U.S. defender Matt Besler says he never intended to be fully fit for the national team's January camp, while his Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes called Jurgen Klinsmann's comments on players' conditioning "ridiculous."
Most of the U.S. squad that went to Chile were in the middle of their offseason, having last played in November in the MLS playoffs, and Klinsmann said some players treated the camp as if it were preseason.
Besler confirmed Klinsmann's fears Friday, telling the Kansas City Star that he always planned to reach his top physical form when the MLS season begins in March, not for the U.S. camp.
"My goal is to be in my peak fitness on March 1," Besler said. "That's when my season starts. It goes from March to December. So on Jan. 15, we devised an offseason plan for me to hit my peak fitness on March 1, and I think that's what most of the guys did.
"If the expectation is different, that's something that needs to be discussed so we know going into a camp where we need to be."
Besler declined to address Klinsmann's comments directly, saying "He can say whatever he wants." But his Sporting KC manager Vermes was much more outspoken.
"To expect those guys to be in top form at a January camp -- and I mean this -- I think it's utterly ridiculous," Vermes said.
Klinsmann has been at odds with Major League Soccer on a number of topics in recent months -- from players leaving top European leagues to play in MLS, to the length of the season -- but Vermes says Klinsmann's comments on fitness were inaccurate.
"Totally disagree with the comment," Vermes said. "I have a lot of respect for Jurgen. Obviously he was a great player, and he's done tremendous things as a coach, as well. But that doesn't mean every time someone opens their mouth, they're right. And I completely disagree."