Sport

Klinsmann thrilled with swathe of dual citizens in World Cup squad

Monday, May 19, 2014    

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WASHINGTON, USA (AFP) — US coach Jurgen Klinsmann has a whole swathe of dual-citizenship football players competing for places on his World Cup finals squad which he believes is due to the increasing strength of the sport in the country.

Klinsmann helped Germany win the 1990 World Cup as a player, and then as a coach guided the Germans to the 2006 World Cup semi-finals on home soil and has helped develop a deeper talent pool for the US side since taking over in 2011.

Norway-born midfielder Mix Diskerud, German-born defender Fabian Johnson, Icelandic striker Aron Johannsson, Berlin-born forward Terrence Boyd, and Mexican-American midfielder Joe Corona are among those who chose to play for the USA.

Their gamble paid off at least for the moment when earlier last week all of them made Klinsmann's 30-man provisional squad for the trip to Brazil.

"Other countries went through that experience before us. Now it's happening more and more with the United States. It gives us a new dimension," Klinsmann said.

"Those players now choose the American side because also now they see what happens with soccer in our country. They see Major League Soccer getting bigger and bigger. They see the national team is doing a better and better job and being more successful going down the road.

"They see many other opportunities coming up and their part of the American life in their future. It's huge and we are thrilled."

Dual-citizen US stars are not new-- German-born defender Thomas Dooley played for the United States in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.

And midfielder Jermaine Jones, the German-born son of a US soldier who played for Eintracht Frankfurt and Schalke, played three times for Germany but was able to switch allegiances to the United States in 2010 because the three matches had all been friendlies and not competitive matches.

The 32-year-old, who now plays for Turkish giants Besiktas, is among a handful Klinsmann calls the "spine" of the Brazil-bound US team.

"Choosing the US means the emotional side has bought into the lifestyle, mentality, attitude that Americans bring to the table," Klinsmann said.

"They're deeply connected to the United States. They feel they belong here. It's huge for us. This vibe, this energy, this spirit carries our team."

The latest dual citizen to declare for the Americans was Bayern Munich striker Julian Green, who asked FIFA for a citizenship change March 18 to join the Americans. Green, who will turn 19 on June 6, was born in Tampa, Florida, and moved to Germany at age two, but played for both countries in youth matches.

"The coaches have shown a lot of trust in me and now I hope to do everything I can to earn a spot on the World Cup roster," Green said.

Klinsmann was overjoyed at landing a prodigy who has been a prolific goalscorer for the reserve team of the German champions.

"It means a lot to us because this is one of the biggest talents coming through European football right now," Klinsmann said. "We are thrilled we have a player of his magnitude.

"We're not only looking at Julian for this summer's World Cup. We're looking obviously into the future. Having his commitment to the US is a huge step. He's a very special talent. He's an exciting player with a tremendously bright future."

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