- Klinsmann impressed with Pulisic, Brooks and Wood.
- Says Johnson's versatility is a real blessing.
- Bayern's Julian Green "still learning".
Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic has made quite the splash across the pond with the USMNT, but he is just one of four Bundesliga representatives being talked up by US national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann ahead of the Stars and Stripes' Copa America Centenario opener against Colombia on Friday.
Hertha Berlin defender John Anthony Brooks, Borussia Mönchengladbach wide man Fabian Johnson and Hamburger SV-bound striker Bobby Wood have all left their own mark in the run-up to the competition, which the US boss hopes will act as a springboard for a successful 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
'Christian is making a good impression'
"It's really important for us that we have a younger generation sending out signals that they badly want to be part of Russia 2018," Klinsmann told fans in a video question and answer session on his Facebook page. "Once these younger players - if it's now John Brooks, Christian Pulisic or Bobby Wood and so on - the faster they make that impression, the stronger they make that impression, the better it is for us coaches."
Brooks and Wood are both expected to figure prominently in the coming weeks, but what US supporters really wanted to know was where young Pulisic fits in after becoming the youngest goalscorer in the modern era of the USMNT in last weekend's 4-0 friendly win over Bolivia. Although the 17-year-old only has three senior caps to his name, many outsiders believe he has the maturity and quality to warrant a starting berth.
"It's very positive to see Christian coming through and making an impression and playing well on the field," Klinsmann explained. "It's a process. I think Christian is really making a good impression: he's doing well in training and let's see how that progress is continuing with us. We'll see - you have to be patient. Everyone wants to start."
'One of the best right-backs at the World Cup in Brazil'
Another hot topic that Klinsmann tackled full-on concerned the role of Gladbach's ever-malleable Johnson. The 28-year-old marries defensive work with attacking bursts brilliantly, but while he generally operates as a winger for his club, he has often been deployed at full-back for his country.
"This is a wonderful thing to have for us," Klinsmann enthused. "He played throughout the season most of the time in left midfield, many times also right-back, sometimes he played left-back. Obviously we had some problems on the left and right side defensively in the past - maybe injuries or players not ready yet - so he helped out. He was one of the best right-backs at the World Cup in Brazil definitely. Having him do whatever the team needs is big for us. He has to fit with the players next to him and then we make the decision where he's best."
'The learning curve'
As Klinsmann later touched on, a coach cannot please everyone. Inclusions and omissions will always draw mixed reviews, but his door is always open regardless of age or previous performances - good or bad. Take FC Bayern München's Julian Green, for example. The 20-year-old gave onlookers a glimpse of his mercurial talent with a goal in the USA's Round of 16 defeat to Belgium at the 2014 World Cup, only to miss out on a place in the final 23-man squad for the upcoming Copa America.
"Julian's still going through the learning curve," Klinsmann explained. "He's still very young, he's still only 20 years of age, played now a whole season with the second team at Bayern. We wait now for news if he maybe moves away from Bayern for a learning period at another club or if he stays at Bayern and maybe gets promoted into the first team, we hope so. He's just developed, that's totally fine and hopefully, one step at a time, he comes back into he senior team roster and makes an impression."