How the U.S. scouts its players 

May, 8, 2013

Keeping tabs on the 40-odd members of the national team's player pool isn't easy. American footballers are scattered all over the world these days, and while more of their matches are available on U.S. television than ever before, the insight gleaned from watching from afar offers only so much.

That's why coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his assistants have ramped up their scouting efforts over the past year or so, and why it's becoming more crucial every week as the 2014 World Cup approaches. With the Yanks' busiest stretch of games before Brazil looming next month -- Klinsmann will name his roster for three June qualifiers and the two high-profile friendlies that precede them in less than two weeks -- members of the U.S. staff have been traveling the world, watching established veterans and up-and-comers alike.

"It's important for us to see them in person," Martin Vasquez, the lead U.S. assistant, told Insider last month at the national team's media summit in Arlington, Va. "You can watch them on TV, but sometimes when they're off-camera they're still involved in the game, whether it's defending or attacking or occupying different spaces on the field. Then after the game we can go have coffee or talk to them. It's tremendously beneficial for us, because we have some big games coming up and we want the guys who are in top form."

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.