U.S. heads to World Cup with players struggling for game time, coaching staff worried over health and mental state of players
The U.S. men’s national team is headed to World Cup qualification without several key players from the senior team, but is optimistic that this will end up being a blessing in disguise.
Jurgen Klinsmann says the decision to send the national team into June’s FIFA-sanctioned World Cup with players who will be 34 and have spent the past three years in various national and club teams is a bad one. But the U.S. manager says he will not rush to replace them with younger, hungry players who will take training and the World Cup by storm.
“I don’t want to rush in replacing them, but I’m making a decision as to what the best is for the team, for the club, for this generation. I would prefer that the young players are ready and are playing really well. Hopefully, in the end, they will do that,” Klinsmann said during a recent conference call with reporters on June 11.
The U.S. is going into the World Cup with a roster that is about half its previous one. Klinsmann also faces the challenge of trying to balance roster spots with the quality of international competition. The U.S. will begin its World Cup qualifying campaign next month with games against Mexico and Costa Rica. The CONCACAF Champions qualification tournament will be played in October and November and features a strong draw for the U.S. (including potentially Costa Rica).
Klinsmann, who will meet with the U.S. players Friday for the first time to get their input, has decided not to bring the U.S. into the qualifying competition. That will allow the U.S. to compete in June’s World Cup with players who may or may not be needed.
“It’s not a decision that I made lightly