U.S. national team news and notes

First, some housekeeping…..

The U.S. national team will train at Arnett Gardens again today and test the National Stadium surface on Thursday — some 24 hours before the World Cup qualifier against Jamaica.

Two of the 25 players will remain in street clothes Friday night. Herculez Gomez‘s sore knee might eliminate him from consideration for the active roster. Three goalkeepers must be included on the 23-man list, so Houston’s Tally Hall is in.

Seven players are carrying yellow cards and, with their next caution, would miss the subsequent match: Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Graham Zusi, Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler and Brad Davis. (Maurice Edu is in the same situation but was scratched from the current roster with an injury.)

Friday night TV in the States: beIN Sport’s English channel, starting at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Ticket sales for the Seattle qualifier against Panama next Tuesday are at 34,000+. Stadium capacity had previously been capped at 42,000 because of a baseball game taking place at the same time next door. Initially, some fans thought organizers were short-sightded in limiting tickets in the MLS hotbed. As it turned out, though, the reduced number was about right.

*Juergen Klinsmann met with reporters at the team hotel Wednesday afternoon. Some excerpts…..

He and the coaching staff attended Jamaica’s 1-0 loss to Mexico on Tuesday night.

“Both teams played tense because of their situation and badly needing points,” Klinsmann said. “Mexico didn’t get into their rhythm and went back to more experienced players just to try to get the job done. Eventually, they got the job done. Jamaica was dangerous on set plays. They have to do something really badly on Friday night [against the United States], which leaves us with a huge opportunity.”

The Reggae Boyz (0-2-2) cannot afford to drop more points at home, a dire situation that raises the urgency to beat the United States (1-1-1). Their desperation could work to the Americans’ advantage.

“It might be more dangerous because they have their backs against the wall. Or they might be vulnerable [as] things are not going their way. … It is about us – what we are going to do, how we want to execute our game plan.”

Klinsmann then transitioned into describing the U.S. game plan against Germany in Washington, and in doing so, seemed to take a little dig at ESPN’s Alexi Lalas.

“The first 45 minutes against Germany was exactly what we trained the day before. Some people didn’t even understand what we were doing. I think Alexi said, ‘What are they [practicing] goal kicks for?’ He didn’t see it later on what this was all about. It was about high pressure. It was about forcing the goalkeeper and [not allowing them to] play out of the back like the Germans like to do. They don’t want to kick the ball long. Out of that kind of high pressure, the goalie made a bad mistake” on the second U.S. goal.

Klinsmann discussed the decision to arrive in Kingston three days before the match — 24 hours earlier than usual for an away qualifier.

“Some people said, ‘Well, [the weather] is kind of the same as D.C. I say, ‘No, it is not. You are on an island.’ You can’t compare one country with another country, no matter if it is kind of the same temperature and kind of the same humidity. It also puts us in the right state of mind….Being here already, adjusting to a bumpy training field, the way this place works, it can only help you.”

*Moved to right back by Stoke City and providing cover on the corner for the U.S. team, Geoff Cameron has fallen behind Besler and Omar Gonzalez on the depth chart in central defense.

“He is a very, very strong center back, but now having not played center back [in a while], we always tried to make the best out of it,” Klinsmann said. “Eventually, we always told him, ‘Get the center back job in Stoke back. You’ve got to kick out [the players ahead of him].’ He knew he fills in for us in a role that is not his best. You always lose that couple of percent moving to a secondary position.”

Midfielder Jermaine Jones‘s temperament is a concern for club and country, but Klinsmann believes he has exhibited improved self-control. Klinsmann includes Jones among his four leaders — along with captain Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Bradley — and wants the Schalke veteran to set the right example.

“He went through a couple of learning curves with his temper. But the more responsibility you give him, he feels more accountable. We’ve got it to a point where he feels, ‘I am responsible for my buddies.’”

Klinsmann had some fun talking about German-American forward Terrence Boyd:

“Terrence is a very emotional kid. All he is dreaming of is scoring goals and sometimes he forgets what he has to do on the field. He just wants to score goals. You tell him to keep the ball – no, he is running at people and shoots from 30 yards and everyone is screaming at him. But there is also the good side of it: He is dedicated to it, he gives everything he has, he is very proud of being an American. That builds into the whole picture of building chemistry among the bigger group.”

On the subject of American adaptation, Klinsmann, a full-time California resident, reminisced about his first visits some 30 years ago.

“The first pro team I played for [Stuttgarter Kickers], the president had a place in Fort Lauderdale and invited the whole team over. I was 19 or 18, but that is how I started my connection to the United States. I flew back [to Germany] with the team, and two days later, I bought a ticket with a buddy of mine and went back. I traveled the country and developed that relationship.”

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 · June 5, 2013

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