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Report: Jurgen Klinsmann clarifies his stance on MLS

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Report: Jurgen Klinsmann clarifies his stance on MLS

One of the biggest ongoing dramas in Major League Soccer is the perception of the relationship between U.S. Men’s National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann and the league.

Klinsmann seems to be pushing national team players to go overseas, which has created friction with league owners. In a report from ESPN FC, Klinsmann has clarified previous statements about MLS.

"I think it's great if people have their opinion out there, that they express that opinion," Klinsmann said in the report. "But I think before they express their opinion they should give me a call and ask what is really going on. Because a lot of people mention their thoughts without even knowing what is really going on.”

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Klinsmann explained that he has never been given the chance to speak with MLS owners and explain his plan for the national team.

"Our picture is the global picture," he said. "We need to know what England, Germany, and Spain are doing in Europe, and then Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are doing in South America. But our benchmarks are internationally.

"So for a lot of people they define their world domestically, which is totally cool. They should think maybe a little bit more before saying things from the outside about the national team program."

MLS players took up 10 of the 23 spots at the 2014 World Cup roster, which was picked by Klinsmann, and four more players joined the league soon after the tournament. On that alone, it would appear Klinsmann hasn’t held a grudge against players from the league, but it is natural for the national team and the domestic league to have different goals in mind.

Currently, the U.S. is having its annual January camp, which takes place during the MLS offseason and gives Klinsmann a chance to see different players who are currently in the offseason with their club teams. This year, the camp includes a number of U-23 players who are prepping for the Olympic qualifying playoff against Colombia in March. Chicago Fire players Matt Polster and recent draft pick Brandon Vincent are part of that group. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson joined the senior group as an injury replacement for D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

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"We see a lot more than the result. We see the development of players at a specific point in time in their careers. Our job is to help them to build," Klinsmann said. "We never give up on players because they have a couple of bad months, a couple of bad games. We help them through those phases. No matter where they are in their club environments.

"That's another point with MLS. I always say, 'We are here for the players, to play at the highest level possible.' If that highest level is MLS, we are here to help.”

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

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USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

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USA TODAY

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

It may be a good thing that the Fire’s originally scheduled season opener March 3 at Colorado got moved back.

The Fire’s preseason has been riddled with injuries to key players and the extra week may end up being needed to get the team ready for the season. Four players (not counting the already known long-term injuries to Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic) sat out Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast University due to injury: Daniel Johnson (a right ankle injury suffered in a game against Philadelphia on Feb. 8), Grant Lillard (left knee), Matt Polster (left knee) and Luis Solignac (left hip).

Polster’s injury is especially notable because he has had recurring left knee problems since first suffering a sprain in the 2016 season finale at Toronto. Polster missed the first nine games of 2017 due to the injury and missed three more in August due to a related injury.

The 24-year-old, who is now the longest tenured player on the team and the only player remaining from before general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s tenure began at the end of the 2015 season, arrived with the Fire after playing with the U.S. national team in January. He played all 90 minutes on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bastian Schweinsteiger still hasn’t played in the preseason and the team hasn’t listed him as injured.

All the absences, combined with rest for some of the team’s regulars, resulted in a starting lineup against Florida Gulf Coast that featured two players who have appeared in an official match with the Fire. Three trialists and four draft picks started.

Four of the Fire’s seven scheduled preseason matches are in the books. The Fire lost 2-1 to Montreal on Feb. 14. One of the bright spots was a rare set piece goal after the Fire trailed the Impact 2-0. Dax McCarty headed in a free kick from Diego Campos. Campos has been dangerous on set pieces, hitting the post with a free kick and assisting a goal from a corner kick in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Next up is a match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Feb. 21. Next Saturday the Fire play at Orlando to finish up play in Florida.

The Fire close out the preseason March 3 against the team’s USL affiliate, Tulsa, at Toyota Park before the season opener on March 10.