Jurgen Klinsmann discusses his desire to stay, a possible England friendly and more
SI.com: There has been a lot of interest in who your starting fullbacks might be in Brazil. You’ve done a lot to create competition at every position on the field. Who do you see as the main competitors for the right back position in Brazil?
Klinsmann: Well, the front man is Brad Evans right now. He established himself as the number one in that spot. Then there are other players behind. We haven’t counted out Michael Parkhurst, who’s trying to find a solution [to club playing time] in the winter break. Steve Cherundolo is back training with his team this week. Timothy Chandler is still there. Geoff Cameron, we look more at him as an emergency helper. He’s playing [right back] at Stoke and does very well, and we watch him there, but it’s not his natural position. His natural position is a center back role. So this is an open race, but right now we feel very comfortable with Brad Evans in that position. We might try something out the next couple days, but he looks strong right now.
Left back is similar. I think DaMarcus Beasley deserves that front man role, absolutely. We can always bring Fabian Johnson back [from left midfield] if we want to. I think Fabian in a left winger role is a weapon with his speed, with how he reads the game, with how he puts people into position. And also other ones like maybe Edgar Castillo gets a chance in the upcoming two games. He has improved his game, has stepped it up with Tijuana, becoming a starter there. He’s getting games week in and week out. You see that, and his confidence is getting bigger and bigger. We try to build the competition that is there, but Beasley still looks 21 today!
SI.com: Clint Dempsey is set to play for Seattle [on Wednesday night]. He’s not here due to injury. Are you O.K. with the way Seattle handled this with him not coming here?
Klinsmann: Yeah. I was in touch with Sigi [Schmid, Seattle coach] and Clint. We had long talks. This is the best thing we wanted to have. He couldn’t make it for the last weekend. I said I can’t bring you in here right now and build you toward a game. I don’t know if you have an hour or 45 minutes [in you]. You haven’t played since our last game, really. It makes more sense that you build your base now with Seattle, get as many games as you can and also training sessions, and we’ll see you back in November. So I’m happy he’s playing tonight. We didn’t know last week how fast he could make it back. All we knew last week is he hasn’t really played a game since the Mexico game. That’s not enough for our level.
SI.com: How do you plan to organize the pre-World Cup camp and the last friendlies before the World Cup?
Klinsmann: We plan it that obviously once the European season is done we want to get into camp as quickly as possible, which means pretty much immediately after May 12. And then find a base here in the U.S. where we can train very focused and climate-wise in a fresh climate where we don’t have to compromise any workload we want to do. That excludes Florida, for example! We want to get them through a very demanding training regime over two to three weeks and then play the friendly games the way they lead us up to Brazil eight to 10 days prior to our first game in Brazil, which we’ll know only on Dec. 6. That maybe gives us also the chance to play a friendly there like Bob [Bradley] did in South Africa. That worked out very well. So we’re trying something similar like that. Hopefully having three sendoff games here in the U.S. and then another one in Brazil and then build that foundation you badly need to succeed down there.
SI.com: You mentioned Florida. England is considering staying in Miami for a bit before the World Cup. Their coach, Roy Hodgson, visited Miami a while back. Have you talked to England about a potential U.S.-England friendly before the World Cup?
Klinsmann: Yep. We’re in talks with them (laughs).
SI.com: Have any other teams come up as potential friendly opponents pre-World Cup?
Klinsmann: No. We’ll have a lot of conversations down at the draw. I’m in touch already with several coaches, and they all say we need to know who we’ll face, what opponent we’d like. If we get a South American team, we badly want a South American team. If we get an African team, we badly want to play an African team. That’s what they look at, and we take it from there. So it’ll be a very busy couple days in Bahia.