The Washington Post

Landon Donovan and Juergen Klinsmann discuss U.S. national team, Mexico match, American soccer’s future

Landon Donovan and Juergen Klinsmann, who spent time together at Bayern Munich a few years back, were the featured media subjects before the U.S. national team’s training session at the Philadelphia Eagles headquarters on Tuesday afternoon. A few excerpts:

Klinsmann, on facing a Mexican side in outstanding form.....

“Playing a game like this right away is not an easy task but it’s also an exciting one. It’s especially exciting because you have an opponent that has improved tremendously over the last couple of years. They’ve gone to the top 10 in the world, the U.S. right now doesn’t belong in that [category]. And we know that. It’s a big goal. We want to show them that we can compete with them, give them a fight and we want to see how the players express themselves, how the energy is, how they take risks and responsibilities.”

For more.....

Klinsmann, on the USA-Mexico rivalry.....

“It’s fascinating to have that rivalry between Mexico and the U.S. because of the history of both countries, because of the melting pot in the United States with so many [Latin American] people living here. It’s a learning process. We need to get deep into that whole topic of youth development and many with dual citizenships. That’s unique. You won’t see that many German-Dutch kids going through that. [laughter] It’s a little different and fascinating to see it.”

Donovan, on the meaning of this latest match vs. Mexico.....

“It’s still Mexico. It’s still an important game for us in that way, but big picture, the important thing is starting to learn what the expectations are and how’s it’s going to be going forward with Juergen.”

Donovan, on the coaching change.....

“My initial reaction was one of sadness and compassion for Bob [Bradley] because we had been with him for five years. When you are with a coach that long, whether you agree or disagree, you become close to a coach. That was a little difficult. Moving forward, I’ve been excited about this. A fresh outlook is always good. Something different is always good when you get into the rhythm of doing something over and over. It’s sometimes a little difficult, but we’re all excited about it and I was certainly happy about the choice they made.”

Klinsmann, on implementing young players and assessing the group over the next few months.....

“I chose a young goalkeeper because I think it’s important to see the next generation of goalkeepers. Obviously Tim is number one here for hopefully many years still to go, but we need to plan for the next generation. Bill [Hamid] came in and got his first taste of this group; he’s very excited about it. We want to see some fresh blood. We want to see the established ones, we want to see some that haven’t been here for a while and then go step by step. We want to see them as much as we can. We want to see them in practice, we want to see how they present themselves, we want to see them as characters and then we’ll get a better picture one step at a time.”

Donovan, on Klinsmann’s influence.....

“Juergen has very positive energy and it’s infectious. The guys have already taken to that well. As far as tactical things and style and approach, that’s going to take a while. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to be a little different tomorrow the way the game is for us and the way it looks and feels, but everyone is really excited. The energy is good in camp and we’re all really excited about what’s coming in the next few years.”

Donovan, on the future.....

“A lot of us who are involved in U.S. soccer share a similar idea of what needs to happen for this thing to keep moving forward. It starts with our youth and developing our coaches, developing our players, developing the way we do things. We’re kind of at a tipping point now where it’s time to really go for it. We’re not worried about whether Major League Soccer is going to make it anymore. We’re not worried about, ‘Do we have kids talented enough?’ We’ve seen that. We have to start cultivating that more so we’re getting 50-60-70-100 super-talented young kids coming through to choose from like other top countries do.”

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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