Jurgen Klinsmann: Is He The Right Man To Lead The United States?

I have been a little removed from the USMNT for years because of the politics of soccer.  I never was on board with the way we selected both players and coaches.  I couldn’t understood how Kyle Beckerman or Benny Feilhaber couldn’t get a starting position in the team over the last 10 years.  The USMNT was run like a private country club run by an elite US Soccer Federation.  In 1994 we had a pretty good team.  Has the leadership of US Soccer done their job and ensured progress over the last 20 years? Can we say as a soccer nation that over the past 20 years we have made significant progress?  I can’t say that we have at all. US Soccer knows this as well but they will never admit it.  What we do need is smart soccer people like Reyna and Ramos to take over!  I better stop because if could write forever on the MLS and US Soccer and why we have not made the progress we should have.  All the way from failing to develop urban soccer players to hiring Head MLS Coaches with zero coaching experience.  But let me stay on course and not lose focus.  Long story short is when US Soccer hired Klinsmann I was optimistic.  I didn’t know that much about him but I did know he was a great player.  He was saying all the right things and this seemed to be a nice change from the “good old boy” hiring system of Bradley and Arena where soccer was 100% politics.

Over the last couple weeks I have been watching all the ESPN specials on the USMNT and can’t believe what Klinsmann is saying.  I was shocked to hear Klinsmann say “Clint Dempsey has not accomplished Shit in his career”.  Really?  I understand Klinsmann was a great player and star but that is not something anyone has the right to say.  Clint is one of our best players ever.  He came from humble means and played for the same club Klinsmann played for in Europe.  Dempsey is one of the biggest American soccer success stories of all-time.  Then for Klinsmann to say Dempsey will need to earn his spot in the 3-day camp and he is not sure he will even make the team?  What?  Can you imagine Lebron James having a bad game and the Coach saying “Im not sure Lebron will be starting for us anymore and we may cut him”.  Are you kidding me!  That is the one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.   If I am Klinsmann, I would be saying ” I am counting on players like Clint Dempsey & Tim Howard to lead us to the World Cup this summer.  These guys are proven players and leaders who have earned the right to take us to the World Cup”.  Instead Klinsmann says at any club in the world if you have a bad game or training you may not be playing! Landon Donavan made a good point when interviewed at the USMNT Training camp.  He said he had been training for 12 days in a row and at 32 years old his body needs rest to perform.  Klinsmann told Landon every day he must produce or risk being cut.  Come on! 12 days in a row for a 32 year old guy.  I know this from my own playing days that at 32 you can not train like a 22 year old.  The body needs more rest. Period.  I would picked Donovan and used him for 30 minutes at a time. Cutting Landon was just a personality issue.

Is Klinsmann a bad guy? No.  In fact I respect that he is so focused and hard working.  However, he has not done a good job at all attempting to adapt to a new culture.  His comments about players and the American game are insulting.  Watch and see as payers tune him out soon – not now but if we lose a couple games.  I can’t see that Klinsmann has gained their trust and they are dying to play for the guy.  I get he is all about competition and winning your spot and being a big boy.  He could have done all that without the extra nonsense stuff .  Klinsmann said maybe the things he said were “To German” for us Americans.  I think thats a cop out.  Don’t blame stupid comments on being German.  Thats insulting as well.  Klinsmann in my opinion needs to embrace the American Culture, identify some leaders and give them real credit and step back and learn about team building.  Just because you were world class doesn’t mean your coaching methods are world class.  The funny thing about coaching is people very seldom see it as a skilled profession.  They say “Klinsmann was a great player and he will be a great coach”.  Wrong.  He never really coached anywhere before Germany.  A national team coach is also much different than a day to day club coach.  Klinsmann is a novice in the coaching world.  He probably doesn’t realize it, but I bet he knows very little in terms of being as a Head Coach.  There is no substitute for actual experience and mentorship.  He doesn’t have that much.  I guarantee that in 15 years if Klinsmann is still coaching he will look back at what he did here with the USMNT and say ” I would have changed a lot of what I said and did”.  Hopefully the USMNT does well in Brazil.