With this year’s January camp having a heavy emphasis on younger players, the role of the veterans is even more vital to the development process. For Jurgen Klinsmann, the responsibility of the senior players is to guide the group both on and off the field.
“Our expectations, especially for the older, more experienced players, is that they really mentor the younger ones,” said Klinsmann. “So we urge the older guys to look after them, pass on your knowledge, give them a hint, give them advices, give them information, because it’s a huge, huge challenge ahead of them because we really want to go to Rio de Janeiro this summer.
Among the five veterans from the 2014 FIFA World Cup on this roster is Matt Besler, who got his break with the National Team in the 2013 January camp. Two years later, he was starting in Brazil. The Sporting Kansas City captain says the younger players should feel comfortable stepping up.
“My biggest advice to them is to take responsibility,” Besler said. “You need to be vocal. You need to be strong, have a presence in the back. Because having a presence gives your team confidence. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if it’s your first or fifth camp. I always try to stress to be comfortable and put your best foot forward because that’s going to help you show your best and it’s going to help the team.”
Matt Besler (right) works with fellow MNT center back Matt Miazga, who earned his first cap with the senior team last fall.