United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann has regularly urged national team players to test themselves in Europe in preparation for this summer's World Cup but many of them, he says, are having a tough time finding any takers.
On the day that AS Roma became the latest European club to part ways with a U.S. international when it officially agreed to transfer key midfielder Michael Bradley to Major League Soccer's Toronto FC, Klinsmann told Roger Bennett of ESPN FC in an interview that other MLS-based United States players have been unable to secure short-term deals.
"There is no demand. It means for us we have to work even harder -- players like Graham Zusi, Matt Besler or Omar Gonzalez -- they have to work harder to get the opportunity to be in that picture with teams in Europe for a short period of time and maybe later on for a long period of time. It is just a sign of reality. The demand is not there."
Klinsmann says he has talked with several European coaches and has heard positive things, in a generalized way, about Major League Soccer's growing stature and the future of American soccer. He understands the demand side of the hyper-competitive European football market, though, and if American players don't get acquired it is a result of "a lot of doubt still," he said.
"That is why they are not calling them in for short-term loans or offering them contracts yet," the former Germany player and coach told Bennett.
"They want to see first do they really kind of prove it on an international stage first for a longer period of time. We have proved it pretty well now for the last two year. But the World Cup is now your showcase. It is where if you are an MLS-based player and you want to make it to a big shot overseas one day you got to prove it now."
Klinsmann was quoted late last year as saying he's pleased with how some of his players have taken it upon themselves to find more playing time ahead of this summer's World Cup.
In recent weeks, star forward Clint Dempsey joined Fulham on a two-month loan while midfielder Brek Shea dropped down a competition level to the English Championship to join Barnsley on loan to improve his chances of playing in Brazil. But the Bradley move back to MLS likely will not sit well with Klinsmann, who said he has been working with his players, who see action in MLS, to plan offseason loans.
MLS, despite its increasing profile, does not provide the same level of play as the top European leagues, and it seems likely that Bradley could have secured a loan move to another European club. Instead, he has opted for the security -- both in terms of playing time and finances -- of MLS.
"It is a very, very tricky situation that players face right now," Klinsmann told ESPNFC Thursday. "You want them to play in the best clubs in best leagues in the world and obviously MLS is not there yet.
"MLS is trying badly to improve quality of soccer year by year. When a player decides to come back from your Europe because offer is just so exceptionally good that he wants to combine other things with it and help also the league to grow, as a national team coach you accept that and help the player to make the best out of it."