spots, competing for the Rose Bowl and obviously also towards the World Cup qualifiers.”
ussoccer.com: You said that you have been tracking Andrew Wooten for a while. What do you like about him and what kind of opportunity does he have with this camp?
JK: “We've been watching him for more than two years now and we like how dynamic he is and we like his nose for goals. He has a very good instinct of where the ball will drop in the box and knows how to finish things off. We don’t look at him as a youngster coming in because he's 25 years old and in a certain way he's a late bloomer. For him it's important not to lose one second of time to impress his teammates and obviously the coaching staff. It's a chance that he has been waiting for for a long time, and because he’s on a good run right now he deserves that chance, but he needs to jump in the cold water and right away swim really fast.”
ussoccer.com: Is there an opportunity for a player to step up in the striker position?
JK: “I think the situation with our forwards is wide open. Obviously the most consistent player over the last years with us has always been Clint Dempsey, but Clint right now also has some injury issues and is obviously not the youngest anymore, so we constantly try to develop the next wave of forwards and so far nobody has a real big advantage over another guy. This is really crucial for them to understand. There's a time period to break in and make yourself comfortable and be a part of a group, but there's also a time to understand the moment to step up and build your future in the team. Now after a year that we called a transition year where we developed young forwards like an Aron Johannsson and a Bobby Wood and obviously some others, we are eager to see the next generation of forwards becoming consistent. By that I mean first of all scoring goals.”
CHICAGO (Aug. 30, 2015) – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named the initial 23-player roster that will gather for friendlies against Peru and Brazil in the final preparation games before the decisive Oct. 10 playoff against Mexico at the Rose Bowl for a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
The U.S. faces Peru, which finished third in Copa America this summer, on Sept. 4 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. (7 p.m. ET; FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports Go, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network) and four days later meets five-time World Cup champion Brazil at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts (8 p.m. ET; ESPN Networks, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network).
“The bigger picture is to get some answers for how we put things together for the Mexico game a month from now,” said Klinsmann. “Obviously we want to continue to have a good flow of guys from the Gold Cup, but also to bring back guys who are in position to compete for a spot on the roster for Oct. 10. Our message to these guys is simple: prove a point that you want to be at the Rose Bowl.”
A total of 15 players from the group were a part of the team that represented the United States this summer at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and 12 join from the 2014 FIFA World Cup squad. The roster is loaded with experience, boasting an average of nearly 27 caps. Three players have 50 or more appearances, while only five have 10 caps or less.
Matt Besler and Jermaine Jones could see action for the first time since February and fellow 2014 World Cup teammates Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard are back in the mix for the first time in 2015. Meantime, SV Sandhausen forward Andrew Wooten will make his first appearance in an MNT camp, the 25-year-old having scored five goals in the first five games this season.
Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley and Seattle Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey will be added to the U.S. roster for the match against Brazil, and goalkeeper William Yarbrough will return to his club and be replaced by Chicago Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson. Any additional changes will be determined following the game against Peru.
U.S. Roster by Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Greg Garza (Atlas), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Joe Corona (Veracruz), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Andrew Wooten (SV Sandhausen), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
While the MNT works on the east coast, the U-23 Men’s National Team will hold a camp of its own in England, where it will play both England and Qatar in its final preparation before it competes for a spot in the 2015 Olympic Games in Rio at the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, which runs from Oct. 1-13 in the United States.
- Six different players from this roster have scored for the USA in 2015: Jozy Altidore, John Brooks, Mix Diskerud, Aron Johannsson, Danny Williams and Gyasi Zardes
- Brad Guzan earned Golden Glove honors as the top goalkeeper at this summer’s Gold Cup. He has posted a 7-2-3 record since September of last year.
- DaMarcus Beasley aggravated a right calf injury on Aug. 29 in a 2-0 win for Houston Dynamo and is not available for selection.
- Gyasi Zardes was called in for his first MNT camp in January and has appeared in 13 games in 2015, starting in 10. The LA Galaxy forward has scored twice and assisted on three goals for the United States
- Bobby Wood was given the summer off to settle in with his new German club, Union Berlin. Wood has started all three of the team’s 2 Bundesliga games and scored his first goal on Aug. 16. The Hawaii-native scored late game-winners in back-to-back appearances in June, burying a goal in the 90th minute against Netherlands and following up with another against Germany five days later.
- The last time Tim Howard was on the field for the USA, he made 15 saves in the MNT’s Round of 16 matchup with Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.
- Matt Besler is back in the mix for the first time since the Feb. 8 win against Panama. Besler is the captain of MLS club Sporting KC and is one of three MNT players on this roster – along with Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones - to have appeared in all four matches in the 2014 World Cup.
- John Brooks has a pair of clutch international goals to his name. He headed in the game-winner against Ghana in the USA’s 2014 World Cup opener and scored the first of the MNT’s three second-half goals in the 4-3, comeback win against sixth-ranked Netherlands in June.
- Ventura Alvarado has appeared in seven of the last eight MNT matches since making his debut in a U.S. uniform on March 25 against Denmark. He became cap-tied to the U.S. after starting in the first match of the Gold Cup against Honduras on July 7. Alvarado is a regular starter for the Club America team that captured the CONCACAF Champions League title and earned a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup.
- Geoff Cameron has started and played 90 minutes in all of Stoke City’s 2015 Premier League matches. He last appeared for the MNT on Nov. 18, 2014, against Ireland. The game against Brazil will be a homecoming of sorts for the center back, who was born and raised in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
- Michael Orozco returns to the MNT for the first time since June. Orozco – who moved to Club Tijuana this summer - came on in the second half of the game against Netherlands, where he played a part in the MNT’s comeback win.
- Tim Ream, who recently completed a transfer to Fulham, earned honors as the Player of the Year for his former club Bolton in each of the last two seasons.
- Jermaine Jones has recovered from the injury that kept him out of this summer’s Gold Cup and is back with the MNT for the first time since February.
- Alfredo Morales played a key role in FC Ingolstadt securing first place in the second division in Germany last year and its subsequent promotion to the Bundesliga. Morales, who holds Peruvian citizenship through his father, has started in each of the team’s first three matches.
- Yedlin has appeared in 13 of the 14 MNT matches in 2015 and has tallied three assists, which ties for second on the team with Gyasi Zardes, behind Michael Bradley’s five.
- Jozy Altidore has two goals and an assist this year with the MNT. The Toronto FC forward was with the U.S. for the group stage of the Gold Cup. In six appearances with Toronto since the summer tournament he has scored three goals.
- Aron Johannsson recently completed a transfer from Dutch club AZ Alkmaar to Bundesliga team Werder Bremen. In his final season with AZ, he recorded four goals in the team’s last three matches to help the team snatch the third spot in the Dutch Eredivisie and a place in the 2016 UEFA Europa League. Johansson made his Bundesliga debut in the opening game of the season against Schalke and followed up with his first start a week later in Werder’s match against Hertha BSC.
- This will be the first camp with the senior MNT for Andrew Wooten. The German-American is off to a hot start in 2 Bundesliga at SV Sandhausen, having scored five goals in five games.