GLASGOW, Scotland – Jurgen Klinsmann described the injury suffered by US national team captain Clint Dempsey as a “real bummer” after the Seattle Sounders player was forced to withdraw from the squad with a calf strain.
Dempsey, who has endured a difficult start to life with his new club, suffered another blow when he limped off the practice field with the injury during Wednesday’s training session at Hampden Park.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Friday’s friendly clash here against Scotland (3 pm ET; ESPN2, UniMas), the German coach suggested Dempsey’s first few months in the Pacific Northwest had “overwhelmed” him, adding regret that the US will have to do without the forward.
“It’s a big bummer for us, really,” Klinsmann said Thursday. “He’s our captain, and he’s a leader in our group. What he’s done for us over the past couple of years for us is priceless and seeing him limping off the field the other morning was a real shock to us.
“He was really hungry for these two friendlies. Since coming back to the US, he’s struggled a little bit because of injury and I think it was a little overwhelming first few months for him because of the pressure. He had just started to settle and get back into a good rhythm, looking physically good this week, and then this happens. He’ll get a couple of weeks of rest and then he’ll come back. It’s a big blow.”
US players were put through their paces at Hampden as they trained for the final time before Friday’s game. Klinsmann’s side oversaw a 5-1 humbling of Scotland last year, but he expects it to be a very different affair this time around.
“Scotland have done really well over the past couple of months,” Klinsmann said, praising Gordon Strachan’s team. “They have really proven a point that they are a lot better than they were showing at the beginning of their World Cup campaign.
“We know it’ll be a different game, and it’s going to a real test – a benchmark. These games outside the United States are very important to us because it shows us how our learning process is going.”
Klinsmann earlier this month said he was set to invite Bayern Munich youngster Julian Green to his training camp in Europe, but the US coach on Thursday said the 18-year-old, who recently signed a professional contract with the European champions, is in fact with the Germany U-19 team.
“No, Julian’s not with us,” Klinsmann said. “We have had really good talks with him and his parents, and it’s one of these cases where we show them what we are doing. We have been communicating with them and at the end of the day he needs to make his decision. If that is before or after the World Cup, we don’t know. He needs to make that decision when he’s comfortable to make it, however far away that is down the road. There’s no rush at all.”
One dual-citizenship player who has joined up with the squad is John Anthony Brooks, with the Hertha Berlin defender looking to build on the debut he made in the US’ 4-3 win over Bosnia in August.
“For us it’s exciting to see young players going through European systems, different academies and then breaking through,” Klinsmann said of Brooks. “Obviously with the dual-citizenship issue, you always have the question, ‘Which country will they choose?’
“We have an approach where it’s totally up to the player. We need to make them feel as comfortable as possible, and hopefully they choose the United States. We followed Brooks for two-and-a-half years and communicated very closely with him and his family. Then we brought him in when we thought he was ready. But it’s important to always go through the player’s coach, family and their club.
Having faced Italy, Germany, Belgium and Bosnia in friendlies already this year, with games against Scotland and Austria completing the 2013 schedule, Klinsmann must consider whether to pit his team against sides from outside Europe and CONCACAF in future tune-ups before next summer’s World Cup.
“We don’t have many games at our disposal,” he said. “From the FIFA fixture schedule, there’s one in March and then you already go into preparation for the World Cup. We’ll do our preparation in the United States before we go down to Brazil. In the build-up to the World Cup, we’ll play three friendlies in the United States before the group stages. That’s our plan.
“We try to play the best teams possible in Europe because these guys are here in Europe,” he added. “We don’t want them to be flying back and forth all the time because that’s what they go through in qualifying. That’s a lot of hours spent on a plane. So when we have an opportunity to play overseas we do that, and we’ll probably do that in March.”