PANAMA CITY, Panama – Jurgen Klinsmann hears the chatter. Brad Evans (above) isn’t a right back at club level, and DaMarcus Beasley is far better suited to the left wing.
Klinsmann hears it. He just doesn’t care.
No matter how much fans clamor for call-ups for Eric Lichaj and Timmy Chandler or pray for the rapid recovery of Steve Cherundolo, the German is going to put the best lineup he can on the field for the United States, positional transitions be damned, and that XI includes a pair of converts with just eight months between now and Brazil 2014.
After all, Klinsmann’s done it before. And he did it with a rabid German press corps and glory-hungry public breathing down his neck ahead of the 2006 World Cup. They doubted him then, the soccer-mad host nation demanding a more practical solution than center back-turned-right back Arne Friedrich, and he didn’t budge.
What makes anyone think he’ll abandon his conviction now?
“Arne often played center back with Berlin for many, many years, but he was the best right back we could have,” Klinsmann told MLSsoccer.com in a sitdown interview on Monday. “And there was still discussion before World Cup 2006 – even in the game against the US in Dortmund three months before that – about Arne. Is he really our right back for the World Cup? I said, ‘Yes, because we look at it and we see the best option we have.’
“He played a very, very strong World Cup. Even after the opening game against Costa Rica we won 4-2, it came again. ‘Oh there was a pass that was cut through the center back and Arne.’ And I said, ‘So what? So what.’”
So what, indeed.
So what if Evans doesn’t play the position under Sigi Schmid with the Seattle Sounders and has just six international starts there? So what if Beasley’s learning on the job as well after spending most of his career as an attack-minded midfielder?
None of that matters to Klinsmann. Keep talking. Keep demanding new faces. For now at least, he’s made it clear the spots are Evans' and Beasley’s to lose.
“It will be an ongoing discussion. It’s fine with us. The way Brad is playing the game is top notch. The way Beas is playing is top notch,” Klinsmann said. “Now, [do we have] other options? Yeah, we have them, and we will maybe explore that in training sessions.
“We can play Beas up front on the left wing and put Fabian Johnson as a left back in there. We might surprise some teams going differently, but I’m comfortable with the options we have. We also have to give the players the confidence to say, ‘You did it already. You proved it already.’”