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U.S. MNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann Conference Call Quote Sheet


U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann answered questions from the media ahead of Wednesday's match against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann

Media Teleconference Call – Quote Sheet
Mexico City, Mexico
Aug. 12, 2012


On the choice to go with a younger group of players:
“As a coach, you go through your roster and evaluate every individual case and you look at where they are right now. The case is made that a lot of European players are not there yet, they are only in preseason, and they are running behind. Some have a little bit of injury issues like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, and so you work through all those elements. At the same time, you see it as an opportunity. If you leave some players behind because they are in preseason, that gives you an opportunity to see some players on a very high international level. With the game in Mexico City, it’s a great benchmark to have. Those are the environments where you want to see them and get an impression of those guys. I’m not worried about having a couple younger players or even new players like Matt Besler or Steven Beitashour. They’ve proven their qualities over a long time in MLS and they’re doing extremely well. It’s a huge opportunity for those players that are coming to Mexico City now and also for us as a whole team to prove ourselves against a good side.”

On the expectations placed on Chris Wondolowski and Terrence Boyd for the match:
“We’re trying to build on what we did over the last year now. Wondolowski is building his case very strongly in MLS. Every time he came into camp he gave everything he had and he’s trying to get closer to the international level. He keeps working on that and he knows what he’s still missing and what the others provide. He’s fired up every time he comes into camp. It’s wonderful to see. And you see the development of a player like Terrence Boyd coming from the fourth division last year and now shooting his team up into the third division, being on the bench with Borussia Dortmund – a Champions League team – and being transferred to Rapid Vienna and breaking through there now very positively. He made a very good impression in the June period. Then you have very experienced players like Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez. They know the inside and out of this program and especially Herculez now with his experience playing in Mexico and getting the job done, he’s very well prepared for such an important match on Wednesday night at Azteca Stadium.”

On if getting young defenders some experience is a high priority:
“To get players exposed to these types of games is a priority. At the end of the day, I want to win games, so I want to win on Wednesday night against Mexico. Over the stretch of the next two years, I want to get as much knowledge as I can of those players coming through the ranks because if you look at our year in 2013, it will be a very busy year so we have to work with a bigger roster anyway. When it comes to an opportunity like this, European players are behind because they are in preseason and not in the middle of the season like MLS or in the beginning of the season like Mexican players, so this is a good moment and it gives them the opportunity to come in and prove their value.”

On the omission of players like Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra from the roster:
“Clint is in preseason and he had discussions with Fulham about his personal situation. They left him behind for training camp and I spoke to him several times. He’s just not in a rhythm yet. He hasn’t played any preseason matches and he’s anxious to sort out his own personal situation. We had a similar situation last year with Michael Bradley. It’s good for Clint to take care of these things. It’s similar with Carlos. He just started the season. Gooch (Oguchi Onyewu) also is just in preseason so far and Steve (Cherundolo), as well. That’s how I go through every name on our list. Every situation is different and we get to it and then we make our decision.”

On Brek Shea’s call-up for the friendly against Mexico:
“I had good conversations the last week with Schellas Hyndman of FC Dallas and we both see a lot of upside in Brek Shea. We all knew that after the big disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics that our youngsters from that program would eventually fall into a hole. They would go through emotional rollercoasters. That’s what happened with Brek – he went through an emotional rollercoaster and he didn’t have himself under control. Schellas and I – we tried to look through all those elements and we think he needs our support and the feeling that we’re there when things get tough. Things got tough for (Juan) Agudelo, (Teal) Bunbury, (Bill) Hamid, (Sean) Johnson, for all that whole generation that should’ve been in London these last two weeks. It was a tough pill to swallow for them. We are now at a point where we say we have to integrate those players in our plans and give them playing time and possibilities to be close to the international level and the senior national team overall. You see that in Joe Corona and Terrence Boyd. Terrence was one of the players from the Olympic roster that handled it the best because he went back to Europe and took care of his job. For Joe Corona, maybe that moment was just in Mexico and just to keep up playing instead of living that nightmare that they went through for a couple of months like our MLS kids did. Brek has to learn to focus in and learn to become a full professional 24-7 and learn that the highest priority is what you deliver on the field and learn how to live off the field and he’s in the middle of that process. We coaches are responsible to help him in that process. We are happy to have him back and we’ll have a couple good talks over a few coffees and he’ll have to take care of it once he gets back to Dallas and improve on a daily basis.”

On analyzing Mexico’s youth system and whether there are positives to be gleaned from it:
“I think you can take from every nation out there. You can learn things and you can ignore things. There are good things from different systems, if it’s Spain or European nations or Brazil and Argentina or Uruguay in South America or just now Mexico. I think you can learn from all those systems, but at the end of the day we have to decide what’s best for the U.S. system and what is best for our infrastructure. We are constantly in those talks to restructure youth development and the pathways for these young players to get more exposure. We are in a good path, but it will take a lot of work and a lot of talks with MLS, the academy programs and other elements. I think Mexico deserves a big compliment. What they’ve done the last three or four years is tremendous. They’ve identified a way they want to play and everybody dedicates themselves to that style of play. It shows you that a lot of elements were taken off the Spanish path during the last six years. We often talk about that more technically, and soccer-specifically, that you’ve got to lead to a system. You have to work to a way where everybody is committed to a cause and for each other. The way Mexico outplayed Brazil yesterday was wonderful to watch. They did many good things there. You’ve got to admire that and acknowledge that.”

On if there is a gap between Mexico’s accomplishments and where the U.S. is right now:
“There is a gap. It would be foolish not to recognize that. If one team doesn’t qualify for the Olympics and the other team wins the Olympics, there is a gap. On the senior level, they’ve done well over the last two years, too. You’ve got to give them compliments for that. In certain elements there is a gap, in other elements we can close gaps right away. If we just continue our path and work harder to close that gap, I think a lot is happening in the American system. There are a lot of positives happening in MLS and also our youth development in the MLS and the U.S. Soccer Development Academies. The next couple years will be exciting to follow what soccer in the U.S. can do, but at the moment Mexico is a step ahead of us.”

On concerns surrounding Geoff Cameron just moving to Stoke City in England and his readiness to play:
“It is what it is. It was his big goal to get that transfer done. It was his dream since his childhood. He’s on a very positive path. He had a good June camp and he becomes more and more consistent. He has to deal with that, it’s as simple as that. He has to deal with the travel issues as the other European guys coming in today and tomorrow for the Mexico game do, as well. It’s been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster for him, but it’s finally done. The work permit is there. He’s 100 percent a Stoke City player and he’s very proud of that and it’s the next step in his career. On Wednesday, he just has to settle in as fast as possible and keep his nerves under control while 100,000 Mexicans make some noise.”

On the decision to call up Steven Beitashour into the team:
“We follow all the MLS games. Martin Vazquez has personally been there (to San Jose). I’m constantly in contact with Frank Yallop, which is very enjoyable. The relationship with all the MLS coaches is going well. Steven has built his case over the last couple of months and talking with Frank Yallop and getting his information was the most important step. We are pleased to bring him in. He will be welcomed here and he’ll see it is a very positive and comfortable environment where he can settle in with no problems. We are curious to see him in the couple training sessions that we have. It’s not much because we have two and a half days to prepare for a game, but obviously I’d love to see him over a longer period of time. It will be curious to get his first impression. Chris Wondolowski just keeps on building his case. He’s got a positive attitude and scores instinctual goals. With his dedication to his work, he’s a role model. He’s a role model for a lot of players out there and he’s a joy to work with.”

On whether Mexico has an edge in the winning mentality:
“I think that we have a very strong mentality. I think that we don’t need to hide from anybody out there. What Mexico read well is that how the global game has evolved over the last couple years, led by Spain. They understood that they need to have a style and have a player that buys into it 100 percent and works as hard as he can. Based on those elements and their preferred 4-2-3-1 system, they automized sequences and where and how the players moved and they’ve doubled and tripled the positions that we have discussed. Certain players that are normally on the team aren’t there, but the players that are there play exactly the same roles. If Giovani Dos Santos is not there in the middle of the attacking midfield, (Angel) Reyna is there. If Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) is not there, then another guy is there. I think they have matched what was going on globally. If you want to be in the top 10 in the world, you have to adjust to this type of style. You can’t just sit back and just counter attack and hope you’re going to win a game. You’ve got to play with the best ones. Compliment to Honduras with what they did with Brazil. They tried to play with them. It’s a lot of hard work. We have to get physically on another level and pace wise on another level, which we are working on. On many other elements we have to do better work. It’s not happening overnight. Here and there we see results, but maybe we have a setback like against Brazil in June.”

On Timmy Chandler’s standing with the U.S. Men’s National Team:
“There is nothing new about Timmy. Timmy is not sure yet if he wants to commit 100 percent to us and we don’t (want to) stress him out. I told Timmy that our view may not be aligned, but let us know. It’s no problem. I don’t want to bring up a player who is not 100 percent committed. We know about his qualities and his character and all we can do is show patience and understanding with all those players that sooner or later with dual citizenship have to decide which direction they want to go. I think it’s totally legitimate from his side and I think he’s been very honest. He broke into Nuremberg and became a starter. He could’ve moved onto a bigger club this summer, but instead prolonged his contract because he felt he was not ready yet and I think that’s good to see. We constantly will have those discussions with the players. Our position is that we leave it up to the player. We can’t force anybody into a decision. That would not be right. We always need to be patient. With the next wave of players coming in with the same topic, we’ve got to leave the decision up to them.”

On what it means to call in players from the Mexican League for a game at Estadio Azteca:
“It means a lot. It shows that they are constantly on the radar screen even if you drop off for a couple games. We follow them week in and week out. It’s the same with the MLS players and European players. The same is with Mexico. It’s a very good league. It’s good competition down here. The fact that they leave their comfort zone and play in the league down here means a lot. They work their way through and it’s exciting to see now how Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona are starters in Tijuana. Jose Torres in a couple seasons now has been one of the better players for Pachuca. Michael Orozco is now back after losing his starting spot, and for us calling him in is recognition for his fight. We are communicating with all the players here in Mexico. That’s important for us to have a presence down here. The people in Mexico are starting to realize that. They see that we come down here and watch games. They are open to any dialogue. I think it means a lot to us and to the players constantly being called back into the national team program.”

On the importance of having players like Joe Corona and Herculez Gomez:
“It is important because in their own environment, they have to fight their way through it. Herculez had enough challenges over the last couple years with different clubs always fighting through and then getting back his starting spot. He’s a non-stop fighter. It kind of makes you what you are today. That’s what he proved in the May/June camp. He was so sharp and hungry,  he said now we are giving him the chances and he’s not giving that away any more and that’s why he played in all the games. It’s good to see Joe Corona breaking though in Tijuana out of his comfort zone and making his path through the league, but also doing it differently than a player that had to deal with that disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics in MLS that we talked about before. There is a benefit to players that play abroad, but there is a benefit to the challenge at home in the U.S. The point is that for the players to see that they are equally evaluated by the national team coaches no matter where they play. The players in Mexico get that recognition and see that they are there to fight for a spot. All of these guys want to go to Brazil in 2014.”

On Sean Johnson’s call-up and what he’s seen from him in the past few months:
“After the disappointment of the Olympics, we told these players that your path will be much tougher than you thought it would be because you’re missing out on one of the biggest opportunities of your lifetime – an Olympics. For these kids watching Mexico win the gold medal brought them some tears possibly. What we also told them was when you fall down, you’ve got to get back up and fight your way back. We followed those youngsters and they did it differently. All these players, we constantly observed them and spoke to their coaches. Sean found his way back to balance and put this horrible moment behind him. He focused on work day in and day out, and said I’ve got to do my best possible for the Chicago Fire and that I’ve got to be consistent, that I’m there to help my team win games and that I’m learning something new every day. I think Frank Klopas has done a tremendous job with him and given him lots of support, and that’s why we called him back in.”

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