FOX Soccer Exclusive
Klinsmann shrugs off Chandler snub
As more and more players rolled into US men’s national team training camp on Monday at Disney World, the squad grew closer to being at full strength ahead of the team’s upcoming friendlies and World Cup qualifiers over the next three weeks.
With the exception of Jozy Altidore and Oguchi Onyewu who will be joining the team soon, majority of Jurgen Klinsmann’s first-choice options were all in attendance; all except Timmy Chandler, who made waves recently by turning down a national team call-up who, according to Klinsmann, needed rest.
Speaking exclusively to FOX Soccer on Monday, Klinsmann provided his first detailed reaction to Chandler’s decision, along with his clear disappointment with the German-born player’s decision. Klinsmann sounded like a coach who wasn’t going to lose much sleep over Chandler reconsidering his national team options.
“At the end of the day the players, when they mature throughout their careers, they have to make their decisions,” Klinsmann said when asked about Chandler turning down the US call-up. “He has to make his decisions, he’s now made this decision and we take it and we move on. We’re not happy about it, but that’s normal.”
To his credit, the 22-year-old is coming off the busiest season of his young career. Yet, the fact that he has yet to be cap-tied and could still play for Germany, has left the real belief that his latest rejection of team USA suggests he is having second thoughts.
Klinsmann pointed to Chandler’s age as a possible reason the player appears to be indecisive about his national team future.
“Down the road, when he gets little older and a bit more mature, there will be this decision to make on what you want to do with your life and with your career,” Klinsmann said. “That moment gets closer and closer for him and we’ll see what direction he wants to go.
“But we’re not forcing anybody. It’s their choice,” Klinsmann said. “It will happen all the time because it’s a global game and now we live in a world of globalization where a lot of kids grow up with dual citizenships, or in Alfredo’s (Morales) case three options, and we do not put pressure on the players but sooner or later they have to make a decision to also make it clear to their team if they are committed to it or not.”
YOUNG GUNS IMPRESS
Just minutes after the US Under-23 national team failed to qualify for the Olympics, Klinsmann pointed out two players who he thought impressed amid the U-23 team’s disappointing run. He mentioned Terrence Boyd and Joe Corona as having impressed him, which makes it no surprise that the two players are two of only three members of the aforementioned U-23 team that were included in the 27-player training camp (Juan Agudelo being the other).
“They showed me a lot of hunger, they showed me a lot of desire and a lot of willingness to suffer,” Klinsmann said of Boyd and Corona. “They had a clean kind of approach to their games that they want to finish things off. Obviously, we need to get into a phase where every player, especially in the attacking area, wants badly to score and wants to finish things off. Whether it’s with a shot or with whatever, they create something and finish it off.
“Both had that hunger and they showed that clearly,” Klinsmann said. “Even after that big disappointment, I said there were some bright spots in a kind of very dark moments.”
Klinsmann added: “They are here and now they can prove that. It’s just the beginning for them. It’s time for them to be sponges and take in what Clint Dempsey’s doing and what the bigger guys are doing and learn from them.”
Boyd, Corona and German-born midfielder Alfredo Morales, are the youngest members of the current camp. While there’s no guarantee that any of them will make the final 23-man roster for World Cup qualifying matches next month, all three will make it hard for Klinsmann to decide in the upcoming days.
FORWARD BATTLE UNDER WAY
The forward position has been a tough one for the US team to fill in recent years. Fortunately, the collection of forwards Klinsmann has called in should help the squad come up with quality options ahead of next month’s qualifiers.
Altidore is a sure-fire starter that will not join the team until May 28. Herculez Gomez, who just finished up a championship season with Mexican side Santos Laguna (he joins the team on Wednesday), will join the leading in Major League Soccer, Chris Wondolowski.
Gomez and Wondolowski would have been considered long-shots a few months ago. But their outstanding goal-scoring records in 2012 made them easy selections for Klinsmann.
“The benchmark for strikers is always your scoring record, no matter where you play in the world,” Klinsmann said. “Whether you play in a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2, it doesn’t really matter. What we’re looking for, step one, is his work rate and his goal rate. That’s why these guys deserve to be here.
“It’s about their hunger, their willingness to suffer, the way they present themselves in these one-on-one situations,” Klinsmann said. “We want to see them make their case. Push away the defenders and score goals. That’s what we want to see now over the next three weeks, how hungry they are and hopefully they deliver us goals.
With youngsters like Boyd and Agudelo also taking part in camp, Klinsmann will have plenty of forwards to evaluate. That collection of strikers makes it more likely that Klinsmann will use Dempsey in a playmaking role, while positioning Landon Donovan as a wing midfielder through the summer.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.