US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has his hands full as he prepares the squad that will kick off CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying later this month.
Speaking in a series of Q&A clips released by US Soccer on Sunday, Klinsmann lamented the three-pronged effect of injuries, lack of playing time and the imminent conclusion of the MLS season one week before the squad gathers for their opening qualifier against Caribbean minnows St. Vincent & the Grenadines at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Nov. 13 (6:30 pm ET; ESPN2, UniMas, UDN).
Klinsmann shed light on the work involved in keeping MLS-based players ready for November international duty after the conclusion of the MLS regular season on Oct. 25 and the playoff Knockout Round last week.
“One challenge for us, certainly, is that for some of them the MLS season is already over. They didn't make the playoffs or they just lost now in the playoffs, in the first round,” said Klinsmann, whose remarks also provided a glimpse of his thinking as he gets set to name his latest roster. “So that makes it tricky for us to make them keep going until we meet up on Nov. 8 for the St. Louis game against St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
“So to give them training plans, to make sure that they keep going, for players like a Jermaine Jones, a Kyle Beckerman, a Chris Wondolowski, a Mix Diskerud, a Lee Nguyen and others is now really, really crucial because they are not playing games any more prior to the World Cup qualifiers.”
Meanwhile, several other USMNT mainstays have been hit by injury of late, while others are struggling for regular minutes at club level.
“We have Geoff Cameron coming out in the last game with Stoke, but he should be OK. We have Brad Evans pulling his hamstring, most likely, so that will be tricky for him to catch up,” noted Klinsmann. “Rubio Rubin, our younger striker, is injured, Aron Johannsson is not playing because of injury right now. So we have all over the place some issues and we need to find solutions for that.
“Then you have some players that are just not making their starting lineup right now. John Anthony Brooks is one of them, Ventura Alvarado is another one,” he added. “So it's tough for some of our players to get regular playing time, and that influences our situation prior to the World Cup qualifiers. That's just normal, but it's sad to see, because you want the youngsters to come through and put a stamp on the team, but they cannot do it if they sit, basically, on the bench in their club teams.”
The USMNT have been drawn into Group C of CONCACAF's fourth round of World Cup qualifying alongside St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and Guatemala. Each team will play the other three nations twice – once at home and once away – over the next year, with the top two finishers advancing to the Hexagonal round.