MNT Oct 6, 2014
U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has brought 24-year-old forward Miguel Ibarra into the team’s camp in preparation for Friday’s game against Ecuador.
Ibarra, who plays for North American Soccer League side Minnesota United, certainly stands out among Klinsmann’s more conventional call-ups who are based in Major League Soccer, Europe and Mexico; in fact, he is the first player called up from the NASL during Klinsmann’s tenure. However, with a new FIFA World Cup cycle and an impressive showing in NASL action this past season, Klinsmann and the coaching staff had their eyes on Ibarra and thought now was a perfect opportunity to add him to the fold.
“Miguel is a bit of a late bloomer coming through the NASL system, but he did tremendously well the whole season there,” Klinsmann said. “We watched him and a couple other players in the league, and they might go a different path than coming through MLS, Europe or Mexico. But he’s a good example that there are different ways to get all the way to the top of the Senior National Team level.”
Klinsmann said that Ibarra’s pace in the final third stood out, and he is eager to see how his skillset will translate at the National Team training grounds.
“He knows he has to prove it now,” Klinsmann said. “He has tremendous skill – he has speed, he has an engine and he can take people on. He keeps everybody on their toes and keeps them very busy. The tempo and the pace in every league are different, and it’s especially different at the international level. This gives him, over the next couple of days, a really good feeling of what he needs to work for in the future when he trains with us, or if he plays with us. He understands this is what is requested at the international stage.”
The Lancaster, California, native has showed his top form in NASL play, earning player of the month honors in September after recording four goals and an assist during that stretch. His Minnesota United team is at the top of the table this fall season with a 9-1-3 record.
As with any call-ups, young or experienced, Klinsmann wants to see the players’ National Team experience reflected through their leadership at their respective clubs.
“I think that message is very important to everyone out there who becomes an adult player that based on the workload they’re putting in and their talent that anything is possible. Our job as National Team coaches is to find that talent and to help them understand their next choices and the next opportunity. I think it’s exciting.”