In the first international match of the new cycle for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is bringing together a roster that includes several newcomers to the mix to look forward to the next cycle.
The 22-player roster for the Sept. 3 game against the Czech Republic includes five players in search of their first cap in goalkeeper Cody Cropper, defender Greg Garza, midfielder Emerson Hyndman and forwards Joe Gyau and Rubio Rubin.
“It’s an especially good opportunity for us to look at the younger players based in Europe, which we don’t get to do very often because of their schedules,” Klinsmann said. “We can’t bring them into the January camp where we get to work with a lot of the up-and-coming talent, so for players like Joe Gyau, Emerson Hyndman, Rubio Rubin and Bobby Wood, it’s a great chance for them to experience our environment.”
While it remains to be seen as to whether they will get game time, the experience of taking part in the USA’s camp in Prague will bode well for them as they make their case in front of the U.S. MNT coaching staff.
“When you start a new cycle, you want to see as many new players, young players, breaking into the cycle as possible,” Klinsmann said. “Obviously you always respect your established players and you will always give them the space to continue their good work, but also you want to use that opportunity going forward to introduce young blood into the program and give them time on the training field, and in the real games and prove a point. Show us what you have. Show us your talent and be confident and go for your next level. This is what comes up now in the next couple of games, it’s about young players coming in and hopefully doing well.”
Several players have had a small taste of the National Team experience such as Ingolstadt midfielder Alfredo Morales and 1860 Munich forward Bobby Wood. Both earned their first cap under Klinsmann in 2013. Wood has started in all three matches for 1860 Munich to open the 2. Bundesliga season, and Morales is off to a solid start, appearing on the starting 11 in all three games and scoring a goal.
This young group has showcased its muscle at the younger levels. Cropper was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team during the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, competing in arguably the most difficult group of the tournament, including a 1-1 draw against eventual tournament winner France. Rubin, who signed with FC Utrecht this summer, is a U.S. U-17 Residency alum and the 2012 U.S. Soccer Youth Male Athlete of the Year.
The roster also features a four-man base of former Development Academy players: Joe Corona, Joe Gyau, Hyndman and Jordan Morris. Morris, who scored the game-winner for the U.S. U-23 MNT against the Bahamas last month, was the 2012-13 Development Academy Player of the Year for the U-17/18s with Seattle Sounders FC’s Academy.
“We are curious about the next generation of players breaking in,” Klinsmann said. “This is vital toward Russia 2018, that we communicate now, four years away. There is a path laid out, and as a player you have to decide at the end of the day if you make that path or not. The players have to have that drive, hunger and determination to go to the highest level possible.”