Before the 4-0 beat down from Costa Rica, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann held court with some 50-plus reporters. He discussed college soccer, wasted talent, and who he regards as the future of the team. He started off by talking about a couple players from the 2012 U-23 team that failed to make the Olympics.
Those two names? Orlando City’s Brek Shea (who made only 3 appearances in two years at Stoke) and the New England Revolution’s Juan Agudelo (who failed to secure a work permit and never made an appearance for Stoke).
Both considered failures in their time in Europe.
"We hoped. And we hoped," Klinsmann said. "And then they called: The coach doesn't play me. Well, you have to make the coach play you."
- Jurgen Klinsmann; Source
The future? Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris, which he referred to as potential “difference makers”. Klinsmann waxed poetic about how some talent just doesn’t have the drive and dedication to do what it takes to get to the next level.
"You see a lot of talent not having that inner drive. You see a lot of talents not going to the highest level possible, and you feel for them," Klinsmann said. "You feel for them because, well, you put in years of talking, guiding, explaining, videoing, and it hasn't clicked. It hasn't made that difference. And you can go through a palette of players that we've had coming through the last five years that unfortunately were not able to intellectually take that message or messages and make it into a huge career."
Klinsmann went on to say that “academics and the parents desire for American prospects to attend college are stunting players development”, which is frustrating for Klinsmann. Jurgen’s son Jonathan is a goalkeeper for the University Of California At Berkeley. Klinsmann goes on to say, college players are more interested in their ‘non-soccer’ lives, and not dedicating themselves to the beautiful game.
"They're not going to the next level because they want to go partying," he said. "And Tab and I, we go crazy, and said 'Why are you settling now?' Well, because the parents are happy."
For every failed player there’s a player that does what it takes to get the job done - to achieve that next level Klinsmann is talking about. Some players break through and stand out, look at that teenager from Hershey Pennsylvania playing in the Bundesliga or Lynden Gooch the 20 year-old midfielder from California playing for Sunderland in England.
"I called David Moyes: What is it about the kid?" Klinsmann said of his phone call to the Sunderland manager. He remembered how Moyes told him: "'Oh my gosh, Jurgen, this kid is hungry. I don't even know how to keep him on the bench.'"
- Klinsmann on Lynden Gooch
And there’s more young talent waiting in the wings.
How about Cameron Carter-Vickers?
The 18 year-old center-back that’s getting closer and closer to featuring for his side in the Premier League. He’s already made his first team debut for Tottenham Hotspur in a League Cup match.
"He's pushing. He's getting there. He's the future. He's with the A team there all the time now," Klinsmann said.
Klinsmann praises the likes of David Moyes and Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel - who believe in young talent.
"You cannot copy-paste it into their environment, because you need a coach that believes in young players," Klinsmann said. "You need a coach that says, 'We play him maybe 20 games in the second team but then I see that talent, then I bring him up.'"
Do you think Klinsmann is right? Does college soccer stunt the development of players? Let us know in the comments!