US SoccerUS Soccer
Jurgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann Teleconference


U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann fielded questions during Friday’s teleconference call after he announced the 23-player travel roster for the team’s upcoming five games in 18 days, starting with Scotland on Saturday, May 26, at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.

U.S. Men’s National Team Teleconference Call
Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann
May 25, 2012

Opening statement:
“Obviously we are getting excited to get started here with our first match tomorrow at Jacksonville against Scotland. We had 10 very productive days in Orlando at the ESPN World of Sports. It was really a joy to see the players with their attitude and their commitment. They put a lot of effort into the training sessions. We had a challenge to have guys coming in at different schedules, so we had to get them up to speed. Now we have the latest players coming in last night with Michael Parkhurst and Clarence Goodson – they just finished off their Danish season, and a Danish champion with Michael Parkhurst, which is just awesome. Same for Herculez Gomez, who won the championship with Santos in Mexico – that’s very exciting for us. But now we are really looking forward to getting started tomorrow night in Jacksonville.”

On the team’s covers for outside backs Steve Cherundolo and Edgar Castillo:
“Well, at left back we have Fabian Johnson, as well. Now Fabian played the last couple of games in Hoffenheim mainly as a left back and actually became one of the best left backs in the Bundesliga throughout the last six to eight weeks. So he can play that position. Obviously Michael Parkhurst as a right back can fill in for Steve Cherundolo if necessary. Michael played almost all of his last games the last couple of months as a right back with Nordsjaelland and won the Danish championship in that position.”

On the availability of Clint Dempsey and other players:
“Clint is unavailable for this weekend. We have the big hopes that he can make it for the Brazil game. We take it one day at a time. And other than that, all the other guys should be available. Obviously it’s getting tricky for tomorrow with the two Scandinavian players coming in so late last night. That’s most unlikely that they’re not part of the first 18 tomorrow night, but then we should be all good. Then we’re still waiting for Jozy Altidore. His club didn’t release him until May 28, after a long back-and-forth with his club. They were not open to change their opinion. They kind of used the FIFA rules on his case, which is not very nice for us because we gave him a training regime. We can just hope he is training as much as he can in order to present himself in decent shape when he comes in on May 28. So Jozy won’t be available for tomorrow night’s game, but he will be available for the Brazil game. If he will get picked for the Brazil game is another question, because that depends on his shape.”

On the potential he sees in Terrence Boyd:
“We see a lot of potential in Terrence. He played mainly for the second team in Dortmund and won the Division 4 title, then moved up in to the third-highest league and I think he scored about 20 goals there. But he always trains with the first-team roster and I had often long talks with Jurgen Klopp, the Dortmund coach, and he said that if he didn’t have Robert Lewandowski and these guys up front he definitely would have played him. But they decided it’s better for his development that he plays in the Under-23 team, which he did throughout most of the year and did very well. Right now it looks pretty much that he will move up to a bigger club, give him on loan, or even would be open for transfer because they see that he is ready for the next big step. We had the pleasure having him in the Italy camp. He did extremely well. That’s also why he jumped in at the end of the game and ran all over the place. These 10 days we had now with him in camp were very productive. He is adjusting to our way of doing things. He is a very curious kid. He wants to do better every day. He’s very energetic, and that’s why he made the cut. He was sharp every day. He did everything he could and that’s why he deserves to be in there. We’ll see how he’ll do now over the next couple of weeks.”

On Joe Corona’s impression this past week to make the 23-player travel roster:
“Obviously we followed him throughout the whole year at his club in Tijuana and also with the Olympic qualifying campaign, and he left a very good impression there even if it didn’t work out qualifying at the end of the day. But he is a very skillful and creative player. He’s good in one-on-ones and I think he has a lot of upside in his game. He is young, he will improve on different elements of his game, the physical side of it certainly is one area where he will have to do a lot of work going forward, which he knows. But we see in him a lot of potential, and these 10 days we worked with him now in Orlando proved that we were right to call him in. He was a step ahead of the other guys that were now left out of the roster.”

On where Corona will play in the midfield:
“He can play right, left, he can also play in the middle as a 10 maybe in a diamond midfield. He’s obviously one who wants to go forward. He’s keen always on a killer ball, a killer pass into the box and feeding a striker, but also himself to finish things off. He’s hungry for the goal. He has a really good vision on the field. He reads the game really well and he reads spaces and the final touch that he has to play the balls through is quite something. There’s a lot of potential in the kid and we want to keep him with us and see how much he can stretch now already. We do not expect the world from him. This is his first introduction on the senior team, so one day at a time. But I think he’s enjoying it, he’s like a sponge out there, he’s asking the older players, experienced players, a ton of things. I think it’s really a talent that we should keep a close eye on.”

On a Landon Donovan interview where he talked about the challenge of maintaining high-level play:
“Landon is a very intelligent player and very experienced by now. I think it’s also normal that your thoughts go all over the place when you think, ‘OK, what’s next? Where are my next challenges? How long will I play this game?’ At this moment right now, where he has already played in three World Cups and has had many different experiences, I think it’s just normal. For us it’s important that once he’s here that he focuses in, he zooms in, and he gives everything he has then for the National Team. That’s what we saw in these 10 days – he came a bit later, the five or six days that he spent with us. He’s been tremendous in every training session. I didn’t see there any lack of not being hungry or not giving everything he had. He did that. He’s very, very professional. When he has these open discussions with you as journalists, I think that’s good to see. He’s a thoughtful guy and we had good talks after our Italy game where he couldn’t come in and obviously we will follow every player’s path and we will follow every player’s approach and attitude. There’s nothing to complain about with Landon. He’s a highly professional guy and time will tell how much he wants to continue on the highest level.”

On Klinsmann’s own playing days and his reflections on his future:
“I think every player goes through those moments – some a bit earlier, some a bit later, or maybe sometimes a couple times during your career. I had those moments, too. They came usually when you were ready for a next step or a change. It helped me a lot to change my environment. It kept me on my toes and I kept learning off the field a lot of things, as well. So I had those thoughts definitely during my career.”

On Juan Agudelo’s move to Chivas USA and his potential to make an upcoming roster:
“It’s a very positive change for him because obviously he couldn’t pass Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper. Last year, he couldn’t pass Luke Rogers there. We’ve always had the discussion that he doesn’t have enough playing time. Now he switched to Chivas, where he’s most likely playing. It’s also the fact that he hasn’t played that many games so far this year. He got injured in our January camp. He couldn’t play in the two friendlies. He got injured in the Olympic qualifiers and was out again. He just barely had a couple of games in [with Chivas USA] and you could see that he’s just slightly behind the other strikers. That’s why we told him it’s better flying back to Chivas now to get sharp and get fitter everyday. He has a lot of potential as we often discuss. Obviously it’s up to him. It’s his preferred situation with that move to Chivas. Now he’s got to prove it. He’s got to score goals. He’s got to play every game. It’s now down to him to show everybody that he belongs with the senior team and that he’s one of the upcoming strikers in the U.S.”

On the National Team expectations from Clint Dempsey:
“Every player sets his own benchmark. With Clint coming off a very strong season at Fulham scoring tons of goals, which is awesome to see, he set the bar even higher. I think he’s ready to always raise the bar for himself, and that’s what we always try to communicate to him since we started to work together. The sky’s the limit if you want to work for it and you want to do that everyday and be hungrier and nastier and stronger than your competitors. He embraced that approach, and that’s why coming into the National Team environment, he’s one of the leaders. He’s stepped it up and players look up to him, especially the young players. They look at Clint and want to play where he’s playing or hear from him and what it takes to become one of the best players in the English Premier League. When you raise the bar, you have to live up to those expectations. Now people judge you maybe a bit differently than a year or two years ago. It’s good. It’s something very positive, and I think he likes that. Therefore, we’re looking forward to having him on the field as soon as possible.”

On Clint Dempsey’s transfer rumors and whether they could be a distraction:
“In this camp, we haven’t talked about it yet. But often on the phone following his Premier League games we discussed different ways of approaching things. I think if you come off a strong season like he is and go into an important stretch of games for your country, this should give you a lot of confidence. If you play consistently at the highest level, then requests will come in. Offers will come in. I think everybody’s aware of that. His goal is the right goal. We’ve often discussed it. If he had the opportunity to go to a Champions League team – that’s the crème de la crème in the world of club soccer – then you’ve got to do that, with all respect to Fulham as he often mentions. You want to play in the biggest club competition in the world, and that’s the European Champions League. Hopefully something will happen over the next couple of weeks. And if it doesn’t happen, then he just has to keep pounding away and knocking at the door.”

On whether he is focused on a certain system and alignment:
“As I mention often, I’m not locked into one specific system. My overall approach is that I would like to go forward, be attacking-minded, have more possession, push up the back-four line higher and play out of the back. All of these elements that we’re getting to step-by-step, I think we see them coming along and getting better and better. Now if those elements come out of a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, or whatever system you want to choose, it doesn’t really matter. It depends then on the players on the field, when we have different players on the field we have different options. Now having Landon [Donovan] back, we have different options. We can even go in a Christmas tree system that we did in this one little scrimmage that we played a couple days ago in a 4-3-2-1 system. It depends on what shape your center forwards are. We have Herculez Gomez who joined us now, as well. That gives a different type of player. I’m not keen so much on the system itself. I’m keener on the style of play we want to do. We want to pass the ball as quickly as possible to the forward areas and create some stuff. I think we see more and more how the players get comfortable with each other, they understand more what we are asking for, and then they are able to also implement different systems to follow the same ideas of the style.”

On the role of defender Geoff Cameron and what his strongest traits are:
“Geoff is knocking at the door at the two center back positions, where feel very strongly with Carlos [Bocanegra] as our captain and with Gooch (Oguchi Onyewu). Clarence [Goodson] and Geoff are right there. They’re right behind them. We see him in a center back role. We don’t see him in the defensive midfield role. Geoff proved his case in the January camp and also with his club team. He has really huge potential. I was highly impressed – we were all highly impressed – by his performance and now his training sessions. He’s ready for the next level.”

On forward Chris Wondolowski and his potential as an international striker:
“There are a couple reasons why he’s in camp, and first and foremost is he certainly scores goals. He’s a goalscorer. He is hungry for goals, no matter if it’s in training or in every MLS game or whatever he plays. He is fun to watch, and he’s a great character. He gives you everything he has, he doesn’t stop running, he doesn’t stop fighting, and he helps his teammates. He’s a pure giver. He knows that there are areas where he could get better and could get to another level, whether it’s his first touch, his combination play or a couple of other elements that we’ve openly discussed with him. But he deserves to be in this camp here because he’s done tremendously well over the last couple of months.”

On whether a late-blooming professional like Wondolowski can succeed:
“Absolutely. Age is not really relevant to me, to be honest. I’d love to have a lot of youngsters breaking through and getting stronger every day. We would have loved to have had a productive Olympic team going to London and do really well there. Now they have to go the tougher route and go through the club system in order to showcase themselves. But age is not relevant because what we do in Orlando, the players come in and we’re going to test them. We know exactly where they’re at. We do different types of testing to see where he is at his specific age and in his career. Chris is tremendously fit. He’s sharp, and now experienced. He understands better and better what it takes to be an international striker and he’s hungry for information. He’s like a sponge. That’s really fun for us coaches then to see that he embraces all those tools that we try to give him. At the end of the day, it’s really down to the players and what they want to make out of their careers, no matter if they’re 18 or 19 like a Joe Corona, or Chris Wondolowski who is 29. They can easily play up to a higher age if they look after themselves, if they stay sharp and if they’re fit. We test those elements and we see it.”

On which international friendlies offer the best preparation and simulation for World Cup qualifying:
“Simulation – probably none of them. I don’t think you can simulate Antigua & Barbuda because we’ve watched their games and have scouted them. It’s difficult to simulate their approach and style of play. It will be tricky. They will give us trouble. We know that. An environment like Guatemala, at the end of the day the most similar situation we’ve had was in the January camp with Panama. But for us, it’s really important that we prepare the team in a way that they go their own pace, their own speed, and that they demand everything from themselves in order to keep the bar as high as possible for those two opponents that we face in the World Cup qualifiers. If we’re able to execute a very fast-paced game, a very determined one, and technically are on a very high level, then hopefully we can break them down.”

On the indication that players are buying into Klinsmann’s system and pace:
“You might want to ask the players. I think that they understand now throughout these last eight or nine months that we would like to adjust ourselves to the best in the world. That means we’re going to be able to play at the same speed. We want to be technically as aware as the big nations are. We want to improve our game in every little detail in order to catch up with the top 10, top 15 in the world. You can only do that through a lot of hard work and effort and through an open mind-set. I think we see that from the players that they’re very curious, they’re very open to that approach and they want to see where their limits are. But we continue that process. It’s a process that won’t happen overnight. It will take time. I think here and there we really saw some areas of improvement and we saw that the players are getting used to training at a very high intensity level. We always try to go to the limits in training sessions. We ask more from them that maybe they were used to, and hopefully they take that the right way. At the end of the day, it’s about them. It’s about how much they want to get out of their own careers.”

On Joe Corona and the physical rigors at an international stage:
“I think he realizes when he trains with the guys in here that there’s another level of physical demand at the international game, and it’s a very normal process that he will go through. He gets challenged in a more physical way. The pace is higher. You don’t have enough time to regenerate between your touches on the ball. You are asked to get back right into position after you lose the ball. So you basically are running at a much higher intensity level than you’re used to in your club team or maybe with the Under-23s when he played there. The one-against-one situations when you face a Jermaine Jones or a Michael Bradley, that’s a different ball game. That’s the learning curve that he needs to go through. We don’t expect for him that he does that within one camp, but he will get used to that. If he’s not getting too embarrassed about it or intimidated about it, then he will make the next step in his career. As I said before, he has special qualities and strengths. We tell him the areas where he can improve, so it’s just a question of time.”

On seeking players like Corona who were not recruited in college or were late in joining the Youth National Team system:
“It shows you that there are many different paths to come through and you can make it. His path is different to a lot of the other guys. Yes, it’s our job to look around and see where we can find very good players. If they’re not in our club system or our Academy system, then that’s OK. If they come through other areas and pop up somewhere else, if it’s in Hoffenheim (Fabian Johnson) or Borussia Dortmund Under-23s (Terrence Boyd), it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, once they come out and once they make themselves a little bit of a name, we look at them closely. If they seem to have huge upside and big potential, then we call them in. That was the case for Joe corona, Terrence Boyd and these young players. We’ll keep doing that, and hopefully we’ll find more of them.”


×