Jurgen Klinsmann: Expect an MLS-heavy US roster for Gold Cup, few Europe/Mexico-based players
WASHINGTON — Who’s got rhythm?
That’s the question US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will be asking when he picks the roster that will compete in the Gold Cup in July. And the scheduling quirks being what they are, the answer should be a boon to MLS players, according to Klinsmann.
The Yanks’ busy summer schedule will begin in Los Angeles in mid-May, when the squad will convene ahead of two friendlies, against Belgium in Cleveland (May 29) and Germany in Washington (June 2), and three 2014 World Cup qualifiers, in Jamaica (June 7), against Panama in Seattle (June 11) and against Honduras in Salt Lake (June 18).
Then, on July 9, the United States kick off their 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign against Belize in Portland, Ore.
“If you go by the rules, we could bring in every player from Europe [for the Gold Cup],” Klinsmann told the US national team press corps on Wednesday, “but we’re not doing that because that’s the last vacation break before next year’s World Cup. We will save most of them for the World Cup qualifiers and the two friendlies and then give them their well-deserved break.
“And then we have to build a very competitive roster for the Gold Cup, which we will do.”
How he’ll do that depends on who is playing and in form. With most of the European leagues on break, he says he will lean on players from leagues that are in season in the summer months.
“Who is in a rhythm [in July]?” he asked, before answering himself. “The Scandinavians are in a rhythm. The MLS players are.”
The Liga MX is also on a break in July and August, and because many of the American players south of the border would be on vacation right before having to report for Gold Cup duty, Klinsmann will not call on them.
“Whoever from the Mexican-Americans we leave out from the May/June camp, most likely we’ll leave them out of the Gold Cup, as well,” Klinsmann said. “Because they would come from vacation and they can’t catch up anymore.”
Klinsmann also cited holidays for why he will not take full advantage of recent roster rules changes implemented by CONCACAF for the Gold Cup. The rules now allow for roster adjustments after the group stages and before the quarterfinals.
Just don’t expect to see the likes of Clint Dempsey or Tim Howard — who will have been released after the World Cup qualifiers — to return for the Gold Cup knockout rounds.
“After two or three weeks, you’re not going to suddenly call in European players who just came out of vacation,” Klinsmann said.
Greg Lalas is the editor in chief of MLSsoccer.com.