Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
With only five more matches left on FIFA’s international calendar before Jurgen Klinsmann must select his World Cup squad, every match is an opportunity for the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach to find the best 23 players to take to Brazil.
Heading into their final two World Cup qualifying matches on October 11 vs. Jamaica and October 15 at Panama, the USMNT’s fate is already sealed. However, that doesn’t mean that Klinsmann doesn’t want to rest some of his stars and potentially miss out on finishing at the top of CONCACAF’s Hexagonal phase for the third consecutive time.
“Definitely for our last two qualifiers against Jamaica and Panama, our approach is six points,” Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “We want to win these two games badly, and we are going to bring in the best players. We are going to bring in everyone that is available and finish this qualifying campaign on the highest note possible.
Therefore, everybody that is fit and healthy and belongs in that group will be there.”
This calendar year has certainly been a banner year for American soccer on a number of different levels. For only the second time ever, the USMNT earned a result in Estadio Azteca, went on a 12-match winning streak that included a Gold Cup title and wins over European foes (Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina), as well as then defeating Mexico at home, 2-0, to qualify for the World Cup Finals next summer.
In addition, Klinsmann’s mantra of competition is finally beginning to show results. More than 45 players called into USMNT squads this summer have impressed in the national team colors and Klinsmann has built a squad that is not only versatile in what positions they can play, but is also deep at nearly every position.
“Competition is an ongoing, never-ending topic in our environment,” Klinsmann said. “We want to challenge everyone. The starting guys need to feel there is a guy behind that wants to take his spot away, and even that guy is challenged by another guy.
“We want to go deeper and deeper into our pool to find more players and more competition. This race will go on until May 2014 and a moth prior to the World Cup, and then we have to narrow it down and at the end of the day name the 23-player roster going to Brazil. This competition is really just starting now.”
With the start of World Cup camp looming nine months from now, Klinsmann says that the focus must be on the players preparing for the tournament starting now, and not when they arrive in camp in May. Klinsmann believes that the Americans must work even harder than their teammates at club and international level, to prove to the boss that they’re worthy of one of the 23 available roster spots to play in Brazil.
“The next step for us after qualifying is obviously making it clear to the players that the World Cup is another two levels up. It’s already starting now that you have to put into your mindset that you always have to do extra work, more work than your teammates at your club because you represent the National Team going to Brazil.
“We have to make it clear that everything is important going forward from now on, if it’s how they live their lives off the field in terms of sleep, food, regeneration and all those things, and how important it is to keep a rhythm in games and show in their performances that they deserve to be a National Team player, which means they have to be better than the rest of their team.”
What do you think of these comments? Do you agree with Klinsmann? Do you see Klinsmann selecting a number of European-based players for the two matches? What does this mean for youngsters like John Anthony Brooks, Terrence Boyd, and Aron Johannsson?
Share your thoughts below.