Four days after playing in Cuba -- more a bonding trip than a serious tuneup -- the USA faces New Zealand, hardly the world-class opponent that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann
says his players need
to test themselves against.
With World Cup qualifying in most of the world during the October international window, the All Whites -- ranked 88th in the FIFA rankings -- are the best
opponent the USA could find.
Klinsmann, who released nine of the players who faced Cuba on Friday, used the scheduling dilemma -- and the proposed changes in Concacaf -- as evidence of
the obstacles he faces getting better competition for the USA.
“Conmebol [South America] is fully scheduled and UEFA is fully scheduled,” Klinsmann told reporters on Monday.
“We go [through] the list up and down, believe me. We’re trying to get the best opponents as possible, but it’s going to be a very tricky path going forward.”
FIFA's cutback in the international calendar -- as a concession to European clubs -- means the only dates available for the USA to get teams during these approved period in the next year are the 10
Hexagonal matches that begin in November and the 2017 Gold Cup.
Klinsmann has no problem with the Hexagonal. He just doesn't want to have to play Concacaf teams more often, which goes
against the view of new Concacaf president Victor Montagliani
, who wants to extend
the qualifying campaigns
of lesser teams.
“For us, it would be the opposite direction,” Klinsmann said.
After the Copa Centenario, where the USA faces
Colombia twice, Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay in addition to Concacaf opponent Costa Rica, Klinsmann reiterated his call
that his players need to a chance to face the top teams of the world to
gauge their progress.
The reality is, the USA will see nothing but a steady diet of Concacaf teams until November 2017 when the next friendly dates become available, assuming the USA is
not in the intercontinental playoff as Concacaf's fourth-place team.
“Our lesson from Copa America," Klinsmann said on Monday, "is if we want to get our program better, we have to
play with the best. In order to break into the top 15, top 10 in the world, we need to challenge ourselves to play them. And the more often we play Argentina, the better our results will get because
the less fear we have or respect we have." U.S. Roster: GOALKEEPERS (3):
David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Hamid
(D.C. United), William Yarbrough (Leon/MEX) DEFENDERS (7):
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Michael Orozco
(Tijuana/MEX), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps) DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG). MIDFIELDERS (6):
Paul Arriola (Tijuana/MEX), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch
(Sunderland/ENG), Perry Kitchen (Hearts/SCO), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Danny Williams (Reading/ENG). FORWARDS (4):
Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore
(Toronto FC), Terrence Boyd (RB Leipzig/GER), Julian Green (Bayern Munich/GER). New Zealand Roster: GOALKEEPERS (3):
Stefan Marinovic (Unterhaching/GER), Tamati Williams (RKC/NED), Jake Gleeson (Portland Timbers). DEFENDERS (8):
Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix), Sam Brotherton (Univ. of Wisconsin),
Michael Boxall (SuperSport United/RSA), Kip Colvey (San Jose Earthquakes), Themi Tzimopoulos (PAS/GRE), Winston Reid (West Ham United/ENG), Deklan Wynne (Whitecaps FC 2), Liam Graham
(Chesterfield/NG). MIDFIELDERS (7):
Clayton Lewis (Auckland City), Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix), Matt Ridenton (Wellington Phoenix), Te Atawhai Wihongi (Auckland City), Henry
Cameron (Blackpool/ENG), Moses Dyer (Eastern Suburbs), Ryan Thomas (PEC/NED). FORWARDS (5):
Kosta Barbarouses (Wellington Phoenix), Chris Wood (Leeds United/ENG), Monty Patterson (Ipswich
Town/ENG), Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory/AUS), Rory Fallon (Truro City/ENG).