Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The MLS season may be nearing its end, but that does not mean that players can go on break just yet. Not U.S. Men’s National Team players, anyway.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann expressed his desire for MLS-based players in his pool to stay active during the upcoming offseason in an interview with USSoccer.com on Thursday. Klinsmann said it is important for his players to continue to train from the points in which their club seasons end to early or mid-December to maintain sharpness and also admitted he’d like to see them try and secure loans abroad for when the winter transfer window opens in January.
Several key U.S. players ply their trades in MLS these days, including Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi. There are also several domestic-based players who have become regulars under Klinsmann in the past year, such as Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Kyle Beckerman and Brad Evans.
“The situation with the MLS players with the upcoming offseason is a big topic for us from the national team side because we need them to keep going at least until the beginning of December,” said Klinsmann. “If they’re not going on loan to Europe in January, then they are coming into camp with us. Our priorities are set so that the first one is if you get a chance to go on loan to Europe, do it. Compete there with good players overseas. If not, we have to find a solution for the players that maybe lose in the playoffs to keep going until the first weeks of December and then they have a well-deserved, four-week break until the beginning of January.
“It is very crucial for us that the players understand that everything they do now today has an influence on Brazil 2014 next summer. They can’t take it easy. We wish that all of them can make it to the final and win the MLS Cup, but it’s only going to happen to a few of them. So, everybody who is maybe out earlier needs to have a plan in place to bridge that offseason period.”
Klinsmann also touched on the upcoming January camp a little more by revealing that the roster for it will consists of 20-23 players. The camp, which will be held in Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, Brazil, will serve as a way to keep players sharp and fit as well as to help Klinsmann further determine who might be able to contribute at the World Cup in June.
“Whoever won’t be on loan in January or February overseas is going to be part of our mandatory January camp. We expect everybody comes in,” said Klinsmann. “We’ll try to bring in some younger players, have a look at them as well because we want to get a roster together of 20 to 23 guys that is highly motivated and inspired to go into the World Cup year.
“It will be exciting. Our plan is to break it down into two periods: one in LA and one in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They will get a first taste of Brazil in January. We’re looking forward to it, but again, if a player has the option – maybe in the case of guys like Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan or Graham Zusi – go to Europe and get a European experience in and compete with the guys overseas. This is our preference.”
The U.S. has two more friendlies before closing out 2013. The Americans travel to take on both Scotland and Austria next month and then will set their sights on the 2014 World Cup draw on Dec. 6.
What do you think if Klinsmann’s desire to have players staying active during the MLS offseason? Which players would you like to see go on loan in January? Who would you like to see called into the January camp?
Share your thoughts below.