The countdown begins

[USA-MEXICO] The countdown to USA-Mexico -- Jurgen Klinsmann's first match as U.S. national team coach -- has begun. Klinsmann held his first practice on Sunday night for early arrivals, and the majority of the team was on hand Monday morning for a light practice at the University of Pennsylvania before they escaped the East Coast heat.

NEVER TOO SOON. Klinsmann's reluctance to face Mexico early in his coaching cycle and his desire to have control over the national team's friendly schedule were believed to be stumbling blocks when negotiations between U.S. Soccer and him broke down in late 2006, but he's happy this time to face Mexico less than two weeks after taking his new job.

“It’s never too soon to play a really good team," he told reporters on Monday. "That’s what you want to do in order to grow, in order to improve your team and give them the best experience possible. If you could play Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, those are the games you want to play. Or go overseas to Europe and play the best you can in order to improve your program. That’s what you’re trying to do.”

MONSIEUR LE CAPITAINE. Captain of the national team under long-time coach Bob Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra captained French club St. Etienne for the opening game of the 2011-12 season, a 2-1 win over Bordeaux. Bocanegra wore the captain's armband because the Verts' regular captain, Loic Perrin, was suspended.

Another European-based defender, Clarence Goodson, was recently granted the captaincy at Danish club Brondby. He has been ruled out of Wednesday's game with a hamstring injury.

WEEKEND UPDATE. Bocanegra and Goodson were among six foreign-based players to see league action over the weekend. The only players who didn't play for their clubs in league play were midfielders Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Jose Torres (Pachuca).

All nine MLS players Klinsmann called in started over the weekend, though goalie Bill Hamid lasted only seven minutes before he was red carded for a foul on Eric Avila outside the penalty area.

'CRYING A LITTLE BIT.' Perhaps the biggest surprise in Klinsmann's first selection was the choice of Hamid as the backup keeper behind Tim Howard. Hamid admitted he was shocked when he got a voice mail from Klinsmann last week.

“As soon as I heard the voice, I knew it was him," the 20-year-old keeper told the Washington Post. "I didn’t listen to the rest of the message. I put the phone down and was like staring into a far-off land. I started crying a little bit.”

14 comments about "The countdown begins".
  1. samuel mills, August 9, 2011 at 2:57 p.m.

    Let's hope Jurgen Klinsmann has the right players to win the USA VS. Mexico Game. I think we need more developed players for our bench. Cause during the Gold Cup final, we didn't have anybody experienced enough to sub in for Steven Cherundolo.

  2. Scott O'Connor, August 9, 2011 at 3:15 p.m.

    We will lose. That's no big thing. I'm more interested to see what JK does tactically with the squad he's selected. Also looking to see how some players respond to their call-up against a quality opponent (B/C squad) who I think has a legitimate chance at going deep in 2014.

  3. David Sirias, August 9, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.

    People can quibble I suppose but any heavy criticism needs to be muted for a while--at least through the first three or four friendlies. A LOT of experimentation needs to take place. Remember, the results dont matter at this juncture. What matters is that the players think fast, move off the ball, and look hungry and motivated. That would be partial success right there.

  4. David Huff, August 9, 2011 at 3:42 p.m.

    JK has had very little time with the players and is still in the process of assembling his staff, I have realistic expectations on match outcome.

  5. R2 Dad, August 9, 2011 at 4:06 p.m.

    Glad to see the goalkeeping ranks gets a new face, though "I started crying a little bit" does not send shudders of fear down the backs of the opposition. Man Up! Anxious to see JK tactical subs, and if the team plays differently in style and substance. Win, lose or draw, should be interesting viewing. Also, where can we play where the USMNT fans can outnumber El Tri fans--Alaska?

  6. Joseph Pratt, August 9, 2011 at 4:06 p.m.

    Not expecting a whole lot from this game. The interesting thing will be to see how some of the new players acquit themselves, since player selection seems to be one of the big issues for the US MNT. Not sure what kind of squad Mexico will field (hopefully Torres gets to play against them!), but based on their performance in the Gold Cup, I'd agree with Scott O'Connor: they could be a real force in 2014.
    PS: Gotta love Hamid's candor.

  7. Kent James, August 9, 2011 at 4:40 p.m.

    USA-Mexico is always an exciting game. Though we had their number (except in Azteca) for a number of years, they sure looked strong in the Gold Cup final. If they continue to play like that, they should do well in 2014 (especially since their most dangerous players are so young, and they should only get better with experience and maturity). Although winning is not important at this stage of JK's tenure (technically a meaningless friendly), playing Mexico is always significant. It will be interesting to see how JK shakes things up and how that works out. I was a bit surprised with some of his selections (Pierce in the back, the preponderance of defensively-oriented midfielders), but he should be given plenty of latitude to sort things out. Given the transition, I'll be shocked if we win, but one can always hope!

  8. Philippe Fontanelli, August 9, 2011 at 4:57 p.m.

    Loosing is not the question and most likely we will loose with this selection. There are no exciting young payers like Diskerud or upcoming Gil, Burnburry, Salgado, Fagundez, Corona, Avila and etc. The goal keeper instead of Hamid should have been Sean Johnson of Chicago. But I think the most important is how JK sets up the formation whether we win or loose.
    I think JK knows that we will not win with this helter skelter selection of players and some has-been ones, that went out with "Dick Clark". But most likely he wnts to make a statement by showing that some of the rejects really should be rejected. And what better game to express it with a strong Mexico where mediocrity and mediocre players will falter.

  9. Barry Ruderman, August 9, 2011 at 6:33 p.m.

    New Coach. New System. Results on the field much less relevant than introducing a new philosophy. Its important to keep in mind that players respond differently to different systems, coaches, etc. It will be interesting to see if we continue to have a relatively lackluster collection of athletes or if Klinsmann can build a cohesive invigorated team out of what will likely be many of the same components. New blood is possible, but to make real immediate progress, it will be about getting more out of the historic top performers, not tinkering at the fringes. That being said, we aren't likely to see 60% possession and 3 goals a game, no matter who the coach is. The player pool is improving and getting more professional, but we're still only giving Jurgen the components to build a Chevy. The real change needs to come between U15 and U20 and figuring out how to reward creativity, not just physicality.

  10. Philippe Fontanelli, August 9, 2011 at 6:57 p.m.

    Ric, I think I might not have expressed myself favorably about JK on the contrary I am looking forward to a new regime with JK, any regime for that fact. What I am saying is that, if this game is really irrelevant and already several European based players cannot play and maybe some of the south of the boarder players, then might as well use some of our upcoming young ones. Since it is not winning or loosing that matters. Even if we win (which I hope not) we will not prove anything except procastinating some of mediocre, has-been players. That would be dangerous for the future of USMNT, as mediocre people sink you into deep mediocrity and than further down as was the Bradley area. Barry you are right with the youth development and that leads me back to above. Just look at for instance what enthousiasm the young Brazilians exerted against us. And why not learn from the Mexicans? Look at their team based on many upcoming talented youth that couple of years ago you have not even heard of them, as they were still juniors.

  11. David Huff, August 9, 2011 at 8:39 p.m.

    No Ric, it is "Ein Volk, Ein USA, Ein Klinsmann!!" Sehr gut kamerade!! :-)

  12. Kenneth Barr, August 9, 2011 at 9:12 p.m.

    This game shouldn't be a bout winning. It should be about putting a coherent side together for a successful World Cup qualifying campaign. I care more about Klinsmann and his staff installing a successful system that will win matches that matter, not the odd friendly even if it is against our closest rival.

  13. Carlos Thys, August 10, 2011 at 6:29 a.m.

    Folks, this is meaningless. I am surprised at the comments above from those who are truly "seasoned" and experienced with this sport we love and the ebbs and flows of national teams. Y'all should know better: This date on August 10th is truly unnecessary. Why do we have this date on the national squad's calendar? If I am Steve Cherundolo...why am I even here? At the twilight of one's career, he's done at the national team level. Nothing against Steve, but his focus has to be staying healthy enough for a long Bundesliga slog -- and he's the Hannover captain. The only ones this match serves are those looking to either 1) find a club/get a contract, e.g. Michael Bradley, or 2) those looking to find a better club/better contract. And this is "ditto" for the Mexican squad's players. JK has nothing to prove. Unless we get swamped 0-5, he'll bear no responsibilities whatsoever. Again (I've written it here before), Juergen is laughing to himself. He can basically goof off in this job for a full year -- with a truly superb $$ salary -- and then face lukewarm, milquetoast opposition when it finally comes to the six qualifier matches for World Cup 2014. What else does he have to do? We could have simply hired a caretaker coach, if Bob Bradley just absolutely had to go. The truth: Any of us posting here could guide the US team to a berth in Brazil 2014. That is not overstatement. That aside: What you'll see tonight might be a nice exhibition match. But it is utterly meaningless.

  14. Andrew Post, August 10, 2011 at 5:36 p.m.

    This game is not about win/loss. IT is the beginning of player evaluations for Klinsmann and for evaluating assistant coaches.
    We do not have the experience or talent to beat mexico tonight.
    As far as a replacement for Dolo. Yes we do have one.. In fact we have several, we are overloaded at that position. That wasn't the problem against mexico in the GOld Cup final. The problem was he took Lichaj from left fool back where he was marking Dos Santos and moved him to RB when Dolo when out. He then put boy-not-wonder Bornstien on the left and Mexico perceeded to score 3 goals from that side.
    The problem has always been that no talent, no brains, no style bob bradley.

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