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How Klinsmann's start compares, so far
by Mike Woitalla, September 9th, 2011 12:13AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup

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[U.S. HISTORY] Jurgen Klinsmann, on the job for just over a month, has yet to celebrate his first win after a 1-1 tie with Mexico and 1-0 losses to Costa Rica and Belgium. Here's how his predecessors, from Bob Gansler to Bob Bradley, started off and how they ended up doing in the long term ...

Klinsmann’s five predecessors each tallied at least one win in their first three games. The next U.S. game is Oct. 8 vs. Honduras in Miami. Klinsmann’s squad does not face official competition until the USA’s quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup begins next summer. Only Bruce Arena, who took the USA to the Confederations Cup in Mexico nine months after his hiring, had as long of a friendly-games-only period as Klinsmann will have had to fine-tune a squad.

BOB BRADLEY (2007-2011)
USA 3, Denmark 1 (friendly, Carson, Calif., Jan. 20, 2007)
USA 2, Mexico 1 (friendly, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 7, 2007)
USA 3, Ecuador 1 (friendly, Tampa, Fla., March 25, 2007)

Hired in December 2006 as interim coach after Arena's departure and following the breakdown of negotiations between U.S. Soccer and Klinsmann, Bradley enjoyed an 11-game unbeaten streak (10 wins), which included a Gold Cup title, to start his tenure. After the first four games and before the Gold Cup, Bradley had the interim tag removed. Shortly after beating Mexico in the Gold Cup final, Bradley took a second-string team to the 2007 Copa America and lost three straight. In 2009, the USA beat Spain at the Confederations Cup semifinals and finished runner-up after a 3-2 loss to Brazil in the final. Bradley qualified the USA for the 2010 World Cup, where it lost in the round of 16, 2-1, to Ghana. He was let go after the USA fell, 4-2, to Mexico in the final of the 2011 Gold Cup, in which it also suffered a 2-1 loss to Panama.

BRUCE ARENA (1998-2006)

USA 0 Australia 0 (friendly, San Jose, Calif., Nov. 6, 1998)
Bolivia 0 USA 0 (friendly, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Jan. 25, 1999)
USA 3, Germany 0 (friendly, Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 6, 1999)

After a pair of forgettable efforts, Arena's team celebrated an emphatic win over Germany in his third game. In four friendlies before the 1999 Confederations Cup in July, the USA beat Chile, Guatemala, Argentina and lost to Mexico. At the Confederations Cup in Mexico, the USA beat New Zealand (2-1), fell to Brazil (1-0) and beat Germany (2-0) to reach the final, where it lost, 1-0, to Mexico. Arena went on to become the first coach to qualify the USA for the World Cup twice. The USA had its best World Cup performance ever in 2002 in South Korea, where a 3-2 win over pre-tournament favorite Portugal and a tie with South Korea took it to the second round, where it beat Mexico, 2-0, before losing to Germany, 1-0, in the quarterfinals. Also in 2002, the USA won the Gold Cup. Arena’s contract was not renewed after the USA failed to reach the second round of the 2006 World Cup, where it lost to the Czech Republic (3-0), tied eventual champ Italy (1-1) and fell to Ghana (2-1).

STEVE SAMPSON (1995-1998)
Belgium 1 USA 0 (friendly, Brussels, April 22, 1995)
USA 1, Costa Rica 2 (friendly, Tampa, Fla., May 28, 1995)
USA 3, Nigeria 2 (US Cup, Foxborough, Mass., June 11, 1995)

Sampson, an assistant to Bora Milutinovic at the 1994 World Cup, was named interim coach in April 1995 and after a pair of losses went on a roll that earned him the job. At the U.S. Cup, he guided the USA to wins over Nigeria and Mexico (4-0), and a tie with Colombia (0-0). Shortly afterward, at the Copa America, wins over Chile (2-1), Argentina (3-0) and Mexico (on PKs after a scoreless tie) led to a fourth-place finish after a 1-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals. Sampson did not win a Gold Cup, but his team beat Brazil, 1-0, in the 1998 semifinals in the USA’s first and still only win over the South American power. A scoreless tie at Azteca Stadium during his successful qualifying run to the 1998 World Cup remains the only time Mexico has failed to beat the USA in Mexico. Sampson was let go after the USA exited the 1998 World Cup with three straight losses, to Germany (2-0), Iran (2-1) and Yugoslavia (1-0).

BORA MILUTINOVIC (1991-1995)
USA 1 Uruguay 0 (friendly, Denver, May 5, 1991)
USA 0 Argentina 1 (friendly, Palo Alto, Calif., May 19, 1991)
USA 1, Ireland 1 (friendly, Foxborough, Mass., June 1, 1991)

Having guided Costa Rica to the second round of the 1990 World Cup set up Serbian Bora Milutinovic, who coached Mexico at the 1986 World Cup, to be the USA’s coach for the World Cup it would host in 1994. In his second month on the job, Milutinovic guided the USA at the Gold Cup, where it beat Honduras in the final after downing Mexico in the semifinals. It was the first U.S. win over Mexico in more than two decades. His most impressive wins in the long preparation period for the 1994 World Cup came over Ireland (3-1) and Portugal (1-0) in 1992, and England (2-0) in 1993. At the World Cup, the USA advanced to the second round as a third-place team thanks to a tie with Switzerland and a win over Colombia. The Americans fell, 1-0, to eventual champ Brazil in the second round. Milutinovic was let go in March 1995.

BOB GANSLER (1989-91)
Costa Rica 1 USA 0 (World Cup qualifier, San Jose, Costa Rica, April 16, 1989)
USA 1 Costa Rica 0 (World Cup qualifier, St. Louis, April 20, 1989)
USA 1 Trinidad & Tobago 1 (World Cup qualifier, Torrance, May 13, 1989)

The first three games for Gansler were World Cup qualifiers for Italia ’90 for which it warmed up by playing Colombian clubs America de Cali (2-0 win) and Independiente Santa Fe (0-0) in the Marlboro Cup. Gansler successfully guided the USA to its first World Cup appearance in 40 years. The USA lost all three games in Italy -- Czechoslovakia (5-1), Italy (1-0) and Austria (2-1). Gansler coached eight friendly games after the World Cup, posting a 2-4-2 win-loss-tie record and was let go after a 1-0 loss to Bermuda. Interim coach John Kowalski coached the USA to a tie with Mexico (2-2) and a win over Canada (2-0) in Los Angeles in March 1991 before Milutinovic took over.



18 comments
  1. Kent James
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 8:13 a.m.
    Interesting, but not significant. Interim coaches need to win to be considered for the job full-time, a coach in Klinsmann's position doesn't. Wins and losses don't matter (much) at this point, it's how we play the game (and what we learn about the players).

  1. F. Kirk Malloy
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 8:18 a.m.
    What a moronic article. Wins and losses at this stage for JK are MEANINGLESS. His goal should not be trying to win games, instead it should be how to take a national program stuck in mediocrity and put it on a path to where it can actually compete at the world level. That will take TIME, and begins with demonstrating to the entire US soccer community those players who can compete at the highest levels. Sure we could have stuck with BB and fielded "atheltic, tough, hard working" uber-college type players that swell our national pride every 4 years or so, but who simply can't compete at the highest levels. In this country of over 300 million, we should be able to produce 30-40 world class players, and who knows they may actually already exist, but we won't find out sticking with the past. Give JK time, he's on the right path.

  1. Ernest Irelan
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.
    mr James an Malloy, well put..coach K has different players, needs to work with what is out there to put together a team that works together. soccer in the USA is not played in every neighborhood in the US an all youngsters do not have chances to develope. It is not our national sport like other countries. I have faith in coach K finding the players he needs, he knows what it takes to play on the internatioal scene...he is not interested in meeting or exceeding the records of past coaches at this time, but, finding the right players.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.
    I agree with the previous posters in that this is a totally non-sensical article that completely ignores the situation under which JK was hired. After years in which the issue of youth development was not even on the radar of the MNT coach, it has finally gotten the visibility under Klinsmann that it has long needed. Consequently, the criteria for JK's term will be much different and more long term than any of his predecessors. It's time the soccer media came to terms with this fact.

  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.
    Funny how wins and losses are meaningless for Klinsmann, but very important and critical for Bob Bradley. I think it's because Klinsmann is better looking.

  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 10:50 a.m.
    I have to agree with the majority here. This article is rediculolous banter. Klinsmann is in a different situation that all the others in that these games are more about player tryouts then winning a game. Which is what needs to happen if the program is to get better. It has been stale for so long and wins have been put on a pedistal over player devolopment. I'm hoping this coach doesn't play favorites although Rogers seems to one of his favorites but doesn't have what it takes to play internationally. I hope Klinsmann can address this point.

  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.
    Amos, Your comment and view shows a lack of understanding with the USMNT program. They meant so much in BB case becsuse he has had control of the team since 2006 and since the world cup shown a decline in the program with no player development. HOw long do you give a guy to improve a program before you boot him? Yes Klinsmann has a lot of grace here because he is develping a team/program. He must be able to do that without the worry of wins/losses. Anyone who has developed a program/team would understand this point. Klinsmann is 10X the coach bradley is.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 11:08 a.m.
    Andrew, thanks for saying what I wanted to but much more politely! I don't mind negative viewpoints as long as there is a point being made but so far AA's posts have been uniformly negative and totally pointless.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 11:12 a.m.
    I occasionally read Russian (having been born in the USSR) soccer forums and sites, and the overwhelming consensus there, when Klinsmann was hired, was that the USSF was making a big mistake. That Klinsmann might be a good motivator but nowhere near the coach Bradley is. Funny how differently Klinsmann and Bradley are viewed in Europe.

  1. Mark Grody
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 11:37 a.m.
    Bradley did a good job with what he had. But, he wasn't going to take the MNT to the next level. Partially because of his strengths & weaknesses as a coach & partially because of tenure. JK's job is to change things up in the hopes of getting to the next level. The attempt by the Federation will be worth it even if JK falls on his face, because we have aspirations in this country of becoming one of the best soccer playing nations in the world, not just CONCACAF.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 12:20 p.m.
    Mike Woitalla, for a fleeting moment I thought that this piece had been penned by Ragin Ridge Mahoney, but on reading your by-line, I said to me-self: Woah Nellie!!! And now I am also in agreement with the above comments 'cause it really doesn't point out much, other than to start some sort of dialog with us SOCCER COGNOSCENTI? But still, to compare and contrast (not much of iether in the article) in such a short article doesn't do the article any justice, Mike, because as it has been pointed out above, Klinsmann has a bigger plate to fill and fix, as opposed to his predecessors who apparently only had the senior team to coach. And what about coaching stints by others before Gansler? Lastly I'd expand on the article and make the comparisons, taking into account the state of soccer affairs then under the predecessors, and explain just what in heck was taking place and then illustrate what Klinsmann & Co. are faced with. Andrew P and James F, I agree with you about AA's viewpoints; on the other hand, David M's comment on Russian viewpoints point the other way, as the Spanish language commentary on JK, is positive, as they point out his vast playing experience and recent coaching job with the German WC '06 team. So world opinion varies and swings from one extreme to the other and is interesting to note, for example, the Argentine commentators will point to his technical and coaching strengths and technical abilities based on his own playing years, while the Mexicans are more cautious in saying that the US program is on a revolutionary change in style and substance, a process for the better that will take time to implement and imprint on the US soccer mentality. so let's give JK time to develop his plan and program and support his effort.

  1. Tyler Dennis
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.
    @ Super Man, the title of the article makes the comparison of wins and losses the point. I'm encouraged by what the USMNT has shown in the last couple of games... they are actually doing some things that resemble attractive soccer. Is JK going to be able to put a team together that can play that game for 90 minutes... I doubt it. Players are being developed at the youth level to get into college (limited view development = big/fast). College coaches have 4 years with a player = limited view (win now). Our institutions aren't yet aligned with development of great players.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 4:33 p.m.
    Would be great if Sunil could fully explain the JK mandate. Claudio's curriculum is the roadmap, but we'll need a better idea of the changes required of our current institutions and clubs. Current NCAA rules may work for traditional sports but do nothing but hinder player development--would like to see JK get involved making college soccer something more beneficial to players. On the club side, creating more and more elite leagues does nothing to improve play, or make training/playing more affordable for families. If we need to drop a neutron bomb on parts of the existing system(s), lets get it over with so we can rebuild.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 4:39 p.m.
    I'm glad someone looked into this. I commented the other day that I was not worried about the slow start under JK. By contrast, I cited the fast start we had under BB. It lulled US Soccer into thinking Bob was THE MAN. However, all we ended up with was stagnant playing style and lack of young player development. The start is not as important as the finish. JK will get the job done if he can find the horses to pull the plough.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.
    This article merits little if anyting...JK is the first coach to make significant numerical changes in order to establish some kind of proactive system and team chemistry...under BB and his predecessors, this never happened...if JK can't put together a squad which plays with efficacy, than we are really in trouble.

  1. Manuel Trejo-von Angst
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 6:10 p.m.
    There are a lot of things left out of this article. 1)All of these coaches save for Arena and Bradley pretty much played with their best players every game because the pool was non-existent. Bruce and Bob played with their best most times because they lacked imagination and direction. Klinsmann has been experimenting much more than previous coaches and doing it with purpose. If he was 0-1-1 in three games at the WC I'd be pissed. However, he is not. He is doing a fine job developing a style and a pool of players to implement it. I can see in 3 games already a true imprint being made on the team which is something I couldn't say of previous coaches. I'm not worried at all.

  1. Manuel Trejo-von Angst
    commented on: September 9, 2011 at 6:17 p.m.
    @David Mozeshtam with all due respect, the people on the Russian forums are insane. Bradley wasn't horrible let's be clear with that. However, as a national team coach, Klinsmann is much better. He took a German side that some people didn't even think would qualify were they not the host and finished 3rd in the world. Bob Bradley on the other hand had teams that people thought were better than they actually finished. Time will ultimately tell, but I think for now it is pretty clear Klinsmann is a better coach and better motivator and certainly knows more than Bradley about what it takes to succeed on the pitch as Klinsmann has obviously achieved all their is to achieve as a player where Bradley isn't even in the same universe.

  1. Alex G. Sicre
    commented on: September 10, 2011 at 1:34 p.m.
    I like what JK is doing. He is taking the time to see as many new players as he can without worrying about the obvious pressure put upon him by all the armchair coaches and experts that continue to complain about his lack of winning so far.This is a work in progress. Lets support him. Go Klini.


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