The U.S. MNT recently finished its annual January Camp with back-to-back last-minute wins over Iceland and Canada. Look back at the most notable numbers from camp:
2,394 – Number of days since Luis Robles’ last start with the MNT prior to Jan. 31 against Iceland
90 – Steve Birnbaum scored the game-winning goal in the 90th minute against Iceland
89 – Jozy Altidore scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute against Canada
45 – Career wins for Jurgen Klinsmann following the two victories, putting him second all-time among MNT coaches
33 – Altidore’s career goal count for the U.S., putting him one behind Eric Wynalda for third on the scoring list. Altidore reached that mark in 91 caps, the fastest of any MNT player.
22 – Players on the match-day rosters who suit for clubs in MLS
20 – Michael Bradley’s career assist total for the USA, which ranks third all-time behind Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones
20 – Age of Kellyn Acosta, the youngest player on the roster. He earned his first two caps by starting both victories to open the USA’s 2016 slate
8 – Consecutive games started by Altidore, Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes, the longest current streak among MNT players
6 – Players who earned their first cap (Acosta, David Bingham, Ethan Finlay, Jerome Kiesewetter, Tony Tchani and Brandon Vincent)
5 – The highest number of U-23 MNT players to appear in either of the year opening matches
4 – Goals scored by the USA
2 – Goals scored by Altidore
1 – First career international assist for Ethan Finlay, posted in his second capRead more
Lee Nguyen was ‘one of the winners’ of the January camp, U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said after Sunday’s 3-2 win over Iceland.
“He was really prepared for this camp,” Klinsmann said of Nguyen. “From day one he set the tone. He said, ‘OK I was here last year, and I didn’t make the impression that I wanted to make, so I better make it right now.’ So he was unquestionably in the starting lineup after a week.”
Nguyen was handed his first career start after coming off the bench in his previous seven appearances with the MNT. Initially playing left midfield – though allowed to pinch in – Nguyen was moved higher on the field for the second half. He appeared to be just as comfortable connecting with teammates in either role.
“Being in camp for the past two years, I was able to start to get comfortable with the guys around me now – they start to know my tendencies,” said the McKinney, Texas native. “And I think you starting to see they’re more comfortable finding me in those gaps for me if I can interlink the play between the midfield and the forwards.”
Klinsmann said the reason for the shift was because he wanted someone to try to find space between Iceland’s four-man backline and midfield, which was dropping back and making spaces tight.
“If you get into these areas, you need a player that is very skillful, [makes] easy turns, easy to connect people,” Klinsmann said. “And that’s why we moved Gyasi (Zardes) out and made (Nguyen) the connector further up, so that maybe Michael Bradley or Jermaine Jones could find him, and then he finds Jozy, and so on.
“So he played this connector role in the second half, and he loves to do that, because obviously he’s higher up the field, and we know that he can score as well. If he gets in shooting position we know that Lee has a tremendous shot, which he shows in New England.”
In four years with the New England Revolution, Nguyen, 29, has scored 34 goals and added 24 assists, mostly playing in a similar advanced midfielder role.
“I like playing either or because both ways I get to tuck in and find the game,” he said. “But obviously, I’ve played most of my games with the Revs underneath, so obviously I’m comfortable there. But at the same time it’s easy to play on the side, too.”
Whether more central or higher up, Nguyen is clearly making his case with the MNT.
“After three weeks of training, he’s definitely one of the winners of this period,” Klinsmann added.Read more
Ethan Finlay added another individual honor to his collection on Sunday, the third of the past six months for the Columbus Crew SC winger. After earning his first MLS All-Star selection in July, and being named to the MLS Best XI team in December, on Sunday, Finlay made his MNT debut in a 3-2 win against Iceland.
“It was great. It was a lot of fun, a great experience,” Finlay said afterwards. “But more importantly to come out with a win was a nice little bonus.”
Finlay was rewarded with his first National Team call-up for January Camp after finishing the 2015 MLS season with 12 goals and 13 assists while playing mostly as a winger in Columbus.
“Ethan really impressed in training,” Klinsmann said of the 25 year-old. “He was all over the place, he had endless energy. And sometimes you actually have to slow him down and say, ‘Ethan, you don’t need to go 200 miles an hour.’ But it shows his character. He wants to really give everything he has and wants to prove a point. He was a bit nervous, too, which is of course normal because of his first cap. But it was definitely the right step into this group of guys.”Read more
Almost a year to the date of his first and only appearance with the MNT, defender Steve Birnbaum made the most of his second cap on Sunday in front of family and friends.
Oddly enough, he almost never got the chance in the first place.
Birnbaum was not named to the original roster, but was called in after injuries prevented a couple players from reporting to camp. Clearly he was determined to make the opportunity count.
Entering the match against Iceland to start the second half, the Irvine, Calif. native assisted on the tying goal and then scored the game-winner in the 90th minute to give the USA the 3-2 victory a StubHub Center in Carson.
- PHOTO GALLERY: U.S. MNT Begins 2016 with a Win
“They said, ‘do what you’ve been doing in training,’ and on set pieces to get after it an attack the ball, and that’s what I did,” Birnbaum said of the instructions he received from the coaching staff at halftime.Read more