Posted February 27, 2014

Klinsmann calls on Euro-heavy roster for Ukraine friendly; J. Green to join for training

Americans Abroad, Avi Creditor, Bayern Munich, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Jurgen Klinsmann, MLS, Oguchi Onyewu, Tim Howard, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Jurgen Klinsmann

U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann has turned to his European-based players for next Wednesday’s friendly against Ukraine. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press/AP)

As expected, U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has released a roster that is heavy on European-based players for next Wednesday’s friendly against Ukraine.

The match, which will be played at Antonis Papadopoulous Stadium in Larnaca, Cyprus at 2 p.m. (ET) on March 5, will be televised live on ESPN2, according to U.S. Soccer. The game was originally slated to be played in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on the same day and at the same time, but violent unrest in the country forced the rearrangement.

EPL-based regulars Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan; Eredivisie-based forwards Aron Johannsson and Juan Agudelo; defenders Fabian Johnson, Oguchi Onyewu and John Anthony Brooks (who has yet to be cap-tied and would not be even if he plays in Wednesday’s game); and midfielders Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan and Alejandro Bedoya are among the call-ups. Considering Wednesday is the final FIFA international fixture date prior to the World Cup roster selection, the match (in addition to the brief pre-match training camp) is being billed as a last-chance audition of sorts for the European-based U.S. contingent.

Of MLS-based players, only U.S. captain and Seattle’s Clint Dempsey (who is currently in London on loan with Fulham) and Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley — two locks for Brazil — were called in. Edgar Castillo is the only call-up based in Mexico.

“This is a huge game. We play Ukraine, which barley missed out on going to Brazil,” Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer’s official website. “They had a playoff against France, one of the best teams in the world. So you want to have a very strong team against Ukraine, and as I often mention our team is defined in its spine. The core group of the team is Tim Howard and then Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones in midfield, Clint Dempsey in front of them and then Jozy Altidore up front. These five players build our spine.

“Having Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in for Ukraine is very important to us. Clint has played these two months at Fulham and Michael is coming off preseason camp with Toronto, so for us it’s very important to see both back in the team and putting their stamp on the game.”

As had been previously confirmed by U.S. Soccer, Bayern Munich’s 18-year-old German-American forward Julian Green will be joining the U.S. for pre-match training in Frankfurt, Germany. He is ineligible to play for the USA until he files for a one-time FIFA switch, as he has represented Germany’s U-19s in an official competition (much like Aron Johannsson had done for Iceland’s youth system before locking himself into the U.S. team), but he does maintain dual Germany-U.S. senior eligibility.

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SI’s Grant Wahl reported on Fox Sports 1′s UEFA Europa League pregame show Thursday that Green is not the only young dual-national that Klinsmann is eyeing, with Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem and Mainz’s Shawn Parker also in his crosshairs. Neither player will accompany the U.S. this coming week, though.

UKRAINE: Konoplyanka, Zozulya headline roster to face USA

Here is the U.S. roster in full:

GOALKEEPERS: Cody Cropper (Southampton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)

DEFENDERS: John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Oguchi Onyewu (Sheffield Wednesday), Will Packwood (Birmingham City), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers)

MIDFIELDERS: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Barnsley), Danny Williams (Reading)

FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo (Utrecht), Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar)

20 comments
amccann19
amccann19

Great roster...love that gooch gets a chance....love Dempsey and Bradley making the trip...love the bit about Klinsman's "spine theory" which has a little American baseball "strong up the middle" vibe to it....that said, if only we had some wingers! Castillo and Bedoya have found ways to stick around...can Shea play the wing? Will Beasley make another WC roster? Love the USMNT and our quest to one day win it all!


rdbenton
rdbenton

Looks like a solid roster.  Go Go USA!

spikevicious
spikevicious

If this were an official line-up, I like the mix up front among the forwards.  Nice blend of older and younger and experience, and the youngsters looking to prove themselves.  I would put Green ahead of Agudelo in the pecking order based on talent alone, but they can all push each other and learn from each other.

DSmithy3211
DSmithy3211

This almost sounds like the intent of the whole trip is to recruit Julian Green.  Which will never actually happen, but Klinsmann's efforts are much appreciated.

RickPotts
RickPotts

@DSmithy3211  How did you come to that conclusion? Don't just make gratuitous statements.  Back it up.

fuddpucker
fuddpucker

@PackersFanNumeroUno  Hi I live in my parents basement and watch film of my hero Bert Frave from the 90s.  When I am not doing that I troll soccer blogs posting about how much I hate soccer.  I like fast cars and fast women.  My friends at the swap meet call me "The Cruiser"!! 

Signed Bert Fraves love child with Gretta Van Sustern.

hfuhruhurr
hfuhruhurr

@PackersFanNumeroUno  Dude, you single handedly doubled the # of posts.  Congrats!  Keep up the great work for soccer.  Your unknowing advocacy only makes SI think soccer is more popular.  If that's you're intent then you're brilliant.  But seeing how you're clinging to a fallen hero, I suspect you're more troll than anything.

DSmithy3211
DSmithy3211

@RickPotts @DSmithy3211  In addition to everything @Matthew W mentioned:


Green has the chance to be a star.  He knows this, Bayern knows this, the German and US FAs know this.  He's already played for the German U21 team.  Which is all fine and good, and by itself it wouldn't preclude him from playing for the USMNT.  Except for the huge elephant in the room: playing for the USMNT inherently lowers Green's value, whereas playing for Germany (or playing for neither, I suppose) does not.


If, hypothetically, Green were to choose the USMNT over Germany, what would this require? It would require Green to play for the USMNT.  Again, by itself, nothing problematic.  Except that Green could be (and likely would be... he is really that much better than Altidore or Johansson) slotted in as an automatic starter for just about every game for the next 12+ years or so. This requires regular travel from Munich to somewhere in North America and back.  Consider the implications: guaranteed starter playing in often horrible climates on horrible pitches in front of fans that hate all things U.S. against teams whose players are often less skilled and are highly motivated to beat the U.S.  I have no data to back this up, but the injury risk is higher playing in San Pedro Sula than Tirana or Zagreb or some such.


Add to the higher injury risk the inevitable jet lag.


Add to those the fact that Bayern has bad history with several FAs.  None with U.S. Soccer yet.  But the bad history list includes Holland (the Arjen Robben injury saga) and Brazil (the Dante and Luis Gustavo German Cup final saga).  Needless to say, Bayern has a fantastic relationship with the German FA.  If Green needs to nurse an injury, Germany won't play him against the minnows in their qualifying group.


Add to that the fact that Germany's strikers are not exactly setting the world on fire. Klose's retiring.  Gomez only has a few more years left. Kiessling will never be called up. That leaves the likes of Max Kruse and whole bunch of slim pickings.  The opportunity for Green is there for the taking. 


Bottom line: He has every reason not to play for the USMNT and instead wait for his call up to Germany's senior squad.  Given the choice, Bayern doesn't want him to play for the USMNT.  He's surrounded by teammates that already play for Germany.  


Matthew W
Matthew W

@RickPotts @DSmithy3211 

Just that he's lived in Germany for all but 2 years of his life. 

He's half German.

He's advancing well through the Bayern system.

He's already made an appearance for the first team.

He's already playing & training with HALF the members of die Nationalelf on a daily basis


He still hasn't made a decision despite not having much in the way of competition to take the US starting striker spot. 


He's already home if he sticks with Germany and he'll avoid all the jet lag and travel to meet up in the US for friendlies, WC Quals, and the ever important Gold Cup.


To me, it looks like he'll go with Germany. If he was going with the US, he would have picked already and be penciled in for Brazil this summer.

spikevicious
spikevicious

@RickPotts @PackersFanNumeroUno  

At least he keeps coming back.  Be patient, any sudden movement might scare him off forever.  He might just come around yet with the proper encouragement.  Or if not he's too far concussed that he'll never trust again, left alone to soil his diapers while crying in the mirror.

DSmithy3211
DSmithy3211

@rotosportsbook @DSmithy3211 @RickPotts @Matthew W  Exactly... Landon Donovan comes to mind.  The same Landon Donovan who was summarily reviled for what he did.


Generally, I may agree on the marketing aspects. Except that this is Bayern Munich. BM has attempted to break into non-conventional markets before by buying players from those markets.  Takeshi Usami, Ali Karimi, Ali Daei, and...yes... Landon Donovan come to mind.  To a man, everyone has failed to bring BM the riches they thought they would.  


At the end of the day, this is Bayern Munich we're talking about.  The marketing opportunities will be there.  Only now, they're trying to do it the old-fashioned (non-gimmicky?) way, by opening up a marketing office in New York this summer.


As for the rest, I suppose we'll agree to disagree. No, taking transatlantic flights, by THEMSELVES, may have little impact on the player (although... he'd be taking a flight on Thursdays, to arrive in Germany on Fridays, to prepare for Bundesliga games on Saturdays... that's unnecessarily taxing).  But I never claimed as much.  But flight + playing against Honduras/etc + playing in Honduras/etc leads to an increased injury risk.  Marketing opportunities aside, an increased injury risk inherently lowers a players value.

rotosportsbook
rotosportsbook

@DSmithy3211 @rotosportsbook @RickPotts @Matthew W   

Landon Donovan comes to mind.


But look, playing for the US doesn't "inherently lower his value".  Taking trans-atlantic flights doesn't inherently lower a soccer player's value.  And what I am saying is if the travel schedule becomes too much he can then take time off or quit the team entirely.  Obviously he is not choosing the US to lower his value and quit the team, but it is not like he has no option but to continue in this supposed cycle of soccer deterioration due to too many flights.


Another thing:  playing for the US may increase his value, at least to his club.  Might there be appeal in having the next (first) American soccer star in your team?  America is a big market, and just as Man U wanted Park, Bayern may prefer to market Green as an American rather than one of many Germans.


Bottom line, there are so many factors at play I think it would be silly to assume we know what he is going to do, or what he is better off doing.  

DSmithy3211
DSmithy3211

@rotosportsbook @DSmithy3211 @RickPotts @Matthew W  

OK, I'll concede that there is more German competition that I've let on. But that still doesn't change much of the analysis.


I'm not sure how the travel situation is far-fetched.  If it seems far-fetched to you, you underestimate the role that Bayern Munich plays in all of this. At some point, he's going to ask his teammates and the likes of Sammer, Guardiola, and Hoeness for advice.  I'd be shocked if their advice was anything other than to stick with Germany.  The only person in his ear about switching to the U.S. is... who? His dad? Klinsmann? His agent?


The rest of your suggestion is just asinine.  So if Green didn't want to play against, say, Honduras in the Hexagonal, he would say, "Welp, I'm tired. No thanks."  Under what circumstance would that ever happen?  Truly?  Honestly?  The USMNT already has very limited opportunities to play together, let alone bond.  Plain and simple, this would be him giving up on his teammates, to the detriment of the team.  When has this ever happened?  Did Claudio Reyna ever do this? Michael Bradley?  And that was when Arena and Bradley were coaches... not Klinsmann.


And yes, he could quit.  But then why choose to switch to the U.S. in the first place?  Remember, Green can only switch once. Once he switches to the U.S., he cannot switch back.

rotosportsbook
rotosportsbook

@DSmithy3211 @RickPotts @Matthew W  Forgot to mention but Julian Green is tiny, he is not a #9.  He shouldn't be compared to Gomez at all. He plays the same way as all these other guys I mentioned above.  He could play a false 9, like Muller, a 10, or on the wing.  If Germany wants to play with a real striker, like Gomez, which I very much doubt they will do, it won't be Green.

rotosportsbook
rotosportsbook

@DSmithy3211 @RickPotts @Matthew W  There are a lot of assumptions here.  


1) If Julian Green gets tired of playing for the US and travelling across the world, he can quit the national team.   Or he can tell them he wants some games off.  Whatever he decides, he is not committed to lowering his value.  This is one of the more far fetched arguments I have heard regarding Julian.


2) I know Julian is a talent, but let's remember that he is an 18 year old talent who has played exactly 4 minutes of first team soccer.  I wouldn't be so quick to assume he will start over anybody.  


3) Along these lines, have you heard of the following players?  Gotze, Reus, Muller, Draxler, Schurrle, Holtby.  All are 24 or younger, all play Green's position, and all are stars (or at least starters) on their club teams and have already played for the German national team.  You could throw in Max Meyer, a 19 year old starring for Schalke who hasn't yet gotten his chance with the senior team, but considering he has 5 goals in the Bundisliga he could easily be ahead of Julain as well.  There is nothing promised for any German attacking player no matter what club you train with.

DSmithy3211
DSmithy3211

@fuddpucker @Matthew W @RickPotts @DSmithy3211  

"If had chosen he would not be training with the USNT!!"


Well, the decision he has to make is whether to switch allegiances to the U.S. The default is Germany.  As such, the only thing we know is that he has not yet chosen to make the switch.  Him training with the USMNT doesn't provide any particular insights.  They're training in Frankfurt; it literally costs him a mere one-hour flight to join them.



"It all comes down to where he thinks he has the best chance to play." 


This is not, nor has it ever been, the criterion.  See, e.g., Rossi, Giuseppe; Johansson, Aron; Diouf, El Haji; Seedorf, Clarence; Davids, Edgar; Dundee, Sean; Podolski, Lukas; Klose, Miroslav; Asamoah, Gerald.


All could have chosen to play for a smaller country with guaranteed playing time. None chose to do so.



LP2
LP2

@fuddpucker @Matthew W @RickPotts @DSmithy3211 To be fair, the players you mentioned would most generously be described as "fringe" in regards to the German National team.  If they wanted to play International football, USMNT was their best (and maybe only) bet.

fuddpucker
fuddpucker

@Matthew W @RickPotts @DSmithy3211  If had chosen he would not be training with the USNT!!  All of the points you make go the same for quite a few current players.  Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams all had the same decision and chose the USNT.  It all comes down to where he thinks he has the best chance to play.  Would you sit on the bench in Germany or start for the USNT?