Klinsmann left no doubt this is a new era Thursday when he announced the roster for his first game as head coach, mixing veteran mainstays such as Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and captain Carlos Bocanegra with up-and-comers Brek Shea, Edgar Castillo, Michael Orozco Fiscal and Bill Hamid. He also brought back DaMarcus Beasley for the first time since last year’s World Cup in South Africa, and gave another shot to Freddy Adu, the onetime phenomenon whose slumping career was rejuvenated with his stellar play at the Gold Cup.
“One of the goals of the roster for this game and moving forward is to create competition at each position,” Klinsmann said. “There are many players who are established as well as many players who will get opportunities, and we want there to be a healthy contest for spots on the roster. We will get a good look at where each player is as quickly as we can.”
The game against El Tri on Wednesday in Philadelphia is a rematch of the Gold Cup final in June, a flop that led to Klinsmann’s hiring. The U.S. blew a two-goal lead against its biggest rival, and the latest in a series of lackluster showings proved to be too much for coach Bob Bradley, who was fired last Thursday. Klinsmann, who had long been linked with the job, was hired the next day.
Klinsmann, one of the greatest players Germany has ever produced, transformed a stodgy German squad in his brief stint as a coach of his native country’s national team, and U.S. Soccer hopes he can do the same here. He spent much of his introductory news conference talking about player development and is wasting little time seeing if there are other players out there who could help the U.S. when World Cup qualifying begins next year.
Defence has been an area of concern the past two years, and Klinsmann will take a look at youngsters Orozco Fiscal, Castillo, Timmy Chandler and Tim Ream.
The German-born Chandler was impressive in his debut in March against Argentina, but Bradley left him off the Gold Cup roster to recover from the taxing Bundesliga season. Orozco Fiscal, who plays for San Luis in Mexico, was a key member of the U.S. Olympic team in 2008, starting all three games and getting an assist on a goal against Japan. He’s made one appearance for the U.S., starting and playing all 90 minutes in an Oct. 15, 2008, loss to Trinidad and Tobago in a World Cup qualifier.
Castillo plays left back, a position that’s been particularly difficult for the U.S. to fill. He has played for the U.S. just once, a November 2009 exhibition against Denmark, after representing Mexico early in his career.
Ricardo Clark and Jose Torres were included on the roster for the first time since the World Cup in South Africa, joining midfield regulars Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones. Klinsmann also called up Shea, who is third in scoring in Major League Soccer with nine goals this season. The 21-year-old made his U.S. debut last October against Colombia.
Adu was one of the few bright spots for the Americans at the Gold Cup, setting up the lone goal in the semi-final win against Panama and getting an assist on the opening goal in the final. Klinsmann also selected 18-year-old Juan Agudelo, who has scored twice in 10 appearances since making his U.S. debut last November.
With the U.S. traveling to Brussels for a Sept. 6 exhibition against Belgium, Klinsmann left several European-based players off his roster, including Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. Dempsey was in Fulham’s starting line-up Thursday for its Europa League game against Split.
Klinsmann also announced that Tab Ramos, Thomas Dooley, Martin Vasquez, Mike Curry and Mark Verstegen will be his first group of assistant coaches. Klinsmann has said he will use a variety of coaches over the next few months — the U.S. also has a Sept. 2 exhibition against Costa Rica in Carson, Calif. — before deciding on his permanent staff.