If Jurgen Klinsmann has emphasized anything over these last two months, it is that his US national team veterans need to get their hands dirty to develop the next generation of talent.
For the second straight camp, Klinsmann has made up a roster that includes a healthy mix of seasoned players and promising youngsters for a pair of friendlies. The Americans will take on Colombia and Ireland in London and Dublin, respectively, to close out 2014, but along with seeking to win those matches, Klinsmann is again stressing the need to have his battle-tested leaders nurture the incoming wave of prospects in the pipeline.
"If you look at these veterans – Kyle Beckerman, DaMarcus Beasley, Nick Rimando, Jermaine Jones – they have to help to get these youngsters to another level. It's literally their job. That's what we asked them," said Klinsmann. "I know everybody is busy with themselves and wants to play and wants to show what he has, but now in a transition phase after World Cup – you have a year's time going until you play that Gold Cup next July – we need these older players to kind of show the youngsters not only on the field what it takes to become consistent and a real professional. They also have to start talking to become a 24/7 athlete and a professional."
That means that the likes of Beasley and Jones – who have played in World Cups and enjoyed distinguished club careers in Europe – will be expected to guide promising youngsters such as Stanford forward Jordan Morris, FC Utretcht attacker Rubio Rubin, fullback Greg Garza of Club Tijuana, and Minnesota United winger Miguel Ibarra.
It is not only about showing the relative newcomers what it takes to succeed in practice and games, either. Sure, that is part of it, but so too is their every-day mentality, attitude, and awareness of the decisions they make in their personal lives.
"Cell phones and being busy with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram is not important, even if they can do it, it's no big deal," said Klinsmann. "It's important that you have your nutrition under control, that you have a good sleep, that you understand what you want to do off the field, that they understand their roles when they come on, that they start memorizing set pieces and all these elements.
"That's what you want to see from Beas and Kyle Beckerman and these guys, telling them, 'It's about education also off the field.'"
Klinsmann is hoping to get a good look at how this continued tutelage goes during this final camp of the year. He got a brief glimpse of it in October, but wants to see even more of it as the US continues to evolve at the start of this four-year cycle.
"This is what I will observe, what we coaches will watch very carefully: How the experienced players play that role and not about their own role," said Klinsmann. "They played enough caps, they know what to do, they're experienced enough. For me, it's important to see now how much do they pass on and get these younger players to become more alert, to become more urgent and understand that they have to break through now and not miss the train."