By Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON, DC (Sep 29, 2014) US Soccer Players – USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t say a word on Monday, but he set the US soccer world aflame just the same. That’s because ESPN’s Doug McIntyre reported that he’d learned, via anonymous sources, that Klinsmann was preparing to call Miguel Ibarra into USMNT camp. Ibarra is a standout winger at NASL club Minnesota United. His inclusion in the upcoming USMNT camp for next month’s friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras follows Klinsmann calling in a college player for the Czech Republic friendly earlier this month.
A call for Ibarra would represent an historic development, to say the least. NASL is generally ranked as North America’s second-tier professional league. The NASL’s combative commissioner, Bill Peterson, is quite fond of insisting that they don’t consider themselves as such, preferring to aim for status among “the world’s top leagues”.
Minnesota United already released a statement without confirming the call up.
“We are aware of the speculation regarding the possibility of Midfielder Miguel Ibarra being called up for the U.S. Men’s National Team training camp in October.
Although we have not seen a finalized list of players being called up and we don’t know if he will ultimately end up on such a list, we are not surprised that a young and talented player like Miguel Ibarra has drawn the attention of the U.S. Men’s coaching staff.
We are extremely proud of how Miguel has developed as a player and a person over the last several years here in Minnesota.”
Following on the heels of Klinsmann’s call up of college star Jordan Morris for the Sep. 3 friendly vs. the Czech Republic, the Ibarra news hints at a significant shift in the way USMNT talent is scouted in this country. It’s also evidence of a real revolution from a coach who has talked a lot about fundamental change in his three years on the job, but largely failed to walk the walk.
Dating back to the dawn of his own legendary playing career, Klinsmann has taken real delight in challenging convention. By digging beneath the top of the US pyramid for his latest selections, he’s thumbing his nose at one of the fundamental precepts in how U.S. Soccer picks its national teams.
Our combined system of youth national teams, professional clubs and domestic and international scouts is at base an ID system. It’s designed to spot international-caliber talent relatively early – the earlier the better, to say the least – and either track those players or groom them directly with an eye towards future USMNT involvement.
By picking the likes of Morris and Ibarra, Klinsmann – whether he elects to phrase it this way or not – is directly critiquing the current state of affairs.
Morris starred in the Seattle Sounders’ youth academy but has yet to sign a Homegrown player deal with the club, despite multiple reports that he’s been offered one on at least one occasion. Ibarra was a member of MLS’s 2012 draft field and was selected by the Portland Timbers in the supplemental draft. Portland didn’t sign him. Ibarra subsequently made a home at Minnesota, now widely regarded as one of NASL’s best-run clubs and its 2014 spring season champions.
Klinsmann would appear to believe that someone made a mistake somewhere along that line.
“There are different ways to get to the next level,” Klinsmann told reporters in Prague earlier this month. “Everybody has his own way, if it’s through Europe, if it’s through college, if it’s through MLS. I’ve watched a couple of players in the NASL. They were very talented, but I thought for these kids, it comes a bit too early.
“This is our job in the national team environment: Our job is to look out there, no matter how we find them – dual citizenship or not – evaluate them and see when is the right time. Or maybe we build that right time personally.”
USMNT fans have long known of, and appreciated, the care with which Klinsmann and his predecessors mined for dual-national talent in every nook and cranny overseas. Now it seems they’re taking a new angle on a similar process here at home.
Now we want to hear from you: What’s your take on the latest USMNT roster news? Share your thoughts below and let’s get the conversation going…