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JK Q&A: Klinsmann Closes the Book on 2014 and Previews 2015

After finishing off the 2014 slate with a pair of friendlies against Colombia and Ireland in the United Kingdom, U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann sat down with ussoccer.com to discuss the state of the team as it sets sail on the new 2018 World Cup cycle.

ussoccer.com: Having thoroughly reviewed both games, what are the key points you take away? To what extent are the results important? 

Jurgen Klinsmann: “Results are always important because results over time bring you confidence and give you more respect towards opponents and other countries watching you. But, on the other hand, playing these games in another environment, especially far away from the United States is always a learning curve. It's an experiment where you can bring in players who never really experienced this type of atmosphere or circumstances. Therefore it was two very important games where I hope the players took a lot with them at the end of the day.” 

“Obviously for us coaches we saw a lot of things we want to see and also a lot of things we don’t want to see, especially in the 4-1 loss to Ireland. There were too many individual mistakes, especially on the second and third goal, that you can’t afford on the international level.”

“I still think it was definitely worth it. We were excited about a couple of players coming in being fresh. Bill Hamid made his start there against Ireland and experienced really the international level. Jordan Morris played his first cap, Rubio Rubin came in and we see some talent coming through. Will it take time for them? Absolutely, but you got to start that process and it’s better earlier than too late. So we start the process already and we're excited for them.”

ussoccer.com: One of the key goals of this last camp was establish a mentoring environment between the veterans and the youngsters. Were you pleased with how that went, and what are the next steps there?

JK: “It was the overall theme that we wanted to use the last couple of games: to build relationships between the older players and some of the younger players to be their mentors, to be their guides in a certain way, to help from their experience. We wanted guys like Brad Guzan, Kyle Beckerman, DaMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Jones and others to make the younger players understand what it takes to drive towards hopefully one day a World Cup because they already have a couple World Cups under their belts. This mentorship that we've started now will continue in the future because we want the younger players to grow and we want them to very fast understand that it takes a lot of inner drive and self-motivation and professionalism to get to that level where the established older guys have played already. So this theme will go with us into the future and it will be interesting to see how it develops.”

ussoccer.com: You said the goalkeeper position is an open competition. You've had a variety of them in camp and were able to spread around minutes. How would you assess that situation?

JK: “I think the goalkeeper situation is going well. Obviously Tim Howard is taking a year off, so Brad Guzan jumps in as the natural fit right away. He proves that he is ready to be the No. 1. Nick Rimando is knocking at the door and he would like to have that spot too. For us it's also important that we bring along Billy Hamid and Sean Johnson who were our Olympic team goalkeepers of the last cycle. So we have to bring them into those environments, train them on the highest level, but also here and there give them a game. That's why Bill Hamid started that game against Ireland and did well; I had no issues at all [with his performance]. Right now, it's not about defining No. 1, 2, and 3 and setting it in stone because we're in a transition year going into next summer's Gold Cup. Prior to the Gold Cup we will make it clear, so this year gives us the opportunity to have a closer look at all of them.”

ussoccer.com: Part of the goal of these friendlies is to get players experience. In what ways does making extensive substitutions impact a match?

JK: “Playing friendly games and having the substitution rule where you can bring in six players obviously changes the dynamic of games, especially towards the end of games. When you bring in subs in order to give them a chance, in order to give them experience, you sort of risk the result. Either way - it could go the good way or it could go the bad way. When you come in as a sub and you're down a goal, it's far more difficult to give an impact than if you're up a goal when everything is positive and you might hit another goal from your end. So it's not always easy for the subs to make an impression, but if we don't do it, we miss out on too big an opportunity for these players to gain experience. So, we compromised the substitutions in a friendly game for some results. Do we want the results at the same time? Absolutely, but here and there you’ve got do it for the big picture.”

ussoccer.com: Two of the surprise call-ups during the post-World Cup friendlies were Miguel Ibarra and Jordan Morris. How did they fare, and are you open to bringing in other players in similar circumstances as them?

JK:We believe Miguel Ibarra coming from the NASL and Jordan Morris coming from college that there are players in those areas that have tremendous talent. So we are looking at their talent and where it could be in two to four years from now if you give them time to grow and nurture them. Basically it's gone extremely well so far, so we are looking for players all over the place - if they come through the European channels, maybe through the youth system there, through Mexico or the NASL or the college route or the MLS ranks.

“The players themselves need to prove that they have this inner drive and they have an understanding of what it takes to grow into an established player on the international level. Our job is to identify their talent and then build it. Hopefully they make the right choices then down the road in terms of their own career and their own club environment, but it’s encouraging to see these two young players leading the way for hopefully many other players in the future to break through.”

ussoccer.com: Morris made his debut when he came on against Ireland. How did you rate his performance?

JK: “For us coaches it’s really important for us to see the talent growing one step at a time. With Jordan Morris you have a player that comes from the college system; he comes from Stanford. He has a specific rhythm there in the college environment, so we kind of had a closer look at him with the Olympic team first, then I brought him to the Czech Republic. We saw him grow now over the last half year to a year and he did better and better because he gets more and more confident and believes in himself. So when the moment came actually to add him in to the Ireland game, it was a tricky moment because we were down. But he settled in and he had good moments. He was good in one-on-one situations. If he's a bit lucky he gives an assist to Greg Garza to score a goal. So we were very happy and we continue to build him and bring him in like with the other younger players.”

ussoccer.com: How would you assess the Jermaine Jones transition to centerback? Is something you plan on continuing?

JK: “Jermaine Jones growing into this role as a right center back is encouraging for us to see that we have another option, another card if we need him to play. Is he more of a midfielder? Yes, that's where he played his whole life. Does he see himself as a midfielder? Probably, but we see that at his age he has tremendous experience and leadership to guide a back line, especially with young players coming through like John Anthony Brooks. They are the ones who need that leadership from him on the back line. It's good to have this drive from Jermaine. Going forward this will be important for us. It could be that he has to settle with this role; we'll see. We'll see with the development of all the other players in that role as well, but we're looking good in terms of center backs.”

ussoccer.com: Tim Howard was voted the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year. What can you say about his performance in 2014?

JK:When you talk about Timmy, you talk about the Belgium game where I don’t know how many shots he saved, but he really was our backbone to stay in the game and to go all the way into extra time and almost actually beat Belgium. That was a remarkable performance from him that I think everybody would talk about right away. He's a tremendous personality, a very calm, quiet leader. Obviously he has all the experience that you need in his position but also in his career. He's played pretty much his entire career in Europe on a very high level, so he's a role model for many, many young players coming through the ranks and not only goal keepers, also field players. It's just great to have him.” 

ussoccer.com: You will be attending the Nike Friendlies and the Development Academy Showcase at the end of the month. What is on the agenda there? 

JK: “For us coaches it's important to see what the talent is doing on a younger level so going to the Nike Friendlies, seeing our U-17s competing with teams like Brazil, Australia and England is quite exciting. I was there last year and it was neat to see. It's also important for us to connect with the Academy program, with the coaches from the Academy clubs, with a lot of people who are down there and seeing things first hand. That's why I called in my coaching staff, assistant coaches and other people to have a closer look at the young players. It's important to always be up to speed with the development on the youth side.”

ussoccer.com: Many of the players are now heading into their offseason. What will your message be to them on how to bridge the gap between now and the start of their next season? 

JK: “For us it's a tricky situation. MLS players are pretty much done, NASL players are done, the college season gets to an end, Mexico plays its own agenda and the Europeans now are going full steam basically until the end of May. We're monitoring all of them, their club teams, we're keeping in touch with their coaches and with themselves as well. It's a lot of scouting. It's a lot of communication, a lot of tracking down the right people to get the right information. What we hope from them is absolutely to establish their starter position stronger and stronger. This is the biggest challenge for them. This is what quite a lot of them lost after the World Cup. For us this is a bad situation to develop a National Team program with players not starting in their club situations. Hopefully they get that done over the next couple weeks and we can look at it a little bit calmer.”  

ussoccer.com: You have considered different approaches to the January camp, including not having one at all. Why is this camp important and what will be the focus in terms of roster and schedule? 

JK: “With the tricky situation that we have in the United States that now we have the season for the MLS players going towards the end and a lot of them having a break of almost two or three months, we are forced to hold a January camp to try and get the players in early in order to build their foundation for the season. It probably will go with the theme we had the last couple of months, bringing experienced players, bringing a lot of younger players in and kind of meld them together and have that mentorship for the developmental aspect of it.

“We want to explain a lot more what it takes to get to the international level - that you have to be on top of your game on the field, but you also have to be on top of your life off the field. With that schedule that we carry in the United States that we only get a nine, nine-and-a-half month season, we can't compete with the nations that go 11 months through. We're missing two months basically, so we try to bridge that with camps. We keep working, we keep explaining, we keep educating, which is very important on the field and off the field. It's going to be an exciting January camp like all the other ones in the past.” 

ussoccer.com: Next year has been described as one of the most challenging schedules the National Team has ever put together in terms of the opponents as well as the competitions which would suggest a significant growth opportunity. How important is it to have the full team available?

JK: “Looking forward to 2015, obviously there's an exciting Gold Cup on the agenda in July, which we want to badly win because it takes us to the Confederations Cup 2017 in Russia. Certainly there are challenges with the FIFA fixture dates. The calendar is not in sync with MLS, so hopefully we're getting closer with MLS to solve that situation so that we can always call the strongest team possible for senior National Team games, which is very important to us because we want to do well and we want to get the results. We can't always compromise our players on this side or the other side, so having that calendar together would help us tremendously.

“2015 will be a year of developing talent on and off the field. The theme will be education. Education wherever we can. We want to educate more on the coaching side, we want to educate on the players side, we want to educate on the parents side about what it really takes to become a professional. What's exciting for us is we're building our own counseling office with Nelson Rodriguez leading it. This is a huge step. It's something we copied a bit from the universities where we try to establish contact with the players and their parents early in order to help them understand what you need to know to become a pro. So there will be a lot of educational topics out there. We want to improve coaching education wherever we can because it's crucial, and we want to challenge our players and not let them settle, not even for a second, for whatever they have achieved up to that point. We want to grow our program and one day compete with the best in the world, so it means a lot of hard work in 2015.”

Photo Gallery: MNT Training & Travel to Dublin

Photos from the U.S. MNT's final training session in London before departing for Dublin to face Ireland on Nov. 18.

Photo Gallery: MNT in London

Photos from the U.S. MNT's visit to the London Eye and final training session ahead of its big showdown against Colombia at Craven Cottage on Nov. 14, 2014. 

Klinsmann Names 25-Player Roster for Final Matches of 2014

CHICAGO (Nov. 10, 2014) – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called 25 players into camp for the final matches of the 2014 campaign. The U.S. will first meet No. 3-ranked Colombia on Friday, Nov. 14, in London. More than 20,000 tickets have been sold for the USA’s first match at Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham FC (TICKETS). Kickoff is set for 2:45 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN and UniMas.

Four days later, the United States will play on the Republic of Ireland’s soil for the first time since 2002 when it faces the home side at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. ESPN2 and Univision begin coverage at 2:45 p.m. ET. Fans can follow both matches on Twitter @ussoccer.

U.S. MNT ROSTER BY POSITION - DETAILED ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

“We want to finish 2014 on a high note and continue to try to meet the top teams eye to eye,” said Klinsmann. “In these last two games we want our veterans to really become mentors both on and off the field, and we want to see our youngsters take advantage of the opportunity to make their case and grow from the experience. These performances will set the tone for 2015.”

Klinsmann has once again chosen to blend youth and experience. A total of 16 players were part the squad that reached the Round of 16 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, led by four-time tournament veteran DaMarcus Beasley. At the other end of the spectrum, there are 12 players with 10 caps or less and an equal number that is 24 years old or younger.

U.S. MNT ROSTER NOTES

  • DaMarcus Beasley is the leading capwinner on the roster with 120 appearances. Jozy Altidore is second with 74 caps.
  • Altidore has worn the captain’s armband twice in the past three matches, beginning with the 1-0 win on Sept. 3 against the Czech Republic.
  • Colombian-American midfielder Alejandro Bedoya has played in 10 of 13 matches for the MNT in 2014 and is on pace to tie a career best for most in a single year (12). Both his father and grandfather played professionally in Colombia.
  • World Cup goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando are headed to London, each sporting impressive records in a National Team uniform. Guzan has recorded nine shutouts in 19 career starts, with six of those clean sheets earned in World Cup qualifiers. Rimando has never lost a game for the National Team, posting a near-perfect 10-0-2 record.
  • Jermaine Jones, who scored a mesmerizing goal against Portugal in the World Cup in June, is again listed as a defender after having made a debut appearance at center back for the MNT in the 1-1 draw on Oct. 14 against Honduras.
  • Ingolstadt midfielder Alfredo Morales has helped his side to the top of the 2. Bundesliga table, appearing in all 13 matches and scoring the opening goal of the campaign. Born in Germany to Peruvian parents, Morales has been deployed as a holding midfielder and also in defense by his club.
  • Greg Garza earned his first start against Ecuador in his third consecutive appearance for the MNT, having made his debut in the 1-0 win against Czech Republic. The Club Tijuana left back has now competed for the United States at every age level, beginning with the U.S. Under-14 Boys’ National Team.
  • Mix Diskerud has reached double-digit starts for the National Team. After scoring his fourth-career goal against Ecuador, the U.S. team holds a remarkable 17-1-5 record when Diskerud steps on the field.
  • A total of eight players join from MLS squads: Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Matt Besler, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Jones, Lee Nguyen, Rimando, Chris Wondolowski and DeAndre Yedlin. New England Revolution teammates Jones and Nguyen advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time since 2007, and Yedlin’s Seattle Sounders FC faces FC Dallas in the second leg of its series Monday night with the hope of advancing to the Western Conference Championship.
  • Nguyen can earn his first cap for the U.S. MNT since 2007, when he made three international appearances. After entering as a substitute for Beasley in the 80th minute of the 4-1 win against China PR on June 2 in San Jose, he played two matches at Copa America in Venezuela. Nguyen (pronounced WIN) has 18 goals and five assists this season, making him a contender for the 2014 MLS MVP award.
  • Yedlin signed a contract to join north-London club Tottenham Hotspur, and could join the club as early as January.
  • Wondolowski spent the past week training at Fulham in advance of this camp.
  • Johnson earned both the MVP award and the Defender of the Year award for the Chicago Fire this season. He is coming off a training spell at Hull City.
  • Hamid backstopped D.C. United to a historic turnaround as the club was the first in the Eastern Conference to clinch an MLS playoff berth this season. A year ago, United finished the campaign with the worst record in MLS.
  • Minnesota United FC forward Miguel Ibarra and Stanford University striker Jordan Morris both return to the fold after debut appearances on an MNT roster this year. Ibarra became the first player from the modern NASL to be called into the National Team. The 24-year-old NASL Player of the Month for September got his first cap when entered as a 90th-minute sub in the 1-1 draw against Honduras.
  • Morris, who scored the game-winner for the U.S. U-23 MNT against the Bahamas in August, was named the 2012-13 Development Academy Player of the Year for the U-18 age group while playing for the Seattle Sounders FC Academy. He is the first active college player to be included on a roster under Jurgen Klinsmann.
  • Rubio Rubin also returns to the fold. He signed with Utrecht in July. The U.S. U-17 Residency alum was voted the 2012 U.S. Soccer Youth Male Athlete of the Year.

Klinsmann Convoca 25 Jugadores Para Colombia e Irlanda, Cerrar el 2014

CHICAGO (10 de noviembre, 2014) -- El director técnico de la Selección Masculina Jurgen Klinsmann convocó a 25 jugadores para iniciar preparaciones para los últimos partidos del 2014. Estados Unidos se enfrentará al actual equipo No. 3 en el ranking de la FIFA, Colombia, el viernes, 14 de noviembre, en Londres. Más de 20,000 boletos han sido vendidos para el primer partido de Estados Unidos en Craven Cottage, hogar del Fulham FC. El inicio está programado para las 2:45 p.m. ET y será transmitido en vivo por ESPN y UniMás.

Cuatro días después, Estados Unidos jugará en territorio de la República de Irlanda por primera vez desde el 2002 cuando se enfrente al anfitrión en Aviva Stadium en Dublin. ESPN2 y Univisión empezarán la cobertura a las 2:45 p.m. ET.  Aficionados pueden mantenerse al tanto de los dos partidos por Twitter @ussoccer y @ussoccer_esp.                                                 

NÓMINA DE ESTADOS UNIDOS POR POSICIÓN:

ARQUEROS (4): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENSAS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

MEDIOCAMPISTAS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

DELANTEROS (6): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

“Queremos terminar el 2014 de manera positiva y continuar a enfrentarnos a los mejores equipos del tu a tu,” dijo Klinsmann. “En estos últimos dos partidos queremos que nuestros veteranos realmente se conviertan en tutores tanto dentro como fuera del campo, y queremos ver a nuestros jóvenes aprovechar la oportunidad de mostrar su capacidad y crecer con la experiencia. Estas actuaciones marcarán el tono para el 2015.”

Klinsmann de nuevo optó por una mezcla de juventud y experiencia. Un total de 16 jugadores fueron parte del equipo que llegó a los octavos de final de la Copa Mundial de la FIFA 2014, encabezados por el cuatro veces mundialista DaMarcus Beasley. Por otra parte, hay 12 jugadores con 10 partidos o menos con la selección mayor y la misma cantidad son menores de, o tienen 24 años.

NOTAS DE LA NÓMINA DE EE.UU.

  • DaMarcus Beasley tiene el mayor número de partidos con la selección en la nómina con 120 partidos. Jozy Altidore es el segundo con 74 partidos.
  • El mediocampista de herencia colombiana Alejandro Bedoya ha jugado en 10 de 13 partidos para la Selección en el 2014. Su padre y su abuelo jugaron fútbol profesionalmente en Colombia.
  • Los porteros mundialistas Brad Guzan y Nick Rimando parten hacia Londres, cada uno con impresionantes logros en su carrera con la Selección. Guzan tiene nueve partidos sin conceder gol en 19 partidos de titular, seis de los cuales fueron en partidos de eliminatoria mundialista. Rimando nunca ha perdido un partido con la Selección mayor, con un registro casi perfecto de 10-0-2.
  • El mediocampista del Ingolstadt Alfredo Morales ayudó a su equipo elevarse a la cima de la tabla de la 2. Bundesliga, jugando en los 13 partidos y anotando el primer gol de la campaña. Nacido en Alemania de padres Peruanos, ha sido utilizado como mediocampista y defensa por su club.
  • Greg Garza fue nombrado titular por primera vez contra Ecuador en su segundo partido con la Selección Masculina de EE.UU. Debutó con la Selección en la victoria de 1-0 contra la República Checa. El zaguero del Club Tijuana ahora ha competido con Estados Unidos en todos los niveles, empezando con la Selección Sub-14.
  • El delantero del Minnesota United FC Miguel Ibarra y el delantero de Stanford Jordan Morris regresan al grupo después de debutar en convocatorias de la Selección este año. Ibarra se convirtió en el primer jugador de la NASL moderna en ser convocado a la Selección. El Jugador del Mes de la NASL en Septiembre tiene 24 años y debuto en el minuto 90 como suplente en el empate de 1-1 contra Honduras.
  • Rubio Rubín también se vuelve a incorporar al grupo. Firmó con Utrecht en julio. El egresado del Programa de Residentes de la Selección Sub-17 de Estados Unidos fue elegido el Deportista Joven del Año en el 2012. 

Possessing size and range, Sean Johnson has already shown promise in his young professional career. Unfazed after being thrust into the starting role in his rookie year with the Chicago Fire, he demonstrated the poise and calm which are the trademarks of a good goalkeeper. Having represented the United States at the U-20 level, he is looking to break into the ranks of the full team.

  • A member of the U-20 Men's National Team that competed at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in 2009
  • Installed as the Chicago Fire starter halfway through the year, he went on to play in 13 matches for the club
Under-20s: Part of the U-20 roster for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship tournament qualifying in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 … Made one appearance for the U-20 MNT in a 2-0 win over Haiti on Dec. 20, 2008 … First Appearance: None First Goal: None
2010: Played 13 matches, earning three shutouts and a 1.31 GAA in his rookie season…Made his first league appearance and earned his first career win in 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Aug. 1 and won the starting job soon after … 2009: Played six matches for FC Atlanta Blackhawks of the USL Premier Development League, going 4-0-2 with a 2.00 goals against average.

Holds both an American and Jamaican passport … Son of Everet and Joy Johnson ... Brother Jarrett played professional basketball in Greece, Cyprus and China ... Enjoys fishing in the offseason.

Johnson was named the Most Valuable Player in 2008 for Central Florida, starting every match in goal, recording 108 saves on the season and setting a new school record for saves in a game with 14 on Oct. 14 against SMU ... Finished the season with a 7-11-1 record, recording five shutouts, with a 1.30 goals against average and a .812 save percentage… Appeared in 18 matches in 2007 as a freshman for Central Florida, going 4-12-2, recording a 2.10 goals against average and a .680 save percentage.

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