Jurgen Klinsmann extended olive branches to two of his leading veterans while publicly challenging his younger players as the US national team opened training camp in Miami ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier vs. St. Vincent & the Grenadines in St. Louis (7 pm ET; ESPN2, UniMás, UDN).
Klinsmann offered kind words for striker Clint Dempsey after leaving the Seattle Sounders star off his latest roster, and made clear that he's moved on from his public expression of displeasure with Borussia Monchengladbach winger Fabian Johnson after last month's CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico.
“Our younger players have to come out of their shell,” the USMNT boss told reporters in reference to his decision on Dempsey, a former captain of the squad. “We know Clint inside and out. He's always there. But we have to have a big picture toward Russia 2018. We need our young guys to make an impression.”
Klinsmann sharply criticized Johnson after the USMNT's 3-2 extra-time loss to Mexico on Oct. 10, a match in which the versatile German-American came off in the 111th minute complaining of tightness in a leg muscle.
“I had a very severe word with Fabian Johnson, and I sent him home today,” said Klinsmann afterwards. “And he can rethink his approach toward his team.”
But on Monday, the coach said that Johnson, the only US international competing in this year's edition of the UEFA Champions League, is still welcome.
“It's just a normal statement to make when there are mistakes," Klinsmann said. "A lot of people didn't realize what actually happened, and that's why I explained it. I'm honest enough to say, this is what happened. He didn't think that way in that moment. It was a mistake in that moment. We have to learn our mistakes so we avoid for the next time. I think it won't happen any more. Sometimes you have to say things publicly to get everyone on board. But the door is always open.
“We move on. He is one of our most talented players."