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U.S. players naive? Really?
by Mike Woitalla, June 1st, 2012 2:40AM

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TAGS:  americans abroad, men's national team

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The U.S. national team's players just fell off the turnip truck is the impression you might get from Jurgen Klinsmann's post-Brazil game comments and from the media echoing his sentiment that "Maybe we're still a little bit too naive ..."

Besides Klinsmann’s appalling statement that “maybe we don't want to hurt people, but that's what you've got to do” – exactly how naive a group of players does he think he’s coaching?

Let’s start in goal with Tim Howard, who’s played more than 200 games in that backwater league known as the EPL.

In front of Howard against the Brazilians was creampuff captain Carlos Bocanegra, who’s only played in 103 U.S. games, in more than 100 English Premier League games, in the French Ligue 1, and most recently in the oh so soft Scottish Premier League, where Maurice Edu has played for four years.

Bocanegra’s partner Oguchi Onyewu? Well, he moved to Europe a decade ago at age 20 and has played in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal, not to mention spent time at AC Milan, where he famously tangled with Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Right back Steven Cherundolo has spent 13 years playing in Germany, where he captains a Bundesliga team that has reached the Europa League for the second straight year. Left back Fabian Johnson won the 2009 U-21 European Championship with Germany.

Midfielder Michael Bradley has played in the Netherlands, the Bundesliga, the EPL and is a starter for Chievo in Italy’s Serie A, where I don’t imagine the naive last very long.

Jermaine Jones can be called a lot of things, but not naive. Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres play in the Mexican league, both have Concacaf Champions League experience, and Torres has played in two FIFA Club World Cups. And I understand Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey have been around the block.

Eight of the U.S. players who took to field against Brazil play or have played in MLS -- and whatever one thinks about the level of play, its Disciplinary Committee wouldn’t have launched a retroactive punishment procedure were it a pickup league for choirboys.

Rarely, if at all, in U.S. national team history has a coach had such an experienced squad at his disposal. Naivete is a bad excuse when things don’t go well.



36 comments
  1. Jd Dawson
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 9:45 a.m.
    Naive is exactly what I would call us defensively.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 10:07 a.m.
    You're confusing the terms experienced and naive. One can remain naive in spite of years of experience. Our understanding of tactics for one is way behind where it should be with a group this experienced. That's naive. Trying to play "friendly" with a team that's hungry and wants to destroy you, that's naive. I get your point, Mike, but I think people are making too much out of Klinsmann's word selections ("nasty", "naive", etc...).

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 10:38 a.m.
    I watched Klinsmann's post-game conference. I have no problem with what he said. He's sending a message to the team. We need to be tougher, physically and mentally (that's the naive part, I think the mental side). Teams know they can push us around and we'll just take it cuz it's "American" to play "fair" and not try to get an edge any other way. I don't think he's suggesting for our guys to hurt other players. I think he wants 11 Clint Dempseys out there with a swagger and attitude that says, "I don't care who the F--- you are, I coming to get you and I want to beat you and then, I'm going to do it again just in case you thought it was luck the first time around." Followed by, "But if I don't beat you, you will damn well know that, next time I'll be gunning for your scalp that much harder."

  1. James Griffin
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 10:40 a.m.
    I agree with Mike, Klinsmann's poor choice of words seems to mask the real issue ---- poor defensive tactics. That is the coach's fault. Sure attacking soccer with lots of goals is attractive and gets fans excited. But attractive soccer does not have to be only attacking. We have an experienced team that looked amateurish on defense. We failed Soccer 101 against Brazil. If you review the game film you will notice that we had numbers up defensively on every Brazilian goal scored from the field. What we didn't have was the tracking of runners by our midfielders. Compare this to the team defense played by Brazil and that was the game. Poor coaching...

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.
    Oh soccer America and mainstream press So naive. Incapable of understanding what the coach is trying up say. Not even taking into account had JK is not speaking his native language He didn't mean to physically hurt people of that we are dumb jocks. What he meant is that we are behind the curve with respect to ending gamesmanship thè other sides try to play. All of them. Even Spain. Watch when a Spanish player gets carded. The whole team rushes the ref. They are defending the team psychologically. From the opponent and the ref himself who might be out of his depth. Jones crunched Neymar ... But he got the ball first and happen to drag the left leg. No studs up. No bones to be broken. The most skilled play of the game ..... Notice how Marcelo stopped the gamesmanship after that . We need more of jones hard man mentality. Not less. Otherwise. The Dejongs of the world will abuse our little guys. Donovan and Torres etc. And this does not mean we have to dive or knock opponents out of the game. We want them and the ref to think before the "hurt" us ........ Clueless SA. Really clueless. We are still a soccer juvenile country--at least thè press is .

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 10:47 a.m.
    Here's Bob Bradley's (or Bruce Arena's) quotes after that game (if they were still the coach): "Uhhm. Well yeah Brazil finished their chances tonight. We showed some good things too. That penalty was questionable but otherwise we saw why Brazil is Brazil. I think our guys had their chances and we've got to do better with those." "What's that noise I hear? Are you guys snoring in the audience? Wake up I have very interesting and thought provoking comments I'm making here." I think Klinsmann's reaction was refreshing. It shows that he truly cares about the development of soccer in this country. He didn't just throw out the old tired platitudes after a loss. He exposed his passion for this team and thus exposed himself to those who got used to the banal Bob and Bruce approach to the team.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 11:18 a.m.
    The Brazilians are more skillful that the US national team. Therefore, assuming a more skillful team will beat a lesser skilled team in a game based on skill, the US will improve it's chances of winning if we can remove as much skill as possible. So a winning strategy will be to cheat as much as possible, intimidate the ref (and hope he's able to be intimidated) so he won't call anything, and try to intimidate the Brazilians through nasty, physical play. At least then no one would call us naive (cynical, dirty, cheap, yes, but at least we wouldn't be naive). I'm sorry, but I consider soccer to be a beautiful game, a game I play for joy and one I watch for entertainment, not a life-or death struggle where anything goes. I want to see the US win every match it plays, but I also want to see the US represent the best of our country, not the worst. I would like to see my national team play aggressively, with confidence in their own abilities, respect their opponents but be neither awed or intimidated by them, be tenacious and relentless on defense, aggressive and creative on offense, never back down from a physical challenge, be tactically wise and mentally disciplined. I would also like them to respect the game by playing within the rules. Respecting the game does not mean you're weak or naive. One of the things I love about soccer at the highest level is that games can be incredibly intense and physical, yet the players (with rare exceptions) respect each other and don't see their opponents as the enemy who must be destroyed, but rather as worthy competitors who they want to beat precisely because they are worthy, which makes beating them an achievement of which one can be proud.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 11:31 a.m.
    The US did not lose to Brazil because we were not nasty enough. The US lost because the referee awarded a questionable penalty, Jermaine Jones did not mark his man on a corner kick, the US defenders failed to cover Marcelo (even though at least 2 were in position to do so) and Gooch was too tired to pull up even with the rest of the defenders on Pato's goal. There is a difference between undisciplined defending and naiveté. Additionally, in the first half the US struggled offensively because the Brazilians were relentless and aggressive on defense, giving our players little time to think (they even pressured Tim Howard every time he got the ball). The Brazilians worked hard and used their speed; they were not nasty. THe second half was a different story; I'm not sure if the Brazilians got tired or we simply played better, but we created many good chances and were certainly unlucky not to score more. The US needs to increase the speed of our back four and be more disciplined, but there is no need to get nasty.

  1. Eric Offner
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.
    One can be an experieced player and play naive Need an example? Watch the US defense against Brazil.JK knows what he is tallking about

  1. K G
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 12:11 p.m.
    Thanks for the discussion point. JK did mention how impressed he is with the physical conditioning and the skill of the American national players. One thing he did mention clearly was about the difference between us and the top ten teams. Most distinctly is the mental aspect or the mentality of the players. How they perceive themselves when going against an opponent. Playing against top teams allows our players to understand the difference and to close the gap. This WCQ cycle will see a very deliberate approach (coach) with varying results (player). Growth will come in the adjustments made. Thanks again. Great articles as always.

  1. Mike Murray
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 12:15 p.m.
    Wow, there's an awful lot of tough guys responding to this blog! It's too easy to be hard when you're playing with only a keyboard. The US players have more than enough experience to be as tough as they need to be. Perhaps Klinsmann did not adequately prepare the mentality of his team for this match. Perhaps he failed to foresee the inadequacy of his tactics and lineup against Brazil. Perhaps many fans and the media have been naive in placing too much respect in Mr. Klinsmann. If he intended his post match remarks to mean that US players should be out to injure opponents, then he should be fired immediately. If he wants a team full of divers and referee scolds, he should return to coaching in Europe. There is no dignity in this approach and winning loses its luster. Klinsmann's weaknesses are now on display for all to see. He's not a god and may not be a good coach.

  1. Mark N
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 12:41 p.m.
    I'm inclined to listen to the man who won at the highest level as a player, and came close as a head coach. JK has been immersed in world-class soccer most of his life. It's fair to say he understands the game (through experience) at a higher level than just about every American. Meanwhile, producing world-class footballers is not an American strength. So no, JK is not a god, and he may not even turn out to be a great coach. But so far it seems obvious that he is enhancing US Soccer's ability to compete with the current senior team as well as in the future.

  1. Scott Olson
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
    I agree, being naive is not the issue. Weak or out-of-synch defense on the other hand. I do agree that there were several opportunities that just did not solidify. I did get tired of watching Torres walk around the whole game, completely not like his usual fast paced running past the defense style that we usually see from him. Gomez was a beast.

  1. Joe Hosack
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 1:18 p.m.
    Kent James has it right. If you heard these excuses from a HS or University coach you'd loose a little respect for him/her. If JK's comments have any merit, he should have directed the team that way before the game, not after. Again another coaching miscue. Has Spain been playing "nasty" the last 5 years? I don't think so.......

  1. Mark N
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.
    Apples and oranges, Joe. Was there EVER a US field player that could have held a place in Spain's squad the last 5 years? No. JK's "nasty" comment is about what team USA needs to do better from where they are now - not how his players can emulate Spain or Brasil. Top nations have top talent. They win with talent (among other things). JK's player pool doesn't have the same depth of talent, so he has to draw from other strengths. If JK is worth hiring as a coach, he has a long-term vision for his program. But he also has to get some positive results NOW in order to be around for the long term.

  1. Mark N
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.
    FWIW I agree it would be great to see the US play attractively and win the 'right' way. Hopefully one day it will be so. But don't lose sight of JK's motivation. He is under a ton of pressure to get results now (qualify for and show well at WC2014), as well as developing the program for the future. He is not going to turn this generation into world-beaters a la Kent's comments above in 30 months. Modest, steady improvement would be great though.

  1. Jack Niner
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 2:35 p.m.
    I thought the USMNT looked very good on corners in the second half. I agree with others that the defensive tactics used against Brazil did not look smart but then it is Brazil, most likely the next WC champion.

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 2:36 p.m.
    He doesn't mean break bones, or tear up knees. He doesn't mean get stupid yellow/red cards. He doesn't mean waste your time mouthing off to refs, or throwing up your arms as if you've been g..sed. He means let those who play dirty/smart (Marcello, de Jong, etc) know that you're not afraid of them, and will retaliate in kind -- hard, smart, no card, and if they keep it up, you'll retaliate against their most valuable player. I knew Clint Dempsey would make it in the EPL when early on in a game against Chelsea, he repeatedly went up against Terry in the box, who was "protecting himself" with his elbows as he does so well. And then a high ball came in, and Terry went down in a heap. As he was helped off the field, you could see a small dent in his forehead. No foul, no card, message sent. As to MarkN's assertion that no US player ever could have made Spain's current squad, I believe that may be unfair to Claudio Reyna and Tab Ramos. They wouldn't have started, but they might have made the bench. And given their skills, who knows how they would have fared playing with such a talented bunch. They spent their lives playing with clods and thugs, and if memory serves me well, Reyna was picked to the best 11 at the Japan WC by the players.

  1. Carlos Thys
    commented on: June 1, 2012 at 6:26 p.m.
    Look, even for me, it too a bit to see what this Wednesday night game really was. But first, the question: How often has this U.S. back four (with midfielders in front) played together? National team encounters can be like this. Very disjointed. It goes without saying. Example: See the Germany loss last week to Switzerland, conceding five goals. I think we all (I certainly did) failed to understand what this Brazil team is. It is NOT their first team. It is a team of mostly U23 placed together to achieve what no Brazilian team has ever done: Win at the Olympics. But there is more -- much more. The coach has clearly placed in these young Brazilians every real hope and opportunity that not only might they get to see Olympic glory but that they might indeed get to supplant and remove their more seasoned, older Brazilian counterparts in the Selecao. He might even have said this very, very clearly to them: Things like "Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Maicon, Andre Santos, Ramires, Fred, Robinho, and Nilmar" are not a lock for my considerations for 2014. You, too, should you play with passion, drive and strength right now, are in my plans." He's obviously lit quite a fire under these young Brazilians and they responded to this at FedEx Field and before in Hamburg against the Danes. Also -- look at who and where these 20 and 22 year olds presently play. Most of these young Brazilians now see the London Summer Olympics for what it is: The perfect stage for them to shine on the world stage to 1) enhance their perspective for being in the final 23 selectees for Brazil 2014, 2) MUCH MORE lucrative club contracts before the transfer deadline of August 30, 2012, 3) maybe solidifying themselves for as far out as Brazil's hosting of the Olympics in 2016. There is some smart motivating going on in the Brazilian camp and Coach Mano Menezes is doing a splendid job. By contrast, the U.S. players are playing on Wednesday to just keep things alive, do okay, stay fit, not get hurt, and still do some recovery from long European club seasons. Coach Klinsmann has already set the squad for the two WC qualifiers, he's not going to throw out Edu, Torres, or even Jones, Cherundolo or Gooch prior to 14 June...AND all positions are again up for grabs really once we get to the next round of WC qualifiers come fall. In sum: The Brazilians really had something to play for so that they get in the final 18 (just 18! get to go) selectees to go to London. By contrast, the US players are looking to just Angigua and Guatemala -- that's all.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 4:53 a.m.
    Mike M--"winning loses its luster"? Really? JK has done it all as a player, coached Germany to 3rd in the 2006 WC Finals; he has credibility light years beyond NCAA and MLS stalwart Bob Bradley, who never played professionally. If JK says we were naive, I believe him. Watch the video of supposed experienced defenders on that 3rd goal. 3 players inside the 6 and no one is marking a yellow shirt? If not naive, lame lame lame defending. Our players cannot fall asleep against a team like Brazil, I don't care how old they are. So, 4 goals scored on a PK, a set piece, and 2 moments of mental flatulence. I'll take that as progress.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 11:29 a.m.
    Naive is playing wide open against Brazil, one of the top three teams in the world. And that's on the manager, not on the players. Now, it's OK in a friendly to try and see how your team stacks up in a wide open affair against Brazil. There is nothing at stake. But don't blame the players later when it doesn't go as expected. Now, I've read comments from others who say that Mr. Naive's "nasty" comments are about how the US players must play with a sharper edge. That's the sort of thing that Ben Olsen has instilled in DC United. But this (from Allan, but he's not alone) "He doesn't mean break bones, or tear up knees..." doesn't square with this (from Klinsmann) “maybe we don't want to hurt people, but that's what you've got to do”. And that is what Jermaine Jones was actually doing on the field: attempting to break bones or tear up knees...in a friendly. I've faced this problem while refereeing high school games. I've always told the players that it's possible to play aggressively but fairly, without crossing the line into intimidation and physical assault. DC United's Nick DeLeon exemplifies the former (as Olsen himself did); Holland's Nigel "karate kick" de Jong, the latter. Not losing your man on defense, staying mentally sharp for 90, stepping to, showing for your fellow players, hustling back to defend, that's not nasty. That's soccer.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.
    BTW, R2 Dad: you don't have to play professionally to coach at the top level. Jose Mourinho never did, and I wouldn't put JK' credibility as a coach "light-years" ahead of Mr. Mou's. As for Bradley, he won a Gold Cup, got the US National Team into an international final, beating Spain along the way, and he's also gotten the US out of the group stage at the last World Cup, losing only in extra time. JK hasn't done anything yet with the US National Team.

  1. Guntis Sietins
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 1:02 p.m.
    This article was written by someone that has no idea what is going on. That is obvious by what is being said. Brazil has been a great team for along time. Unfortunately they have changed, mainly because they now play all over the world and get used to the stupid antics of how many play the game now. Marcelo is a great example of this. He has become a whiner. he has also become a dirty player but it's ok when he does it. If it is done to him he cries like a baby. U have no respect for someone like that at all. They have also become floppers, and cry babies. If someone started to flop, I would tell them that if they keep flopping, they will not get up the next time because they will have a good reason to be down. When you have a player like Marcelo, you don't do that back to him but to their best players and let him know that will continue if he continues that kind of play. If you notice that when Donovan gets hit a few times, he disappears from the game. Most every team knows that and that's what they will continue to do. JK is telling them not to be a pussy out there and make the other team disappear. When you know where their goat is tied, you can get the advantage. If you think that everyone will play without fouling, then you are very naive. every team will do whatever they can to disrupt your play. JK just wants us to do that before they do that to us. the US team is notorious for starting slow and playing like they are sleep walking. He is also getting us to play the whole game and stop that stupid time wasting at the end of a game. Many times the other teams have scored on us because all we do is time waste and don't try to score another goal. the coaches that want that are idiots. that all stems from the idiocy that is being taught, don't embarrass the other team. just the opposite, make them demorolized, they won't come back to tie you or to beat you that way.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 1:36 p.m.
    Well put Ramon. R2 Dad, I agree with your observation about the 3rd goal. We had 3 guys, any one of whom could have covered Marcelo, but all three left him free in front of them. I don't know if it was a lack of communication, a failure to be aware of the players around them, or what, but it was not naive, just lame. Likewise, JJ losing his mark on the headed goal was just poor defense. I don't think lame marking is characteristic of J Jones' play, but we paid for it on that one. And the last goal, Gooch was just too tired to keep the proper defensive line, so though Pato should have been 2 yards off-side, he wasn't. I'd blame JK for that one, since Gooch probably should not have started and anyone could see he was tiring (though to be fair, he was doing a great job on the corners at the end, so maybe that's the price you pay for pressing). But all in all, the performance was pretty good from the US; I hope we learned that respecting Brazil too much gives them the space to overwhelm us (as they did in the first half), our defense needs to be faster (and younger), and that when we attack with confidence, we can make things happen.

  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 1:37 p.m.
    What it boils down to is skill(technique). Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu and Landon Donovan could not hold possesion under pressure. Most of the defenders passes under pressure were inaccurate. The U.S. keeps turning the ball over in the worst spots on the field. I expect more from JK! It was a joke that the first player replaced wass the a player that only turned the ball over once in the first fifty-five minutes.

  1. soccer know it all
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 4:48 p.m.
    I believe JK's pregame stretegy and in game tactical adjustments are his biggest weakness; a blindspot that was at least partly negated by Joachim Loew along with higher qualilty and seasoned players when JK was coach of Germany. Brazil came out in a 4-2-4 formation with all forwards high pressing the US backline, this aggressive pressing defensive tactic deployed by the brazilians was extremely effective and exposed the US teams lack of skill on the ball, and thought process when challenged. Understand that Barcalona does the samething to opponents in la liga/champions league, and the best counter strategy is to employ in game defensive tactics the likes of Jose Mourinho's inter milan 2010 team and Chelsea's strategy this yr in CL. No team can apply this much defensive pressure for a whole 45 minutes, not even young energetic brazilians, it's to exhausting; but there strategy from the start of both halfs was to use this tactic to throw the US team off its game and score goals, which is exactly what they did. Once the brazilian pressure subsided we witnessed a US side that was able to apply there new found offensive abilities: teamwork, tactics and goalscoring chances effectively, which is JK's biggest accomplishment with the US team so far along with his intectious energy and enthusiasm . The brazil game can be viewed as a great learning tool for future world class opponents who will enter the game with superior players; skilled, and tactically aware of US teams weaknesses, and how to develop a counter strategy for US team to imploy when facing such opponents.

  1. Dirk Sanders
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 5:34 p.m.
    I saw the interview. I think the meaning of what he said is being distorted. And he was spot on that for the first 20 minutes we respected brazil way too much.

  1. Paul Estrada
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 5:37 p.m.
    Yes, naive. I am not sure what you are thinking, but playing professionally in a top league does not exorcise you somehow from potentially being naive. Frankly, I thought Klinsmann's press conference was refreshing as the style he is bringing to the team.

  1. Franco Ferrua
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 6:34 p.m.
    Gentlemen, FYI speaks English fluently despite his accent. He and family reside in Southern California. So no mistake about what he meant. Play dirty, step on guys' toes, etc. meant exactly that. He should be fined, if US federation had any balls. It was sick and worse, he sounded, dare I say it, like a sour (loser) Krout by denying that it was a pk, not having seen replays because he said he based it on what Goooch told him, while we clearly saw the replays, then a so-called offsides on Pato's goal when again replays showed the imaginary line and Pato onside, then a phantom penalty on Brazil, second half, of which I heard no commentator (biased US ones), the two at the game, etc...So accept some o the blame, JK, and move on.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 2, 2012 at 10:06 p.m.
    Mike W -- truly a disappointing article. Since I can't believe that after all your years of experience, you could be so naive about a PROFESSIONAL sport, I have to assume you are being deliberately dense or else just trying to drum up activity. Regarding those fans that are "just shocked" that our red, white, and blue boys might have to deliberately foul their opponents, I strongly recommend that they immediately stop watching all football, (high school, college, and pro) and all basketball. For those rose-colored-glasses-wearing Barca fans, I have watched every one of their la liga league games and champions league games. To say that they do not deliberately foul their opponents is moronic!! By the way, deliberately fouling your opponent, wherein he is obviously placed in harm's way, is the perfect definition of playing "dirty". Checkout the regular play of Piquet, Mascherano, Busquets, Dani Alves, Thiago, and on occasion, Xavi and Iniesta. Finally, for those commenters saying that "real" players, wouldn't condone such play, have a talk with those players still out there in their 30's. I know a lot of them and their favorite comment is that you need a few hard tackles to remove the bullseye on your back. Strictly speaking these are all "dirty" players.

  1. Carlos Thys
    commented on: June 3, 2012 at 5 a.m.
    I agree completely with the author of the article above, Mr. Woitalla. THIS IS the most experienced USA squad -- with the only exception being young and new player Johnson. This is about as experienced as the USA can conceivably ever field. And I still want Coach Klinsmann to explain what he meant in this post match press conference by saying 10 (US) guys are to gather around the referee so the referee does not know which one to card. Maybe some of the "non naive" writers above need to sit back in their Lazy Boys and review the first half encounter between Belgian Dries Mertens, England defender Gary Cahill, and goakkeeper Joe Hart yesterday in London. Is this -- Merten's action -- what is being advocated? Surely not. This little "action" in a friendly will cost Cahill his Euro, I do believe. And it will not be something that Mertens will be able to live down; it will be remembered for a long time. One of America's most embarrassing moments in an important national team game came in Kaiserslautern against eventual champ Italia in 2006. It is near the halftime and Italy is down by one man -- De Rossi properly sent off. Then Totti has to leave the match and Italy has no midfielder to replace him with. I am thinking, "This could be historic. The US team can bounce back after the Czech loss and beat a three time World Cup winner." And there was really every possibility of doing just that. Until: Mastroeni just a minute prior to the halftime....Then Eddie Pope just after the half. Both reckless, dumb, unnecessary tackles. Were they "making a statement?" Were they being "un-naive?" Oh, they made a statement alright: "I'm so stupid that I want to deny my team a historic win that would top the defeat of England 1 - 0 so many years ago." And they sealed the U.S. going home after just three matches -- and the inglorious title of "worst team of the 2006 tournament." But I guess that there are those above who would applaud that display as "good physical! play." Back to the point of "naive." That term "naive" cannot be applied to the U.S. players that started at FedEx Field on Wednesday. As I tried to point out in an earlier comment above: The young Brazilians just had more to play for -- and it showed.

  1. P Van
    commented on: June 3, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.
    Klinsmann clarified his statements later saying he did not want his players out there looking to hurt other players, but to step it up in terms of closing them down, applying pressure. Anyone who has played the game knows what's it's like to have a determined defender/s on your heels, not fouling, but applying pressure. Unfortunately there is also something to be said for going to the referee after being on the harsh end of fouls, especially when the other team is doing the same. I thought Jones' yellow card foul was just that--a yellow card foul. He did get the ball first and didn't bring his trailing leg through with and menace. On the other hand, when he accumulates them early in a match he puts himself and the team in a compromised postion. And he does so regularly. We did get on Neymar's heels for a bit and it certainly annoyed him; now did it slow him down? Not really. It's not the whole answer when playing such a talented opponent. Maybe Klinsmann could address other issues mentioned in others' posts here too in his commentary. Then he'd be truly refreshing, unlike banal-Bob and Bruce, but there are too few such coaches the world over (see Pep!) who do so. Generally speaking I'm pleased with what I see as real progress. Playing the best will bring out the US's best long term. Affording the opponents too much respect is something I see as an issue at times; especially in friendlies!

  1. James Madison
    commented on: June 3, 2012 at 6:36 p.m.
    Apart from being as a team technically superior to the United States, the Mexico team you saw against Brazil today was tougher. Unlike Landon Donovan, for example, who seemed intimidated, whatever Brazil dished out, Mexico gave back.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 4, 2012 at 9:26 a.m.
    It is obvious Mexico is doing things right, player development wise. We are too busy trying to mirror an ineffective and boring English style of play and also looking to Germany for players when we have greta players here going unnoticed here but somehow recruited by Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Etc. How many more wake up calls does our usnmt directors need ??

  1. Tadaia Torquemata
    commented on: June 6, 2012 at 3:18 a.m.
    Good article and I agree. It's one thing for a coach to tell his players before a match to play physical. It's quite another for him to throw the most experienced side we've seen in US kits in a while under the bus, while using them as an excuse to cover his rear end before the press. Aside from his relative lack of experience as a coach, IMO he's an embarrassment to the USMNT. The Blame-game is standard fare in European leagues, but "boring" or not, we don't make excuses here.

  1. Tadaia Torquemata
    commented on: June 6, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.
    I'm also curious as to the short and long term effects of our "superior" coach constantly making public references to the "inferiority" of his players.


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