March 2015 is the curtain raiser on a busy cycle for the men’s side of the U.S. National Team program.
And USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will use the March friendlies at Denmark and Switzerland as prep for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, while also wearing his other hat as Technical Director as he helps oversee a busy time for the U.S. U-20 and U-23 MNT sides that will hold simultaneous European camps at the end of the month.
Beginning preparations for CONCACAF Olympic qualification in October, USMNT assistant coach Andi Herzog convenes his first camp in charge of the U-23 side ahead of games at Bosnia-Herzegovina (March 27) and Denmark (March 31). Meanwhile, having recently qualified for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, U-20 head coach Tab Ramos will bring his team to England for a pair of matches against the England U-21s and Tottenham Hotspur U-21s.
“For the youngsters to look towards the U-20 World Cup is huge,” Klinsmann told ussoccer.com. “For the U-23s, we have to get them going in order to prepare for the qualifiers later this year towards the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Andi Herzog has his hands full with that group. For me and the Senior Team perspective, I’m looking at all these youngsters and thinking who can come through these periods and develop the fastest possible in order to make himself a strong competitor for the senior group. So this is a great time now, and we can’t wait to get these games going at the end of the month.”
BREAKING DOWN THE ROSTERS
The balance has a telling diversity among the 62 players that have been summoned.
With all three camps taking place at the same time, the understanding between the three coaches, all of whom worked together at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, has been key as Klinsmann has continued to develop a structure that works not only for the senior team but helps develop players that will one day play for it.
“In terms of style of play, it’s the same approach that Jurgen has and what Tab Ramos has done with the U-20s,” Herzog said in regards to coaching the U-23s. “We all work together with the senior team. For this group, I want to have a team where there are a lot of variations. We want to be attack-minded, keep possession, and have the whole team proactively working to win the ball back as soon as possible.”
- Q&A: Klinsmann Breaks Down Thinking Behind Current MNT Squad
- Q&A: Herzog Laying Foundation for U-23 Olympic Qualifying
- Q&A: Ramos and U-20 MNT Ramp Up Prep for 2015 U-20 World Cup
Though just beginning the U-23 cycle, with the previous team missing out on qualification for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Herzog said the task of getting the team to Rio next year begins with his new side understanding the playing philosophy being handed down this initial camp.
“It’s a big goal, and I think it will be really important to start from the first session to get the players into this philosophy.”
Beyond ensuring a similar playing style, the understanding has perhaps been most important when figuring out how to balance three different rosters with players that could go between two different teams.
“It’s all very clear,” Ramos told ussoccer.com. “Jurgen and I have had a conversation to make sure that we put all things in the right places as we’re moving forward. Obviously having three National Teams go to camp at the same time is not easy. We don’t all get the players we need at times, and it’s not easy on the clubs because MLS doesn’t stop for the FIFA dates and we’re at times asking for a bunch of players from the same team. We try not to deplete any one club at one time so the conversations between Jurgen, Andi and me as he passes down the information have to be very clear. We’ve done that, we’re all on the same page and I think it’s going to go smoothly.”
A past member of U.S. U-17 and U-20 World Championship squads as well as the 2008 Olympic team, U.S. senior international Jozy Altidore spoke to the value of these experiences for players who are beginning to develop international careers.
“It’s great to be involved at these levels because you get exposed to different types of teams,” said Altidore. “You see early how competitive it is, and how good the up and coming players are. Even getting used to things like travel is valuable. Dealing with all the elements of being an international player helps you get used to it and it becomes less of an issue as you progress, because it doesn’t get any easier. All these things prepare you for what’s to come.”
Altidore joins Beijing 2008 teammates Michael Bradley and Michael Orozco for USMNT camp this month, while another six of the senior players called in have represented the U.S. at various youth World Cups or in qualifying.
“These are important experiences,” continued Altidore. “A lot of the things you see at that level can prepare you for when you make the jump to the senior team, so these guys should take it seriously and get the most of out of it.”
Members of the U.S. Women's National Team joined with more than 28 of the world’s top female footballers and Nike in Paris to unveil their National Team Collection for this summer’s FIFA Women's World Cup.
The USA will compete in France wearing a new collection and a set of kits that channel the energy of the 1999 team and all its championship glory. For the all-white home kit, the shirt features a stripped sleeve cuff reminiscent of those worn by Brandi Chastain, Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, and is punctuated by three stars above the crest — honoring the USA's world titles from ’91, ’99 and 2015. This theme follows on the shorts, where the single star adorning the sides of the ’99er uniform has been replaced by a stack of three. Knit tape on the back of the neck also displays this embellishment.
Another element to cherish: The back panel of the home shirt presents a tonal gray print formed from each of the 50 states. It is symbolic, a reminder of the nation’s support for the team — an enthusiastic “We’ve got your back!”
As the away team, the WNT amps up its undeniably American identity in a red shirt and shorts with blue socks. The shirt is highlighted by an abstraction of the American flag and the three shining stars. Inner pride on the away shirt reads “One Nation, One Team.”
For each match, the team will wear a new anthem jacket with a pleated back and transparent sleeves. The full collection for the USWNT also includes a blue heather training kit, a drill pant augmented by a USA crest and Swoosh lockup and a suite of lifestyle apparel.
At the historic Palais Brongniart, Nike revealed an array of future-forward women’s innovation. Design for the 14 National Team Kits began with gathering detailed input on fit from professional footballers, followed by 4-D scanning and motion capture in the Nike Sports Research Lab. Beyond innovations in fit, the National Team Kits also reflect Nike’s continued commitment to being the world’s most sustainable sports brand, with each 2019 Nike Kit constructed from at least 12 recycled plastic bottles. Since 2010, Nike has diverted more than 6 billion plastic bottles from landfills through sustainable product design.