USMNT Report: Young Team Brings Excitement

Tonight’s showdown between Canada and the USMNT will be a game of new beginnings
by Herb Scribner   |   Tuesday, January 29, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States Men’s National Team is about to face arguably its most important stretch of games in quite some time.

World Cup Qualifying continues later this year and it’s time to see if manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s team really has what it takes to be a contender.

But before the road to the World Cup begins next Wednesday, the USMNT must face off with Canada, a team that US has not lost to in about 18 years.

THE ROAD TO NOW: Sandwiched between Brazil and Jamaica losses in 2012 was a 0-0 to the neighbors of the north, Canada. The game, surveyed by 15,247 at BMO Field in Toronto, continued the US’ current undefeated streak over Canada to 15 games (8-0-7) that dates back to April 4, 1985.

PRE-GAME CHATTER: The latest USMNT roster is full of inexperienced and younger MLS players. Notable veterans like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey have been left off the squad to make way for newer players like Omar Gonzalez, a defender for the Los Angeles Galaxy who many, including Klinsmann, are ecstatic to have with the squad.

“We are thrilled Omar Gonzalez is now with us,” Klinsmann said. “We had him on our list a long time ago, and then his injury came and then his club involvement got really busy. Seeing him now in this group is really exciting for me.”

Will Bruin will also earn his first cap with the USMNT. The Houston Dynamo forward scored 17 goals in 57 appearances during this past MLS season.

“Will is a team player, is focused 24/7 and he’s a great finisher,” Klinsmann said. “We’re trying now to give him another level, a more fast-paced rhythm than what he’s used to - which is normal for a new player in a National Team environment - and he adjusted to it right away. So far he’s done really well.”

Some former names are popping back into the lineup, like Juan Agudelo and Edson Buddle, who later went down with an injury and had to leave the January camp. Klinsmann, though, is excited for Agudelo’s reappearance with the team.

“His big dream has always been to play for the National Team, playing on an international stage, but he had to learn it only goes through hard work,” Klinsmann said. “We hope that he becomes more consistent, that his approach to the game is always very hungry. Obviously he is a striker, and a striker is measured overall on goals.”

Klinsmann also spoke about the battle in the goalkeeper position below typical favorite Tim Howard, Graham Zusi’s recent training session with West Ham United and other topics about the team.

“This camp is exciting. It’s no different than last year’s camp,” Klinsmann said. “We try to give players the opportunity to raise their game, give them the opportunity to show us what they have, and with that being said they are in charge of their careers, they are in charge of their next steps and if they show some great performances, if they stand out, it’s their jumping board to the next level. Everybody that is in camp is really in charge of his situation, so as coaches we help them to understand the next level, what it takes to get to the next level , but they have to do it.”

ANALYSIS: I don’t think I’m the first to say energy is high for the January camp. Klinsmann sounds pretty pumped in his interviews lately, which isn’t exactly a new thing as he’s brought a lot of excitement to the team.

I understand Klinsmann’s decision to have a younger and inexperienced mostly MLS lineup. It’s going to help build the squad before the hardcore qualifying begins. Klinsmann is testing the waters and seeing which last few guys he can realistically add to the depth pool before the US has to tangle with Mexico later in March. The former German international is also throwing in a couple of different strikers into the mix. He’s still searching for that consistent scorer that has been absent in the last few years.

Fortunately for the USMNT, Canada has an equally inexperienced lineup, including Kyle Bekker, who was recently drafted by Toronto FC in the MLS SuperDraft.

We’re going to see two young North American squads battling on the pitch.

Both Klinsmann and Canada manager Colin Miller realize this isn’t the most important of games, and just a mere warm-up before the business end of World Cup Qualifiying begins for the USA and the start of a new era for the Canadian Nats. So putting these two young sides against each other makes a lot of sense for both neighbors.

Personally, I am very excited to see RSL captain Kyle Beckerman as the likely lone defensive midfielder. The US side has been too crowded with DMids over the past few years, so it’s a good sign that the midfield might get a little more offensive-oriented with Beckerman as the lone wolf.

Brad Davis and Mix Diskerud both return to join Beckerman in the midfield. I like how Diskerud plays for the USA and think he can really be the future of this squad. Davis was excellent this past season(s) and was arguably the best crosser in MLS besides David Beckham. His performance with Houston and in MLS over the last few years make him deserve a spot in this WCQ-auditioning squad.

The game will be a real test for Chris Wondolowski and Eddie Johnson. They’re both outstanding forwards when they want to be – Wondo set the record for most goals in a single MLS season and Johnson scored two goals for US last year. So both can get hot in certain situations, so we’ll see if recent club success for both will translate to the national team.

I’m consistently seeing a problem with the US and it’s something I see with England too this generation. Like Gerrard and Lampard for the Three Lions, the USMNT roster has many of its best club players not doing the business for the nation. Players like Dempsey, Wondolowski and Jozy Altidore all come to mind. They need to step up internationally.

I’m also a little concerned about the backline, which is also a running issue with the team. Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson both didn’t dress this weekend because of injuries, leaving Timmy Chandler and Edgar Castillo, who have never played for the US in WCQs, as the likely left/rightback starters. Joining those two will likely be Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra in the center of defense, both playing for struggling clubs Brondby IF (Denmark) and Racing de Santander (Spain 2nd division).

Like Klinsmann and the awaiting USMNT fans, I’m eager to see where this lineup goes. It’s full of youth and enthusiasm, and I feel it can really give Canada something better than a 0-0 draw, especially after their humbling 4-0 defeat in Tucson this past Saturday to a Denmark side that can best be described as their B squad. But Honduras, which the US plays on Feb. 6 to start Hex qualifying, may be a different story.

NEXT UP: USMNT vs Canada, Jan. 29, 2013. BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, 8 p.m. CT, ESPN2/ Deportes.


UMass Amherst
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SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.