Zardes: Arena always praised my US performances

9 Dec 2016

Gyasi Zardes feels Jurgen Klinsmann was unlucky to get ousted from the USA hot-seat, but is hopeful the appointment of his old LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena works in his favour.

The man who hit 40 goals in 82 games for Germany lost his job after the Stars and Stripes lost their opening two matches in the Hexagonal phase of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying – 2-1 at home to Mexico and 4-0 in Costa Rica.

“As a coach, I think you put 11 players on the field, it’s up to those 11 players to get the job done,” Zardes told ESPN’s Boot Room. “The game against Mexico – I watched it at home with my family – I thought we controlled the majority of that game. We were just unlucky on opportunities, but I thought we were going to win and bury a couple of those shots. So I’m not sure if it was justified because of that.”

A broken foot suffered in August ruled Zardes out of the remainder of the Galaxy’s Major League Soccer campaign and, effectively, USA’s preliminaries in Columbus and San Jose. The speedy 25-year-old attacker hopes to return to the US squad in January, when Arena will convene around 30 players – excluding ones based in Europe and Mexico – for a training camp aimed at preparing them for March’s Russia 2018 qualifiers at home to Honduras and away to Panama.

“I always hope for the best, so I hope I get called in during January camp so I can obviously display my talents,” said the man who has scored six goals in 31 internationals. “But not only that – get back into the swing of things.

“Bruce obviously has seen me as a US national team player down the road. I know he always supported me when I left with the US national team and always complimented me on how good of a job I’ve done.

“So I’m so curious to get the call-up in January, and just try to produce talent and also just give it my all, so if I do get called up for the Hex, I can hopefully play and help my team win.”

USA are bidding to qualify for an eighth straight World Cup. They beat Portugal and Poland to a place in the knockout phase at Korea/Japan 2002 before beating arch-rivals Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16 courtesy of goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan. The US then gave an admirable account of themselves in the quarter-finals, but a fine performance from Oliver Kahn and an unanswered Michael Ballack header sent Germany through.