May 25, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
Five games in 18 days for U.S. men
U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann is looking at the upcoming schedule of five games in less than three weeks as a tournament.
|The U.S. Men's National Team will start their five game schedule without Clint Dempsey.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The U.S. opens that slate with a friendly against Scotland on Saturday night in Jacksonville (8 pm ET, NBC Sports Network), then continues with another one against Brazil next Wednesday at FedEx Field outside Washington DC, and then on Saturday in Toronto against Canada before kicking off World Cup Qualifying, the first qualifier coming at home against Antigua & Barbuda.
"We had 10 very productive days in Orlando at the ESPN World of Sports," said Klinsmann. "It was really a joy to see the players with their attitude and their commitment. They put a lot of effort into the training sessions. We had a challenge to have guys coming in at different schedules, so we had to get them up to speed. Now we have the latest players coming in last night with Michael Parkhurst and Clarence Goodson – they just finished off their Danish season, and a Danish champion with Michael Parkhurst, which is just awesome. Same for Herculez Gomez, who won the championship with Santos in Mexico – that’s very exciting for us. But now we are really looking forward to getting started tomorrow night in Jacksonville.”
While the three games offer a good preparation for the Qualifiers, and a chance for the players to really stretch themselves with three games in nine days, Klinsmann does not see any of the three opponents as presenting a good simulation of what they will face in CONCACAF.
“Simulation? Probably none of them," said Klinsmann. "I don’t think you can simulate Antigua & Barbuda because we’ve watched their games and have scouted them. It’s difficult to simulate their approach and style of play. It will be tricky. They will give us trouble. We know that."
That game, against a veritable minnow, will be played in front of a partisan home crowd, in Tampa. But the real test will be a week later when the team travels to Guatemala, a place they have always struggled to get a result.
"An environment like Guatemala, at the end of the day the most similar situation we’ve had was in the January camp with Panama. But for us, it’s really important that we prepare the team in a way that they go their own pace, their own speed, and that they demand everything from themselves in order to keep the bar as high as possible for those two opponents that we face in the World Cup qualifiers. If we’re able to execute a very fast-paced game, a very determined one, and technically are on a very high level, then hopefully we can break them down.”
Klinmann selected 23 players for the upcoming five games, but will start out against Scotland a bit shorthanded.
"Clint (Dempsey) is unavailable for this weekend," said Klinsmann of the star midfielder who came into the U.S. camp with a groin injury. "We have the big hopes that he can make it for the Brazil game. We take it one day at a time.
"And other than that, all the other guys should be available. Obviously it’s getting tricky for tomorrow with the two Scandinavian players (Clarence Goodson and Michael Parhurst) coming in so late last night. That’s most unlikely that they’re not part of the first 18 tomorrow night, but then we should be all good."
Klinsmann is still however, awaiting the arrival of Jozy Altidore, who will not be release by his club until Monday.
" They kind of used the FIFA rules on his case, which is not very nice for us because we gave him a training regime," said Klinsmann. "We can just hope he is training as much as he can in order to present himself in decent shape when he comes in on May 28. So Jozy won’t be available for tomorrow night’s game, but he will be available for the Brazil game. If he will get picked for the Brazil game is another question, because that depends on his shape.”