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Klinsmann challenges young USMNT strikers to step up

Bobby Wood

Bobby Wood


With second-highest all-time goalscorer Clint Dempsey left off the U.S. national team roster for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago in the next 10 days, Jurgen Klinsmann wants his young guns to step up.

[ MORE: Blatter in hospital ] Klinsmann left Dempsey, 32, out of the squad because he said he wants the youngsters to get a chance on the Road to Russia.

Speaking to reporters in Miami before the U.S. fly to St. Louis to play St. Vincent, Klinsmann wants more from his young strikers.

“We can’t start this process two years from now,” Klinsmann said. “We need the Bobby Woodses, the Jordan Morrises and the Gyasi Zardeses to make an impression, to fight their way through and prove it in World Cup qualifying... We told the more experienced guys that we need to see if the younger ones are able to take your spot one day. Sooner or later, you have to force these pieces and make difficult decisions.”

So, who are the young strikers Klinsmann has issued this rallying call towards? Well, Alan Gordon, 34, is on this roster but the big man is purely around to give Klinsmann a Plan-B in attack if the U.S. is struggling late on in these games.

[ MORE: Headers banned for U.S. youths ] These comments are mostly aimed at Stanford University’s Jordan Morris (21), LA Galaxy’s rising star Gyasi Zardes (24) and Bobby Wood (22) who plays in the 2. Bundesliga for FC Union Berlin.

Of those, Zardes is the only player who has become a regular in recent starting lineups as he’s made 17 appearances and scored twice while mostly playing in a wide-role for his country. Wood has been in and out of the national team picture over the last few years but the Honolulu native has come up big-time as he scored in the friendly wins in Holland and Germany, plus also jumped off the bench to equalize and send the CONCACAF Cup clash against Mexico into extra time last month.

[ MORE: Every PL team analyzed a third of the way in ] Morris is still at Stanford but the Seattle Sounders FC academy product has progressed through the U.S. youth national team ranks and which has already yielded six appearances for the full national team and he’s scored once against Mexico in a friendly win earlier this year.

All three are likely to be given minutes in the central striking role alongside mainstay Jozy Altidore, with an inexperienced duo most likely to start against St. Kitts on Friday in STL in what is a much easier matchup than heading to play T&T in Port of Spain.

Klinsmann used young center backs in the Gold Cup with both John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado since slipping out of the picture as starters since, and now for the start of World Cup qualifying he is handing his young forwards a chance to step up and impress.

Follow @JPW_NBCSports