Ahead of the Copa America Centenario, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann evaluates the form of players at every position. Of course, the most obvious measure for attacking players is scoring goals, and on that front the MNT boss has every reason to be pleased. There’s even a defensive stalwart consistently putting his name on the scoresheet. For all the guys vying for a spot on this summer’s roster, it’s time to double down.
“We’re a couple weeks away from Copa America – it’s getting closer and more exciting. You want your players to do well in their club environments no matter what position they’re playing,” said Klinsmann.
“The easiest way to measure things is with strikers – you want to see them score goals, so seeing Jordan Morris scoring four in a row, Clint Dempsey being back on the score sheet, and Bobby Wood with 17 goals in the 2. Bundesliga in Germany is big. But you want them to stay hungry, to be there and to put a stamp on the game in their club environment because you want them to come into the very short preparation period for the Copa America with a lot of energy and with a lot of confidence, but also with a level of aggressiveness that gives us the foundation for a successful tournament.”
Morris is getting his legs under him in his first year as a pro with the Seattle Sounders, netting in four straight games to tie an MLS rookie record. Meantime, Bobby Wood is about to complete a record-setting season of his own, with his 17 goals scored setting a new high mark for a U.S. international in the top two tiers in Germany. Klinsmann is encouraged by the Union Berlin man’s production, and thinks that now is no time to take his foot off the gas.
“He had a very good season at Union Berlin. He brought them, with his 17 goals so far, into the region of sixth and seventh place, which is huge for that club. You want him to confirm that coming into the National Team environment. You want him to not only add another goal in the last club game, but also want him to come into camp and challenge Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore – the strikers – for a starting spot. This is what the message is to Bobby Wood. With a strong Copa America, he improves his situation in the club environment. There are clubs in Germany right now from the Bundesliga that have an interest in him, and every kind of positive impression he leaves gives him a better shot at moving to a top team.”
“It’s funny because obviously he ends up not only super excited to be in Colorado, back in a rhythm and part of a new challenge, but he’s scoring goals,” Klinsmann said. “That’s why I tweeted out, “new #9 now??” – A new goal scorer?” You know that’s not his main purpose; he’s a box-to-box player. He’s a midfielder that drives the energy and the aggressiveness from our end, so we are looking forward to having him for the Copa America. It’s pretty exciting to see him score a couple goals.”
As MNT fans gear up to welcome some of the world’s best goal scorers to U.S. soil this summer, they’ll be excited to see some of their own finding the back of the net regularly ahead of Copa America Centenario.