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Versatile squad gives Klinsmann clues

USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann watches
23 spots are up for grabs in Jurgen Klinsmann's USMNT World Cup qualifying roster.
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Ives Galarcep

Ives Galarcep is a 14-year veteran of the American soccer beat. He created and operates the popular American soccer blog, Soccer By Ives, which was voted Best American Soccer Blog by US Soccer in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Ives was also voted Best Football Writer by SoccerLens in 2010. 
 

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ORLANDO, FL

U.S. CAMP NOTEBOOK

 

FOX Soccer's Ives Galarcep will provide daily segments from Jurgen Klinsmann's USMNT training camp from Orlando, Florida.

 

As the US men’s national team training camp rolled on at sun-drenched Disney World, Jurgen Klinsmann put his team through the paces on Tuesday, as the squad played a closed-door scrimmage against a local club team.

The US team scored a pair of goals in the walk through, which saw the group divided into two teams, with Maurice Edu and Geoff Cameron playing the full match. Klinsmann sounded happy with the progress the team made and what he saw on the field.

“I wanted them to get a sense for the field, and a sense of how to break down a team that’s just going to lock themselves in,” Klinsmann said of Tuesday’s scrimmage. “Also how to deal with the weather conditions. It was about 100 (degrees) out there. We had most of them for 45 minutes.

“First half we did a bit more of a 4-3-2-1, a Christmas tree system, and in the second we did a 4-4-2, some times as a diamond and some times more flat, some coming over the wings because they were just standing there and closing everything down.”

Though it’s still early in camp, and players are still making their way into Orlando (Herculez Gomez arrives today), Klinsmann thought the scrimmage provided some good insight as the squad draws closer to Saturday’s match versus Scotland in Jacksonville.

“It was good to see how they adjust, how they read the game, how urgent they are, and how they solve situations,” Klinsmann said. “I think it was really worthwhile to do that work. And we’ll see now after more than a week of work where they’re at. Also, they need to get a sense for each other. They need to play.”

Klinsmann touched on a variety of topics Tuesday evening, including the preponderance of forwards and lack of natural wingers in camp. Klinsmann downplayed the notion that the large number of forwards in camp suggests the team is going to play more of a 4-3-3 in upcoming matches.

“It’s not necessarily based on how many wingers are out there, or more inside players,” Klinsmann said. “We will see who is really in the best condition and best shape, and who sparks it up, and then we’ll make our calls.

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“The good thing is most of the players can play in different roles,” Klinsmann said. “Landon Donovan can tuck in, he can play wide. Graham Zusi can do that. Joe Corona played in the second half on the left wing, in tandem with Edgar Castillo. That’s something they do with their club so we saw a different element.”

Klinsmann also discussed some of the players who didn’t make the 27-player roster he called in, going into detail about the decision to not call in the likes of Eric Lichaj, Sacha Kljestan and Tim Ream.

“It came in too late for him, but it’s good that he broke in (at Aston Villa), “Klinsmann said of Lichaj. “If you look at certain positions, who are they kind of front-runners. Look at the central midfielder position. Michael Bradley, a Jermaine Jones, a Maurice Edu, a Kyle Beckerman.

“Then you have a Sacha Kljestan that you have to tell ‘You know what, sorry. You’ve had a good season but you’re not passing one of these four right now with their elements’. Then you don’t do them a favor to call them in.

“Like in Italy, it worked out great but we had to play (Kljestan) in a wide position and that’s not his position. He kind of sacrificed himself for the group,” Klinsmann said. “But now, bringing him here to be a fifth guy of two positions, then you’d rather him have a good break after a long season. That’s sort of how you juggle things with these players.”

Klinsmann wouldn’t come out and say that Lichaj was still behind the pack at fullback, but pointed to him needing more experience.

“All the outside positions we have a special eye on obviously,” Klinsmann said. “What he needs now is games. And Bedoya needs games. Who knows what happens now at Rangers. We have kids up in Scandinavia like Josh Gatt. We’ll observe it. That’s the good thing now about having Andy Hertzog and Mattias Hammann. They are all over the place in Europe. They go to those places. In Nordsdjaelland, they went to see Michael Parkhurst play against Clarence Goodson. It helps having a presence in Europe now with these guys, to look after them.”

Another player who was a bit of a surprising exclusion from the current camp was Bolton defender Tim Ream, who Klinsmann praised before revealing that, at the moment, he isn’t high enough on the depth chart for a call-up.

“Tim’s situation is similar to Sacha’s,” Klinsmann said. “They are players who are right there, but they can’t pass the four guys in front of them. Right now, Tim is not passing Gooch, Carlos, Clarence and Geoff Cameron. They are our four players locked in there as of today.

“I don’t know about tomorrow, but as of today that’s the situation,” Klinsmann said. “Now, if I put Tim on the standby list, he’s ready for the situation. I know if I called tomorrow, A.J. DeLaGarza or George John, they’re right here and get the job done.

“I told them, we observe everything, you deserve a big compliment, and we have you right in our sights. But the guys like Gooch and Boca, they’re not giving in right now.”

When asked about Freddy Adu, one of the standouts of the recent Under-23 Olympic Qualifying tournament, Klinsmann didn’t mince words about what the Philadelphia Union midfielder needs to do to earn a national team look.

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“What we expect is that you put your stamp on your team, and there needs to come more,” Klinsmann said. “Freddy is not considered in that group because we need to see more. We need to see killer passes. We need to see goals. We need to see really creative elements because you’re an attacking midfielder.

“So you’re measured on what comes out at the end of the day. How many assists, how many goals you score. It’s not just playing.”

GUZAN BACKS LICHAJ

While Klinsmann remained non-committal about Eric Lichaj’s future with the national team, Lichaj’s Aston Villa teammate Brad Guzan had high praise for the 23-year-old fullback.

“I’ve seen him come up over the past four years, going from a more reserved young kid, reserve player, to a first-team player that’s expressed himself,” Guzan said of Lichaj. “You know what you’re going to get from him. He’s going to give one hundred percent every single time he steps on the pitch.

“It’s one of those situations where I think he was a bit unlucky not to be called in (to national team camp),” Guzan said. “He had a run of games where I thought he was one of our better players, and he’s only going to get better. These experiences he’s had playing against the Chelsea’s, Arsenal’s, Man City’s, all these top, top players, is only going to make him better. With that being said, he’s definitely got a bright future.”

Lichaj finished out the recent Premier League season as the starting left back for Aston Villa and is seen as one of the more surprising omissions from the current national team squad, particularly given the uncertain future of starting fullback Timmy Chandler, who turned down a call-up from Klinsmann.

Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.

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