It Seems To Me. . .
Klinsmann and some MLS players at odds over preseason conditioning schedule.
By Robert Wagman
(Thursday, February 26, 2015) -- Some new problems have cropped up between United States men's coach Jürgen Klinsmann and some of his players, as well as with Major League Soccer, following the January training camp and the two early friendlies. Once again, it looks to be a case of Klinsmann now regretting what he previously wished for.
This all began a year or so ago when Klinsmann told his players if they wanted to be on his World Cup squad going to Brazil last summer, they had better be playing regularly for their club teams. A number of his key players were seeing -- or beginning to see -- less playing time with their European clubs and started to panic.
They looked around for where they could move to guarantee they would play regularly. This coincided with several MLS team owner-operators opening their wallets and offering players such as midfielders Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones, as well as striker Jozy Altidore, considerably more than they could earn in Europe. So they all jumped back to MLS.
First, before he left for Brazil, Klinsmann lamented the fact that some of his key players were going up against lesser opposition in MLS than they were in the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga or Serie A in Italy.
Segue now to the just recently completed January training camp, held to allow Klinsmann to look at younger and fringe players to find those who might help the full team in the new World Cup cycle, as well as the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup. In January, the players assembling in California included seven World Cup starters. Now Klinsmann had a new criticism: they were not in match-fit physical condition.
Klinsmann blamed this lack of physical fitness for the 3-2 loss to Chile on January 28. In that match, it was obvious, by the middle of the second half, a number of Americans were running on fumes and had to be taken out.
He was very public in this criticism, essentially attacking his players and MLS itself. He argued that they league would have to start playing an 11-month schedule rather than the current March-October setup (not including playoffs). As for his players, he criticized them for not maintaining fitness year round.
After the training camp ended, Klinsmann wrote on Twitter: "Just to clarify the fitness discussion: All players need to ALWAYS be prepared 100% to represent the USA! It is an honor to be on the #USMNT."
A number of his players struck back, either privately or, in some cases, publically. They said in one way or another, it was their jobs to be fit in time for the start of the MLS season in early March, not to be ready to play meaningless friendlies in January.
"My goal is to be in my peak fitness on March 1," U.S. and Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler told the Kansas City Star. "That's when my season starts,"
He explained that he and SKC fitness coach Mateus Manoel had devised an offseason plan to allow him to hit "my peak fitness on March 1 and I think that's what most of the guys did."
Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes told the Star it is "utterly ridiculous" to expect players to be in top form at a January camp.
It will be interesting how this plays out in the future.