Klinsmann Looks Ahead to World Cup and Olympic qualifiers

Jurgen Klinsmann Smiles

by DENY GALLAGHER

After a pair of wins to close out January camp, Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff are now focused on a crucial 2016 for the United States Men’s National Team.

While this calendar year is off to a hot start, there are still many questions to answer ahead of next month’s World Cup and Olympic Qualifiers.

One of these questions is what to do with Fabian Johnson. The midfielder, who was played out of position during 2015, is putting together a career year with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Johnson’s success can largely be attributed to the Munich native playing in a more attacking role with his club, as compared to his role on the back line with the USMNT.

“This gives us different options going toward the World Cup qualifiers at the end of March,” U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “Now with Alejandro Bedoya being in top form and Fabian Johnson being in top form that’s for us big because they are difference makers, and you need players on the field that can make a difference.”

With both Johnson and Bedoya in top form overseas, it would not be surprising to see either of them play the attacking midfielder position for the Americans. This tactical decision could lead to Michael Bradley returning to his natural holding midfield position.

While Johnson and Bedoya look to establish a larger role within the national team, Omar Gonzalez aims to become a regular in the squad once more. This past offseason, the Texan completed a move to C.F. Pachuca in Liga MX. After a rough 2015 on the international level, Gonzalez is back in form after his move to Mexico.

“Not only did he become a starter right away, he made a big difference in most of the games, defensively obviously with his very strong presence that he has and also his capability to play out of the back or even go with the ball into midfield, but also here and there scoring a goal,” said Klinsmann. “So it’s a real pleasure to see Omar being happy and having a smile on his face and being very strong at the moment, and it definitely makes his case much strong for the National Team as well.”

As the senior team finds stability heading into the next round of World Cup Qualifying, Klinsmann and his staff turn their attention to preparing the U-23s for their home and home Olympic playoff with Colombia next month. The January camp proved to be a good time for many of the U-23s to continue their development while training with the first team. However for some of the European based players who are currently fit with their clubs, the issue becomes getting them released for the Olympic playoff.

“We have a good group of young players coming through the ranks in Europe and they are fighting their way through, but obviously we have the issue that their release is not mandatory, so hopefully we can get that done,” said Klinsmann.

March will no doubt be one of the more defining months for U.S. Men’s Soccer’s 2016 campaign. The success or failure in these upcoming fixtures will undoubtedly impact player selection for the Copa America Centenario.

Things get rolling for both the Men’s National Team and the Olympic Squad on March 25th, when they take on Guatemala and Colombia respectively.

 


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