BOCA RATON Florida (Reuters) - United States coach Juergen Klinsmann welcomes back his key World Cup starters for Tuesday’s friendly against Honduras and hopes they take on ‘mentor’ roles with new faces in his squad.
Klinsmann fielded experimental teams in friendlies against Czech Republic and Ecuador but will field a side with a mix of youth and experience at FAU Stadium against the regional rivals.
Forward Clint Dempsey and midfielders Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi and Michael Bradley return along with central defender Matt Besler. Klinsmann wants to see them guide new faces such as striker Bobby Wood and full back Greg Garza.
“It’s a process between two World Cup cycles, you push the restart button. You want the more experienced players to get challenged and you want the younger players to come out of their shell and break in,” said Klinsmann, a former Germany coach and World Cup winning striker.
“But at the same time when you create that competitive environment and intense training sessions, you also want the experienced players to take the young ones under their wings.
“You almost want a mentor situation where Clint Dempsey helps Bobby Wood, we want Jermaine Jones to talk to (midfielder) Mix Diskerud, and tell him ‘this is what it takes, if you want to break through big time, you have got to do this’.
“That is my message for the guys who have been on the block for so long now, that they help that younger generation. The biggest learning curve the young guys can go through is by getting on the field and getting minutes.”
Klinsmann has a chance to experiment ahead of next June’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, the first of four years with summer tournaments.
“This is the period of time to do it," he said. "Then the closer we get to the Gold Cup, which is a real tournament that hopefully qualifies us for the Confederations Cup, then you zoom in and it is clearly about getting the job done.”
Jones, whose combative displays at the World Cup in Brazil were one of the highlights of U.S.'s run to the last 16, is a player Klinsmann believes can have a big impact on the new kids.
“Jermaine is a great example because he played many years in the Champions League, so really at the highest level," he said.
"He went through a lot of up and downs in his career, he went through a lot of arguments, changes, I don’t know how many coaches.
"This is stuff we want him to communicate to the younger generation. How to deal with that, to adjust yourself to whatever is happening in a club environment."
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ian Ransom