Klinsmann outlines plan for US players' offseason sharpness

Jurgen Klinsmann with the US national team at training.

Photo Credit: 
Howard C. Smith/ISI

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — Jurgen Klinsmann is often described as an "ideas man," someone who is eager to instill his own unique vision on the soccer field.

The Orange County, Calif., resident sat down with local media members on Monday and further outlined his visions for the US national team. Whether it was discussing the development an “open-minded and risk-taking” identity or simply opening select training sessions to the public—as the team will do on Wednesday—Klinsmann touched on a number of his chief goals for his tenure.

But perhaps most significant to MLS, Klinsmann outlined a plan to aid the league's national team prospects during the offseason. Thanks to his connections throughout Europe, Klinsmann said that he would help those MLS-based players keep in the national-team picture by staying fit ahead of the annual January camp.

“It’s crucial because we need to get our players up to speed," Klinsmann said. "Maybe we can send guys overseas just for training periods, not for trials. I can just call coaches and have them take this kid or that kid and have them go with the flow, and before Christmas [come back] and in January, he comes back to us.”

Klinsmann conceded that the US would "never reach the global stage" so long as national team prospects were taking two months off prior to camp.

“We need to attack that topic because if they lose two or three months in the offseason, in this level where we want to get to, we can’t afford that,” Klinsmann said. “We can’t have a national-team player take two months off—it’s impossible.”

Klinsmann will look to implement his plans alongside former Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez, who has been tabbed to serve as his assistant coach. Vásquez, who was Klinsmann’s first assistant with Bayern Munich, is not currently under contract with US Soccer, but discussions are pending, according to a US Soccer official.

Klinsmann also said that neither he nor Vásquez would be coaching the US during the qualifying stages for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Instead, he'll bring in full-time coaches for each individual position. That decision stems from Klinsmann’s plans to develop and test talent at the youth and Olympic levels prior to—or in tandem with—their roles with the senior team.

Whether they are current national team members such as Freddy Adu and Brek Shea or potential additions such as Josh Gatt and Joe Benny Corona, Klinsmann said he's looking to ease these players into the responsibility of national team duty.

“[Their role] leads into the Under-20s and Under-23s," Klinnsman said. "I don’t want to do the second before we do the first step. If I bring in a guy just because it’s reported to me that he’s a very talented kid, maybe I don’t have the whole picture yet—and that won’t be good for anyone."

The most important goal facing Klinsmann, though, is putting the US in the best position to qualify and excel at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Though the US missed out on qualifying for the 2013 Confederations Cup after their defeat to Mexico in the Gold Cup final, Klinsmann stressed that the US will find plenty of ways to get acquainted with Brazil ahead of the World Cup.

“We could go as a scrimmage partner before the Confederations Cup as other nations [do] before the tournament — we’re exploring that — but we will definitely need to go down there prior to the World Cup,” Klinsmann said. “If it is just a 10-day trip or a two-week trip, we need to get a feeling for that. I will personally go down there as soon as December. … This is the homework that you have to do.”

Adam Serrano writes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano