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U.S. Soccer and Escaping Klinsmann’s Clutches

September 9th, 2015 · 1 Comment · Brazil 2014, Football, Landon Donovan, soccer, World Cup

I pretty much gave up advocating the dismissal of coaches and managers a decade ago. Maybe more.

I make an exception for Jurgen Klinsmann.

This man is doing so much harm to U.S. soccer that every day he mismanages this team leaves them in a deeper hole from which they must eventually climb.

The 4-1 defeat to Brazil yesterday wasn’t a surprise, but the manner of it was, from reading a cross-section of media reports on the game.

The most alarming bit?

That some members of the U.S. appeared to quit in the second half.

Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, who is pretty much the capo of American soccer writers these days, hinted strongly at a U.S. team not giving its best.

He wrote: “You can issue all the caveats you want: It was only a friendly, and the U.S. was without Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson, and Brazil was, well, Brazil. But while there’s no shame in losing to Brazil, there are red flags and warning sirens when a U.S. team appears to lose its will in a game. And that’s what it looked like for a bit in the second half on Tuesday.

“U.S. teams just don’t do that, and some blame for that has to go on coach Jurgen Klinsmann.”

One blogger wrote that the U.S. team “quit” in a scathing report on the Brazil match.

These are the issues.

–Klinsmann left home Landon Donovan for Brazil 2014, a decision which very possibly cost the U.S. a victory over Belgium in the Round of 16.

–He led the national team to a shocking fourth-place finish in the Gold Cup, with a loss to Jamaica in the semis and another to Panama in the third-place game.

–He seems to have no real idea what he wants to do with this team, routinely using players in strange positions and tinkering forever with his back four, which is never a good idea.

–He now has done an “internal exile” number on Tim Howard, hero of the 2014 World Cup, who took a year away from the national team (Howard is 36 years old and still playing for Everton in the Premier League). Howard has been invited back; he just is not allowed to play, Klinsmann says. He is sticking with Brad Guzan, the Aston Villa keeper who pretty much never has shown he is in Howard’s league, at least through the next match.

The New York Daily News reported Klinsmann saying, “Brad is the No. 1 goalie, Tim is the No. 2, because he was gone for more than a year from the team. Once we have the Mexico game successfully out of the way, then we can think about splitting time. But now it’s really about getting consistency with the players and getting the job done in October.”

Howard, no surprise, is puzzled by this.

“I’ve never been a backup,” Howard said. “I think that’s a mentality, you know? I work my tail off every day. I know what it means to compete at the highest level, to have a certain level of excellence. And I do that. I’ve never been a back-up. I never will be. So that’s not something I worry about too much.”

The U.S. has a very important match coming up, on October 10, versus Mexico, with the winner going to the 2017 Confederations Cup, in Russia, a warmup competition ahead of the 2018 World Cup there and generally a helpful exercise in preparing for the country your team will return to the following year.

If a disorganized and limp batch of Yanks, whose spirit has been beaten down by Klinsmann’s incessant scouring of foreign rosters in search of “new” Americans, that one to a Mexico team they have dominated for most of a decade …

Then all we can do is hope that Sunil Gulati, the US Soccer Federation president who gave us Klinsmann, will see the error of his ways.



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Doug // Sep 11, 2015 at 4:39 PM

    The Brazil game was horrible to watch. JK’s continuous decisions to put players in positions they don’t play at their clubs is baffling. It is very hard to be optimistic about the U.S. chances vs. Mexico in the October playoff.

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