Fullback Timmy Chandler, left, last played for the United States in the opening game of the CONCACAF Hexagonal last February. (Ignat Kozlov/AP)
Speaking Saturday after the U.S. defeated South Korea, 2-0, in a friendly that marked the end of an ambitious January camp, coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he had identified the core around which he’ll build his World Cup team. But a few days earlier, he stressed that for the rest, “The door is always open, until the middle of May, when we hopefully cut it down to the 23 guys.”
In a Q&A published Wednesday on U.S. Soccer’s website, Klinsmann emphasized the “everyone,” saying that even the likes of Timmy Chander, Tim Ream and Oguchi Onyewu are being watched and considered as the World Cup approaches.
“The door is still open until May,” Klinsmann stressed Wednesday. “It’s about what happens over the next couple of months. We coaches are going to do our homework as well. We are going to put the puzzle together of hopefully 23 players that are totally committed, that are not only giving everything they have, but that also mix well together.”
Until May, Klinsmann won’t see the full mix. The January camp was comprised almost entirely of MLS players (Mix Diskerud was the only exception), and he confirmed to U.S. Soccer that his roster for the March 5 game will be primarily European.
“Obviously, it’s challenging bringing a lot of players over from the U.S. or from Mexico for a game that only has three days of preparation. It’s more an opportunity to call in more European-based players because they are already in Europe and they can quickly show us where they are at,” Klinsmann said. “We have a very good picture of the players we worked with in the January camp for four weeks. We know where they’re at, what their qualities are and what they bring to the table, so the Ukraine match might be an opportunity to see a couple more European–based players.”
World Cup locks like Jozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard likely will get a run, but there’s surely to be plenty of intrigue at the other end as Klinsmann continues to keep an open mind about players at the fringes of the national team picture.
He said Wednesday that if Chandler, Onyewu and others find their form at the club level, they very well could get one last look.
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“We just want them to be on the field and build their case. We communicate with them, players like Oguchi Onyewu, Tim Ream, and Danny Williams,” Klinsmann said. “You have Brek Shea, who went down into the [English] Championship from Stoke to play games and is now playing 90 minutes almost every week [for Barnsley]. You have Timmy Chandler at Nürnberg, who for six months has been doing a very consistent, good job. Jermaine Jones goes to Besiktas and will pick up the rhythm of playing games again. We follow the players that have injury problems like Steve Cherundolo, who is still having issues, and John Anthony Brooks with Hertha Berlin who is hopefully back next week. Same with Fabian Johnson who broke his [hand] and is hopefully back next week as well.”
Americans Abroad: Brek Shea | Jermaine Jones | Oguchi Onyewu
Klinsmann continued, “Being in February and a few months prior to the World Cup, you want to see them all play. You have to give them a clear message that only if you pick up a rhythm and play week-in, week-out, will you complete one of the big keys in order to make the World Cup roster. That’s why we are really happy some of them now are starting to get their rhythm. This all plays a vital role in evaluating them, and then we have to make the vital calls in May.”