A few minutes with Juergen Klinsmann

November 30, 2012

U.S. national team coach Juergen Klinsmann made himself available to reporters early Friday morning to discuss largely broad issues. However, a few nuggets were worth sharing right away…..

He has scheduled a winter camp in Los Angeles, primarily for MLS and Scandinavian players, Jan. 14-31. Most European players aren’t available because of club commitments. The group would include a maximum of 23 players.

A friendly might be scheduled at Home Depot Center at the end of camp. The opponent hasn’t been determined. With the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers approaching, a regional team might serve the Americans well. But the Copa Centroamericana is taking place the last two weeks of January in Costa Rica, eliminating the possibility of El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama.

The Euro-based veterans would gain releases from their clubs a few days before the Feb. 6 hexagonal opener at Honduras and gather in Miami for two training sessions. Only a handful of players from the January camp would receive an invitation for Honduras preparations, which would also likely include 23 players. “Even if they think their chance is small for the qualifying roster, it gives them a sense where they are,” Klinsmann said. “It gives them the drive for the future.”

The USSF will begin reaching out to players for the January camp in the next 10 days. The advanced notice will allow them to work on individual conditioning ahead of their arrival. Klinsmann believes fitness is lost after three weeks of inactivity and he wants them to arrive in shape.

*Landon Donovan‘s national team status? Klinsmann’s approach is, “Once you have your season done, let’s sit down over lunch or dinner and talk about your life, about what you want to do. I’ll give my two cents and see where he is at. He says it’s both [mental and physical fatigue]. We will sort that out and talk. It’s totally up to him, what he wants to do. … If Landon is not there – obviously we want him to be part of it – this team will find solutions.”

*Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones is a divisive figure: Some fans love him, some hate him. Klinsmann loves him. Here’s why:

“Jermaine Jones, in the inner circle, became a tremendous leader. He understands this is his World Cup. … He is a game-changer, he is a presence. He’s a player no opponent wants to deal with. There are certain players you fear, that hunger. It’s not the type of thing you see watching from the stands. Players start two yards back [against players like Jones.] Germany [national team] needs a player like Jermaine Jones.”

*Speaking of dual nationals, Klinsmann offered this about scouting players with U.S. eligibility:

“We want to make sure we don’t lose the next Giuseppe Rossi [the Italian-American from New Jersey who chose Italy]. It doesn’t mean we jump on [a player] and invite him right away but we are looking at them to get a better idea. So maybe two, three, four years down the road, something has been established. It’s the player who has to make the decision with his family. That’s why we have not pressured Timothy Chandler. I wanted him in May-June, but this is huge, this is the final call about where you want to go. All we can do is build those relationships.”

*Jozy Altidore seems back in Klinsmann’s good graces after falling out of favor.

“He’s getting it. When we make the decision to leave a player behind, we hope for a reaction. I told Jozy, what happened [earlier this year] was simply not okay. At the same time, I don’t forget he is 22, 23 years old. He was thrown into something maybe he wasn’t ready for [a transfer at a young age, national team pressure]. ‘I always try to put myself in your situation. But right now, it’s the right thing to leave you out and to make you understand it’s not working that way. Let’s get together next time and we’ll talk through it again.’ He said, ‘I totally get it now.’ It’s a learning curve. The door is always open, but sometimes you have to shut it for just a second if it’s not working out.”

*Will the USA play Germany in a USSF centennial friendly in late May-early June, perhaps in Washington?

“It’s coming along. We’ll play them anywhere.”

*A good comment about the outside pressures of playing in Europe versus the U.S. environment:

“There is no peer pressure for them to be consistent [in the U.S.]. In Europe, if they have a bad game, they can hear it the next day wherever they walk. At the gas station, the butcher, baker, everywhere. If Landon has a bad game, you think anyone will bother him in Manhattan Beach? [laughter] ‘Hey, you played a really crap game last night.’ It’s not happening. It’s an element that is really important for them to learn to become consistently accountable for their work. They are getting that message more and more.”

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · November 29, 2012