Jurgen Klinsmann on USMNT Squad Selection

Part of Rog Bennett’s ESPN documentary.

20 responses to this post.

  1. Klinsmann wants to frame this such Landon is only a forward (“a pure striker” as he was careul to say on the conference call in episode 1). “The four i have on the list” he says here in reference presumably to forwards Altidore, Dempsey, Wond and Johannsen. Blantant posturing. He is an attacking midfielder. I wish Rog had called him out on this and made him explain why he does not see him as a midfielder. He would be very effective as a left midfielder in this squad.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2014/05/28 at 11:19 PM

      I agree. And I’m going to ask Rog about it.


      • Awesome Matt. Landon got asked whether he thought he was being “pigeonholed” as a forward. His response was that he has always thought his versatility was a strength but thats all he said. I’d love to know if where he played in the camp. Evans only got to play as a central midfielder per his interview except for 30 minutes he said.


        • When I hear John Obrien talk on your podcast about the lack of pattern play and Jesse Marsch talk about a lack of familiarity of amongst players, it’s maddening to think Landon could be on the left side of midfield in front of Beasley, a guy who has has what 16 years of history together… Ugh


      • Any word from Rog, Matt? Did he ask him to explain but maybe it got cut out? Granted I’m kind of obsessed with this but it bothers me that no one has made JK explain why he does not see LD as an attacking midfielder, winger, or shuttler, or at the very least a knockout round penalty kick taker…

        I mentioned a simplistic “depth chart” theory in the comments section to your Azeri preview that my gut says JK came up with two 11s. And Landon was no considered as a midfielder or specifically a left midfielder.

        JK’s comments on ESPN FC suggest my crazy theory might actually be correct. When asked by Lalas about Green, JK says “when putting together this puzzle we have our starters and our backups. Julian is in the winger position and right now is a backup.”

        JK took a rigid (one might say “German”) approach to positions and cut many of the guys who are jack-of-all-trades but masters of none, like Evans and Park, and Landon to somewhat lesser degree. I think he cut Goodson since he is primarily right-sided CB and was deemed to be behind Omar and Geoff. Besler and Brooks are the left-sided CBs.

        Like many folks, I was baffled by the roster choices; mainly the cuts to Edu, Goodson and LD, and the inclusion of Yedlin after JK opted not to start him in April but instead call in Beltran.

        However, if you told me to come up with a set of two 11s out of the 30 players called, and the “rules” were that LD is a second forward, Goodson is a right-sided CB. Then I may actually have ended up with this 23, with depth charts as follows:

        A team: Howard; Fab J, Cameron, Besler, DMB; Zusi, Bradley, Jones, Davis; Demps; Jozy. B team: Guzan; Yedlin, Gonzo, Brooks, Chandler; Bedoya, Mix, Beckerman, Green; ArJo; Wondo.


  2. Also how sad that he says the conditions in Brazil are a non-factor in squad selection. The USA can draw from players like Corona who have experience playing in hot climates and tournaments in Brazil, but he doesn’t care about that. Could be losing out on a competitive advantage vs european teams.


  3. Posted by mark on 2014/05/29 at 6:25 PM

    The case has been made, by Matt Doyle of MLSSoccer.com, among others, that Donovan’s exclusion was at least partly a result of Klinsmann’s decision to adopt the 4-4-4-2 diamond formation, for which Donovan isn’t a good fit. I don’t buy it. He could still play at the top of the diamond–in Bradley’s spot–or on the wing, as a substitute or starter. I think Bradley’s overrated. There’s a reason why he’s back in the U.S. and not starting for Roma. Any thoughts?


    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2014/05/29 at 8:36 PM


      In all this hoo-ha over the exclusion of He who shall not be named, I think people forget that JK has lived in SoCal for about 15 years now.

      Which means JK has had quite a few opportunities to observe He who shall not be named in action, from up close and from afar. I would think JK also has had more than a few chances to observe the dynamics of the teams that He who shall not be named was on.

      Most likely JK knows soccer side of He who shall not be named as well as anyone and better than most.

      In 2010 when JK was a pundit for ESPN after the Ghana loss he spoke about how the team went into the Ghana game still on a high after Algeria and winning the Group instead of coming in looking to go even further. He might also have remembered how those BB teams with He who shall not be named and Dempsey rarely ever looked sharp unless He who shall not be named was around.

      My wild guess is JK felt that He who shall not be named took up too much of that leadership oxygen.

      Maybe JK wanted a team that, rather than waiting for the hero to come riding in to save the day, that maybe he wanted a team where all of the players took the responsibility of saving themselves.

      And they were not going to do that as long as He who shall not be named was still around.

      People seem to forget that you know who was, for the most part, ausente todo el dia , from a team that put together a very good year. Maybe they had already learned how to move on without him and JK did not want them regressing. HIS fans can argue that HE came into camp all ready to go to play that hero role once again but there is that expression about going one too many times to the well. At the World Cup level He who shall not be named’s game may have slipped just enough to where JK saw him on a more mortal level.

      I take JK at face value that it was a hard decision.

      Bring old reliable, who is finally showing some cracks in the armor and who really hasn’t bought into the program but has come into camp looking good?

      Or force the vets like Mikey, Jozy and Dempsey, who have shown increasing leadership throughout the qualifying campaign and whoever else amongst the newer players was getting ready to emerge, to grab the leadership mantle?

      In the end I think it came down to do you want to rely on the BB era “hold them until HE comes through to save the day ” or do you want the team to progress as they were doing in qualifying and be really aggressive and take charge of the game themselves without waiting for the Messiah to lead them out of trouble. Under this formula, maybe one day Mikey wins the game, maybe the next day it’s Jozy or Clint or AJ or Mix.

      Leaders, heroes whatever you want to call them emerge when the situation needs them. And given this Group the US is going to need more than one hero if they expect to advance.

      And now more than one guy knows he may be called upon.


      • Posted by GCM3 on 2014/05/29 at 9:10 PM

        schmutzdeck. Anything is possible but we all just have to speculate bc Klinsmann will not address this, which is his prerogative.

        However, I am almost positive that our big four, Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore and Donovan, never started a game together in the Klinsmann era. And that my friend is mind blowing…


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/05/30 at 12:44 PM

        Nice management consulting approach and I appreciate your thoroughness in your argument. I still think there are plenty of ways to send that message and still retain a potential game changer in your lineup. They are a lesser squad without LDs experience and knack for coming up big in big moments.
        There were a half dozen balls played the other night by Davis and Zusi (who I like and rate highly BTW) that lacked that little bit of class that puts someone in on goal rather than being intercepted or too strong and the opp is lost. Landon has that class in his boots.


        • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2014/05/31 at 7:23 AM

          LD is the best US player ever but he has declined alarmingly for both the US and the Galaxy. I have seen all of his US games for JK and some of his recent Galaxy games.

          You all have heard of a player being in a “contract year” and ramping up their performance to earn a new big money contract?

          That was LD’s situation vis a vis JK the past year or so. Mostly I got the impression from afar that LD was annoyed that he would have to prove himself.
          I think he believes he can turn the greatness of and on like a radio..

          He is still a good player and I would be happy to have him in the 23 but when you have an immortal who is now just a demi god I’m not sure how that plays with the team dynamics.

          JK is big on competition but he is also big on pumping up his players and trying to boost their self belief. Maybe LD’s constant presence does not allow Zusi, who would always be looking over his shoulder at LD, to play more freely. Maybe the same thing applies to Bedoya, Mix, Davis , AJ and the other newer guys.

          Now they KNOW they have to produce because there is no fall back plan.
          We will never know about these players if we do not give them the chance to prove themselves.

          We gave that chance to LD and MDB , two unknowns, in 2002 and the US got 12 great years out of them.

          Now it’s the new guys’.turn.


    • Posted by GCM3 on 2014/05/29 at 9:04 PM

      Doyle does not have that opinion that Donovan is not a fit for the diamond, does he? I think Simon Borg does. Biiiig difference haha. I think Klinsmann is not very smart and saw us look really good against Mexico in April and is going all in on this formation.


  4. Posted by gino744 on 2014/05/29 at 8:29 PM

    I think you’re in the minority regarding your opinion about Bradley being overrated. Three years ago you probably would have had more people agree with you but I think I’m in the majority in believing that Bradley is the engine of the team, for both club and country.


  5. Posted by ATroy on 2014/05/30 at 6:11 AM

    First – just found this site earlier this week and must say I’m disappointed I didn’t know about it sooner! Love all the great discussion and tactical analysis. I look forward to reading even more.

    As to the topic, I’m definitely in the camp of thinking Donovan deserved his place on this team based on his play and being one of the top 15, at least, in the squad. He’s proven, he’s battled his way back into form, and even in this the downswing of his career, he’s still one who can be depended on to make something happen when the chips are down. With that said, I would accept JK’s notion that he doesn’t feel there is a place on this team for Landon right now EXCEPT it seems as though his mind was made up before camp even began.

    If you go back and look at all his comments (not even specific to Donovan-related questions) leading up to this camp, he mentions not caring about who you were, what you’ve done in the past, reputations don’t matter, etc. It’s all about now and what can happen in the next 7-8 weeks. Who else could he have been talking about? He’s said these things for the past few weeks/months. He basically told us all he was going to do this, yet he brought Landon in to camp and essentially put on a charade that LD was being considered. LD tested well (according to what has been reported and some clips from the ESPN series). He looked fit and was playing well. He had the backing of many senior members on the team. Yet, as soon as the entire 30 finally made it to Palo Alto and the moment everyone was available to practice, Klinsmann made his move.

    I don’t know that LD would be a full-time starter in Brazil, but I think there is no question he would be more useful than Julian Green, Brad Davis, or an extra defender. Jurgen’s mind was made up before camp, and now he’s even backtracked on his statements that LD would be called back depending on injury.


  6. It’s been mentioned, but not often… who is going to take penalties without Donovan around? Dempsey has looked unconvincing, to say the least. His penalties at Fulham were also weak and lacking confidence.

    Seriously, Donovan’s penalty kick stats were legit world-class. Imagine a scenario similar to the Ghana game in 2010. Down one in a knockout round, late in the game, penalty awarded. Who do you have confidence in taking that kick? Certainly not Dempsey.


    • Posted by gino744 on 2014/05/30 at 11:00 AM

      This is an excellent point and in my mind what made Donovan indispensable. That said, I’m supporting Klinsmann’s decision and am hopeful that he knows what the Nats need better than any of us.


      • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2014/05/31 at 7:00 AM

        Donovan was not infallible on big game penalties. No one is. David Beckham one of the best dead ball strikers ever has missed big game penalties, badly I might add.

        The list of top class players who have missed big game penalties is too long to put here.

        . .


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