US SoccerUS Soccer
Jurgen Klinsmann

Quote Sheet: U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann – May 17, 2013

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann spoke with reporters on Friday, one day after announcing the roster for the training camp that kicks off May 26 in Cleveland.

On Landon Donovan’s play and when he will be called back into the team:
“I see him catching up. I see him getting in a rhythm, getting more games in and we’ll follow him through that. I don’t see him ready yet to come back into our group. On the other hand, I see guys in our group that are ahead of him in his position.”

On what is most pleasing about the roster being called in:
“It’s not easily to plan for the whole summer because obviously we have a very important Gold Cup to follow up. The roster that we have together now for the upcoming five games is of very, very high quality. I think looking at those names from the types of seasons they’re coming from is exciting. Obviously you have a couple of guys coming in where you want to see where they stand. For example, Brek Shea has played very little so we want to evaluate him and see what the case is. We have Stuart Holden back in the mix, which we are excited about, but we also know he has a way to go. But I think it is important for him to see that we give him this opportunity coming in, catching up and being part of our program again. I think it will give him a huge lift. Then we’ll see what he’s missing still to get back from the old player he was or even better than that. So a couple of players come in that still have some catching up to do, but over the stretch of a month that is doable. At the same time, we look ahead and hopefully after some positive results we build a roster for the Gold Cup that is highly competitive.”

On picking a roster while trying to stay with the same playing style:
“We try to keep developing the style of soccer that we described way back. The players now know how we address certain things, how tactically there are certain principles we follow every camp they’re coming in, the type of work that we have to put in to play a style that’s hopefully shifting forward. That is always part of our work. On the roster we try to find the best players possible in every position. Therefore, it’s always down to the quality of that player. It’s always down to where we see him individually and also in the context of the entire team.”

On the rotation of goalkeepers on the roster:
“The rotation of the goalkeepers is just practical. We are going to have three full-time goalies with us in the Gold Cup and it’s going to be mainly the goalkeepers coming from MLS. We’re trying to work hard with Todd Durbin in MLS and the coaches from MLS to not keep their goalies away for too long. That’s why we came up with that idea to split time at the third goalkeeper position for the upcoming five games, between Sean Johnson starting in Cleveland, Bill Hamid starting in D.C., then having Tally Hall going with us to Jamaica and then having Nick Rimando come be our No. 3 goalkeeper in Seattle and Salt Lake. The idea was not to have one guy away for an entire month. The No. 3 right now is clearly Nick Rimando, but it is fair then to take him for the entire month now and then the entire month in the Gold Cup? I don’t think so. These are things we work together with MLS on and it goes down to another topic where we agreed to let all MLS players play the upcoming weekend on May 25 and 26 with their clubs in exchange to have the availability of those players for the last week of the Gold Cup. Because of the rule that you can change four players after the group stage, we will have the option to call four of the players that are part of our roster now into the final week of the Gold Cup. You’re working on two big topics and we’ll make the best out of it. Obviously the highest priority is World Cup Qualifying – no doubt about it – but at the same time we want to have a very strong Gold Cup roster as well. We want to win this competition. So there are a couple of things at stake and we’ll hopefully be able to achieve all those things that we want to achieve.”

On the process of getting MLS players released for games:
“The relationship we have with MLS and the clubs is exceptional. We’ve been trying to work hand in hand because what we’re all trying to do here is improve American soccer in general. Obviously the locomotive is the National Team, and we try to build all the bridges we can build and feed into Academy development, Youth National Teams, MLS, and the different entities out there and work together. So far, from my end, there are absolutely no complaints at all working with Todd Durbin, Don Garber, the MLS coaches and the clubs. It’s going well. I understand the problems and the issues that they have and they understand my situation with the National Team, so it’s really going well and we’re really pleased because at the end of the day all of our goals is to improve soccer in this country.”

On the confidence he has in the wide midfielders ability to provide service to the forwards:
“We definitely want to feed our forwards much better and create more chances than we have done in the recent games. This position is absolutely crucial, but I think we’re getting there. On the right side, we have Graham Zusi going through a very strong period and made himself a very strong case in the team. Joe Corona can play that role as well on the right side. We have DaMarcus Beasley back in the picture. He can play either full back or on the wings in the midfield. We have a Brad Davis, who is playing a very strong season too. We’ll see where Brek Shea is at the moment. Eddie Johnson can play on the left, as well. I think we’re getting there. Our hope is that we will provide more chances for our forwards and score more goals.”

On the possibility of Landon Donovan being called in for the Gold Cup:
“We watch Landon, and if we think he’s good to go for the Gold Cup it’s definitely an option we can consider.”

On Stuart Holden’s comeback:
“I talk back and forth with his coach at Bolton and also talked to the coach he had for a month at Sheffield Wednesday, and both are very optimistic about him. If both teams weren’t in difficult positions at the end of the season he would have had far more playing time. So we’ll bring him in and evaluate him. We just want to get him back on track. We want to see if he can catch up quickly. He went through a lot of difficult moments the last one and a half years. I was at Bolton before his last injury watching him on his way back into the team before the knee went off again. I think he definitely deserves to come back into our group. There’s no pressure on Stuart at all. He can only win coming back in. He’s highly accepted among the whole group. He’s one of those guys that builds special chemistry. He’s a pure giver and he’s always looking out for other people. Bolton is on board with it. The communication with the club has been very crucial. So there’s no pressure on him and he can only gain over the next couple of weeks here.”

On what he likes most about Holden as a player:
“He’s very simple in his approach. He’s a very fast thinker. He thinks ahead, he knows how to position himself ahead of time. He doesn’t react too much to the game - he’s always trying to be a thought ahead of others. Technically, he’s a one-two touch player who doesn’t show off. As a midfielder, he keeps things very simple, ball control in the right direction and feeding the ball into a striker as quickly as possible.”

On whether Fabian Johnson can also play back and the reason why Danny Williams hasn’t seen much playing time at Hoffenheim:
“Danny didn’t get much playing time because he was injured. He always had minor injuries on the way back. He’s back in shape now. He’s been training full speed for two weeks. Obviously with them in that relegation battle - I spoke to his coach at length – it was difficult to break in right away and help out there. He’s back in shape, and we’ll see that. He’s another one similar to Brek Shea. I want to where he’s at and go from there. Danny gives us a little bit of flexibility if I have some problems at the right back position. Right now we have Michael Parkhurst, we have DaMarcus Beasley who can also play right back, and Geoff Cameron can also play right back if we do it like we did it against Mexico and Costa Rica. Danny can play that position as well, which is good for us to think about. With Fabian, the situation as you mentioned is he can play left midfield easily. This is also something we can consider. Now with Beas playing these two exceptional games against Costa Rica and Mexico, it might be something that we want to see. We might try it out against Belgium. It’s definitely something that we always have in mind because he plays that role in our friendly game in Slovenia and very successfully. He can play that. He’s one of the fastest players in the Bundesliga once he picks up speed. He’s technically very gifted. It should give us a couple of alternatives.”

On players going overseas to try and play in the best leagues in the world:
“In term of the overall picture of players going to Europe and the MLS in general, our goal is to improve the product year by year in the United States, to make it a full year season, going down to youth development to make it a youth development and a 10 or 11-month season, to have everybody play on longer schedules in order to be competitive with the rest of the world. When players choose to go overseas to challenge themselves I’m happy with it, but at the same time they also need to break through in Europe, otherwise they will struggle getting back into our picture. An example certainly is Brek Shea. He wanted badly to go there and now didn’t get his playing time, so he needs to figure out how he wants to continue is career. We all hope that every year MLS is getting stronger, it’s getting bigger, the schedule is getting longer, there are more games for the players, and maybe one day MLS teams competing in the Copa Libertadores because that is tremendous experience that they can get. They’re getting stronger in the CONCACAF region anyway, so it’s a one step at a time process. We all hope that they can start competing with the big leagues all around the world.”

On Bill Hamid’s progression even as he’s going through a rough stretch:
“Billy and Sean Johnson are our future goalkeepers that we monitor, that we nurture, that we help in their development. They went through difficult stages: think about the Olympic team situation. But at the same time they’re young, they play already as number ones in their club, and we want to always keep them connected to us. In the rankings there’s no doubt about it, Tim Howard is number one, Brad Guzan is number two and Nick Rimando is number three as of today, but the years go by fast. It’s important that these guys know if they have a couple of bad games, they’re not suddenly out of the picture. We accompany them throughout the years in their development. At the end of the day it’s all about performance and quality. Billy has tremendous talent, tremendous ups and he also has his downs. We tell him our opinion, and obviously Ben Olson talks to him and tells him his opinion. For us it’s an opportunity with the Germany game that Chris Woods, our goalkeeper coach, could work with Billy for four or five days. We want to show our goalies like Billy that they’re young, they have talent, that they need to go through this process of up and downs.”

On the decision not to bring in Carlos Bocanegra:
“I’m totally pleased that he’s back playing and getting games in, and we’ve been in constant contact with each other. He’s done on the 8th of June with the relegation battle with Racing Santander, so that is one part. The other part is I have the center backs coming out of extremely good performances against Costa Rica and Mexico, and I see those four guys that we have in there - with Omar, with Geoff Cameron, with Clarence and Matt - ahead of Carlos and those are the two main points.”

On the type of message it sends players who are getting playing time with their clubs that other players that have not been getting playing time are getting called in instead of them.
“I totally get where you’re coming from, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the positions that we have to fill. Michael Parkhurst is fit and ready to go but is not breaking in there, but he’s playing in a position where Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler both are not available, so you get caught in a situation where you have to make that compromise. You don’t have to make that compromise in the center back position - and I see Carlos only as a center back, I don’t see him as a left back - and there we are fully loaded. It goes down to position by position, what is your ranking.”

On whether Omar Gonzalez is the confirmed starter, and the other center backs are competing for the other position:
“No. All four are on a very good level and we’ll see once they’re in camp. We’ll go from game to game.”

On being concerned that playing two games before the World Cup qualifier against Jamaica is too much:
“No, I’m not really concerned about that. Two games give us a good opportunity to see more playing time for a couple of guys. Some already now come off of a couple of days off. They still have next week. A lot of them have off time, so they should be nicely rested before the Belgium game. I think two preparation games with a roster of 23-25 guys is totally fine.”