World Cup: Jurgen Klinsmann complimentary of USMNT youngsters Luis Gil, DeAndre Yedlin
According to US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, however, they’re just getting started.
Coming off their senior team debuts after coming on as second-half substitutes in Saturday’s 2-0 friendly victory against South Korea, Klinsmann was very complimentary of the pair in an interview with U.S. Soccer.
But he also had a message: They’ve still got a lot of work to do.
“It’s really important that they stay with their feet on the ground, stay modest,” Klinsmann said. “Yes, be proud of that moment, it’s a special moment when you play your first cap, but this is hopefully just the beginning of a very, very good career.”
Gil, a Real Salt Lake midfielder who at 20 years old was the youngest player in camp, and Yedlin, a Seattle Sounders fullback who is also 20, were part of a handful of MLS youngsters to get the call from Klinsmann for their first senior team camp. But they were the only players to make their international debut in Saturday’s game.
“I think both youngsters … did well in this first introduction to the senior national team,” Klinsmann said. “That’s why we gave them also their first cap, their first couple of minutes on the field with the so-called older guys. They have a lot of talent, there’s no doubt about it.”
Klinsmann said his message to the pair before sending them back to their clubs was to make sure they aren’t resting on their laurels.
“We need them now to push the envelope with their MLS teams,” he said. “We need them to understand that there’s more responsibility on their shoulders as a senior national team player.
"We need them to understand that they need to work far more than anyone else on their club team because they are senior national team players. So we want to see that process now taking place, and we will communicate with their club coaches, and now it’s up to them how fast and how good they develop over the next couple of years.”
Klinsmann also got very specific with what he and his staff expect.
He said they should be the “first at training and the last to leave” with their clubs. They should take a “positive approach” to training and games. And Klinsmann said they should live a “professional lifestyle” on and off the field.
“We want them to stand out and be leaders,” he said. “And this is what we’re going to watch now. We’re going to watch their games week in and week out.”