CHESTER, Pa. — Jurgen Klinsmann held a sharpie in one hand and a curled-up roster with names circled in the other on Saturday night.
Make no mistake: The new United States national team boss was at PPL Park to do some work.
Days before Wednesday’s US-Mexico friendly at Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field, Klinsmann decided to take in the Philadelphia Union-Houston Dynamo game, in part to scout players he admittedly doesn’t yet know very much about.
Who in particular was he looking at?
“I don’t want to give you the names,” Klinsmann told a group of reporters with a laugh, just prior to a 1-1 draw between the Eastern Conference rivals. “That’s my homework that I need to do, obviously. It’s not that I’ve followed all the MLS games the last couple of months. I’ve followed more international games.”
Klinsmann, who was hired last week to take the reins of the US national team from former coach Bob Bradley, admitted it will take some time to learn about all of the current and future players in the US pool. He also said that even if many of the biggest American stars are playing in foreign leagues, he won’t be afraid to dip into the MLS well to find talent.
“For me, it’s more about who has the quality to represent this country,” the US coach said. “There’s a lot of quality coming through MLS so we will always consider MLS players. The stronger MLS becomes, the better it is for us.
“I’m not saying I prefer European-based players or MLS players,” he added. “I want to make up my own mind after seeing them play.”
Klinsmann will get his first good look at some of those players Monday and Tuesday when his team descends upon Philly for training sessions leading up to Wednesday’s clash against archrivals Mexico.
One of Klinsmann’s more curious selections, at least to those at PPL Park on Saturday, was 25-year-old defender Michael Orozco Fiscal, who played for the Union last year but has only made one appearance for the US senior national team.
When asked specifically about that decision, Klinsmann spoke more generally about the quality of players in Mexico. Orozco Fiscal, a Mexican-American, currently plays for San Luis in the Mexican Primera División after anchoring the Philly back line in 2010.
“If you go down there, south of the border, and show you can actually compete with those guys, it shows you have character to fight your way through,” said Klinsmann.
Since he’s new to the job, Klinsmann admitted to talking to a few MLS coaches to help choose the players for his first game in charge. Going forward, he hopes to have a better idea himself when it comes to roster selection, which, of course, will be an ever-evolving process.
For now, though, the US coach is simply eager to get to work and let the players show him why they belong.
“We have two days of training to get a little idea where we’re at, how good we are physically and also get to know them over a couple of days,” Klinsmann said. “And then we build from there.”