United States men’s national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann will again take the opportunity to cast his eye over some inexperienced players when his side faces back-to-back matches against challenging European opposition away from home. The U.S. will take on Denmark in Aarhus on Wednesday before making the trip to Zurich to face Switzerland.
Since last year’s World Cup, Klinsmann has conducted plenty of experimentation as he seeks to build a side capable of bettering their Round-of-16 berth in Brazil when Russia 2018 rolls around. His latest squad is no different, with just seven players based in Major League Soccer and two first-time call-ups. Both newcomers come from Liga MX and have now seemingly chosen the chance to play for the United States over Mexico. León goalkeeper William Yarbrough was born and raised in Mexico to American parents, and has clearly impressed Klinsmann after winning the Apertura title in 2013 and Clausura crown in 2014. Central defender Ventura Alvarado, meanwhile, was born in Phoenix, but has spent his entire career at Club América, where, like his fellow new arrival, he has won a pair of Liga MX titles.
“From a senior level, there are many different factors coming together schedule-wise with MLS just starting, and Europe and Mexico in full swing,” Klinsmann said when asked about his squad selection on the U.S. Soccer website. “We also wanted to see what specific players there are that were not connected yet with us. Ventura Alvarado from Club América is a case, and also William Yarbrough, the goalkeeper at Club León that we had a very close look at over the last several months. It’s exciting for us to bring them in.”
Both players may see minutes over the next two fixtures, with some veterans of the World Cup missing out. First-choice goalkeeper -- with Tim Howard still on an international sabbatical -- Brad Guzan has opted out as he awaits the birth of his first child, while defenders Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and, surprisingly, Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron, are left off the roster.
“Geoff is obviously in a good swing with Stoke City and the Premier League, but I had long conversations with him and explained that just now I would love see other players coming in and proving to us how good they are,” Klinsmann said. “So here and there, there are these 50-50 decisions where you have to leave a player out that is usually a regular on your team. Geoff is that one right now.”
Some experienced members remain, with Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore all selected. Klinsmann has also found spaces for youngsters DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green, despite neither having made a single appearance for club sides Tottenham and Hamburg, respectively, this season.
Yedlin’s new club mate at Spurs, Christian Eriksen is the standout name in the squad on the back of a fine season at White Hart Lane. Captain Daniel Agger, though, misses out through illness and injury. The big news to come out of the Danish camp in recent days has been the announcement from coach Morten Olsen that he will be standing down after Euro 2016. The 65-year-old is one of the longest serving coaches in international soccer, having taken over in 2000.
“After 19 years as a player in the red and white, and almost 16 years as coach, this is an emotional decision to take,” he said as he unveiled his squad last week, reports Reuters. “I have never seen this job as work -- more of a lifestyle. I have always been proud of it. I will not have the distraction of people debating whether I’m here or not [after Euro 2016]. The DBU [Danish soccer association] will have more time to find a replacement.”
Olsen looks set to get a swansong in the European Championships in France next year, with Denmark currently topping their qualifying group ahead of Portugal.
Prediction: The United States has not impressed since the World Cup, with Klinsmann’s switch to a three-man backline yet to convince and his explanations for the team’s poor performances not washing with many. There could be further disappointment on Wednesday, too. While there is ample quality going forward, the defense is lacking in experience and could be undone by a solid Denmark team.
Denmark 2-1 USA
Goalkeepers: Cody Cropper (Southampton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), William Yarbrough (Club León)
Defenders: Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Hamburg), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht)
Goalkeepers: Stephan Andersen (FC Copenhagen), Jonas Loessl (Guingamp), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
Defenders: Nicolai Boilesen (Ajax), Kian H. Hansen (Nantes), Lars Jacobsen (Guingamp), Matthias Jorgensen (FC Copenhagen), Simon Kjaer (Lille), Jores Okore (Aston Villa), Simon Poulsen (AZ), Erik Sviatchenko (FC Midtjylland), Daniel Wass (Evian)
Midfielders: Anders Christiansen (Chievo Verona), Thomas Delaney (FC Copenhagen), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Augsburg), William Kvist (Wigan), Jakob Poulsen (FC Midtjylland), Lasse Schoene (Ajax), Lasse Vibe (IFK Gothenburg)
Forwards: Nicklas Bendtner (Wolfsburg), Martin Braithwaite (Toulouse), Nicolai Jorgensen (FC Copenhagen), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Celta Vigo)