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State of the Squad: Position Battles Abound in Important Friendlies against Peru, Brazil

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.”

Q&A: Klinsmann, "Now the players 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.”

Klinsmann Calls 23 Players for CONCACAF Cup tune-ups against Peru and Brazil

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.

ROSTER NOTES

  • 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.

Q&A: Jurgen Klinsmann Breaks Down Thinking Behind Current MNT Squad

U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann sat down with ussoccer.com to discuss the planning, players and team goals surrounding the USA's upcoming European friendlies against Denmark and Switzerland.

ussoccer.com: You have the Gold Cup on the horizon, and also important competitions for the U-23’s with Olympic qualifying and the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup. What were the different factors you considered when putting this group together?

JK: “Well I think it’s really exciting now going into these two game because it’s not only our games with the senior National Team, it’s also the U-23s playing two friendlies, and the U-20s playing a friendly with England. From a senior team perspective, it’s exciting to put players in different areas and get a better picture of where they are right now.  As we juggle the rosters for the different groups, we maybe even have players go between teams at a certain point. Julian Green is a good example. He’s one of those players that can also play for the U-23s. He can play for the U-20s. It’s similar for other players like a John Brooks and a DeAndre Yedlin, Emerson Hyndman, and Rubio Rubin.  Those are all players that we consider for each of those teams, and we want to make the best decision over the next couple of months with these players in order to get the right results when it really matters in the upcoming tournaments. It’s exciting to see that we can bring younger players along and actually have the option to use them in one of those three teams during a very, very busy calendar over the next six months.

ussoccer.com:  In working with Andi Herzog and Tab Ramos, how did you go about balancing the rosters for the Senior Team, the U-23s and U-20s?

JK: “Developing this roster in particular with the fact that you have the U-23s playing two friendlies and you have the U-20s being in England in camp, we tried to consider several things.

"From a senior level, there are many different factors coming together schedule-wise with MLS just starting, and Europe and Mexico in full swing. We also wanted to see what specific players there are that were not connected yet with us. Ventura Alvarado from Club America is a case, and also William Yarbrough, the goalkeeper at Club León that we had a very close look at over the last several months. It’s exciting for us to bring them in. Rubio Rubin is back in our group. Obviously we want to see how we can help our younger players that struggle right now with Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin, who still has to break into the Tottenham lineup. I think it’s a very good group. It’s a very competitive group that we have together for those two friendlies against two very good opponents.

"When you talk about developing players, you always want to prioritize things. You say ‘okay, if this player goes with this team, what would he get out of it, and what could he gain?’ I think there are certain younger players that can gain the most right now if they’re with me. I’m talking about a Julian Green, a John Brooks, a Deandre Yedlin, a Rubio Rubin, but also knowing that if they’re not breaking in right away with me, here’s the next group where he could show what he has. Definitely the closer we get toward the individual competitions, meaning for Tab now the U-20 World Cup, his group will get now more prioritized because we want to have a really strong team going to New Zealand, and the same with the qualifiers for the U-23 team. We are still in the early process for the year, so early March games give us a little more air to say ‘I’ll bring some youngsters with me first, and then we move them on to the Olympic team and Tab’s U-20s’, but I think it’s important for our players to see that we have a plan for them, that we’re looking at their club situation and that we understand the up-and-downs and their struggles, and they know we are here to help them.

“For Julian, it’s important that he has reconnected with us. At the moment Julian struggles with Hamburg. It’s been a very, very difficult time since he came back after the World Cup, with injuries and not breaking in yet, so I decided to have a first look at him. We will have a serious talk and serious look at him and we want to understand exactly what happened in his club situation, but also he needs some support from the senior National Team group.

"At the end of the day, you’ve got to break through no matter what. Deandre Yedlin, you’ve got to kick somebody out of Tottenham to play there. Julian Green, you’ve got to kick somebody out in Hamburg to play there. So the message is the same to all of them. In that process it’s not only what happens on the field, it’s also what happens off the field.  You have young players getting in a different environment, struggling maybe with a new country with a new club environment, so we’re also there to help them develop. This will always be a big discussion point with Tab and with Andi Herzog when we talk about those players.”

ussoccer.com: This is the first FIFA fixture window in several months, so there is this opportunity to bring in a broader group of players. What will you be looking to accomplish in this camp?

JK: “We want to work on a couple of things with these two games with Denmark and a very strong Switzerland. We want to prove that we can really compete with these guys in their countries, in their homes and get results there. We want to see that the players give everything they have in terms of making their own cases for the Gold Cup, because the Gold Cup should obviously should take us to the Confederations Cup 2017 in Russia, so we need to be spot on. This is the way to showcase yourself in these two games. Show us in every training session what you have right now and prove that point in the games as well.  So we want to see a lot of energy, we want to see a lot of discipline, we want to see a lot of commitment.  And we obviously want to get some answers in certain positions where we still kind of juggle things around.”

ussoccer.com: There is certainly a crowd of players in the pool in defense. Where do you see the competition in those spots?

JK: “I think one of the most competitive areas is definitely the centerback situation in our group. We not only have exceptional centerbacks coming out of the World Cup with Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, now also through MLS with Steven Birnbaum and Matt Hedges, who are two more players that are really, really doing well. You have the players coming through the European system with John Brooks, with Tim Ream in England, and Jonathan Spector is back in the picture as well playing now consistently in the Championship. We have another talent we now introduce to the group with Ventura Alvarado, which is exciting for us. He broke into the Club America lineup months ago and plays consistently week in and week out and it’s very impressive to see him. We went down there to watch him, to connect with him, and saw several games with him and feel like this is a good time to give him the first introduction to the U.S. team. So obviously there’s a lot of competition.”

“Then you’ve got to look at it also calendar-wise. Mexican players right now are in a full run. European players are in a full run. MLS players step-by-step get into the season and now just have two games in their legs, so that all plays a role when you leave players out of the roster for a second and bring other ones in, but I think especially that centerback situation is a very exciting position that will become very competitive towards the Gold Cup.”

ussoccer.com: One of the defenders who would usually be in the mix is Geoff Cameron. Can you talk about the decision to bring in other guys ahead of him for this camp?

JK: “Similar to the situation with Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler coming out of MLS and not being on the roster for these two games is Geoff Cameron. Geoff is obviously in a good swing with Stoke City and the Premier League, but I had long conversations with him and explained that just now I would love see other players coming in and proving to us how good they are. So here and there, there are these 50-50 decisions where you have to leave a player out that is usually a regular on your team. Geoff is that one right now. We know he can play centerback, he can play right back, he can play defensive-mid. He’s so versatile he’s always of great help to the team, but I wanted to see other players now coming in and therefore he has to swallow that pill real quick of being left out in these two March games.”

ussoccer.com:  You also look at the wingbacks and see a lot of options in this group. Does that provide you with flexibility to try something different things?

JK: “I think that we are getting excited to have some options on the wings now as well. We can play DeAndre Yedlin as right back or we can play him as a right winger. Same with Fabian Johnson, who was one of the best right backs in the World Cup in Brazil and is now mostly used as a left winger for Borussia Mönchengladbach, so this kind of gives us some options to play with since the World Cup was done. We can play Gyasi Zardes now after that first introduction in January as a winger, but we can also play him as a forward up front there. We had Greg Garza breaking through from Tijuana as a left back that could shift over Timmy Chandler to the right back. There’s a lot of life happening. We have a lot of options now trying things out, but I think we just also need to grow as an overall group, building chemistry and building spirit towards the Gold Cup, because we’re going to get closer to the summer and we really need to zoom in and become a very united National Team that is very hungry to win the Gold Cup.”

ussoccer.com:  Club America defender Ventura Alvarado is on his way for the first time. How you have been scouting him, and what are his qualities?

JK: “I think Ventura Alvarado is a great example to show how fast it really can go if you break into your club. Obviously a club with the caliber of a Club America is huge. It’s very difficult to break through there, so we understand that. We went down there to watch him several times, been in touch with him for months to see his progress, and we’re excited. We had conversations with him, and he was clear that he would love to represent the United States, that he would love to play for us. So this is a good time. He’s coming full of confidence. Obviously he will be a little bit timid or quiet in the beginning as all players are when they come into a new environment, but for us it’s just great to see a kid that fought himself into the Mexican system in a very, very tough club and now has the capabilities to break into the National Team.”

ussoccer.com:  Danny Williams makes an appearance for the first time in more than a year. What have you seen in his performances that earned him a place back in the squad?

JK: “Obviously you have a big pool of players that you always look at and always follow them. Once we had to make the cut before the World Cup down to 23 players going to Brazil, that didn’t mean that we leave now all the other players that didn’t make it to Brazil out of our sight. We went back to the bigger picture after to World Cup to see how is everybody developing, how is everybody doing in their club systems. Danny Williams is a good example. He couldn’t make the World Cup roster because he was injured. He was even injured until after the World Cup going into the season, so he struggled and had a tough time, but then after a couple of months suddenly he was all injury-free and he picked up his rhythm and now he’s in an FA Cup Semifinal against Arsenal in Wembley in a couple weeks from now. He proved throughout the last 8-10 weeks that he’s in very good shape. He’s very aggressive and very determined and he wants to break back into our group.

"If you look at the development of an Alfredo Morales for example, he’s in the second division in Germany being in first place and guiding that team towards the first Bundesliga and getting very, very good remarks week-in and week-out from the media there. When I send our people over to watch his games, they can see he’s growing. He’s getting stronger every month and he has more confidence. We want to see that confidence also playing out for us. Everybody goes through different stages in his career and we follow all of them, and then obviously the tricky part for coaches is how you put the puzzle together that we will be very competitive and at the end of the day also successful.

"It’s exciting to see players that you maybe think a year ago were not really there, and now they’re there. Half a year ago some players had injury problems and now they’re back. Aron Johansson at AZ Alkmaar had a whole struggle for a couple of months but now he’s back. The moment he gets on the field he finds ways to score and that’s what a goal-scorer is all about. So getting him back into the group is exciting for us as well.

"I think this is a constant work in progress that we’re going through, which obviously gets then to a critical moment once you approach a bigger tournament and you have to make your cut and you have to say these 23 will play the Gold Cup, these are the guys that are going to go through in order to qualify for the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017.”

ussoccer.com: William Yarbrough is an interesting story in that he was born and raised in Mexico to two American parents, which is unusual for the Mexican-Americans who have been in our system. How did you discover him?

JK: “We have a network of people in Mexico, which was really established by Martin Vasquez when he was with me as my assistant. So we have very good contacts, I can always kind of call people. I can always ask questions about specific players coming through the Liga MX. So William is a great example of how this network works. They call you and they tell you that there’s kid that was born in Mexico to American parents, so he thinks both ways. So we had a close look at him. I had people go to his games. I called him myself and talked to him at length to see where his head is and he was thrilled. When you watch him closer as a specific kind of goalkeeper talent he’s very vocal. He’s very determined. He’s given the talent to lead. He’s a good communicator and just dedicated. You see it in his body language and the energy that he has, but also if he concedes a goal how he moves on. He gets the ball out of the net and says no big deal. He claps his teammate on the shoulder and says ‘let’s go we’ll fix it’. So he has a very positive nature and so it’s exciting for us to have William now within our group for these 10 days and get to know him better and work with him. At the end we’ll ask Chris Woods, our goalkeeper coach, a lot of questions about all of his specifics as a goalkeeper.”

ussoccer.com: He still has the opportunity to play for the United States or Mexico. How will you handle your discussions about his future?

JK: “With William you have another example of a dual-citizenship talent and player that can go either way. This is just part of our life, part of soccer all around the world. It’s just normal. I think at the end of the day, the player has to make the decision with his family. The player has to follow his heart. The player has to say, this is what I feel, because it’s a decision for life, it’s not only a decision for where are you going to play on the soccer field. It means a lot. So we never put the player under pressure. We never expect him to make quick decisions. He has to consult his family, his friends, whoever he wants to consult in that decision, but I think a lot of players realized over the last few years that the door to the U.S. National Team program is always open and that at the end of the day it’s their decision and we respect it either way.”

ussoccer.com: Denmark is at the top of their group ahead of Portugal in qualifying for the European Championship. What kind of game can we expect against Denmark?

JK: “Denmark is on the rise. They obviously didn’t qualify for the World Cup, and now they are leading their European qualifying group ahead of Portugal and I think that says it all. It’s a very, very good team. They are very good individual players who are in the Premier League, in the Bundesliga, in Serie A in Italy. You find their players all over the place, and therefore we have a lot of respect for them. I think they have respect for us too, because they watched the World Cup as well and they know that we’re not coming there to be just friendly. We’re coming there to give them a fight. It will give us a good benchmark. It will give us a very, very good game and a lot of answers to many things that we want to see.”

ussoccer.com: Switzerland is ranked No. 12 in the world and had 13 players in the Champions League this year. What kind of test will this be?

JK: “When you look at Switzerland, you first look at their individual players and where they play, and it’s Champions League for most of them. That tells you everything. They are in the top 15 in the world and they did well in the World Cup in Brazil, so for us it’s a great benchmark. It’s a great way to learn and to improve and to measure ourselves.”

U.S. MNT Falls 4-1 to Republic of Ireland to Close out 2014 Campaign

DUBLIN, Republic of Ireland (Nov. 18, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 4-1 to the Republic of Ireland in front of 33,332 spectators at Aviva Stadium to finish its 2014 campaign. Mix Diskerud’s fifth-career goal was the high point of the match for the USA, which conceded three unanswered goals in the second half. 

Anthony Pilkington opened the scoring for Ireland early in the first half before Robbie Brady scored two second-half goals, and James McClean capped the scoring with a second-half tally. 

The USA finishes the year with a 6-5-4 record, and Ireland continued its stronghold in Dublin with a 5-0-0 all-time record against the U.S. at its home site. 

The U.S. hit the woodwork twice, with Fabian Johnson’s 21st-minute attempt grazing the right post and Jozy Altidore’s 43rd-minute shot from the middle of the box ricocheting off of the crossbar. 

Goal Scoring Rundown:
IRL – Anthony Pilkington (David McGoldrick), 7th minute: After the USA lost the ball in the midfield, Ireland countered with McGoldrick playing a through ball toward Pilkington, in between the USA’s center back pairing of Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron. Pilkington had a couple steps on Besler on the right side, and Bill Hamid left his line to try to beat Pilkington to the ball. However, Pilkington won that battle and chipped over Hamid and into the right side of the frame for an early lead. USA 0, IRL 1 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Mix Diskerud (Chris Wondolowski), 39th minute: Ireland captain David Meyler coughed up the ball in the midfield, and Alfredo Morales started the attack for the USA. After trying to find Wondolowski initially in the box, Morales’ pass deflected toward the left side of the box to Jozy Altidore. Altidore crossed back in, connecting with Wondolowski who headed the ball to Diskerud. With the sole of his boot, Diskerud’s karate-like shot slotted into the right side of the frame. It was Diskerud’s third goal of the year and fifth of his career. USA 1, IRL 1 (SEE GOAL) 

IRL – Robbie Brady (David McGoldrick), 55th minute: The USA defense lost the ball near the corner flag and Ireland capitalized, crossing the ball in from the left side to McGoldrick at the top of the box. McGoldrick’s slick, back-heel pass opened the field for Brady on the left side of the six-yard box and he shot in between Bill Hamid’s legs to regain the lead. USA 1, IRL 2 (SEE GOAL) 

IRL – James McClean, 82nd minute: Ireland put the match out of reach with McClean’s long-distance, left-footed shot from about 25 yards out. His shot took a deflection off of U.S. defender Geoff Cameron. Bill Hamid was diving to his left and tried to react in time to make a save with his leg, but the ball found its way into the back of the net. USA 1, IRL 3 (SEE GOAL) 

IRL – Robbie Brady, 86th minute: Brady’s left-footed free kick from 25 yards out sailed over the USA’s five-man wall and was placed perfectly into the upper left corner, well out of reach for a diving Bill Hamid. USA 1, IRL 4 (SEE GOAL) (FINAL) 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
IRL – Alex Pearce, 20th minute: USA midfielder Alejandro Bedoya fought off Ireland’s defense to put in a cross from the right end line, eying Jozy Altidore at the far left post. Pearce intercepted with the header to surrender a U.S. corner kick.

USA – Bill Hamid, 27th minute: Ireland’s midfield lofted the ball toward the edge of the box, where the USA appeared to have control of the situation with numbers near the ball. However, the U.S. lost the ball to Ireland midfielder Daryl Murphy who shot from 10 yards out with a clear look at the goal. Hamid made himself big and stopped Murphy’s shot. 

IRL – Shay Given, 50th minute: Jozy Altidore had ample space when he shot from just outside 20 yards. Given anticipated the shot going the opposite direction, but he reacted in time to make the foot save and stave off the USA’s early attack in the second half. 

USA – Fabian Johnson, 78th minute: Ireland second-half sub Shane Long was all by himself to cross from the right side, but Johnson tracked back to clear the ball away from the far left side. The ball deflected off of USA defender Matt Besler for an Ireland corner kick. 

IRL – Shay Given, 81st minute: Forward Jordan Morris, making his U.S. MNT debut, had an immediate impact with a the dribble down the left side and cross to Greg Garza in the box. Garza shot from about nine yards out and Given kicked out a foot to make the save. It turned out to be an important moment for Ireland, which was hanging onto a one-goal lead and ended up scoring an insurance goal just one minute later. 

Additional Notes:

  • The U.S. is 2-5-2 all-time against the Republic of Ireland.
  • U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting lineup featured Bill Hamid in goal. Hamid earned his second cap and start. His only previous appearance was during the USA’s 1-0 victory against Venezuela on Jan. 21, 2012, when he became the last U.S. goalkeeper to post a shutout in his first appearance.
  • The starting back line featured Timmy Chandler on the left, Fabian Johnson on the right and Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron at center back. Johnson was a starting midfielder against Colombia and switched to right back to open the second half of that match.
  • The USA’s starting midfield in a 4-1-3-2 formation included Kyle Beckerman in a holding role, Alfredo Morales and Alejandro Bedoya on the outside and Mix Diskerud in the middle. Bedoya earned his team-leading 12rth cap of 2014, and Morales earned his first start in his fifth overall appearance.
  • The starting front line featured team captain Jozy Altidore and Chris Wondolowski.
  • The USA is now 2-1-0 when Altidore wears the captain’s armband.
  • Among the USA substitutions against Ireland, Bobby Wood replaced Wondolowski to open the second half.
  • Greg Garza entered for Morales in the 65th minute to earn his fifth cap.
  • In the 76th minute, former Seattle Sounders FC Academy Player of the Year Jordan Morris made his MNT debut, replacing Timmy Chandler. Morris became the 50th player to earn a cap for Klinsmann this year. In the 77th minute, Rubio Rubin played in his second consecutive match, replacing Diskerud.
  • In the 87th minute, Tim Ream replaced Beckerman. Ream was brought in to replace John Brooks, who was kept out for precautionary reasons with a minor ankle issue.
  • Following the Colombia match, DeAndre Yedlin, Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones and DaMarcus Beasley returned to their respective Major League Soccer teams. Yedlin and Seattle Sounders FC are preparing to face the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Championship on Nov. 23, while the New England Revolution’s Jones and Nguyen are set to face the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Championship earlier that day.
  • The U.S. is 33-15-11 all-time under Klinsmann.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Republic of Ireland
Date: Nov. 18, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Aviva Stadium; Dublin, Ireland
Kickoff: 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. local)
Attendance: 33,332
Weather: 48 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                         1 0 1
IRL                           1 3 4

IRL – Anthony Pilkington (David McGoldrick)  7th minute
USA – Mix Diskerud (Chris Wondolowski)        39
IRL – Robbie Brady (David McGoldrick)           55
IRL – James McClean                                          82
IRL – Robbie Brady                                             86

Lineups:
USA: 22-Bill Hamid; 23-Fabian Johnson, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler, 21-Timmy Chandler (24-Jordan Morris, 76); 15-Kyle Beckerman (2-Tim Ream, 87); 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 10-Mix Diskerud (9-Rubio Rubin, 77), 4-Alfredo Morales (3-Greg Garza, 65); 18-Chris Wondolowski (19-Bobby Wood, 46), 17-Jozy Altidore (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 1-Brad Guzan, 12-Nick Rimando, 14-Miguel Ibarra, 16-Julian Green, 25-Sean Johnson 
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

IRL: 23-Shay Given (22-Rob Elliot, 85); 6-Cyrus Christie, 20-Alex Pearce, 5-Ciaran Clark, 17-Robbie Brady; 13-Anthony Pilkington (11-James McClean, 64), 18-Stephen Quinn, 12-David Meyler (capt.); 14- Anthony Stokes (7-Aiden McGeady, 60); 21-David McGoldrick (9-Shane Long, 77), 10-Daryl Murphy (8-Jeff Hendrick, 77)
Subs Not Used: 2-Seamus Coleman, 4-John O’Shea, 15-Richard Keogh, 16-Darren Randolph, 19-Jon Walters
Head Coach: Martin O’Neill

Stats Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 13 / 10
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 11 / 6
Fouls: 15 / 11
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Kyle Beckerman (caution)  37th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution)       65
USA – Geoff Cameron (caution)    85
IRL – Aiden McGeady (caution)    90
USA – Fabian Johnson (caution)    90+2
IRL – David Meyler (caution)        90+4

Officials:
Referee: Pawel Raczkowski (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Pawel Sokolnicki (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Michal Obukowicz (POL)
Fourth Official: Paul Mclaughlin (IRL)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Kyle Beckerman

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Converted midfielder Geoff Cameron has flourished both professionally and internationally with his move to the defense, combining his ability to read the game, strong skills on the ball and physical attributes as an important anchor at center back. cameron had a breakout 2012 campaign for the U.S. Men's National Team and his success catapulted him to the Premier League with Stoke City.

  • Debuted for the USA in 2010 during the team's 2-1 win against El Salvador in Tampa, Fla.
  • Started nine games and played in 10, ranking third in minutes played (812) for the U.S. MNT
  • Was a finalist for 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year and 2009 Defender of the Year
2012: In his first significant year with the U.S. MNT, posted career highs in starts (9), games played (10) and minutes (812) ... Ranked third on the team in minutes behind only goalkeeper Tim Howard ad midfielder Jermaine Jones ... 2010: Made his debut for the U.S. MNT on Feb. 24, playing the final five minutes of a 2-1 win against El Salvador in Tampa, Fla. ... 2009: called into training camp in January - his first call-up at any level - but injured his hamestring on the second day of camp ... First Appearance: Feb, 24, 2010, vs. El Salvador ... First Goal: None
2012-13: Made his Premer league and Stoke City debut on Aug. 16, 2012, going the full 90 minutes as a central midfielder en route to a scoreless draw against Arsenal ... Became a regular presence on the Stoke City back line ... 2012: Had two assists and started in 15 games in his fifth season with the Houston Dynamo ... 2011: Was Houston's team leader with a career-high five goals anf five assists in 33 games and was an MLS All-Star ... In the postseason, played in every minute of al four playoff games as the Houston Dynamo advanced to the MLS Cup final ... 2010: Missed nearly four months becuse of a PCL tear in April but returned to post three goals over 15 starts and 16 games ... 2009: Moved into a starting center back role and was and MLS Defender of teh Year candidate, named to the MLS First XI and MLS All-Star First XI ... Started in 29 games, 22 on the defensive side, and had a career-high six assists ... 2008: Was a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year, posting a goal, two assists and eight starts in 23 games played ... Made his MLS debut during Houston's season opener at the New England Revolution on March 29, coming on as a sub in front of family and friends from nearby Attleboro, Mass.
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