Klinsmann's American dream begins with Mexico
Jurgen Klinsmann will kick off his tenure as USA coach on Wednesday with a friendly against North America's other perennial powerhouse and longtime US archrivals Mexico.
The former German star, a FIFA World Cup™ and UEFA EURO winner as a player, was appointed on 29 July and said in naming his squad his goal is to spark competition for every position on his team. "There are many players who are established as well as many players who will get opportunities," Klinsmann said.
The match is a reprise of the 25 June Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl, where Mexico collected their sixth CONCACAF regional title by rallying to score four unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory. It was the second title in a row for Mexico in the biennial North, Central American and Caribbean regional tournament, after their triumph over the USA in the 2009 final. The loss also spelled the end of Bob Bradley's reign as US coach. In the wake of the Gold Cup flop he was sacked and Klinsmann brought in.
Mexico have announced a 20-player roster that includes ten of the starters from their victory, including goal-scorers Pablo Barrera of English side West Ham, Andres Guardado and Giovani dos Santos.
Klinsmann is giving himself a chance to look at players with a broad range of experience against Mexico. In addition to manstays such as Landon Donovan - the USA's all-time leading scorer - goalkeeper Tim Howard and captain Carlos Bocanegra, the squad includes less experienced players such as Brek Shea, Edgar Castillo, Michael Orozco and Bill Hamid. Shea, 21, is third in scoring in Major League Soccer with nine goals this season.
Klinsmann has recalled DaMarcus Beasley for the first time since the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He also called up Freddy Adu, the former teen phenomenon whose slumping career was revitalised with his impressive play at the Gold Cup. Robbie Rogers was added to the squad on Sunday in place of Maurice Edu, who suffered a strained left calf on Saturday in the first half of Rangers' friendly against Chelsea.
For the past two years defence has been a troublesome area for the Americans, and Klinsmann has given himself a chance to take a look at some younger defenders in Orozco, Castillo, Timmy Chandler and Tim Ream. The German-born Chandler made an impressive debut against Argentina in March but Bradley left him off the Gold Cup squad to let him recover from the bruising Bundesliga season. Orozco, who plays for Mexican club San Luis, was a member of the 2008 US Olympic team.
Klinsmann has less than a year to evaluate the USA's talent and implement his philosophy before the side open their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign against Jamaica next June. "I kind of know already most of the players from watching them," Klinsmann said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with the team.
"They lost a Gold Cup final against a very good Mexican team that over the last couple of years became one of the top 10 teams in the world," he added. "I think when you come into a situation like this, you analyze each individual player, you analyze the team, you analyze the program. You build basically on what was built before."