Klinsmann: 'We have a roster that we believe can get the job done'

[USA MEN] U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann admitted Friday's game against Costa Rica at sold-out Dick's Sporting Goods Park (TV: 10 p.m. ET, ESPN, UniMas) is a must-win situation, but he took a positive view to the injury epidemic that leaves his team short-handed. He said he has options "maybe coming out of midfield" to address his depleted backline and he was confident Clint Dempsey -- just back after missing five straight games for Tottenham -- can go the distance in both the Costa Rica and Mexico games. As for Landon Donovan's comeback, Klinsmann said the door was always open but he would make decisions based on what he thought was best for this team going forward.

On the recent strain of injuries affecting U.S. men’s national team players:
“It started with Steve Cherundolo, obviously, still out with knee surgery, he’s not back in rhythm yet, and the injury of Edgar Castillo that you maybe followed, and Timmy Howard, which is huge but it is what it is. And then, further injuries to Timmy Chandler and Jonathan Spector, Danny Williams and Fabian Johnson, that’s all over the last couple of days or weeks. But we have a roster together that gives us the confidence to approach both games very, very positively. I think we have a group of players coming in that have everything to get the job done and so we are excited about everyone being here in Denver by tonight.”

On the decision to leave Carlos Bocanegra off the roster:
“With Carlos, I have had several very good conversations over the past weeks. The reason he’s not here is because he’s simply not playing. He’s not getting any minutes with Racing Santander in the second division in Spain, so he has no flow, he has no rhythm, and he understands the situation. Carlos is still in our picture. This is not the end of his national team career. He understands that right now he’s behind other players. He’s not in the starter picture and he understands that he gives other players a chance to show what they can prove. A very positive approach from Carlos, very professional. It really shows great character from him. We’ll play it by ear over the next couple of months, how his situation hopefully will improve. He’s on loan until the end of the season. That’s basically two more months and then he probably makes another switch in his career. This is definitely a situation where we re-evaluate it in a couple of weeks down the road.”

On the pecking order at outside back:
“It’s definitely a challenge, no doubt about it, but bringing in Tony Beltran and Justin Morrow. Those are two guys that play that position day in and day out with their clubs. They’re doing very well. I had them both in the January camp so I absolutely think they have the quality to come to the next level now. But we also have other options maybe coming out of midfield. I’m comfortable that we are covered there.”

On whether he is looking at Maurice Edu as more of a midfielder or a center back for the two upcoming games:
“You can look at Mo in different ways, which is a big plus for us. We already tried him at center back very successfully last year in August, in Mexico. It worked really well. We know he can play on the side, as well, and we know he can play any role in midfield. First of all, I have to give him a big compliment because he worked his way back into this group with his move from Stoke to Bursaspor. We had [assistant coach] Andy Herzog go down to watch Fenerbahce against Bursaspor two weeks ago and he confirmed that Mo is really back. He’s sharp, he’s in rhythm. The team is doing very well right now, they’re challenging for a European spot for next season. It’s just great to have him back in rhythm because that first half a year with Stoke just didn’t work out the way we all hoped it would work out.”

On who he is considering to be the captain for the upcoming games:
“That is a great question, and thank you for understanding, but I’d like to mention that to the players first when they come into camp tomorrow and then I can give you the answer to that one. I know the answer but I’ll keep that to myself just for one more day because I want to communicate it to the team first.”

On what the key messages will be to the team regarding what it needs to improve in the next two games to obtain a better result:
“Every home game in the Hexagonal is a must-win situation. You want to get all the points possible in your home games so, independent of the result in Honduras, it’s a must-win on Friday night here against Costa Rica. We approach it that way. I think the game in Honduras was a bit unique. Our preparation was a two-and-a-half day window. European players, especially, couldn’t adjust to the climate circumstances and throughout the entire team we just played under our usual level. We learned quite a bit from that game but I think you’re going to see a completely different game on Friday night and then as well in Mexico. We get challenged in several areas. We want to keep a high tempo. We want to go forward and create chances and we want to get the crowd behind us as quickly as possible and get the necessary points. I think because of the uniqueness of the Honduras game, the way it went overall, there’s no need for us here to discuss that anymore.”

On whether he has ever seen so many injuries hit a team at the same time:
“Yeah, when I coached the German team, we had moments like that, and at the club level as well. There are moments where things just come together and it works in a certain way. But I think the good thing about it is that whenever somebody can’t come in, that’s a huge opportunity for the one who is stepping in and wants to prove his point. Another good thing is that we had a January camp in which we got a closer look at a lot of the players and that’s why Tony Beltran and Justin Morrow are in the picture. We are not complaining about the situation. We take it the way it is. Do we wish to have those players back as soon as possible? Absolutely. But it is what it is. We are comfortable with this roster and the guys that are coming into Denver now to get the job done.”

On the value he places on veteran leadership within a World Cup qualifying squad:
“You only get experience if you play. If you don’t have the experience yet, then you have to get your games under your belt and gain that experience. I think the players that are here for the upcoming challenges, they definitely have the qualities and the confidence to get the job done. Experience is built over years, and it’s definitely an important factor but the fact is that a lot of experienced players are injured or are not playing, like Carlos or like [Oguchi] Onyewu, and therefore this is the roster we have total trust in and they will gain more experience by doing that.”

On Clint Dempsey:
“We are very confident. He played the second half yesterday after his calf problems, that was the first game. He would have played already at Inter Milan in their Europa League game there but he stayed home because of the birth of his third child, which we are totally happy and thrilled for him and his family. He’s in a good training rhythm. I was in touch with him constantly. He’ll be in here tonight and we’ll have enough training sessions to get adjusted to the altitude and we are confident that he can go the distance in both games.”

On the situation with Landon Donovan:
“You all know what his decision was, to have a break, until the end of this month. We spoke at length at the end of January, toward the end of our camp. He expressed his desire to stay away from the game, still, for a little while. If he will become part of our plans again, that depends on how he comes back and how I look at the whole picture and how I look at the development of this team. The door is always open, as I said, but at the end of the day I will make decisions based on what I think is best for this team going forward. As of today, right now, he’s not part of the plans because he is simply not playing or training.”

On Omar Gonzalez:
“We just want to give him the opportunity to grow and to mature in our environment, and I think he’s done well in Honduras. The second goal happened because of a sequence of mistakes by several players involved, and we give away the game, but overall he played an absolutely good game. I had him with me the whole January camp, which was a pleasure, and to see his potential. Now for him to kind of get to another level is by playing and gaining experience and growing, and I think he’s done well so far. We believe that there’s a real special player coming through the system.”

On the tangible qualities of Justin Morrow and whether he is surprised that a second-round pick in MLS has reached this point to be counted on for World Cup qualifying:
“I don’t think there are surprises. Everyone in his own development is working himself through the ranks and has hopefully climbing up the ladder and that’s what Justin has done in the past year or two. We worked with him in the camp and we saw his strengths and weaknesses but you see a lot of improvement happening and, therefore, we believe that he is ready for another level, digging his nose into international football and see if he can stand his man. He comes in here and he has absolutely nothing to lose. He’s just giving his best and maturing and learning and getting this experience. It’s great to see when you look at a lot of players coming through the MLS system now that they’re getting better and better and that they’re ready for another level.

“We like obviously his dynamic of the game, he’s technically very gifted. He can cut inside, he can go down the line, he’s able to cover a lot of ground on the left flank. Certainly there are a lot of areas for him to learn about, to be connected to the center backs and to understand his defensive role in more detail and to be always communicating. Those are key messages we give him but he definitely has a lot of talent.”

On whether preliminary games more difficult here than in Europe, and what he is expecting from Mexico at Azteca:
“I think qualifying campaigns everywhere in the world are very difficult. CONCACAF is different than Europe and South America, and I think we are aware of that. We know it’s a difficult road, but we manage that and we’re going to get the points to qualify. In regards to Mexico, I don’t want to talk about the second set before the first one. We play first Costa Rica, Mexico has its own challenge in Honduras and then to face us at home. Last week I had the pleasure to spend some time with [Mexico coach] Chepo de la Torre in Chicago at the Gold Cup press announcement, a wonderful gentleman, but we are not talking right now about Mexico. All that really matters to us right now is Costa Rica and how we are going to get three points on Friday night here in Denver.”

On DaMarcus Beasley and Brek Shea and what they bring to the squad:
“Both are getting back in a rhythm. Beas overall has played a good first part of his season right now. Brek, after his injury and his move to Stoke is getting back into rhythm and has gotten some playing time. We wanted to see where he is right now so we need to work with him in the next couple of days but we are pretty confident that he can add another element to our group here. Beas is just a wonderful player. He can solve you different things on the field in different positions if needed. His personality is always a giving personality to the group to our team and so we always followed him over the last 18 months, especially Martin Vazquez. He went down to Puebla for the under-20 championship, he met with the people at Puebla, watched a training session of Beasley, talked to them, talked to the coach so we knew exactly where he was at right now. We’re happy to have him back again.”

On Costa Rica and winning more respect back from Central American opposing teams:
“Obviously, it’s a must-win and we are confident to achieve that on Friday night. But also, every game we respect the opponent and we know they’re not easy to beat. We know that it’s going to be a difficult task and it will demand everything from us to beat them and you can see on certain Concacaf nations how they’re improved over the last couple of years. Honduras went to the world cup and also Costa Rica who had very positive results over the last couple of years as well. So you respect that but obviously we want to get our job done. Respect is always there for each other and I think the opponents we face in Concacaf also have respect for us, as well. But then every game is there to be played. We won in Mexico last August, and we want to go after a successful game on Friday and go into Mexico and repeat that again.”

On Michael Bradley’s diminishing playing time in club play:
“No, I’m not worried, but once he’s here we talk about it and we want to always know what’s going on in their club teams and therefore I’m curious to hear his side of it what’s happened the last couple of weeks. Michael is the type of player where even if he’s maybe on the bench on one or two games, he finds his ways back into the team right away and we’re confident he’s doing that in Roma, as well.”

On why Bocanegra is sitting on the bench with a second division Spanish club:
“I spoke with Carlos. They’ve had their fourth coach within one season, so it seems like it’s not a very stable environment there. I don’t know the decision making there personally, so if there is something happening that is not on the table for Carlos it is very difficult for him to get his playing time. Hopefully he finds a solution at the end of the season to move on. He had a very difficult situation last summer with his move from Glasgow Rangers and the bankruptcy case with Rangers. It’s not easy for him. I hope that this summer break after the season is over and when this situation comes up he finds a team where he gets the support he needs but also the quality of a team that helps him to be back in our picture, as well.”

On altitude being a factor in putting the squad together for this particular stretch:
“It has no influence at all. We’re going to choose the players based on their qualities and based on how we put the puzzle together in different areas of the team. Yes, it might be easier for certain players to adjust to altitude based on where they play, but that had no influence on this roster at all. Obviously influence is the amount of injuries we got hit with or players that are not playing at all to get this group together, which we have a lot of confidence in.”

1 comment about "Klinsmann: 'We have a roster that we believe can get the job done'".
  1. feliks fuksman, March 19, 2013 at 6:13 a.m.

    Good luck Friday!

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