Four Players That Need A Look From Klinsmann

We look at four players that deserve a look for the USMNT who are currently out of the picture.

U.S. Men’s National team coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, released his preliminary 40 man roster for the summer’s COPA America Centenario this past weekend. While there weren’t too many big surprises, I think there are some players that Klinsmann does need to take a look at.

Now while I’m sure there are players in different leagues around the world that Klinsmann missed out on, I’m going to focus on players that are currently playing in the states.

C.J. Sapong

Apr 30, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) in action against the San Jose Earthquakes at Talen Energy Stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This will be a very familiar name to most Sporting Kansas City fans. C.J. spent his first four seasons playing in Kansas City, and played a huge part in the Open Cup championship in 2012 and in the winning of MLS Cup in 2013. Sapong was traded to the Philadelphia Union in 2015 where he had a solid 9 goals and 4 assists in 27 appearances for the club.

Sapong has been on fire thus far this season in his new role as a striker for the Union, who currently sit 2nd in the Eastern Conference. C.J. has four goals and an assist in just eight games so far this season for the navy and gold. What’s been even more impressive is how good his hold up play has been for the Union. While I’m not surprised to not see Sapong on the Centinario roster, if he keeps up this consistency maybe he gets a shot at the January camp this winter.

Sebastian Lletget

The former West Ham player made a move to MLS at the beginning of last season. Lletget was signed by the Premier League club at the age of 17, and even made appearances for the club at a young age. With the leaving of a manager and struggling to find playing time, the California born made a move back to L.A. in April of 2015.

Lletget was a real talking point in 2015 with his great dribbling ability and speed. While he’s only got two assists so far this season, I was very impressed with his dribbling ability against SKC this past weekend. Klinsmann has been starting his teammate Gyasi Zardes out on the wing for the U.S., and you could certainly make an argument that Zardes would be better suited as a striker. This leaves a spot open on the right for a very speedy and skillful Lletget to slide in.

Christian Ramirez

Christian Ramirez might be the best American striker that you haven’t heard of yet. Why haven’t you heard of him? It’s likely because Ramirez plays in the NASL (referred to as the 2nd tier of American soccer) with Minnesota United FC. Ramirez has been setting the 2nd tier of American soccer on fire with 33 goals in his past two season with Minnesota United. He’s not just scoring goals, but he’s been scoring absolute beauties like this:

Ramirez is slightly on the older side at 25, and really needs to move to a bigger club (or come along for Minnesota’s move to MLS, which could happen in 2017). Klinsmann has always said that he wants his players to be challenged, and to be playing top flight soccer. It’s not completely unheard of though, Miguel Ibarra received his first call up for the national team while playing for Minnesota United last season. Who knows, maybe Ramirez could too.

Matt Hedges

If you want to talk about a position that Klinsmann has struggled at its central defense. Hedges did recently suffer a torn meniscus, and will be out up to 4 more weeks. Obviously this injury did help his case to make the squad, but we’ll discuss Hedges anyway. Hedges is entering his fifth season with FC Dallas, where the last four season he has started a combined 117 games. In 2015 Hedges help bolster a defense that let in the 3rd fewest goals in the league.

If you want to talk about how much Hedges means to this defense look no further than their last two results that FC Dallas have had. In their last two games they’ve conceded seven goals by two teams that, up to this point, had been struggling offensively. Obviously there’s good reason why Klinsmann didn’t take Hedges. He’d be insane to take a player fresh off injury, but Hedges could be a great option to back up players like Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron who are age 29 and 30.

So Why Haven’t They Been Called In?

What Klinsmann or any international coach wants to see is consistency. So he would like to see players like Sapong and Lletget continue to have great form over the span of a season or two. He also wants players playing at high levels to challenge themselves. This is why I think Ramirez needs to make a move somewhere else.

Lastly you’ve got to be healthy, and player like Hedges is always going to get overlooked if he unfortunately picks up an injury this close to a tournament. I do think Klinsmann has done a great job of recruiting talented players that are playing in European leagues. My only wish though, is that he would look more at what he has right here in America, rather than overseas.