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Jurgen Klinsmann: MLS players at fitness disadvantage

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Maybe it's not an advantage to be fresh?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Some people figured the United States would have the advantage of so many players from MLS. After all, they have only played nine to 12 matches, not 40 like the European players.

But Jurgen Klinsmann disagrees.

According to the U.S. manager, MLS players are at a disadvantage when it comes to fitness.

"A lot of our guys don't have the same foundation that our opponents have," Klinsmann said.

With both Portugal and Germany in the United States’ group, there are many players the US will face whose seasons haven’t even ended yet. "[Our opponents] are coming from 10-, 11-month seasons where some of them are playing in a Champions League final, they have ‘X’ amount of games in their legs. Their foundation is different to ours, so we have to catch up, and that’s what we have to do now over the next four weeks before we start our tournament."

That's an interesting look at things, especially because the belief in many European circles is that players play too many matches and are worn out by the end of the season. The feeling is they are either not in excellent shape at that point or they are more susceptible to injury. Seeing as there is little medical evidence one way or the other, that is a complete guess, but so is Klinsmann's opinion that the European players are in better shape at the end of the season.

It's not a secret that Klinsmann doesn't like the MLS schedule. He doesn't like that it doesn't align with the rest of the world and that it has a three (or four if your team misses the playoffs) offseason. Those aren't unfair criticisms either, but that Klinsmann doesn't think MLS players are as fit as their European teammates shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

The good news, which Klinsmann pointed out, is that the World Cup doesn't start for four weeks. That's four weeks for everyone to get to top fitness, whether they play in MLS or elsewhere.