Jurgen Klinsmann has been making some difficult telephone calls the past week or so.
Sorry, Eddie Johnson, you're not going to the World Cup this year. Sorry, Sean Johnson, you'll spend June with your club team, the Chicago Fire. You too, Mike Magee.
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"It was unpleasant because you give the players a message that maybe they don't want to hear," said Klinsmann, the U.S. national team coach, on a conference call Monday after announcing the 30-man roster of players who will start training for the World Cup on Wednesday at Stanford University.
"It hurts you because you know it hurts the players in that moment, but it's something that a coach has to do."
Eddie Johnson was the most notable player left out, though Klinsmann said it had nothing to do with his emotional outburst recently toward his D.C. United teammates. Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Brek Shea, Sacha Kljestan also are among the players who already know they're not going to Brazil for the World Cup, now just a month away.
Though half of the players come from Major League Soccer, the roster doesn't include Magee, the reigning MLS MVP. His 2 goals so far this season weren't enough to grab Klinsmann's attention, and Magee was unlucky in January to come down with food poisoning the night before a U.S. friendly that would have been his big chance to impress the coach.
In fact the Fire won't lose any players to any national team for the World Cup, but it will face teams that do, starting with Sporting Kansas City this weekend (2 p.m. Sunday at Toyota Park). SKC will be without Americans Graham Zusi and Matt Besler.
There are more cuts to come. By June 2 Klinsmann has to trim the roster to 23.
There will be more apologies then.
The best guess is these seven players will get the bad news: Forwards Chris Wondolowski and Terrence Boyd; midfielders Brad Davis, midfielders Brad Davis and Joe Corona; defenders DeAndre Yedlin, Michael Parkhurst and John Brooks.
But they still have time to convince Klinsmann they deserve a plane ticket to Brazil. "The clock is ticking," the coach said.
MLS, U.S. Soccer sign TV deals:
The eight-year television deals Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer signed with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision will go a long way to growing the league and the game.
Still to be seen is how the deal will influence the league's upcoming negotiations for a new collective-bargaining agreement with the MLS Players Union. Will the league use the added money to sign big-name, big-contract players to attract fans, or will the players insist the money go to boost salaries for players at the bottom of the pay scale?
All three networks will have a MLS Match of the Week, adding stability to a national television schedule that always has been somewhat haphazard. ESPN and Fox Sports 1 will combine to air a doubleheader Sundays during the season.
The TV contracts extend through the 2022 season.
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