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MNT vs. Denmark & Switzerland - March 25 & 31, 2015

PLAYER POS. HT. WT. BIRTHDATE HOMETOWN CLUB/COLLEGE
Jozy Altidore F 6-1 175 11/6/89 Boca Raton, Fla. Toronto FC
Ventura Alvarado D 6-0 165 8/16/92 Phoenix, Az. Club America (Mexico)
Alejandro Bedoya M 5-10 160 4/29/87 Weston, Fla. Nantes (France)
Michael Bradley M 6-2 175 7/31/87 Manhattan Beach, Calif. Toronto FC
John Brooks D 6-4 170 1/28/93 Berlin, Germany Hertha Berlin (Germany)
Timmy Chandler D 6-1 180 3/29/90 Frankfurt, Germany Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)
Cody Cropper GK 6-4 200 2/16/93 Maple Grove, Minn. Southampton (England)
Greg Garza D 5-8 155 8/16/91 Grapevine, Texas Club Tijuana (Mexico)
Julian Green M 5-7 140 6/6/95 Tampa, Fla. Hamburg (Germany)
Miguel Ibarra F 5-7 135 3/15/90 Lancaster, Calif. Minnesota United FC
Aron Johannsson F 6-0 165 11/10/90 Mobile, Ala. AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands)
Fabian Johnson D 6-0 155 12/11/87 Munich, Germany Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
Alfredo Morales M 6-0 163 5/12/90 Berlin, Germany Ingolstadt (Germany)
Michael Orozco D 5-11 160 2/7/86 Orange, Calif. Puebla (Mexico)
Tim Ream D 6-1 165 10/5/87 St. Louis, Mo. Bolton Wanderers (England)
Nick Rimando GK 5-11 180 6/17/79 Montclair, Calif. Real Salt Lake
Rubio Rubin F 5-9 160 3/1/96 Beaverton, Ore. Utrecht (Netherlands)
Brek Shea M 6-3 180 2/28/90 Bryan, Texas Orlando City SC
Danny Williams M 5-10 175 3/8/89 Karlsruhe, Germany Reading (England)
DeAndre Yedlin D 5-8 150 7/9/93 Seattle, Wash. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
William Yarbrough GK 6-2 160 3/20/89 Hawthorne, Calif. Club Leon (Mexico)
Gyasi Zardes F 6-2 175 9/2/91 Hawthorne, Calif. LA Galaxy

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.”

Former World Cup Champion Berti Vogts Appointed U.S. MNT Technical Advisor

CHICAGO (March 26, 2014) – U.S. Soccer has appointed former World Cup winner Berti Vogts to be a Technical Advisor to the U.S. Men’s National Team.

A member of the German team that won the 1974 FIFA World Cup, Vogts brings a tremendous track record of success to the Men’s National Team. Additionally, he coached the German squad to the 1996 European Championship – on which U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was team captain – and is one of only three coaches to lead Germany to a trophy in the last 25 years.

“We had a fantastic experience with Berti during the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” said Klinsmann. “His knowledge and experience is a tremendous asset for us. With Andi Herzog having a big focus on qualifying the U-23 team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Berti will make an even more important contribution.”

In his role as Technical Advisor, Vogts will oversee the development of players in Europe, working with Herzog and Matthias Hamann on scouting, building and improving club relationships and identifying talent. Vogts will serve as a resource for technical development initiatives and coaching education. 

Vogts earned 96 caps for Germany, playing a total of 19 matches in three World Cups. Nicknamed “Der Terrier,” he famously marked Dutch legend Johan Cruyff in the 1974 World Cup final that Germany won 2-1 in Munich. He served as team captain from 1977-79, taking over for Franz Beckenbauer.

During a 14-year professional career in which he was twice named Germany Footballer of the Year, Vogts was an integral part of the Borussia Moenchengladbach squad that won five Bundesliga titles (1969–70, 1970–71, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1976–77) and two UEFA Cups (1974–75, 1978–79).

Vogts coached Germany from 1990-98, compiling a record of 66-12-24. In addition to the title in 1996, he had a second-place finish in the 1992 European Championship and led the Germans to the quarterfinals in consecutive World Cups in 1994 and 1998.

Having coached the national teams of Scotland (2002-04) and Nigeria (2007-08), he served as the manager for Azerbaijan from April of 2008 to the end of 2014.

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.

MNT Upended by Nicklas Bendtner Hat Trick in 3-2 Loss to Denmark

AARHUS, Denmark (March 25, 2015) – Jozy Altidore tallied his 27th goal for the U.S. Men’s National Team and added an assist on Aron Johannsson’s third career tally, but it was not enough to offset Nicklas Bendtner’s hat trick in a 3-2 loss to Denmark on Wednesday at NRGi Park.

The USA now returns to Zurich, where it will continue training camp ahead of next week’s match against Switzerland. The U.S. MNT will play its second consecutive road match in Europe on March 31 at 12 p.m. ET live on Fox Sports 1, UniMás and UDN.

The USA twice took the lead in each half first through Altidore and then Johannsson. Denmark responded on each occasion through Bendtner, who eventually scored the game winner in the 91st minute.

The USA had a chance to equalize in the game’s final moments when midfielder Michael Bradley whipped a beautiful cross into the box, but John Brooks guided his header just wide in the last action of the match.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Jozy Altidore (Timmy Chandler), 19th minute:
Timmy Chandler played a one-two passing combination with Altidore, launching the ball to the far post from the right side. Altidore outmuscled his defender and blasted in a half-volley at the near post with his left foot. It was Chandler’s first assist for the USA. USA 1, DEN 0 (SEE GOAL)

DEN – Nicklas Bendtner (Lasse Vibe), 33rd minute: After a long build up, the ball ended up with Denmark’s Daniel Wass. He flashed a cross toward Rimando, where it was backheeled by Lass Vibe into the path of Bendtner, who easily tapped it home from close range. USA 1, DEN 1 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Aron Johannsson (Jozy Altidore), 66th minute: Michael Bradley dropped an exquisite long ball into the Denmark box to a streaking Altidore. The U.S. striker took a beautiful first touch to cushion the pass and draw the attention of Denmark goalkeeper Stephan Andersen before, poking the ball to Johannsson, who tapped home into the vacated goal well with smart first touch and a defender on his back. USA 2, DEN 1 (SEE GOAL)

DEN – Nicklas Bendtner, 83rd minute: A chip from Martin Braithwaite on the left side was deflected and looped toward the far post of the U.S. goal. Denmark’s Lasse Schöne and the USA’s Timmy Chandler challenged for the deflected ball, which ultimately fell to Bendtner, who lashed a first-time volley low past screened U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando. USA 2 DEN 2 (SEE GOAL)

DEN – Nicklas Bendtner (Christian Eriksen), 90+1 minute: A Nick Rimando goal kick was allowed to bounce around the midfield stripe and Denmark won the second ball, moving it to Eriksen wide in the left channel. The Denmark captain directed a long ball over the top to Bendtner, who cradled the pass with a fluid first touch before smacking a low shot past Rimando into the far side netting from 16 yards out. USA 2, DEN 3 (SEE GOAL) FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Nick Rimando (Save) 16th minute:
Denmark curled in a cross from the left channel to the far post which just skipped by striker Nicklas Bendtner, before Rimando turned it around the post with a diving save.

USA – Nick Rimando & Michael Orozco (Save), 48th minute: A defensive mix-up led to an opening for Denmark’s Christian Eriksen, who snapped a wide open shot from the right side, which Rimando expertly beat away. However, the ball continued to roll toward the U.S. goal before Michael Orozco was able to clear it to safety.

Milestone Watch:

  • Timmy Chandler scored his first career point for the U.S. MNT with his assist in the first half.
  • Jozy Altidore’s first-half goal was the 27th of his career and his second this year. He is three goals behind Brian McBride for fourth on the USA’s all-time scoring list.
  • Ventura Alvarado earned his first cap for the U.S. MNT, entering in the 80th minute to replace Michael Orozco.

Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. MNT faces Switzerland at 12 p.m. ET on March 31 in Zurich.
Broadcast information: FOX Sports 1, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer@ussoccer_esp); FacebookInstagram

Additional Notes:

  • Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, making his first start as captain for the USA, were the only two players to feature for the MNT during the last time it faced Denmark in this stadium in 2009.
  • Nick Rimando made his first appearance and start in Europe for the USA.
  • Greg Garza has now started four of the last six matches for which he was available.
  • The two at the top of the USA’s 4-4-2 were Altidore and Johannsson, who were previously teammates at AZ Alkmaar. Altidore assisted on Johannsson’s goal in the 68th minute.
  • Before the match, the Denmark crowd gave Aron Johannsson, who had played at NRGi park before as a member of the Danish club AGF Aarhus, a warm reception when his name was called. It was his first start since 2013, and his first appearance since entering for Jozy Altidore in the 2-1 win against Ghana in the USA’s opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report - 

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Denmark
Date: March 25, 2015
Tournament: International Friendly
Venue: NRGi Park; Aarhus, Denmark
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
Attendance: 10,505
Weather: 41 degrees; Cloudy 

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                            1          1          2
DEN                            1          2          3 

USA – Jozy Altidore (Timmy Chandler)         19th minute
DEN – Nicklas Bendtner (Lasse Vibe)           33
USA – Aron Johannsson (Jozy Altidore)        66
DEN – Nicklas Bendtner                                83
DEN – Nicklas Bendtner (Christian Eriksen) 90+1

Lineups:
USA: 1-Nick Rimando; 21-Timmy Chandler, 15-Michael Orozco (19-Ventura Alvarado, 80), 6-John Brooks, 3-Greg Garza; 20-Gyasi Zardes (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 67) 11-Alejandro Bedoya (7-Alfredo Morales, 46), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson (13-Brek Shea, 46); 17-Jozy Altidore, 9-Aron Johannsson (18-Rubio Rubin, 67)
Subs not used: 5-Tim Ream, 10-Miguel Ibarra, 14-Danny Williams, 16-Julian Green, 22-Williams Yarbrough
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

DEN: 16-Stephan Andersen; 2-Daniel Wass, 3-Simon Kjar, 4-Erik Sviatchenko, 5-Nicolai Bollesen (17-Simon Busk Poulsen, 53); 7-William Kvist (23-Anders Christiansen, 46), 18-Jakob Poulsen (19-Thomas Delaney, 46), 21-Lasse Vibe (8-Martin Braithwaite, 74), 10-Christian Eriksen (capt.); 9-Michael Krohn-Dehli (14-Lasse Schöne, 78), 11-Nicklas Bendtner
Subs not used: 1-Kasper Schmeichel, 6-Las Jacobsen, 12-Mathias Zanka Jorgensen, 13-Kian H. Hansen, 22-Jonas Lössl
Head Coach: Morten Olsen
 

Stats Summary: USA / DEN
Shots: 4 / 12
Shots on Goal: 2 / 5
Saves: 2 / 0
Corner Kicks: 3 / 4
Fouls: 17 / 13
Offside: 1 / 0 

Misconduct Summary:
DEN – William Kvist (caution)                    25th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution)                     78       
USA – Ventura Alvarado (caution)              89

Officials:
Referee: Mattias Gestranius (FIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Jan-Peter Aravirta (FIN)
Assistant Referee 2: Mikko Alakare (FIN)
Fourth Official: Mads-Kristoffer Kristoffersen (DEN)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jozy Altidore

GOAL - Aron Johannsson Bags USA's Second of the Game

Aron Johannsson's goal gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead against Denmark. Watch live on ESPN and Univision.

GOAL - Altidore Blast Gives U.S. Early Lead against Denmark

Jozy Altidore scored to make it 1-0 vs. Denmark.

Teammates Last Week, Opponents Today

When the U.S. MNT and Denmark face off on Wednesday, it will be a matchup of a USA squad coming off a 2-0 win against Panama in February, and a Danish team that leads its 2016 European Cup qualification group.

It will also be a collision of club teammates. DeAndre Yedlin and Denmark’s Christian Eriksen both play for English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur; Aron Johannsson is teammates with defender Simon Busk Pouslen at AZ Alkmaar; and Alejandro Bedoya and Kian Hansen play together at Nantes.

For the players, bragging rights are on the line.

 “It’s definitely a lot of mind games.” Bedoya said of playing against his Nantes teammate Hansen. “We’ve been talking since before we came here about who the better team is. It’s fun getting to play against a teammate of yours. He’s a good guy. I hang around with him a lot on the field, but as we all know, once the game starts and the whistle blows, we’re enemies. We’re all going to try and do whatever it takes to win. Denmark’s a good team.”

Yedlin also spoke highly of his Spurs teammate and (temporary) opponent.

“He’s (Eriksen) a great player and I’ve learned a lot from getting to play alongside him.” Yedlin said. He also added however, that he’d love to be able to go home and have a USA win of which to remind Eriksen when they’re training in Tottenham.

Johansson echoed similar words for his teammate Pouslen, whom he called one of the best. 

“It’s always great going up against a teammate. Hopefully we’ll walk away with the win.” 

North Star: Miguel Ibarra's Journey to the USMNT

When Minnesota United FC midfielder Miguel Ibarra received his first U.S. Men’s National Team call-up from Jurgen Klinsmann last fall, it turned some heads, including his own.

“I was caught off-guard. I didn't know if it was a prank or not,” he told media last October.

Given history, the reaction is understandable.

Selected late in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft by the Portland Timbers, Ibarra was cut before the season began, only to be picked up later by Minnesota in the North American Soccer League.

Though his Portland turn served an early blow, United head coach Manny Lagos showed faith in his abilities early during his tenure with the club. The Lancaster, California product repaid it in droves, going on to amass 14 goals and 13 assists in 81 appearances during his first three seasons in the Twin Cities.

Of those, his four goals and an assist last September won him the league’s Player of the Month award and was likely determining factor when Klinsmann named him to the U.S. squad for friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras the following month.

Miguel Ibarra training
Miguel Ibarra prepares a running volley while in training with the MNT in Zurich, Switzerland.

“While it was surprising, the call-up was well-earned,” Lagos told ussoccer.com. “There was a lot of pride from this organization, a lot of pride that he deserved this because he’s a good guy, a good person and he worked so hard.”

Preparing to enter U.S. camp, Ibarra leaned on Lagos, who had his own run with the U.S. team leading up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, for advice.

“Since the first time I went to Minnesota, Manny’s given me confidence,” Ibarra said. “He knew I could play. He’s always telling me do what I do best. When I got called up he said, ‘just do what you do in Minnesota, you’ll be fine.’ Him giving me confidence and telling me to take advice from players, listen to Jurgen - I’ve taken every piece that he’s given me.”

With the summons, Ibarra became the first U.S. second division player to earn a look with the MNT since Clyde Simms, then with the Richmond Kickers, took part in two camps and earned a single cap in a friendly with England in May 2005.

Like Simms that day in Chicago, Ibarra made a stoppage time cameo in the USA’s 1-1 draw with Honduras last October 14 in Boca Raton. Having achieved his first cap before ever playing in the American top-flight, Ibarra returned to Minnesota where he was named to his second straight NASL Best XI and also won the league’s Golden Ball as Most Valuable Player.

While Simms did utilize his U.S. soiree to earn an MLS contract with D.C. United, the appearance against England was the end of his international career. Conversely, the 24-year-old Ibarra was called into his fourth-straight National Team camp on Sunday after earning his first start in the team’s 2-0 victory against Panama last month.

Miguel Ibarra vs. Panama
Miguel Ibarra takes on Panama's Leonel Parris in the USA's 2-0 win at StubHub Center on Feb. 8, 2015.

“He has a lot of cards in his pockets,” Klinsmann told reporters in the lead-up to that match. “He's an endless runner, he can tie up [defenders], he's technically very gifted, he has a great vision, he sees through people to play the killer balls, he's not afraid in front of the goal to finish things himself. There's a huge amount of talent there, and while he's in the middle of that process, he's developing a personality.”

As Ibarra has adjusted to being a big fish in the smaller NASL pond, Lagos said he’s handled the extra attention and responsibility that comes with it like a true pro.

“You try to get them to be able to look short-term and long-term and stay focused on what a soccer career is. It’s both National Team and club, and both are going really well for Miguel right now. He’s had to absorb new stresses from an expectation standpoint and from a leadership standpoint, and he’s done very well.”

“It’s important for him to stay focused to always try to get better. There are times when you get accolades and you can become complacent. The biggest thing for him is to use these call ups and the growth of our team to continue to get better.”

While the new-found attention brought with it offseason rumors that Ibarra may be off to an MLS club this season, nothing came of it. Instead, he’ll kick off his fourth season with Minnesota United once he returns from the pair of friendlies in Europe this week.

Ibarra remains under contract with the NASL side through the 2016 season and Lagos acknowledges that having a U.S. international player on his roster is special. But if Ibarra continues to earn calls from Klinsmann, it may be difficult to keep him from an MLS debut.

“It’s an exciting time for him and for our club,” Lagos said. “The reality is, this is how a lot of players in different leagues get noticed by working really hard and doing well. Ultimately for us as a club, and along with Miguel, we’re going to be open and honest and try to navigate the growth of soccer with the umbrella of the global game in mind and hopefully whatever transpires in the future, it’s a win-win for the club and player.” 

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