USMNT Report: The Next Klinsmann Era BeginsCoach Jurgen Klinsmann starts preparation for the next World Cup cycle with young roster
by Herb Scribner | Monday, September 01, 2014
It’s been about two months since we last saw the United States Men’s National Team, bowing out of the Round of 16 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But the wait will soon be over.
The Americans will take the field later this week and face the Czech Republic in a friendly match in Prague. It won’t be the top-tier USMNT side you’re used to seeing, but it will be a lineup that is essentially the first step forward into a next installment of this new phase of the American national team.
USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann – ever the tinkerer and ever the fan of surprises and shocks – called up 22 men to join him and his staff for the friendly. Here’s a look at the lineup:
GK: Cody Cropper (Southampton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEF: John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton)
MID: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Brek Shea (Stoke City)
FWD: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Joe Gyau (Borussia Dortmund II), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich)
An immediate glance at the team indicates that this is a good mix of familiar European players and some newbies who are just getting their international careers underway. For fans who watched the World Cup, this is a nice transition game to get back into the swing of things and see who is going to be a USA staple in the years leading up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
In goal, Brad Guzan seems to the direct replacement for Tim Howard, who announced about two weeks ago that he’d be taking a year off from playing with the Americans. But Guzan may not be the top choice. Nick Rimando’s been impressive for MLS’ Real Salt Lake in the last few seasons with his diving saves, quick agility and field-player abilities. This friendly may be a good opportunity for Klinsmann to split the halves between the two goalkeepers in order to get a better look at who may be the No. 1 keeper until Howard returns. Cody Cropper is unlikely to be given time in the game, since his call-up is more of a way for Klinsmann to integrate him into the system and hopefully see the rewards of that later on down the road.
Defensively, the United States may be the best it’s ever been (though it’s still relatively weak). John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler and Tim Ream are all stable and capable players that can perform well in the back. Fabian Johnson had a fantastic World Cup this summer, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can carry that success over into the fall and the proceeding friendlies to come this year. For once, the USA defensive makeup may be the most impressive and experienced of the lineup.
That’s partly because the midfield is packed with some unknowns and others who haven’t had a lot of experience for the red, white and blue. Julian Green may get a start this time around, something we haven’t seen yet since he declared to join the USA. Mix Diskerud will try to solidify a spot in the midfield moving forward, too, and he’ll most likely be the creative force pushing the team forward.
But there isn’t a true defensive midfielder with this team. Alejandro Bedoya could fill that role, though he played on the right earlier this summer. Brek Shea and Joe Corona are both wing players, too, so it’s unlikely they’ll fill in that d-mid position. Alfredo Morales (a defender/midfielder at FC Ingolstadt 04) and Emerson Hyndman (a center-midfielder at Fulham) won’t get much playing time, so it’s unrealistic that they’ll get to fill that role. But Hyndman’s involvement with this team will be interesting to watch regardless – since he has been lauded for many years and commended for being the next big thing for the national team program, and he’s been doing well so far this season at Fulham.
Up top, things look dry. Jozy Altidore hasn’t been scoring in England, and he had to bow out of the World Cup with a hamstring injury. And for the Sunderland striker, confidence and good form is key for him to be successful. Otherwise, none of the forwards have much experience to back him up. Jordan Morris is still competing in college, Rubio Rubin is just getting playing time at FC Utrecht and Bobby Wood just starting to find form in Germany, so there’s no real power up top to go alongside Altidore, who may be powerless to find success himself.
All this is to say is that this lineup is full of gambles. There’s a lot of young, European-based talent in this lineup, and its Klinsmann first step into the new era. When he joined the team in 2011, he had to work with a lot of the laid plans from former USMNT coach Bob Bradley. But now he’s got his own road to travel down, his own map to write, and that starts with this friendly.
And we can already see that this is going to be very different from the last round of World Cup buildup. Klinsmann is bringing in young blood – players who are still green and need to develop and get used to the system. As we start to say goodbye to the players of years past, Klinsmann’s begun integrating young and fresh players into the system. It’s only a friendly, but it’s risky. Already Klinsmann is setting a tone for what he wants to see and what he’s looking for in this new era.
But no one ever got anywhere without taking risks. And from what we know about Klinsmann, risks are his style.
NEXT UP: September 3 — Friendly: United States vs. Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic. NBC Sports Network, UniMas.