ANDREW MINTZ - Thursday, June 4, 2015
The US National Team kicks off its summer campaign with a pair of friendlies against world powers the Netherlands (6/5) and Germany (6/10).
Friday's match in Amsterdam offers Coach Jurgen Klinsmann a chance to consider his possible roster for the approaching CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. Even with the MLS season now in full gear, nine MLS players were called in, though the likes of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore were notably left off the roster. European based players like Geoff Cameron and Alejandro Bedoya were also not included, as rest after a grueling ten-month season was necessary.
Veterans like Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman bolster the roster, but the plethora of youth throughout the squad is of note.
"It's a huge opportunity to play nations like these two in order to see a lot of things that you want to see from your players," Klinsmann said. "In a certain way, we want to see a couple of guys get thrown in the freezing cold water and see how they can swim and where they stand right now in the ranking of the men's national team."
On the backline, a pair of 22-year-olds in John Anthony Brooks and Ventura Alvarado will feature. Up top, Klinsmann called in four strikers all under the age of 25. And the youngest roster member, 21-year-old DeAndre Yedlin, just finished his first season in the EPL for Tottenham Hotspur and could feature in either the defense or midfield.
Defensive midfielders Danny Williams and Alfredo Morales will also be relishing their chances, as fellow midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, both 33, are slowly pushed further away from the US picture. Williams, a former regular under Klinsmann, has earned his way back to the team after a strong season in the English Championship with Reading. Reigning NASL MVP Miguel Ibarra will also feature in the midfield.
At the forward position, Juan Agudelo, Gyassi Zardes, and Aron Johannsson should all be vying for a spot on the Gold Cup roster. Agudelo, despite a rollercoaster year of searching for a club, has landed back with the Revolution and scored a scintillating goal against Mexico for a US win back in April.
"Obviously we have Jozy that we rely on, and Clint, who has done this job for so many years. But we need the next generation of strikers to come in and score goals on a consistent basis," Klinsmann said. "The key message to our young, talented strikers is you have to score consistently."
The reigning World Cup Third Place team, the Netherlands, will not be coming without fire power of its own though. Robin van Persie, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Wesley Sneijder headline the formidable Dutch side, as they prepare for their UEFA Euro qualifiers later in the month.
Despite Holland featuring its strongest roster, Jurgen Klinsmann is still eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see how his lesser experienced players feature against the Dutch powerhouse.
"For all these guys, games like these are opportunities that don't happen often in a lifetime, so you better jump on those."
The US has faced the Netherlands just four times, dropping all four matches. With the Dutch eager to find its scoring groove before its Euro matches, the young US defenders and forwards will need to step up to the opportunity for the US to get its first result against Holland.