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Short, Short, Long: MNT Friendlies in Europe Serve Dual Purpose

The U.S. MNT's friendlies against Denmark and Switzerland in Europe have provided head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the squad an opportunity to try out some new faces alongside the team's core group in the short term. However, the long goal is eyeing players who will help the USA win this summer's important edition of the Gold Cup.

Aron Johannsson Unavailable for USA-Switzerland; Jordan Morris Added to MNT Roster

CHICAGO (March 29, 2015) — U.S. Men’s National Team forward Aron Johannsson has been sidelined while undergoing treatment for an infection and will not be ready in time for the match against Switzerland. 

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has added U-23 MNT forward Jordan Morris to the roster. Morris joins the Senior Team after scoring the opening goal in the U-23 MNT’s 5-2 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina on March 27 in Tuzla. 

The United States will face Switzerland – one of the eight seeded teams in the 2014 FIFA World Cup – on March 31 in Zurich at 12 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1, UniMas, UDN). 

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Southampton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Hamburg), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford University), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht)

Q&A: Klinsmann Plans for Switzerland and Discusses MNT Player Pool

ussoccer.com: You had a chance to review the game against Denmark. What were your impressions on the second look?

Jurgen Klinsmann: “It’s frustrating because you put so much work into it. We don’t want to lose. We want to win, but these are also important experiences. We want to make progress in managing the game and taking the game to the opponent and winning away from home and not being in our comfort zone. We were out of our comfort zone [in Denmark], and were pretty much in the game until the last couple of minutes before the end. After Michael’s beautiful pass and Aron’s goal, we looked in control. We controlled the next 10-15 minutes completely, but then with the equalizer, it became a little bit shaky. Still, we had a good opportunity with John Brooks to level the game. At the World Cup he put it in the net, this time he put it just a little bit wide.”

ussoccer.com: What does it mean in a game like that, where we don’t necessarily have more possession, but are still playing well?

JK: “I think it’s an interesting learning curve for us playing a team like Denmark, which is known for having a high amount of possession. They’re really good without necessarily putting too much pressure in the final third. They want to move the ball around. They make it hard for you to get the ball back, and then they are pretty smart to quickly regain the ball because that’s what they’ve done for years under Morten Olsen, who’s one of the longest serving national team managers in the world. So for us, the challenge was how do you manage the game once we get the ball? Here and there we did really well, and here and there we gave the ball away too early.

ussoccer.com: So you planned for the fact that Denmark would have a lot of the possession?

JK: “We knew that Denmark with its style would kind of move us into a style where we would try to get them in transition, because that’s where they’re vulnerable; that’s where they leave space behind its fullbacks. We needed to get a way to find those spaces and feed into our strikers. We prepared that tactical approach, and for most of the time it was good.”

ussoccer.com: With the issue of the late goals, how do you correct that?

JK: “Part of the transition is developing chemistry and gaining experience, and over time this will happen. You build that strength to grind it out, and for younger players they learn the little things you need to do in order to finish off a game. To be up 2-1 on the road to Denmark said a lot, and even if we came away with a tie it would have been an accomplishment. But when you lose the game at the end like this, it’s a disappointment for everyone. So that’s the process that we’ve got to go through. We’ve got to grind through it and also build chemistry. Still, we are not satisfied not getting a result.

ussoccer.com: Three of the four starters on the back line were 24 years old and under. Are you trying to give those guys an opportunity to grow?

JK: “Right now, these games are to see if players can break into the inner circle and into the starting lineup. Are they consistent? That’s why we want to have players showing us where they are at, a couple of months away from the Gold Cup, when we have to make the decisions. At times, it looked good. At times, they looked composed; they looked confident, they stayed calm on the ball and they combined well into midfield. However, at the end of the day when you have a couple of individual mistakes against an experienced team like Denmark, you pay the price for it, and we did, even if we could have equalized the game still in the last minute.”

Quote Sheet: Klinsmann, Johannsson, Altidore, Bradley and Alvarado on Denmark

MNT head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN:

On tonight’s game:
“I think overall this was a very even and entertaining game. I think we gave them an eye-to-eye game and we could have won it, but we didn’t. We saw a lot of good things that we wanted to see on our end. Obviously, we’ve got to correct a couple things because we conceded three goals, and overall it’s just a little bit frustrating when you lose in the last minute.”

On what he liked and disliked from tonight’s game:
“Obviously, what you don’t like is late goals. Maybe it’s just losing focus for a second, losing your mark or because of heavy legs getting tired a little bit. You never want to give a game away that you’re up 2-1. I think a tie probably would have been a fair result, but as I said a lot of positives. I think the backline overall did a very good job. From the left to the right, they were all on top of things as much as they could be. I think Michael Bradley was present in the midfield trying to organize a lot. You’re always happy for your strikers when they score. You hope then for a third one if there’s an opportunity and we had it with John Brooks’ header in the last second. There’s a lot of good stuff taken away from this game, definitely. We have to step it up in terms of managing the game all 90 minutes. You lead in Denmark 2-1? Get the job done and go home with three points. At least tie it. That’s all the stuff to improve, but overall we did a lot of good stuff.”

On the struggle to maintain possession in the first half and how they planned to fix it at half:
“We knew that Denmark is a very good possession-oriented team. That’s part of their style that Morten Olsen developed over many, many years here, and they do it really well with their technical capabilities. They move off of the ball really well. So what we had problems with the first half was to get pressure on the ball, to get closer to them in midfield and shut them down in terms of their passing lanes and the space that they find. I think it was a little bit better in the second half. We got closer to them. We denied them those little passes between the lines and that’s stuff we’re going to have to deal with and do better.”

On bringing in Ventura Alvarado for his first cap in place of Michael Orozco:
Michael Orozco was giving us a signal that he was just simply exhausted and that led to Ventura’s first cap, which was something special for him.”

On Denmark’s captain and playmaker Christian Eriksen:
“I said yesterday to the media here that he obviously is a huge talent. He’s fun to watch and at a young age already taking over so much responsibility on the field, leading his team and keeping the rhythm going. It’s really fun to watch him, so it will be interesting to see how he continues his career.”

On Nicklas Bendtner’s performance:
If you make three goals then you get all the compliments in the world, and he deserves them for that performance absolutely.”

MNT forward ARON JOHANNSSON

On his goal:
“Michael Bradley played Jozy [Altidore] a fantastic ball in the box, and Jozy showed he’s a very good team player; he played it to me, and I was the one against an open goal.”

On his return to Aarhus, where he played professionally for AGF Aarhus:
“It was amazing. It was a great experience to come back to the stadium where my career kicked off. It was good to be back, but on the other hand we lost the game, so I’m pretty disappointed right now. I felt like we could’ve gotten something from the game so this is pretty disappointing.”

On what to take moving forward to the Switzerland game next Tuesday:
“Obviously today we had a lot of positives, and now we have to look at those positives and learn from them and make sure that we’re winning games in the final period of the game and make sure that we don’t lose games in the last couple of minutes.”

On the warm reception he received from the Denmark crowd:
“Obviously it’s great for me that they still know my name back here and they still cheer for me. It’s a great city and I’m very happy to be back, but on the other hand, the result kind of killed it.”

MNT forward JOZY ALTIDORE

On scoring his goal:
“It was a great ball from Timmy [Chandler]. It looked like the defenders were confused a little bit, and I just tried to kind of stay with the play. Then, I tried to hit it first time and get it on target and it went in.”

On losing a game where the team twice had the lead:
“Yeah it’s annoying because it seems to be a trend over the last five or six games and it’s just not good enough at this level. Too many lapses at critical points in the game, and maybe it’s a little bit of lack of experience as well, but it’s something we’ll have to cut out getting closer now to a competition in the Gold Cup. We need to get better.”

On the cold, damp playing conditions:
“Yeah it was weird, it was a cold one. It was a typical spring day; it was cold and wet. But look, everybody at this level has experienced extreme temperature, so it’s no excuse.”

On preparing for Switzerland:
“Switzerland’s another tough game.  It’s another good opponent. It’s another opportunity for us to work on things, but we have to take these chances seriously now, because there’s not many left until we start a competition and that’s where it counts.”

MNT midfielder MICHAEL BRADLEY

On playing his first game as captain:
“It was a tremendous honor. Obviously Clint’s [Dempsey] the captain and he’s done an incredible job, but for me to have the opportunity to be captain on the night that he’s not here was very special and not something that I’ll soon forget. Growing up you dream for these kind of nights, so it was very special.”

On the frustration of losing another game late:
“It’s very frustrating. We knew it was going to be a difficult night with the conditions; the field’s not great, it’s wet, windy, and we knew it was going to be a game where more balls were going to get played forward and  it was going to be about moving our lines and getting to second balls. I thought we handled things for the most part pretty well, but if you don’t see the game out, if you don’t take care of things in the last few minutes then you’re not going to ever get what you deserve. I think the frustrating thing is that it’s not the first time that that’s happened to us, where we’ve not been able to see a game out and we’ve got to start to learn our lesson.”

On preparing for Switzerland:
“There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ll get back to Zurich tomorrow and physically start to recover and get ourselves mentally right. Obviously it’s another big chance to step on the field against a good team.”

MNT defender VENTURA ALVARADO

On earning his first cap:
“I’m real happy and proud to be here and motivated to keep working and getting more minutes. I’m going to remember this, and it’s going to be a good memory. We lost, but it’s alright, we just need to keep working.”

Highlights: 91st-Minute Strike Beats MNT in Denmark

The U.S. Men's National Team fell 3-2 to Denmark in Aarhus, Denmark.
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