PHILADELPHIA – U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made a last-minute request prior to Wednesday's friendly against Mexico, asking for the jerseys to be numbered 1-11 for starters and 12-18 for reserve players.
"There's no real concept behind that," Klinsmann said. "There are 11 players out there and the numbers should be from 1-11. The only exception really is the World Cups or the Gold Cups where they get their numbers throughout the tournament. I think that simplifies it a little bit."
After making his debut in the 1-1 draw, Klinsmann joked that the new-look uniforms also help him know what position each of his new players play.
"Maybe people get confused when they see a player with a No. 98 on the field. They don't know where to put him. For me as a coach, it also makes it a bit easier," he said.
Klinsmann pointed to the fact that not having assured numbers should be a message to the players that nothing under his regime is guaranteed and that there will be competition for places.
"We know that certain players have a favorite number and we try to accommodate it, but I think it fits them better from 1-11. It's a little bit of a signal that there's a fight going on for those numbers," the coach explained.
By waiting for the morning on game day to let the equipment staff know he would be numbering the jerseys differently, player names were not on the back of their red uniforms.
"Our equipment manager was a little bit stressed out," Klinsmann joked.
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Alex Labidou contributed reporting to this story.