ussoccer.com: Great to see Fabian Johnson get back into a rhythm right away at ‘Gladbach and getting another assist. How big a win was that for his team on the weekend? Do you have an update on John Brooks?
Jurgen Klinsmann: “It was an exciting weekend, especially in Europe if you saw a couple of our players perform there. First and foremost, it was great to see Fabian Johnson being back in his club side after he couldn’t make it for our two [World Cup] Qualifying games against Guatemala. He had a very good game against Hertha Berlin. So we’re glad he’s picking up the rhythm again. Unfortunately on the other side of the field John Brooks is still not 100 percent, so they kept him out. Hopefully we’re going to see him next weekend back with the team.”
ussoccer.com: You always talk about the door being open for players and what matters is their form in the moment. Given that, where does Timmy Chandler stand now that he is back starting for Frankfurt?
JK: “Observing our players - whether they play in Europe, Mexico or MLS - we hope they show their qualities on the field, and players who haven’t been given the chance to perform with their clubs are back in the picture. For example, Timmy Chandler is back in the lineup for Eintracht Frankfurt. We get another chance to see how he’s doing over the next couple of weeks. We’re still waiting for Alfredo Morales now that he comes back after his injury and is now on the bench. With Timmy, it’s important to see that he really picks it up and to plays strongly in the Bundesliga in order to have a shot at Copa America.”
ussoccer.com: Geoff Cameron and DeAndre Yedlin both continued in their starting roles in England. What did you see out of England this weekend, and how big was it that Matt Miazga made his debut for Chelsea?
JK: “In the Premiere League, it’s great to see Geoff Cameron starting for Stoke and DeAndre Yedlin trying everything possible to keep Sunderland up. Brad Guzan has his starting position with Aston Villa, but Aston Villa seems to be relegated pretty soon and in a very tough situation right now. Looking at the weekend in the Premiere League, the highlight for us was Matt Miazga starting for Chelsea at Aston Villa. This is big for Matt. It’s a huge milestone to play his first game in the Premier League, to be in such a prestigious club as Chelsea with tremendous players around him and a very good coach that guides him through the process. That’s exciting for us because he came back from the Olympic team qualifier playoffs with Colombia not succeeding in getting to Rio, but comes back and plays for Chelsea in the starting lineup. That was huge. I sent him a text and said congratulations.”
ussoccer.com: You talk about players competing at the highest level in their club situations – in Mexico we have players contributing at four of the top five teams in Liga MX. How encouraging is that, and how beneficial is that situation for those players?
JK: “Our players with their clubs are doing really well; unfortunately not all of them get the playing time we want to see from our players, but the higher you play in you club environment, the thinner the air is in order to have a starting spot and to compete with players there. We’ve got to be patient. Ventura Alvarado is not playing and maybe there’s a reason for it, or Michael Orozco not getting into the starting lineup right away. William Yarbrough is doing really well at Club Leon; that’s fun to see. Edgar Castillo played the first 45 minutes for Monterrey, who are in first place, so we continue to follow them throughout their club performances.
ussoccer.com: Clint Dempsey also looks to have carried his form from the National Team back to Seattle. What did you see from him in camp?
JK: “First, it’s exciting because MLS is picking up the pace. Four games into the season you want your players to stand out and you want your players to make a mark. It definitely happened with Clint Dempsey on the weekend with Clint scoring the deciding winner for the Sounders after they didn’t start the season so well. Having that win now is very important; it gives them a boost. Jordan Morris came off the bench, but for Jordan it’s a learning curve right now. He went from college into the pros, so one step at a time. Sometimes from the beginning he’s on the field and sometimes he has to be patient coming off the bench. It was important for the Sounders to get three points.”
ussoccer.com: Brek Shea is another player who seems to be rounding into form. You tweeted about his goal against Portland – what did you think?
JK: “Another exciting moment in MLS was definitely Brek Shea’s goal. I think it was a real beauty. He started the game with a yellow card, then he scored the goal, then he got a hand ball. All of the ups and downs of Brek’s game were involved, but it’s nice to see Brek scoring a beautiful goal and doing well at Orlando.”
ussoccer.com: Sigi Schmid said today of starting Jordan Morris on the bench that ‘a lot of expectations have been heaped’ on Jordan Morris. What can and should people do to help prevent the hype train from being overblown?
JK: “I think it’s really important, for example in the case like Jordan Morris, that we are patient and that we understand there is a player jumping from the college system to the pro system and obviously a tremendous talent. That’s why he is with the National Team program, but we have to give him time. There’s no more of an experienced coach than Sigi [Schmid] knowing how to deal with that, giving him time. He started the first three games and now he came off the bench in order to balance Jordan’s expectations, but also to balance his game. In the beginning there will be a little bit of a rollercoaster for Jordan, but overtime he will settle in and will become more consistent.”
ussoccer.com: In the absence of the Olympic experience for U-23 players, will you now give greater consideration to selecting some of them for the Copa America roster instead of taking some established senior players who might not have played much in Copa? In essence, is it more important to get U-23s into the senior mix or maintain consistency with the more established group?
JK: “With the fact that our Olympic team didn’t qualify for Rio de Janeiro, the situation comes up: how many of those younger players are ready to feed into the senior level toward Copa America? That’s a legitimate discussion to have, because of guys like Matt Miazga breaking in at Chelsea and Ethan Horvath playing week in and week out at Molde. He played Europa League until they lost against Sevilla. He’s a very promising goalkeeper. How fast can his development curve be over the next couple of months? Kellyn Acosta could have been with us against Guatemala but was with the Olympic team, and Jordan Morris has already been with the senior team. Does not qualifying change the situation? It absolutely does. They’re not getting the opportunity to play in the Olympics and we’re going to help them develop and to make their next steps in their careers. It’s going to be an open fight with the senior guys to get into that roster for Copa America.”