U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann 'thrilled' as Matt Miazga signs for Chelsea
CARSON, Calif. -- Jurgen Klinsmann says he is "thrilled" about United States defender Matt Miazga officially joining Premier League champions Chelsea, but the national team manager also stressed the importance of taking the long view on the player's development.
The U.S. will take on Iceland on Sunday in an international friendly. But at Saturday's pregame news conference, Klinsmann didn't hesitate to highlight the magnitude of Miazga's reported $5 million transfer from the New York Red Bulls to the reigning Premier League champions.
Klinsmann has long stressed the importance of U.S. players challenging themselves at the highest level possible. Miazga is no doubt doing just that.
"It's a huge move for [Miazga]. Being 20 years of age, and now getting the opportunity to go overseas, and proving himself, is big," Klinsmann said.
"It's big I think for our program, it's big for us when a player moves to a Champions League team, a big team, a big club. We are happy for him, we are pleased, but we know also he is just developing."
The question hanging over the move is just how much Miazga can expect to see the field for a team that has a deep squad, with over 30 players out on loan.
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink indicated on Friday that Miazga would train with the first team for the remainder of the season, at which point the club would decide whether Miazga would remain or head out on loan. No matter what decision is made, Miazga will need to get game experience.
"In the long run, [Miazga] is a player that we're going to count on," Klinsmann said. "He has showed already a lot of potential over the last two years, not only with [the U.S.] programs but with the Red Bulls, and now this is a big, big step.
"But we've got to be patient there. It will take time. He will go there to learn, and it will take time until he gets his chances there."
Klinsmann added that he expects Miazga to be made available for the U.S. under-23 team at the end of March, when it faces Colombia over two legs to determine which side will qualify for this summer's Olympics. In the meantime, Miazga will attempt to settle in with his new club.
"It's courageous from Matt," said Klinsmann about the transfer. "It's a big opportunity, no doubt about it, so we are thrilled for him."
Miazga joined the Red Bulls academy in 2009 and rose through the ranks. He signed a homegrown player contract as a 17-year-old in 2013 and has since made 38 league and playoff appearances, making a significant breakthrough in 2015 when he became a mainstay in manager Jesse Marsch's squad.
Internationally, Miazga has represented the U.S. at U18, U20, and U23 level. He took part in the 2015 Under-20 World Cup, in which the Americans fell in the quarterfinals to eventual champions Serbia on penalties.
Miazga made his only appearance with the senior U.S. team last November in a World Cup qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
It was also a busy day for Americans in Germany as 17-year-old Christian Pulisic made his professional debut for Borussia Dortmund, and John Brooks signed a new contract with Hertha Berlin.
On Pulisic, Klinsmann said: "I saw him twice in Florida and obviously he has a tremendous amount of talent. No doubt about it. We are thrilled he gets an opportunity to play with the first team at Borussia Dortmund. We are aware of that for quite a while because we are talking to the club always. So we saw that coming."
On Brooks, he added: "I was talking to their GM. They were eager to sign him, and I think it's important that he commits to his next couple of years. Because he's still developing, and he's obviously age-eligible for the Olympic team."