- Associated Press - Thursday, November 13, 2014

LONDON (AP) - U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann shed no light on Don Garber’s public dispute with him, saying he had not met with the Major League Soccer Commissioner in recent weeks.

Garber held a telephone news conference on Oct. 15 to criticize Klinsmann for not taking Landon Donovan to the World Cup and for saying Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley damaged their careers by returning to MLS from European clubs. Garber questioned whether Klinsmann could be an effective coach while publicly criticizing MLS.

“No we did not speak. We corresponded a couple of times with emails,” Klinsmann said at a news conference Thursday. “I’m not giving you any insight on those ones.”

Klinsmann spoke a day before the U.S. plays Colombia in an exhibition at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, the Americans’ first game since Garber made his remarks. The Americans also play at Ireland next week.

Preparing for next July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean, and qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Klinsmann has been integrating younger players into his roster. Since the Americans were knocked out of this year’s World Cup with a second-round loss to Belgium, they have won 1-0 at the Czech Republic and played 1-1 ties at home against Ecuador and Honduras.

Klinsmann’s 25-man roster this week includes Rubio Rubin, an 18-year-old Utrecht forward, and Jordan Morris, a 20-year-old Stanford sophomore. Veterans include left back DaMarcus Beasley, midfielder-turned-central defender Jermaine Jones and goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando.

“I think that it is very, very important, the role that the veterans play,” Klinsmann said. “At many clubs nowadays, you don’t see that leadership anymore from experienced players helping young players understand what it takes to be a real professional. I was very lucky, when I came through the ranks. I had players looking after me, who would kick me in my backside if I started flying too high. I follow that at club situations, where I don’t see that happening anymore.

“We purposely made that mixture now for this group. I gave them the message, whether it is Kyle Beckerman, Jones and Rimando, I told them you have to talk to them and communicate with them. Leave your cell phone off the table and give them ideas of what to expect and how their growth should happen. We want them to break in quickly if they can.”

Klinsmann led the U.S. to its second straight round of 16 appearance at the World Cup. The Americans have not reached the quarterfinals since 2002.

“Our next biggest learning curve is at the next World Cup, if we get out of the group stages again, how do we advance in the knockout system?” Klinsmann said.

Colombia, which is missing Manchester United forward Radamel Falcao (calf injury), is ranked third in the world. Klinsmann thinks playing difficult opponents is the best way for the Americans to raise their standard.

“You want long-term development and you want long-term improvement,” Klinsmann said. “You want to see young players grow. The long-term vision is Russia 2018. It is huge to play these types of games outside of the United States. I think it is going to be a great test for us tomorrow night.”

Guzan and Rimando are competing for the starting job in the absence of Tim Howard, who started a year-long break from the national team in September. Guzan is set to start Friday.

“Colombia is a good team with some world class players but we are excited about the challenge,” Guzan said. “You always want to test yourself against the best players and best teams in the world and see where you are at. We are excited about the challenge. There is a confidence about us as a team.”

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