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Thanks Hoffenheim!

Jurgen Klinsmann’s appointment as the head coach of the US Mens National Team was met with excitement for many reasons. The stagnating program looked at Klinsmann as a proven winner who could help reestablish the USA as the dominant nation in CONCACAF while helping to build a system to make the Nats more dangerous in international competitions and against European opponents.

A major part of this undertaking was to expand the player pool beyond the traditional names of the Bradley era to insure that the best players available to represent the red, white and blue had the opportunity to do so, regardless of where they plied their trade. The early days of the Klinsmann regime saw a focus on mining the Mexican league for American talent with Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Demarcus Beasley (Puebla) and Edgar Castillo (America) all getting called into camp. With Castillo failing to make the grade, at least in the short term, and Torres sidelined with a broken foot, Klinsmann has turned to Germany, the nation he lead to third place in the 2006 World Cup, in search of additional talent to augment his squad.

Looking to Germany

Done with Die Mannschaft

Much was made of Jermaine Jones utilizing his one-time switch of national allegiances to join the US after having come up through the German ranks and even featuring for the full national team three times in non-FIFA sanctioned friendlies. His development from youth star to Schalke stalwart had been untouched by an American coach and his style of play was considered more technical, more European. Like him or not, Jones is a fundamentally sound midfielder who on his day can affect change for the US with his vision, range and strong passing.

The next German-born son of an American serviceman to catch our eye was Tim Chandler who, having come up through his hometown Eintracht Frankfurt system, is a consistent starter in the Bundesliga with FC Nurnberg and has displayed the full set of skills in each of his four caps for the US. Also aiding Chandler’s claim for inclusion in any US side is his versatility as he has already played both left and right back positions, as well as right midfield in his brief national team career.

No more Germany for you, Fabian!!

Hoffemerica

In recent weeks it has been two more German-born Americans who appear primed to take Klinsmann’s competency test during the next batches of friendlies. While not called into camp for the October friendlies with Honduras and Ecuador due to an ailing back, the first of the TSG Hoffenheim Americans, Fabian Johnson, made headlines last week when FIFA approved his one-time switch from Germany to the United States. Capped for the German U-19, U-20 and U-21 teams, the versatile Johnson has played both defense and midfield and could represent an excellent squad player for Klinsmann, as he can plug many holes on the pitch and provide options for his manager. After featuring 90 times for 1860 Munich, the club whose academy raised him, the 23-year-old Johnson struggled for minutes at Wolfsburg before finding a home at Hoffenheim.

Nice hairdo, Dan. You look tough.

Second on the list of Americans at Hoffenheim (Hoffemerica? Not as good as Fulhamerica) is Daniel Williams. Where Johnson’s versatility opens him up to play as many to four positions on the field, Williams role is more set. And it is one at which the US is already deep—holding midfield—though Williams has seen time at right back in an emergency role. Nevertheless, with Klinsmann still developing his depth chart and players like Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Jeff Larentowicz set to be a few years on the wrong side of thirty when Brazil 2014 rolls around, it cannot hurt to evaluate the young prospects at every position on the pitch. And at 22-years of age, Williams, who came up through Freiburg’s academy, projects as a younger Jermaine Jones in terms of bringing a purely European pedigree to the middle of the US midfield. Whether he actually sees the field in a lineup where he is the fifth defensive midfielder in camp, alongside Beckerman, Larentowicz, Maurice Edu and Michael Bradley, is anybody’s guess. But with each national team camp, Klinsmann brings in a few surprises and it never hurts to get a talented, young player into camp, where he has a chance to train and evaluate himself alongside the rest of the squad.

And Hoffenheim is not finished giving to the US cause. Hoffenheim’s youth side features 19-year-old Joe Gyau, a lightning-quick forward with the capability to play out on the wing. While it’s still to early to introduce him into the senior national team, the American-born Gyau has shown well for both the U-17 and U-20 teams. Whether it is this World Cup cycle or next, his is a name to remember.

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