Attack on Klinsmann way off base

In this March 29, 2011 file photo, United States defender Timothy Chandler (21) is chased by Paraguay midfielder Marceol Estigarribia (18) during the first half of an international friendly soccer match in Nashville, Tenn. Chandler, the son of an American serviceman and a German mother, says playing in the U.S. national team is a “dream come true.”
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann came under attack recently for his selection policies. An American, 23-year-old midfielder Preston Zimmerman, who plays for German Third Division club Darmstadt, accused Klinsmann on Twitter of using “fake Americans.”

Zimmerman, from the state of Washington – was referring to four German-born players, sons of American servicemen, who were called to play for the U.S. in the seven international friendlies since Klinsmann took over from Bob Bradley last July. The players are defenders Timothy Chandler and Alfredo Morales, both 24 years old; and midfielders Fabian Johnson, 24, and Danny Williams, 22. The players made 14 appearances for the U.S.; Chandler has been the first choice at left back while Williams and Johnson have gotten substantial playing time at midfield.

Zimmerman twittered that it seems, to play for the U.S. under Klinsmann is “Be a fake American, be born outside the U.S., have one U.S. distant relative.” Zimmerman continued: “I see the team is calling in guys who are really (G)germans who know they’ve got no chance of playing for (G)germany so they’ll settle with the U.S.”

The Tweet continued: “I would just like to see true, real Americans who would live and die for this country representing our country.”

“The kids in college are just as good, if not better, than some of the kids from the reserve teams getting invited to camp,” Zimmerman tweeted, “But the college kids don’t speak German and they don’t have ties outside the U.S. so they don’t qualify for the U.S. under Klinsmann.”

“I know plenty of guys who are in the MLS and know what it’s like to play for their country who deserve a look for the U.S. team.”

Zimmerman is clearly off base with his criticism of Klinsmann. Among the four German players that he mentions, two of them were recruited by Bradley, Chandler and Williams; and this policy of bringing in foreign players with U.S parentage is a common practice among U.S. coaches and is also standard procedure in soccer in general. Every country does this. The U.S. 1994 World Cup team included Germans Thomas Dooley and Ernie Stewart. Presently, the German national team has included three players that were not born in Germany; Deco, one of the most famous players for Portugal, is Brazilian-born and raised. Japan and Sweden are among countries that immediately come to mind which have used players not born or raised as nationals of those countries.

Zimmerman must realize that Klinsmann has not broken any FIFA rules or gone against any U.S. policy in using foreign players who are eligible to play for the U.S. Klinsmann is charged with putting together the best U.S. team possible to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and he has adapted the right approach by leaving no stone unturned. The best players eligible to represent the U.S. must be culled.

The midfielder’s accusations seem a case of sour grapes. Could it be that Zimmerman yearns for a U. S. call-up that may not come because of his ability? It would be difficult for him to catch Klinsmann’s eye because since he moved to German in 2007, he has played for the reserves of Hamburg FC and after one season with Kapfenberg in Austria, returned to the German Third Division. Zimmerman has qualms about the German-born players getting the opportunity to play for the U.S. , but at the same time, he is being given a chance to develop his game with a German team.

Zimmerman refers to Klinsmann’s record of two wins in seven games, but as a player, he should know that it takes time to develop a team with so many players available to choose from.

Adu On The Move

U.S. national midfielder Freddy Adu, who plays for the Philadelphia Union on MLS and is part of the U. S. Olympic squad, is spending the off-season training with Spanish club Rayo Vallecano.

“Freddy is looking to build on the summer he had at the Gold Cup, and the fall he had with Philadelphia,” Adu’s agent Richard Motzkin said. “The Union has been very understanding about finding an opportunity to train this winter and going to Spain should be a good experience for him.”

Rayo Vallecano had shown interest in Adu before he signed last spring with Philadelphia. Among other U. S. players staying in shape abroad are Dallas’ Brek Shea (Arsenal, England) and New York Red Bulls’ Juan Agudelo (Liverpool FC, England and Stuttgart FC, Germany) and Tim Ream (West Brom, Eng).

U.S. Women Prepare

The U.S. women’s national team, after a heartbreaking World Cup final loss to Japan on penalties, is hoping to mend their hearts by qualifying and winning the Olympics Women’s Division in London, England next summer. The national team will play in the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Jan. 19-29 at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada.

The USA will play in Group B against the Dominican Republic on Friday, Jan. 20 (7:30 p.m. PT); the second game is versus Guatemala on Sunday, Jan. 22 (4:30 p.m. PT); and last preliminary round game is against Mexico on Tuesday, Jan. 24 (7:30 p.m. PT). The group winners and runners-up will play in the semifinals on Friday, Jan. 27; the semifinal winners automatically qualify for the Olympics. The championship game is on Sunday, Jan. 29.

Henry Returns To Arsenal

New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry is expected to sign a two-month loan deal with Arsenal, his previous English Premier League club. Henry, considered one of the greatest players for Arsenal, won two league titles and three FA Cups during an eight-year career at the club. Henry, the all-time leading goal scorer for Arsenal, is not due back at the Red Bulls training until early March and has been training with Arsenal in the off-season.

United States national soccer team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

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