With the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign barely in the rearview and still seven months between now and the start of the World Cup training camp, it’s easy to think there is plenty of time for work to get done in building the U.S. Men’s National Team before Brazil.
It’s hard to believe, but between now and when U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann names the 23-player roster for the World Cup, there are only three international fixture dates remaining where the full U.S. squad will be available for selection. That means every opportunity is huge, and Klinsmann plans on taking full advantage.
“Our approach to the games against Scotland and Austria is that they are World Cup preparation matches,” Klinsmann said. “That means we have to look at bringing the best available players. We will be following the situations in Europe and MLS carefully. We plan on taking the strongest squad possible for these games.”
The leagues in Europe were already scheduled to be on break to conform to the international calendar. MLS has also taken this step and will not play playoff games during the window, a move Klinsmann applauds.
“As I said before, I think the fact that MLS scheduled their playoffs according to the international schedule is a tremendous positive for us and many of the other national teams with players in the league. It gives an opportunity to look at more options.”
With the plan of bringing a roster of around 23 players, the U.S. coach may also use the opportunity in Europe to introduce some younger players to the Senior Team program. One player who has been in the media spotlight recently is 18-year-old Julian Green, a dual citizen of the United States and Germany. After careful consideration, Green will not be included on the roster this time around; a move Klinsmann says is in the best interest of the player.
“We are going to give Julian an opportunity to breathe,” said Klinsmann. “All of these conversations and attention can be a bit overwhelming for a young player, so we decided to take the foot off the pedal and let him focus on his work at Bayern. We had a great conversation. He’s a mature young man and he clearly has a bright future. I told him that when the time is right, the door is wide open.”
Already with the most victories in one year in team history, the National Team can put an exclamation point on a record-setting year with results in the next two matches. More importantly, it’s a huge chance for players in one of the few remaining auditions before the critical decisions get made next summer.