Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The U.S. men's national team hit the practice field on Tuesday morning to begin preparations for its upcoming friendly against Honduras, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann picked things up where he left off in September.
The emphasis of the training session was passing, as the players were put through different exercises before breaking up into two teams of seven for a small game with two mini-goals on each side.
Following the training, Klinsmann spoke with a handful of local media and discussed what he would like to get out of the U.S. team's friendly against Honduras on Saturday as well as the one against Ecuador next Tuesday.
"Obviously, we'd like to see a progression in our work," said Klinsmann. "I think the first two get-togethers with three games combined we saw a lot. It's a group of players that have a tremendous working attitude and willingness to learn and willingness to improve.
"So we step-by-step try to build something that really prepares us well for the World Cup qualifiers next summer, and building a core group of experience – the leaders in the group – and step by step introducing some fresh blood, some younger players with tremendous potential moving forward. So we're trying to combine things, we're trying to see a lot of different things on the field in our training sessions, and then see how we can mold those things together."
Here are more notes from U.S. training:
FINDING THE BACK OF THE NET
One aspect Klinsmann is looking to address during this camp is finishing. Through three games the Americans have mustered only one goal and have yet to get a victory. They also lost both of their September friendlies by the score of 1-0, but Klinsmann insists that it is a work in progress.
"Against Costa Rica, I thought we had enough chances to put it in the net and win the game," said Klinsmann. "Belgium was a bit of a different character, even if we scored a regular goal in the last couple of minutes which was disallowed for whatever reason, the referee only knows. But it's okay. Obviously you want to get to the next step and put this thing in the net, and it's a process and the players are aware of that. … We definitely would like to see a couple of goals coming up in the next few games."
For veteran DaMarcus Beasley, this set of friendlies marks the second time he's been called in by Klinsmann. Beasley was included on the roster for the United States' friendly with Mexico back in August, although he did not dress for the game.
Beasley was not called into camp for the September friendlies, but he returns to the fold after playing well for Mexican club Puebla in recent weeks.
"DaMarcus, he completely moved out of his comfort zone," said Klinsmann. "Coming back from Europe and being all over the place with up and downs that we all have in our lives, he kind of got his act together and he made that step going down to Mexico and proving himself. It shows his character and it shows you his willingness to fight through different environments and difficult moments. I think you see a far more mature DaMarcus Beasley now than you have seen probably a couple years ago, which is natural, it's a normal process."
KLINSMANN ADDRESSES OMISSIONS
Klinsmann touched on some of his roster omissions, which include the likes of defenders George John and Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Benny Feilhaber.
"We have a huge list of MLS players. We watch games week in and week out. I send all of our staff people, Claudio Reyna, we send them out together and watch games. If it's in Mexico, if it's in Europe, we know where they are. At the same time, as I mentioned before in (last week's) press release, we don't want to shake up the group every time we get together too much.
"We saw that there are players that want to get into this group and they have all the case, but at the same time if you want to develop consistency and you want to improve the quality of the group right now, you need to bring them in regularly. I'm not a friend of – maybe that was the idea behind a game in L.A. and a game in Belgium, having the L.A. game played by the MLS guys and having the Belgium game played by the European guys.
"That might have been the idea, but I'm not that way. I want them to have a sense of national team balance, no matter if it's here or somewhere else. It's my opinion the best that are right now available. If there are injuries, there are injuries. But in general, I want the best players always here, and that makes it difficult now for Benny or for George John and Omar Gonzalez for example, I understand that."
- Of the 22 players called in, 18 are currently in camp. Edson Buddle is scheduled to join the team later on Tuesday and Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream and Nick Rimando will get with the group later in the week following their respective MLS games.
- Assistant coach Martin Vasquez was at practice, but he is still not yet employed by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
- Jonathan Spector was the lone player not to participate as he continues to recover from a slight ankle injury picked up over the weekend. Spector jogged around the field, but was not involved in the team drills.
- The team did some running, worked on passing drills and wrapped up the session by splitting the field players into two teams (gray and orange) of seven. The drill involved two mini-goals on each side. Clint Dempsey served as a two-way player in the drill.
- The orange team was made up of DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Teal Bunbury, Maurice Edu, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco Fiscal and Danny Williams.
- The gray team was comprised of Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman, Carlos Bocanegra, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Jeff Larentowicz and Brek Shea.
- Altidore had his right ankle stepped on during the 7-on-7 game and was removed and tended to for precautionary measures. Dempsey took his place on the gray team.
- Dempsey looked sharp in the game, as did Williams. The TSG Hoffenheim midfielder/defender spent a good amount of time on the left side, but players moved about freely.
- There won't be an update on potential November friendlies until after the Euro qualifiers are played later this month, a U.S. spokesman said.
- The United States returns to the practice field on Wednesday morning.
What do you think of Klinsmann's continued emphasis on passing? Do you see the United States beating Honduras on Saturday? What do you think about his comments towards some of his omissions?
Share your thoughts below.