In the United States Men's National Team press conference today, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made it clear that the foundation of the U.S. team was not the same as that of the other countries headed for Brazil. He said there was a lot of catching up to do and that he’d talked to club coaches to make sure he got as many players as quickly as possible out to the squad training facility at Stanford.
He pointed out that other countries World Cup squads were coming into their camps with many of their players having just finished championship-winning performances in leagues and cups around the world. But, he pointed out, 50% of his squad were MLS players and only a quarter of the way into their season.
We’ve heard all the weather and various other logistical arguments about why MLS has to run its season at a different time of year from most other leagues in the world. But it’s to be hoped this won’t turn out to be a handicapping factor for the USMNT in Brazil.
San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski said he thought the fact that half of the roster played in major leagues outside the USA now was indicative of how far the U.S. game has come in the last four years and it was great that this was now translating back to the National Team.
It’s possible that with the tough start the San Jose Earthquakes are having this season in MLS, amid all the frantic preparation in World Cup team camps, the likes of Chris Wondolowski might slip under the opposition's scouting radar. Slipping under the radar is one of the things Wondo has shown he can do for the USA, while everyone’s busy worrying about covering Jozy Altidore or Landon Donovan, that man shows up at the crucial moment and the ball’s suddenly in the back of the net.
Asked about the 100 degree weather, Wondo said it was a little hot for California but thought it was a good thing, and he was all for training in it as preparation for conditions in Brazil.
There will be a lot of work to do in this camp with the defensive backs, as none of the squad defenders have any World Cup game experience.
San Jose Earthquakes defender Clarence Goodson traveled to the 2010 World Cup but didn’t play. When asked about this training camp, Goodson said he thought it was going to be very intense, and that the players all had to prove they could take the pressure in order to do a good job every time they stepped on the field.
The Earthquakes defender also said it was an advantage for him to be coached at San Jose by former defensive player Mark Watson and that this was why the Quakes defense was one of its strongest features.
THE EURO BOYS
The fired-up nature of players coming in from Europe on the end of their seasons was perhaps best illustrated by 23-year-old Terrance Boyd of Rapid Vienna, who has scored 19 goals in 36 games in the Austrian Bundesliga. When asked how he was different from other strikers U.S. fans are used to watching in MLS games, he replied that he was “like a tank in front of goal”. When asked about his self-proclamation, Boyd smiled and asked if anyone wanted to find out by playing against him?
Today’s 100 degree Stanford weather aside, if the heat of competition for places can be used to forge a strong team, there’s every chance this U.S. squad will be causing an unexpected degree of havoc on the fields of Brazil next month.