ussoccer.com: What are your overall thoughts on the World Cup Qualifying roster?
Jurgen Klinsmann: “We’re excited about this roster going into Guatemala because a couple of players are back in the picture that are healthy again, like Geoff Cameron and Alejandro Bedoya, which is very, very crucial for us. Some players for months have been playing at a very high level, like John Brooks, for example, and Fabian Johnson and Bobby Wood scoring goals in the 2. Bundesliga in Germany. This is exciting because you want them to make a mark on their team. Another example in a very positive way is Omar Gonzalez with Pachuca. He’s been playing a very strong first couple of months with the new club since he went down there coming from the LA Galaxy, which is exciting. Another name to mention is Edgar Castillo being a very consistent high-level player at Monterrey, being on top of the Liga MX in Mexico. We were in touch over the last year and he deserves that call and deserves to get back into the group. We are happy that Brad Guzan fought back into his number one spot at Aston Villa. We take it player by player and we try to make sure there’s the right mix of players in the whole roster, and we are convinced that this roster is strong enough to get the job done.”
ussoccer.com: What is the goal in terms of results for these two games against Guatemala?
JK: “Our goal definitely for the two Guatemala fixtures is six points. We badly want to get the job done before the Copa America if possible. We know it’s going to be very difficult, especially in Guatemala City, but it’s also going to be difficult in Columbus, but there we have a great crowd behind us. It will be vital how we come out right away from the first second in Guatemala City, and hopefully being able to get three points. That would make things a lot easier for the second game.”
ussoccer.com: This is the last time the team is together before Copa America Centenario. How big an opportunity are these games for players to make their cases to be included this summer?
JK: “I think that it’s hugely important for everyone coming into these Guatemala games to understand this is the last time we meet before Copa America. This is now the time where you have to show how good you are in terms of you want to make a statement to be in the roster for Copa America. So this is big. The competition will be intense. We want them to make their marks and what better way than six points against Guatemala? This is the message to the players when they come into Miami, to show us what you have because this is about building your case for the Copa America.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve brought a larger than normal roster into camp. What’s behind that approach?
JK: “The reason why we brought in a little bit of a bigger roster is because of the fact that it is the last time before we decide on the roster for the Copa America. We want to have the opportunity to see a couple more players. For example, we brought in four goal keepers because we want to see where David Bingham is right now, where William Yarbrough - who is playing very consistent with Club Leon - is right now. Obviously we want to see other players as well. This is the only chance we have from a National Team perspective to see a couple guys, so that’s why we chose to bring in 26 players. On the roster sheet there can only be 23, but it’s definitely worth it for us to get a close look at a couple of players that we think of in terms of Copa America as well.”
ussoccer.com: Clint Dempsey is back. What does he bring to the table for these games?
JK: “Having Clint Dempsey back is very, very important for us as well. He’s a tremendous goal scorer and when we play teams like Guatemala, you need to figure out ways to score just one or two goals that make the difference. Clint is a guy that can get that done. We are happy to have him back in our group. He started well in the CONCACAF Champions League with two goals, but he hasn’t scored yet in MLS. Hopefully he will score with us before he goes back to MLS.”
ussoccer.com: Edgar Castillo returns with the chance to play for the first time in two years. What have you seen from him that earned him this opportunity?
JK: “It’s been exciting to watch Edgar Castillo for quite some time at Monterrey play very consistent and on a very good level, so that’s why he deserves to come back in our group because he’s proving that week in and week out in the Mexican league. We’ve always been in touch. He’s very patient. He was disappointed he was not called in the last couple of occasions, but he made his point, he made his mark and that’s why we are happy to have him back in our group.”