Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes and captain Matt Besler responded on Friday to Jurgen Klinsmann's critical comments regarding the U.S. men's national team's fitness during its January camp, reportsThe Kansas City Star.
After Klinsmann said some USMNT players were not fit enough following a Jan. 28 loss to Chile, Vermes and Besler said on Friday that Klinsmann's expectations were unreasonable.
"To expect those guys to be in top form at a January camp—and I mean this—I think it's utterly ridiculous," Vermes said.
Sporting KC's MLS season ended in October following a first-round playoff loss. Besler said then that he needed a multi-week break, which would be his first in 22 months, before joining the national team's annual January camp.
"I think it's unfortunate that a player has to answer questions about fitness," Besler said. "I won't say anything about his comments. He can say whatever he wants."
Besler told the Star that he took three weeks off following the team's playoff loss, then began a five-week training schedule. The USMNT camp began in the middle of the MLS offseason. The regular season consumes nine to 10 months.
Besler also said that in the two weeks before he left for the camp, he worked with Sporting KC fitness coach Mateus Manoel to develop an in-depth offseason training program geared toward preparing him for another MLS season.
"My goal is to be in my peak fitness on March 1," Besler said. "That's when my season starts. It goes from March to December. So on Jan. 15, we devised an offseason plan for me to hit my peak fitness on March 1, and I think that’s what most of the guys did.
"If the expectation is different, that's something that needs to be discussed so we know going into a camp where we need to be."
In his comments earlier this month, Klinsmann did not single out any specific players for being out of shape.
"Some were very well prepared," Klinsmann told ESPN.com. "But in a team, you're only as good as your worst player. Whoever was not prepared brings down the level. And then it's a chain reaction throughout the whole group.
“What I kind of wanted to bring across is, if part of the group is not prepared physically for international games, the whole team will suffer."
- Mike Fiammetta