Jurgen Klinsmann Quote Sheet: 23-Player FIFA World Cup Roster

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann held a press conference Friday from the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He addressed the USA’s 23-player roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which was announced Thursday afternoon.

Introductory remarks:
Jurgen Klinsmann: “Obviously it’s a big moment for everyone on this 23-man list, like it is for everyone in all the other countries going to Brazil. We anticipated this decision a little bit because we coaches had, over the last few days, a pretty clear picture on everyone involved in this process. We sensed that this is the right time now to also have those conversations with the seven players that will be on standby from now on. They’re still in the picture. They’re not out by any means. If somebody gets injured, God forbid, they are coming back in. It was the right time to bring them the message that we’re now zooming in and starting on working on more details toward Ghana. Obviously you congratulate everyone being on that 23-man roster, and you feel sorry for the guys who are left out of that moment and hope for their understanding, and you hope for them that they take it the right way, that they are still available at any moment over the next couple of weeks. For a coach, there is a mixture of feelings that you go through – on one side you’re very happy for everyone now being on the 23-man list, and on the other side you feel really bad for the guys who haven’t made the cut in that moment. That’s part of our work, and they understand that, as well.”

On whether there was a point when Landon Donovan was considered a 23-player inclusion during this selection process:
JK: “Landon is always in our inner circle and always part of the plans. Observing all the players going into that bigger pool of almost three years, there are many points brought into the discussions. We had many discussions with the coaches, and it was a very tight decision on all of those seven. That’s why we brought 30, because it is so tight, in all the slots all over the field. Then you break it down, and the way you break it down is strengths and weaknesses, bigger puzzle and the entire team – many different points. It’s not now the comparison between what you bring to the table and the other one brings to the table. You, as a coach, have to make a decision based on what you want to execute in Brazil, what you want to see and how you want to build those components into the entire group. We coaches felt that the guys we chose are a little step ahead of Landon in certain areas. It wouldn’t do justice if I mentioned these fields. Where maybe he has a little bit of a weakness, another guy has more strengths, and where the other guy has more weaknesses, Landon has his strengths. It is a very tight race for those spots, and at this moment, we feel like the other players, without naming any of those guys, are a tiny bit ahead of him. That’s why we made that decision, which is obviously and understandably the biggest topic out here.”

On the evaluation of Donovan in coming to this determination:
JK: “We read everything. Where he maybe is not the one to go one against one all the time and go into the box, he brings other values to the table – his outstanding passing game, his experience,, which is a big factor always, and other elements. He’s changed his game over the past four years, which is normal at this stage of his career. Those things, we coaches discuss. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the other guys that we have and then we have to make a decision. He has done an amazing job in the last 10 days he was here, and has done everything right, like all of the guys did. They all had strong cases. With every player yesterday to kind of go through those couple minutes, it’s been not easy. It’s just part of the process.”

On if his extended contract influenced player decisions for the World Cup roster:
JK: “No. This is based on today. This is based on what hopefully goes well the next seven or eight weeks. It has nothing to do with my contract or with the perspective that those players have for the longer run. It is our strong feeling that these guys are ready for the World Cup, coming in anytime and doing well. This is how they develop – very fast-paced, we see them growing every day in training, getting stronger and stronger, and we feel strongly about these players. I think it’s a roster, if you really go through it, that is a very experienced roster. It’s not a young roster. I think we have a great mixture of guys. Some have a learning curve ahead of them, there’s no doubt about it. If you talk about a Julian Green or DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks, they are ready for that learning curve and they might surprise some people out there.”

On Tim Howard’s and Michael Bradley’s recent praise of Donovan and if they were notified of his not being included:
JK: “No. I didn’t discuss that selection process with the older players and the leaders of the team because you don’t want them to be involved in personnel discussions that they might influence in any way. I think it’s great when they mention to the media or to the public their thoughts, the way they look at it, because there’s a lot of admiration coming with that. Landon has a lot of admiration in the entire group, with us coaches, as well. At the end of the day, we’re the only ones to really look at every one of them – to watch their games week in and week out and to see them with their clubs. I don’t think the players have that chance to watch all of their teammates play on the weekends because they’re busy playing themselves. We observe those things. Since I’m on board, we do that very frequently and intently. Our picture, at the end of the day, is a different one than a player has with his own teammate, so when it comes down to those decisions, I’m not involving the players.”

On the working relationship between coaches and veteran players, and the discussions they have:
JK: “I had a talk with Michael, for example, but that’s just about a situation, when you just bump into each other and you talk about it. … There were many conversations coming up in the hotel, when we traveled with the experienced guys the leaders of the team, on many different topics. Definitely you involve them in discussions about Ghana, how to approach Germany, Portugal, training sessions and all those things, how you run everything and the logistics of it. They’re always part of those discussions, but when it comes down to player selection, that’s down to the coaches.”

On the smaller number of World Cup experience on this current 23-man roster compared to previous cycles, and whether that could be a factor in the 2014 FIFA World Cup:
JK: “I think there’s always a first time. You just need to go into a World Cup with a lot of confidence and be very well prepared. You have to be sure you did your homework. Once you are on the field and you play your first games, it’s nothing more than any other game, like a World Cup qualifier. The mention of it to the outside world is far bigger. If we put all the work in the next couple weeks, we’re going to be very well prepared for our first opponent, a huge game against Ghana, and they will have that confidence and won’t require the previous experience. I won my World Cup in the first one I played. We screwed up the next two. I don’t think it’s a factor.”

On the conversation with Donovan and how it was handled:
JK: “First of all, he took it highly professionally and with amazing composure. Obviously big disappointment is expected. He said that he doesn’t understand it; he thinks he should have been in the 23, which is well taken. I want the player to speak up and say that. I tried to lay out a couple of reasons, and those are technical parts, to explain why this and why this, and I just told him that I hope for his understanding and I hope that he stands by us. If something happens tomorrow, I can call him and he’s back right away. He assured me that he is at our disposal 24/7. If a call comes, he is ready to go. He expressed his disappointment, but in a very professional way. I admire that a lot.”

On his son, Jonathan, tweeting about the situation on Thursday:
JK: “I was hugely disappointed. I called him right away. He realized just a few minutes after what he had done. He came out of school fooling around with his classmates and just went off on Twitter, not being aware that he’s actually followed on Twitter. He has a huge admiration for Landon. He’s actually a big fan of his for many years. He has his jersey in his room. He realized what he had done, so he was devastated yesterday. Obviously, as a father, you put him in line and he owes him a huge apology. It was highly disrespectful and I think he got his biggest social media lesson that he could imagine. It was very disappointing.”

On the 23-man roster affecting the pressure on Klinsmann during the World Cup:
JK: “I just have to do what I believe is the right thing as of today, and time will tell over the next seven weeks if it was the right move, if it was the right decision on players, on tactical approaches for Ghana, Portugal and Germany, and everything you’re going to do now from today going forward. As of today, I am strongly convinced that this is the right way to go, that this is the right decision that we made and I believe in that. Time will tell. If I’m not getting the job done at the end of the day, you know the outcome of those things in the soccer world.”

On Donovan still being a part of the National Team in the long-term:
JK: “First of all, it’s very important to us that he is around the clock available. If something happens today, God forbid, or in the next couple of weeks before we have the first game – because before the first game we can always sub an injured player – that is huge. He said that right away in that meeting yesterday. I also have the strong hope that he absolutely continues after, and all the players that were told yesterday, that now they are not part of the 23, move on with it. If they are not coming down to Brazil, a new cycle starts. How this new cycle will start after Brazil obviously depends on the outcome in Brazil. That is our wish, that Landon continues his National Team career. No doubt about it.”

On young players and how they will grow through the World Cup:
JK: “It’s a normal process within every sports team that the youngsters try to find their way into the group and figure out how this all works and stand a bit in the back of the line and ask questions to the more experienced players. Those couple of youngsters that we have, they are all very curious guys. They want to learn. They are ready every day to work hard and to make the next step. It’s a normal process to bring them through. In every cycle and every World Cup, you have a couple of them growing tremendously during that World Cup period. I think, compared to maybe 10 days ago and then have that discussion in three or four weeks in Sao Paulo, you will see a very interesting process going on with these young players. They are up to the task. Emotionally, it’s a lot to handle. We have to run them through that process, but they’re ready for it.”

On what Julian Green contributes to the team:
JK: “I’m not comparing Julian with Landon. That’s not a discussion. We have in Julian a player that brings certain values to the team that we observed over almost two years in many of his games and training sessions at Bayern Munich and by talking to (Bayern Munich manager) Pep Guardiola many times. We see a very special talent coming through. He’s getting more and more ready every day. He is getting stronger. He has more confidence. He is very well-respected already in this group. In a soccer team, it’s very simple. They measure themselves with the quality you bring to the table, not with the age and not where you’re coming from. They want to see that in the games, and we played, over the last 10 days, a lot of small-sided games – very competitive games, and games that you can’t hide. Julian didn’t hide, not even one second. I think if you have the opportunity this afternoon to ask the players what they think about the kid, you will hear a lot of positives. There was never a comparison being made between him and Landon or another player because he’s different. He brings a different element to the game and we’re excited about it.”

On the current circumstances in Brazil and how they will affect the World Cup:
JK: “All of us going to Brazil will have to deal with whatever circumstances are out there. Whatever infrastructure, or logistical, or travel hurdles that are ahead of us, we have to take them, all of us as fans, journalists and teams, it’s not going to be a perfect World Cup. You have to expect that there are some issues. In cities, maybe there are some protests and all that stuff. You have to deal with it once you’re down there and make the best out of it. We’re prepared for it. We were down there in January and I think that helped us a lot.”

On Chris Wondolowski being named to the World Cup roster and his contribution to the team:
JK: “We are very excited about Wondo, make that clear. This guy, for three years, is working his tail off for this team. In every training session he is the first on the field and is ready to go, and he wants to prove it. It took him a while to start scoring for the National Team because he was sometimes over-excited and too eager, but then he started to get balanced and calm down and settle with that group. He understood he was part of that inner group more and more and then he started scoring. He brings an enormous amount of energy into that group. He’s a pure giver. He’s always thinking about his teammates. He’s always thinking about the others. Does he want to score every second he’s on the field? Absolutely. But he’s also a player that, when he sees somebody positioned better than him, he will pass that ball. He absolutely deserves to be on that plane to Brazil. He’s worked very, very hard for it.”

On Timmy Chandler, John Brooks and performance as the criteria for the 23-man roster:
JK: “At the end of the day, it’s down to pure performance. It’s down to where they are right now. We watched all of them over the last two or three years no matter where they played – in Germany, Mexico, MLS, Holland, England or wherever. We are trying to figure out now who is really peaking in the upcoming weeks and who is on the way to playing their best game. We worked very hard with Timmy Chandler after his knee surgery. I talked to his coach. I talked to his club. We sent people out to watch his training sessions. We had a special fitness coach just working with him through us to see how fast he can get back on track and how he can get to his highest performance level. Coming here, one of the question marks was if he can show that right away. Is he behind? Is he up for 50-50 battles here? The same with John Brooks in that process. We needed to see that. He struggled the last couple of months in Berlin, on and off the field. It’s a process that every young person goes through. That’s why these last 10 days have been extremely important. Now we believe that all of them that we chose are just an inch ahead of the ones that we didn’t choose in performance terms, and only in performance terms, and not in terms of where they play right now and what their background is.”