Let me lay it out for you.
Between the end of the 2014 MLS regular season, which ended officially on October 26 (for teams that didn't make the playoffs), and Camp cupcake which started January 12, there was exactly 77 days of rest (11 weeks). Players who qualified for playoffs and players who were playing in other leagues at the time are in a different situation.
Klinsmann said that the starting eleven wasn't fit against Chile because Major League Soccer doesn't prepare its players for a camp in January. He also said that extending the regular season to an 11-month schedule would solve the problem.
I'm not arguing that less time between the end of the MLS regular season and January camp wouldn't be more beneficial to the national team. And I'm not going to go into detail about offseason workouts and how players use their vacation time. I'm looking at Klinsmann's comments regarding fitness, his comments regarding MLS and the eleven players who started the game against Chile on January 28 as a whole.
His comments, whether some see it as a general problem for USMNT and MLS, weren't directed at the entire team, because the entire team didn't play in the game against Chile. And they were not directed at the subs either because how can you blame fitness issues on a guy playing 15-20 minutes. That leaves you with the starting eleven.
If you narrow the starting eleven down to players who are currently playing in MLS, as well as those who played in MLS in 2014, you come up with six names: Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Nick Rimando. Of these six names, five went the full 90 minutes vs Chile. Dempsey was subbed out after 68 minutes.
But let's widdle it down even further to see if we can pick out who Klinsmann was targeting with his fitness rant.
#USMNT: No. of days b/w last match & January camp Altidore: 16 Jones: 35 Dempsey: 42 Besler/Diskerud: 54 Birnbaum: 64 Bradley (surgery): 78
— Ben Jata (@Ben_Jata) February 5, 2015
Rimando is a goalkeeper and Birnbaum is a rookie so they're both out. Jones (and Altidore) probably ran the most of any player on the team so you can throw them out too. That leaves Bradley, Dempsey and Besler.
Bradley had surgery when the regular season ended and he hasn't played a competitive match since then (78 days, 11 weeks). Besler played his last competitive match 54 days ago (8 weeks) in a 4-1 loss to Ireland. And Dempsey played his last competitive match vs LA Galaxy exactly 42 days (6 weeks) prior to the start of January camp.
So who was Klinsmann really talking about when he referenced fitness issues? Had to be one of these three, right?
I didn't track Bradley that closely so not sure how much or how little he actually ran. Or if he was beaten to the ball in instances in which he normally would've gotten to had he been fit. In all honesty, Bradley is probably the last person anybody would ever direct fitness criticism to.
Which leaves us with Besler and Dempsey.
Besler was at fault for goals, but was it due to a lack of fitness/sharpness? Possibly, and probably.
Dempsey was pulled in the 68th minute. But was he pulled due to lack of fitness or ineffectiveness in a position Klinsmann never should've had him in in the first place - acting as a two-way midfielder for most of the first half? You could probably argue both.
However, if Klinsmann is directing fitness issues at Dempsey, and then citing MLS' lengthy offseason as the problem, he's got no case. Dempsey had been playing competitive matches up until six weeks prior to the start of camp. Based on this alone we should throw Dempsey out of the discussion.
So who is Klinsmann really targeting with his (MLS) fitness concerns? The only person that makes a little bit of sense is Besler, who at 54 days rest could've lost a few steps in his game. But Besler is a workhorse. He works extremely hard to keep his body in the best possible shape at all times. Right Sporting KC fans?
But if not Besler, who?
At the end of it all, is there a proper conclusion that can be drawn from Klinsmann's fitness comments? Probably not. If he doesn't name names, which he will not do, what's the point of bringing it up? Seriously Klinsi, what's the point?