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MNT Roster Release: Quote Sheet

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann speaks about his selection of 24 players for the training camp ahead of the final two matches in the Semifinal Round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.

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Jurgen Klinsmann

IN THE IMAGE: U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann

2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann Conference Call Quote Sheet
Oct. 8, 2012

U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
“Welcome from Miami where we are getting together today. We are very excited about the upcoming two games. They are obviously very big games and I think we put a group of players together that are anxious to get those games approached the right way and get those six points that we want out of those two games. We want to finish out the group in first place and move on to the hexagonal for 2013. We’re all ready to go.”

On the reasoning behind not including Jozy Altidore on the roster:
“I communicated to Jozy I was not happy about his latest performances with us, maybe even over the last 14 months. I think Jozy can do much, much better. The reason he’s not coming in is mainly because of his performances in Jamaica and at home, also in training, and also certain things that went on through the May-June camp. We decided to bring in Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon and give them a chance to show how much they have improved. They’re both doing very well in MLS right now.”

On the decision not to call in Terrence Boyd or Chris Wondolowski:
“That is more tactical. I spoke to both Wondo (Wondolowski) and to Terrence. We wanted to bring in Eddie and Alan because both are really strong in the air. We expect two difficult games where the opponent will probably play more defensively. They will probably get a lot of numbers in their box or in front of their box to play more defensive against us, so we need to have [the forwards] force things with crosses coming over the wings and be really strong in the air. That was the reason we brought in Eddie and Alan, two guys into the squad that are really good in the air and that can lay balls off. That’s also how I explained it to Terrence and to Wondo. Wondo is on a roll, and it’s fantastic to watch him. Both are one standby so if anything happens throughout the camp, with any injuries or anything, they’re ready to come in right away.”

On the fitness concerns of Jermaine Jones and Landon Donovan after they both are recovering from injury:
“Both are looking really good. Jermaine should be totally fine coming in today. We texted Landon over the last two days and he was actually supposed to have an MRI this morning but he skipped it because he improved a lot yesterday during the day. We spoke last night and he said if things were better this morning, he would skip the MRI and come straight to Miami. Both look very positive.”

On what he’s looking forward to in terms of improving on the attack:
“We would like to pick [the attack] up the way we left it in Columbus, especially the first half in Columbus. That was the way we want to see the team play. We want to play a high-paced game, we want to push the back line up, we want high pressure whenever it’s possible and we want to combine this as much as possible. This type of style was not doable in Jamaica because the field was impossible to play a passing game. What we were lacking in Jamaica was matching the physicality of the Jamaican team and we paid the price for it. I think we can build on how we played the first half in Columbus, the pace, the urgency the team had and the drive towards goal. That was very encouraging, so we’d like to pick it up right there.”

On what Graham Zusi has meant to the team so far and what he has learned about him in qualifying:
“I think Graham is on a very good path. Since the first time we saw him in a long stretch in the January camp, he improved step by step. Over the last couple of camps he has become more confident. He’s realizing that he can compete with all these guys. He’s realizing he can do certain things and has qualities. He has a great shot and he’s technically very gifted. He can take the risk to shoot and to create something. We have always encouraged that with him and it’s really nice to see that going through. Now, having the second game in Kansas, he’s the local boy. I think it’s exciting for him to be right there in his home stadium.”

On how much club performance matters in making roster selections:
“It’s absolutely important. For sure right now it looks a little bit different in Jozy’s case because he’s doing well with Alkmaar and he’s scoring goals, but he hasn’t done well with us in the last couple of games and that’s why now I have more trust in these upcoming two games in bringing in Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon. It is important [players] have their club rhythm and it’s important they play well there.. It’s important they have their starting spot there, but it doesn’t mean that coming back into the National Team that things are for granted. That’s as simple as it is.”

On whether he is expecting similar field conditions in Antigua as they were in Jamaica:
“We haven’t seen the field yet but anything can happen there in Antigua in terms of the field and conditions. We need to be aware of that and we need to find ways to break them down. We need to find ways to score goals and we need to adjust. If it’s sending in long balls or high balls or whatever it is, we have to get these three points no matter what. This is our approach over the next couple of days, to build this sense of fearlessness and urgency so we’re not wasting time at all from the beginning of the game. If it’s a difficult field, if it’s difficult conditions and we have to adjust, we have to deal with it. Antigua deals with it the same way. Jamaica dealt with it the same way.”

On the progress Antigua has made as a team:
“This is a team has done very well in our qualifying group, even though they only have one point. We watched very carefully the games against Guatemala and they could have beaten Guatemala in both games. They tied Jamaica. This is not an easy game. It’s going to be a difficult game because, for them, it’s the game of the decade. They want to prove everything against the United States. We will tell that to the players from day one. We have to go in there with the right mindset and with the right mentality and take care of it.”

On the inclusion of Sacha Kljestan on the roster:
“He was with us in Italy. I discussed with Sacha that he was always observed by us and he’s done well. We had Andi Herzog go to one of his games when they played Malaga and he did very well. Even though they lost that game, he played in a way that we wanted to see him play. He was very aggressive. He was very direct. He looked for the vertical balls to play, he didn’t play sideways the whole time and he was pushed forward in order to get shots off himself. We are pleased with the way he’s playing right now and that’s why he’s getting that call.”

On how CONCACAF is becoming stronger as a region:
“What happened to the Olympic team was a huge warning to whoever thinks CONCACAF is an easy region to go through and to qualify, whether it’s for the Olympics or whether it’s for the World Cup. I think the teams in CONCACAF have improved a lot over the last few years. That’s why for us it’s not that easy to communicate to European clubs and coaches and people how serious, actually, our qualifying campaign is. I spoke with some coaches earlier in the season and they all said, ‘Oh, you’ll probably go through with no problem.’ And you have to tell them no, it’s not just automatic because those teams you play as the United States or as Mexico, they will give everything they have. They will give all their heart and they want to upset you. They want to give the big surprise as Antigua is trying to do now. You have to first work your way through that game. You first have to accept the physical battle and the challenges that are there. You have to adjust to the field and the environment. Then, hopefully, once you score a goal, you can start to play in a better way. This is a difficult qualifying campaign. It’s a marathon. You always have to repeat yourself to people who are outside the CONCACAF region. And you also have to remind your own fans and your own people here how difficult it is. I think Jamaica proved it to us in Jamaica and Guatemala in Guatemala. We have been warned and we are aware of it. I’m sure that players coming in for these two games know exactly what we want them to do.”

On whether Landon Donovan’s role on this trip will be as a wide player or a striker:
“Well, definitely as an attacking player. If he comes wide or if he comes behind two strikers, what we need in these two games is to create chances and we need to score goals. We’re obviously happy Landon is part of these two games. So if he plays wide or if he comes up the middle, as long as we create chances and score goals, it’s all fine with me.”

On Eddie Johnson’s revival with the Seattle Sounders to earn his first call-up under Klinsmann:
“I spoke many times over the last couple months with [Sounders head coach] Sigi [Schmid] and I think Sigi has done a tremendous job with him. I think Eddie is back into that position because he worked very hard for it. Watch his games and you see his drive and hunger that he has, the way he chases defenders, the way he creates chances for himself and his striking partners and the way he also finishes things off. He’s not a newcomer. He’s been a part of the program over the last 10 years or so. He had difficult times. He struggled in Europe and Sigi found a way to get him back on track. That’s exciting to see. I think this camp has opened the door for him. We’re curious to see him in the middle with his old buddies. I think he really deserved the call.”

On the absence of Jozy Altidore’s World Cup qualifying experience and whether that even plays a factor:
“For us right now, the most important thing is that we take care of these two games. The decision not to call Jozy in is based on what re recently saw with him and what we’ve experienced with him. The door obviously remains open for Jozy. We need to make sure we take care of these two games. As of today, right now, that is the decision that we have to make for the best possible outcome in Antigua and in Kansas City against Guatemala.”

On Maurice Edu possibly playing a center back role:
“He’s a very serious option for us as a center back going forward, but we can also play him as a ‘6’ or as an ‘8’. The way he managed the game in Mexico City was the way we hoped to see him. That’s why we tried it out. Mo right now is going through his initial stages in Stoke City and has to break into the team. He finally got on field in the last game. He hasn’t had enough playing minutes over the last couple of weeks that we hoped he would have, but he’s on the right track. His transfer was just getting done the last day of the transfer period. He’s a serious option for us as center back going forward, as well as a defensive midfielder.”

On whether it is important to not only qualify but also play an attractive brand of soccer in doing so:
“We want to always perform well. We want to play the way we played in the first half in Columbus. It’s definitely the way we want to see the game go, but if it’s not possible to play that style, not possible to play in that flowing mode because of the field, because of circumstances, whatever it is, then still we have to find ways to battle through it and to get the points. The points at the end of the day are the most important thing moving forward. If it’s possible to combine both, absolutely, we’d love to play really well and please people, please the fans and excite everybody around. But first we have to make sure we score the goals.”

Source Article from http://www.ussoccer.com/News/Mens-National-Team/2012/10/Klinsmann-Quote-Sheet.aspx
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