Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid met with reporters after the team returned to practice Thursday, and a good portion of the interview centered on recent comments from USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann covered in a previous post.
Klinsmann indicated Tuesday that he won’t take the MLS schedule or consideration of MLS teams into account when it comes to the U.S. roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers — even after the U.S. has already qualified.
One of the players expected to report to USMNT camp is Clint Dempsey, even while he recovered from a hamstring injury. That, of course, is subject to change until the final announcement this weekend, likely Sunday, which will apparently take injury updates into account.
Enough context, here is Schmid:
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(What is your reaction to comments for USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann saying he’s worried about his team and not yours or any other MLS team regarding the roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers?) “Every coach is worried about his team. I have to be worried about my team, not his. It’s just a matter of he’s got to do what he thinks is best for his team and I have to do what I think is best for my team. … There are a number of players on yellow cards, so you hope some guys don’t get intentional yellow cards so they can return to their team for the midweek game the following week. You hope they don’t play that card. In the old days, it used to be if your second yellow was the last game of qualifying, you’d miss a World Cup game. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I think they’ve changed that so it doesn’t carry over. So that doesn’t have an impact, but everybody has to do what they have to do. There is prize money. This is bonus money, I’m sure, for players and coaches whether you finish first in your group or not. All that factors into things.”
(Is this a change of attitude with from previous USMNT coaches?) “No, every national team coach has been the same. When Bruce Arena was the national team coach, he didn’t care. He cares now because he’s the Galaxy coach. But he didn’t care. Bradley didn’t care. Again, you’re faced with your job, and so you have to do what you have to do. At the end of the day, that determines your decision.”
(Does the onus then fall on MLS to schedule differently?) “But you don’t know. At the start of the season, we barely had Eddie on the team. Now it turns out we have three guys on the team. So at the start maybe the schedule doesn’t look so bad. Now you’re saying, ‘OK, don’t schedule teams that you know have significant players on the national team on a World Cup break,’ but you don’t know. That can change. So I think scheduling certainly impacts it, but it’s important, too, that you’re bringing in players that are healthy and not players are going to try and get healthy while you’re there.”
(But with a league getting stronger and stronger all the time, a league bringing in national team players from all over, won’t it be more and more of an issue until scheduling changes?) “Yeah, it has to change. Obviously the European players, when they come in, they don’t miss any league games or anything significant because their leagues are in hiatus for those World Cup qualifying dates. It’d be nice if we were in that position. It’s better for our fans. It’s more respectful for our fans. I know what the issue is: the issue is that teams draw better on the weekend than they draw in midweek games. And so you don’t want to knock out weekend games for teams where the revenue (is higher), and that’s important for the survival of the league, as well. But I think our fans are getting more sophisticated, our fans are getting more knowledgeable, and maybe the soccer fan would rather turn up on a Wednesday and see the guys that they want to see than have them turn up on a Saturday and not see the guys that they want to see. I think the sophistication of our fans is increasing and hopefully that would help those teams draw, because if they have to play more midweek games because we have to cancel out some weekends due to World Cup qualifying or international fixture dates, that our fans are able to understand that and will support the games on the Wednesdays.”