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The Klinsmann Reality Check
by Mike Woitalla, September 13th, 2012 3:19PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014

MOST COMMENTED

By Mike Woitalla

We're now 13 months and 18 games into the Jurgen Klinsmann era. And the hopeful notion that a charismatic World Cup-winning striker could get more out of the U.S. national team than his predecessors managed is fading fast.

His start after he took the helm in July 2011 was dismal. In his first six games, the USA won one game and scored just two goals. The optimistic take was that results suffered as he was introducing his grand long-term plan to take the USA to a higher level.

There have been a couple of very impressive results in friendlies – winning at Italy and at Mexico. But otherwise it’s been a roller-coaster ride no more impressive than U.S. coaches of the last two decades, all of whom celebrated big upsets. And we have not seen a more impressive playing style from Klinsmann’s team.

The lowlight of the Klinsmann era came in May when after a 4-1 loss to Brazil he complained that his players were too reluctant to “hurt people” and should get “nastier.” A statement hard not to recall after the USA lost for the first time ever to Jamaica because, in the words of his own goalkeeper, it “gave away too many fouls in really dangerous areas.”

Among the highlights -- besides the wins over Mexico and Italy -- was the first half against Jamaica four days later when the USA played superb, fluid, possession soccer. Klinsmann, I’ve never doubted, is someone capable of learning from his mistakes. Indeed, what his celebrity disguises is that he’s learning on the job.

His coaching credentials before landing the $2.5 million contract -- plus bonuses -- to coach the USA consisted of guiding Germany to third place in a World Cup on home soil in 2006 and lasting less than a season at Bayern Munich. What he did with Germany -- a World Cup runner-up in 2002 -- barely relates to the challenge of coaching the USA. The reality is that the USA hired a man not with a long track record of coaching success – but one who appeared to have the potential for great success. Nothing wrong with that. Especially when considering his illustrious playing career and that while living in the USA for a decade, he had gotten a good grasp on the American soccer landscape and its challenges.

But the great expectations that Klinsmann would deliver something new, improved and exciting have fizzled.

Perhaps there just hasn’t been a rise in American talent. The current player pool does look weaker than when Bruce Arena’s team reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.

Four games into World Cup qualifying and after a year in charge, the most remarkable impact Klinsmann has had on the national team is relying on German products of American heritage. One hopes that by Brazil 2014 there will be more than that to say about Klinsmann’s influence.



42 comments
  1. Brad Ackles
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.
    If anyone thought Klinsmann was going to come in and make changes that would put us on the World Stage of soccer, and it appears that this writer is one of those, than maybe a bit of criticism is in store for those that expected this. As long as we have players that you never know what you will get out of them are playing, we will be a team that struggles when they shouldn't. Our system continues to be flawed and we are still in a transitional period at some positions. So, the proclamation that Klinsmann not being able to deliver something new, improved and exciting is being a bit naive when it comes to the game of football.

  1. Mark Hodson
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.
    What did you expect in 18 months.....It's hardly like the talent pool has improved and he's suddenly been presented with World Class Players who could be expected to consistently perform on the World Stage? What Klinsmann is hoping to do will take years maybe even a decade...let's face it....in his limited on-field time with the players, it's not like he's greatly expecting to develop the current crop beyond their existing level of capability at this stage in their careers....Isn't that their club team's daily responsibility?....Maybe the real issue is players like Donovan taking the easy road in their careers to maintain big fish status and staying with teams that don't challenge them or give them the ability to perform at the highest level week in and week out, thus neglecting our younger players from the opportunity of seeing a top level player in his prime, train and play first hand? Maybe it's the path that our best young players are presented with in having to choose between a low paying "potential" soccer career or a place at a nationally ranked college that has a higher probability of long term fruition......Whatever it is it's not Klinsmann's inability to see the bigger picture and deliver the best he can with the resources he has....Mourinho would do no better with this squad!

  1. Alex Stroessner
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.
    Go away or leave the "what have you done for me lately" attitude at the door. This isn't a sprint to next years WC. This is going to take time and this is known.

  1. Lloyd Elling
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:03 p.m.
    The player pool is the barrier. Our youth development programs still negate creative/technical play....US Soccer let Coach Cabrera go and he was our only creative/technical player coach with the U-17 academy. Our youth players do not play freely on their own time nor do they mix with youth and adults in free play. College and high school soccer is not supportive at all with creative play. Our future is limited till understand and allow the enviroment the world's great players learned how to play the beautiful game.

  1. Scott Ludwig
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:05 p.m.
    I agree with you Mike up to a point. Given what he has to work with, domestic players who've been raised through the four-year college system vs. professional clubs, he hasn't much to choose from. No surprise 10 out of 11 starting players vs. Jamaica are playing for foreign clubs where superior training and competition exist. Klinsmann has done one other thing you didn't give him credit for. Open up more opportunities for Latino players. Seeing Torres and Gomez getting substantial time is an improvement. Regardless of the head coach, with the absence of Bradley and Donovan, it's evident there is a serious lack of depth in the player pool. We'll be lucky to qualify for WC'14.

  1. James Hardern
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:13 p.m.
    I think the main criticism for Klinsmann is that seems far more likely to field a bevy of holding midfielders and play defend/counter than a more postive, possession formation like Jamaica 1st half - you know, to try and actually play the way he is usually preaching about. He ventured it for a half, then began to revert in the 2nd half by dropping Jones further back and bringing on Edu, and it almost cost us. True, there is not much he can do about the player pool, but there is an attidude and dedication to attacking he can instill. So far, he has mostly shied away from that... and that is what is extremely disappointing with Jurgen.

  1. Barry Ulrich
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:16 p.m.
    Although passing in the second Jamaica game was much improved, there is still room for much more improvement. All too often balls passed to Dempsey were not at his feet, but to his body. The precious time it took for him to get the ball under control at his feet allowed the defense to close in on him, thus negating his ability to be a more effective offensive threat.

  1. Laurie Supinski
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.
    Klinsy is doing just fine Woitalla...you are just trying to "stir shit up"...LIKE ALL SOCCER 'BORED' WRITERS...PLAYER POOL, INJURIES AND US aMERICANS STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT OUR GAME! Coaches are over-rated and too much blame or praise is given them...they are at best as good as what they have to work with....look at Barca'a coach!...no superstar coach...look at Chelsea.....Klinsy forgot more about soccer than most Americans will ever learn from dvds and training manuals...give the chap some time , eh!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:39 p.m.
    Unless the National team coach has total control of the youth development programs,there is no way you can blame him for the lack of talent at the National level.I am still not clear as to what is in Klinsi's control.My contention has been and still is,the last 15 years of development have been wasted having not produced a single player of the likes of Donovan,Dempsey,Reyna or Ramos.The entire structure of the US Soccer youth development program must be scrapped and we must start all over.In the meantime,Klinsi is charged and his job depends on qualifying for the WC 2014.No doubt he will do whatever necessary.I don't blame him for recruiting players from wherever he can as he obviously has no confidence in the current crop of young players being produced by the youth development system.

  1. Rick Kurianowicz
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:51 p.m.
    Mike Woitalla is the typical sportswriter with unrealistic expectations of instant change and a lack of understanding of where the US program is going and how it’s changing at several levels. Oh yes and let’s see, we had no Donovan or Bradley and Dempsey is coming from a month off to play against Jamaica on a poor pitch……top 3 players missing from your squad……let’s see what happens to Barcelona with Messi, Iniesta and Villa are all missing at the same time….even they would be affected. More importantly Klingsman is changing the style of play completely and spent the first 9 months just trying to find players who could play in a more attacking, up-tempo and creative manner. That is a significant elevation in a team’s game to undertake. That will take years to fully develop and refine, but we are moving in the right direction. Klingsman is also changing the youth system and how it feeds into the US program and lastly and probably the most importantly trying to get Academy’s established that offer free programs to the very best players. Today one’s financial capabilities play very heavily into top flight players with Competitive/Academy teams. In Europe those academies do not charge the players. This is a HUGE difference and we are probably missing the Messi’s, Ronaldo’s and other great players for the US team simply because they did not have the finances to play with the elite Clubs. Mike Woitalla do some additional research and the US program and set some realistic expectations !!

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 4:57 p.m.
    Wow, some tired opinions going on here...."Player pool" weakness, "not enough time", "youth development programs" don't teach(?) creativity etc....I don't see anyone putting anything on the commitment of the players? (a little by Mark..) And who decided US supporters had this grand fantasy that Klinns was going to shepherd us to the promised land?? That came from the media.......my friends and I were looking for cohesion and consistency going forward with a sprinkling of more attacking play, bottom line. This is still in its infancy as far as JK being at the helm......what alternative is the writer submitting?? None, of course. The article is just about stirring the pot, for the sake of stirring the pot. The desire to impose your will, be creative (when the time is right..) and play at an International high level is on the players, and is not taught. Sometimes it's "you have it, or you don't".....My ultimate dream is a team of middies and strikers who want nothing more than to go forward, create width, and 1 v 1 the hell out of the opponents, creating passing lanes and set-pieces from making defenders run back towards their own goal. NOW THAT WOULD BE FUN TO WATCH..! JK just needs to find them.....

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 5:09 p.m.
    This articel raises the issue but is bereft of substantive discsussion of why JK has taken us on a roller coaster ride. I support Klinsmann. But he is taking too long to make changes. D. Williams should been used as the main central D-mid a long time ago. .... All those wasted games with Gooch should have gone to Cameron. ....All the meaningless games with Boca should have gone to other options we still have not seen. Then JK has experimented too much with Jones as an attcking mid at the expense of real attacking mids. Jones is ground covering, mid-field menace..........and turnover machine. Look at the Mexico game one more time. Jones is atrocious. We should have seem much more of Corona. Mix, and Zusi by now. Playing Torres out of position too has been a problem. He is not Iniesta or Silva. It's not in his DNA to attack. He is not even a poor man's Pirlo. He's more like a poor man's Christian Karembeu. Play to his strengths or not at all. Discussion of youth development is a canard. Irrelevant. Those in the pool were going to be in the pool regardless. That we are not developing U-20's, again, means nothing to the current cycle of the senior team. The issue is JK's management of the current pool. He gets a passing grade, but barely. e.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 6:40 p.m.
    Amazing! Utterly amazing! And this article from someone whom I thought had a little bit of understanding of the plight and bare-bones cupboard the former coach left Klinsmann! Mike, Mike, Mike! You've disappointed me, and I share much of the sentiment expressed in the above comments. Perhaps in the recreational levels a coach can select the "all stars" that are drawn from other teams (talent and skill not withstanding, instead, favoritism to make the adults feel better!) could a coach suddenly have a "quality team," because an 18 month stint - actually it should be one third the time given he doesn't have the players for such a long time! - is certainly insufficient time given this country's lack of a deep player pool! So it seems to me Mike, that you'd rather still have an Arena or Bradley still at the helm? Or would you rather have a - gadzooks and perish the thought! - an Argentine, Brazilian, or Mexican Coach? Oh, wait, we did have a Serbian-Mexicano Bora Milutinovic at one time and the dude did OK but saw the writing on the wall. How about giving the guy some more time, better yet, if he doesn't guide the team into the next round, then let's hope that Sunil & Company exercise their option and fire the guy, and then maybe give the job to Sigi Schmid - after all, he has several MLS rings, was a top College (UCLA) Coach, and to top things off, was an assistant to Bora way back when!!!

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 7:38 p.m.
    Bob was guilty of much, but in his defense it's not like he ignored anyone except Beckerman (who can be useful in certain situations) and Brad Davis ( who Klinsmann still does not rate, but like Dreds, could be very useful situationally). Bob's problem was too much Mike, Rico, Gooch, Finley, Beaz and J Born. Others were hurt or not ready(for Bob's unorthodox scheme). Bob had deployment AND strategic AND tactical issues. Klinsmann's issue is simple really: too much Edu and too much Jones, Williams and Torres out of position having to attack(resulting in no time for professional attackers to mesh with the team)--deployment issue only. A subset of that is Klinsmann also needs recognize that possession will kill off games better than marauding defenders against 90% of the teams we play. Which is the reason Torres and Beckerman should be on the roster-- for those last 12 minutes when we have the lead and want to let the ball do the work. I have seen Klinsmann make the right moves to ends games so I will not say he has a tactical issue yet.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 7:41 p.m.
    Watching this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PVTCFNhTcM&feature=player_embedded) makes me wonder about Klinsmann's mental state.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 8 p.m.
    I don't agree that the US player pool is any weaker now than it was in 2010 or 2002. Actually, with the addition of the German-Americans and considering that quite a few US players play in very good European leagues, I would think that it's probably stronger now, certainly no worse. Yet, this US team split a series with Jamaica and barely beat one of the bottom USLPD teams at home. And who but the coach is primarily responsible for this? For some reason, the USSF and many American fans fell for the promise and charismatic appeal of a former great player who hadn't done anything to prove his worth as a coach. He was hailed as some kind of a coaching genius for leading Germany to the 3rd place in WC-06. But is 3rd place, playing at home, that big of an achievement for a great footballing nation like Germany? After all, it was a step backwards after the WC-02 where Germany made it to the final. Besides, later it turned out that Löw was really the brains behind the team, with Klinsmann playing the role of a figurehead/motivator. The US team under Klinsmann has no flow, no structure, no tactical awareness, and no discernible desire to play hard. Under Bradley, whom, by the way, I never liked, one at least knew what to expect and the team always played hard and to the end. Under Klinsmann, the team becomes totally clueless once is goes ahead 1-0 against Jamaica or Guatemala. I'm all for giving a coach more time, but I just see nothing in Klinsmann's coaching past or present to give me much hope.

  1. Jim Williams
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 8:22 p.m.
    Well, when you've got a country that's been overflowing with youth soccer as long as we have and you seldom see any true movers and shakers coming up the ranks what does that tell you? I can't say that about the women's teams thankfully. With the men where is the talent? If we're going to keep relying on cute little Tommy in his clean uniform being delivered to the game in mommy's van so he can play a safe, vanilla game and learn little or nothing about real soccer then don't blame our National Team coaches. I wonder how many kids in Brazil learn the game in that manner?? US Soccer needs a shakeup from the top down and new ideas need to be implemented or else we will always be the also rans of the football world. It's time to admit we are not doing it right and make the changes that are needed. Coaches don't have magic wands and if the talent isn't available who's to blame?

  1. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 9:25 p.m.
    One significant thing that Klinsmann HAS accomplished in his short tenure is that he has gotten the US defense to play with more composure under pressure. I would not have thought it possible, with the back line he inherited, but they have done so. Not perfect, never will be, but much, much improved. And defense is the first key to winning. Mark Hodson's comment, above, is right on: the talent pool available to the USMNT did not suddenly blossom with Klinsmann's appointment. He has to work with what we have to offer. But given enough time (and it will take longer than the qualifying round to accomplish, so we shouldn't expect to zip through like a buttered pebble on ice) he will add a coherent, adaptive and aggressive midfield (centered, I would imagine, on Donovan, Bradley and Holden, when they are healthy), and then maybe he can get Dempsey to show some flair up front, forcing opponents to divide their own defensive attentions between Dempsey and another striker with skill and kill. We can criticise Klinsmann, if only to sell magazines, but we have to also let the man do his job.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 10:27 p.m.
    I had hoped that JK was going to be able to influence who the U coaches were going to be, so that we could get a more possession-oriented coach (and respective player pool). I know that's not officially the job, but Sunil is too compromised to actually implement change. Nothing earthshaking is required, but starting at the bottom and every year adding another quality coach instead of the retreads we see. Where are the ex-pros at the youth level? When I speak to U10 coaches, they think the 4-3-3 is too difficult to learn and the kids don't have the skills. But when are they old enough to be smart enough? Well, if we coach instead of micromanage and let the smart kids learn on the ball (like spain and holland), the smart ones will rise to the top and in 10 years time we will have filtered out the kick and run panic players and will have a player pool that will get the job done. It's too soon to tell if our U coaches are doing this and can rise above their retread status, but from the outside it looks like same-ole, same-ole.

  1. Alan Melgarejo
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 10:40 p.m.
    I don't believe there is anyone in this country with the level of experience that Klinsmann has. Having writers criticize and make negative judgments about Jurgen after one year at the helm shows how many people involved in soccer in this country have no idea. I discount pretty much anyone from this country talking as if they truly know soccer at its highest level. That would be like Ireland telling the U.S. about high level basketball. Unless you are from a true soccer power country like Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, and Spain you need to really just look, listen and learn how these countries go about playing and developing soccer teams and players. I hope Klinsmann is truly getting the support from US Soccer and is given a real chance to improve soccer in this country. And when his time is up we go to Spain or Brazil for our next coach and we as writers, coaches, referees, players and parents continue to learn the Beautiful Game from the real experts of soccer in this world.

  1. alfredo gaudry
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 10:48 p.m.
    Good evening all...after reading the article and most of the comments left on here...here is my two cents worth. JK can coach, he knows talent, has the experience of playing at the highest level of soccer and has a plan. I look at the players being brought on and am optimistic. Let's start with Torres, potentially a playmaker that will make everyone better. He can pass with accuracy and in time will have enough players around him to build a possesion type of game. Next I look at Boyd, a goal scorer in the making. Give him time and have patience. Then I look at G. Cameron in the back. Another player that can be developed in a very strong defender at the international level. Next is Gomez...has a knack for the goal. I will not mention the German-based players as I am sure you all know them already. Give these young players a chance. You may just like the team in six months time....

  1. Emilio Tellini
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 12:05 a.m.
    There is one thing I agree "The current player pool does look weaker than when Bruce Arena’s team reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup." It was a great mix of players with passion and skills, tactics and strategies. I was in love with Bruce and his team. What did we do with it? Nothing. Now I do not put any blame on JK. It is just that the USA player pool is not at the WC quarter finals level anymore. We have 6 out of 11 players that can play soccer at a good international level but it is not enough. Here in the US we have the best athletes in the world but they don't play soccer. The problem is at the base. Soccer is not attracting top athletes and there is still very little "passion" for it. It will come in the future with the ongoing growing interest for the sport, I hope. Let's face it, soccer is a very simple sport but is very difficult and complicate to understand and play at higher level.

  1. John DiFiore
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 1:47 a.m.
    I agree with a lot of the above comments as well. I do, HOWEVER, like the idea that journalists should keep the players and coaches honest. Player pool is same or better. Goodson, Cameron better than Gooch. Herc, better than Jozy (give Wondo a chance instead) Zusi had one good game...Beckerman, a couple REALLY bad games. What Klinsman needs to bring is PASSION and PATRIOTISM and A REASON TO PROVE OURSELVES, about EVERYTHNG THAT IS RIGHT ABOUT AMERICAN SOCCER. Not dwelling on whats wrong. Guys like Beckerman need to feel like they are soldiers in a WAR when they put that crest on their chests. ANd thats truly a missing TRANSLATION with the into to German/American players. WE WANT PATRIOTISM and HEART!!

  1. John DiFiore
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 1:51 a.m.
    And that goes for DEMPSEY TOO!!! Very saddened that he is not turning and going hard and fast at defenders!!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 8:43 a.m.
    Alan, we can go o Mexico too for our next coach as Mexico is the latest and probably ly most successful in player development in the world. What they have achieved as of late has taken some time to do as far as development. I strongly believe the very first problem USA has lies in player scouting and recruiting. There are way too many people playing soccer here to be convinced that we are defenitely picking the best players to represent us. The proof is in all those players getting scouted by other countries whcih are way too many. Many times USA scouts don't even k kW about these players until they find out an outside scout has approachecthem. By hen its usually too late. How can we say that the best athletes are picking other sports first when there are so many different cultures with different passions? Its like saying everybody picks hamburgers first when many would pick a steak taco first. The Hispanic population is quite large and it is quite known they pick soccer first and in most cases only this sport and is well engraved in their culture. The black community is just as big and they dominate basketball displaying the same cultural passion. If the hide can produce the best, most creative and exiting basketball players in the world why can't the barrios do the same? Does basketball make you pick between H.S. and Academy? Does every H.S. have the best coaches? No. Lets get our heads out of our asses. The best players in this country, like in others, will come put of those communities and cultures where soccer is lived every day. We do have those here and plenty. Scouts mainly and mostly go to Academy events. Academies charge money. Barrios don't.

  1. Ceasar Perez
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 9 a.m.
    I agree with Luis . When Klisman took over he said the same thing , I don't know if he's been going to the barrios yet . I coach u16 club soccer and I see lots of talented players week in and week out so we got talent. But then again is klisman picking his own crop or does he just work with what they give him .

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 10:27 a.m.
    "just a couple of impressive wins"??? This is a period of evaluation and learning; I glady accept the wins (of historic proportions.) I agree with the consensus here: let's see what happens in 2016. BTW, the defensive system will count more than flash on the field, since there probably is no Maldini, Carnavara, Stam, or Dunga out there for us.

  1. Paul Roby
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 10:32 a.m.
    Taking nothing away from Mexico's recent achievements, they cannot compare to Barca/Catalonia player development. This has to be number one in the world considering they provided the majority of the squads that won two euros and one WC with a much smaller population than Mexico. While we can admire and draw inspiration from Mexico, the Barca/Catalan model is the one we should aspire to.

  1. Jack Niner
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 11:32 a.m.
    I've been calling for Klinsman's release for over a year, along with Gulati's. I think most folks now are realizing the experiment failed, and has been expensive. Nevertheless, I believe the reall issue is that the U.S. as a whole is falling behind in OUR OWN REGION - and not just against Mexico and Canada. US Soccer is just not getting the job done, for a whole host of reasons which have been discussed on these boards. In spite of all the spending, poor leadership has the U.S. NOT moving forward as fast as our neighboring countries. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of discussing it, for the same clowns are still running the circus called US Soccer.

  1. Laurie Supinski
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.
    youth development...youth development....if I hear that crap one more time!...hell!...we have more frickin youth development then any other country in the world my friends!...premier, select, ayso, US soccer Federation regional premier, acadamies, ODP program...develpoment is out of control!....my 15 year lod son is in all this. Problem is, in the ghettos of Rio, Manchester, Warsaw, Moscow, Africa....kid wakes up with soccer ball, goes to school with soccer ball...after school plays street soccer, pick-up games or organized soccer...goes to bed with soccer ball! Here...mommy takes son and pays for son to play organized soccer...picks kid up in SUV...takes them to fast food...kid come comes home and plays xbox/fifa street or texts on iphone facebook etc......organized youth programs are all we have.....no puch from the individual kid like the old days! Jack...if you want to replace Klinsy...what's your plan?.....today with all the prima donnas playing and money flowing, a 'coach' is not a coach in the true sense but a 'technical director"...that's it!...sir alex is probably the last of the "real coaches' left who are dinasores.....the lack of urgency and intensity to succeed and push themselves to a higher level is a curse from the youth level to the pros...to much technology /money distraction..THATS WHY OLD EUROPEEAN COMMUNIST COUNTRIES, SOUTH AMAERICA, AFRICA ETC. STILL PRODUCES TALENT...THAT'S ALL THEY HAVE IN SOME CASES IS A SOCCER BALL!...NOT AN IPHONE!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 1:12 p.m.
    To J. Niner: If any one is to be let go first it should be Gulati, who blew the chance to hire JK way before the Rose Bowl fiasco. To say that JK ought to be "released" - read that "fired" is disingenuous, and to call also for Gulati's release also. Wy? JK was "contractualy" hired with all kinds of whistles and bells clauses, while Gulati was "elected" to the position and has a couple more years (I think) It is also disingenuous to assume that JK can clean up the mess he inherited in such a short time span (18 months!) as he himself said so. Face it, we've been stuck in a deep-soccer rut for such a long time that people, such as Mike Woitalla, can't see over the rut and expect a miracle on the pitch almost over night, but I would not paint those in US Soccer as "clowns" with the same brush, after all every circus has some serious performers but brings in the clowns to supposedly liven up the crowd!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 1:18 p.m.
    Laurie, THANK YOU! Been, seen, done that! Though we do have some elements for youth development, they ARE NOT in concert or playing for the same goals, as each has their own mission statement, objectives, goals, yada-yada, though I would most certainly would NOT include ayso as a developmental group as its principal and main objective was, is and shall continue to be, more recreational than not. Thanks just the same, I enjoyed your comment!

  1. James Madison
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 1:35 p.m.
    Spot on, Mike!

  1. Emilio Tellini
    commented on: September 14, 2012 at 7:09 p.m.
    Laurie S. has a good point. I grew up in Italy in the shadow of San Siro stadium, at the time Italy was still a power and had a bunch of good players. Even if I did not become a world class player, I was playing soccer everyday in and out of school and on Sunday you try to snick in the stadium to see your "heroes" play and learn some good move from them. Now the problem is to translate all this in today's life and habits. It is not easy and require dedication and passion.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: September 15, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.
    It is heartwarming to see the number of comments calling Mr. Woitalla to account for his quite naiive article. MW has obviously spent way too much time covering the youth and college soccer scene. His reversion to the"nasty" comments not only shows a man with an agenda but also displays his over-eagerness to misconstrue the actual meaning of JK's comments. Like many members of the US Soccer insider's club, MW is secretly seething at the audacity of a foreigner to come in and not only tell us that we've been doing it wrong but then show us what needs to be done. Is MW truly so myopic that he can't see that the US back line is actually trying to learn how to play with the ball at their feet? Can he not see that the midfield is being rebuilt with the intention of providing a more skillful passing side? Can he not see that there is a real attempt to bring in (and use!!!) more Hispanic players? None of these things are short term projects but at least, and at last, they are underway!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 15, 2012 at 2:03 p.m.
    To James Froelich: I've known Mike Woitalla for several decades now and know him to be an honorable man, however, I was utterly shocked and amazed at his piece and how myopic it reads. I agree with you, Mr. Froelich, that his musings are quite naive and that his passion is not only soccer per se, but his strong support for youth and collegiate coverage may have clouded his assessment of how Coach Klinsmann is managing the team. To think that he was the "heaven sent answer" to what ails US Soccer and correct matters in a short time defies logic - at least soccer logic. That said, Mike Woitalla is a gentleman and I really do not think he's wrapped in an aura of foreigner xenophobia. So let's all hope that MW takes off his rose colored glasses and sees the trees for the forest.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: September 16, 2012 at 10:31 a.m.
    I agree with all of the comments criticizing this writer over the subject of the piece. Quite frankly when I saw that Klinsmann was hired as national team coach I wasn't concerned so much about how much the USMNT would improve I was looking at the big picture and how Klinsmann can have a hand in changing the whole national focus to a system that will work rather than what we have now. Klinsmann is the one who said: "The Pyramid is upside down in the US." I agree with Luis Arreola's opinion. Our scouting at the youth level is abominable. We rely on "pay to play" for the development of our youth, which is never going to work. I'll never forget a U16 Recreational team I coached about 12 years ago. After a game one of the kids from the other team walked over to one of my players and said: "Go back to the Barrio!" I couldn't believe what I had heard. Luis is right we need to send our scouts into the Barrio. We need to have MLS teams that will scout all over the country, Barrios and elsewhere for good youth talent that needs to be developed. We cannot expect all parents of talented children to be able to pay for this. The Hispanic kids I coached were passionate about the sport and their parents didn't have the money to pay for competitive youth soccer. I didn't get all the fees for this recreational team I am talking about. I just had a director who looked the other way or 3 of these kids would not have played.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: September 16, 2012 at 4:48 p.m.
    Laurie, we may have multiple layers of youth "development" programs, but there is precious little actual development going on. Most of this is: 1) marketing to the parents of players, with college play as the bait 2) team churn to advance the career of licensed (but not ex-professional) coaches 3) "travel teams" for the masses of rec players/parents who want that title We've got an enormous funnel full at the top with terrible filters that can't get anything of quality out the bottom.

  1. Mike Gaire
    commented on: September 17, 2012 at 1:09 p.m.
    I think that is a little harsh, Mike. We have already seen the results of people having too little patience with good coaches when Liverpool committed the diabolical blunder of firing "King Kenny" because he only got them to 7th place in the EPL!! Look where they are now!!! I say give Klinsmann time and he will come good. Like you I dislike his over reliance on players playing in Germany, especially I dislike his continued use of Jones, who I consider to be a thug in the Nobby Stiles mold! and the fact that he continues to ignore Todd Dunivant and dropped Wondo for Altidore did baffle me, but I still say give him more time and I think he will eventually prove himself well and truly worthy of the position, especially once he has Donovan, Bradley and a fully fit and sharp Dempsey and, hopefully, Stuart Holden back in the team he will do just fine. Let us not overlook the latest new success stories too like Herculez Gomez ( who is looking increasing like the American Gary Lineker!) and the very exciting Graham Zusi from Kansas, who looks likely to get even better with experience.

  1. 0 M
    commented on: September 19, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.
    I want Klinsmann to take his current squad and teach them how to play well. I would rather watch the USA trying to play well and lose. Unfortunately no national coach has the balls to not go out for the win. Right now I prefer to watch other teams lose then watch the USA win.

  1. 0 M
    commented on: September 19, 2012 at 2:27 p.m.
    Klinsmann, Arena, Bradley don't know how to play the modern game. The player pool is not the main problem. It's the coaches and those in charge who hire the coaches. Good coaches can make 8 year olds play well. The USA has very few good coaches at any level youth, HS, college, MLS, National. The good coaches are unknown to most.

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: September 19, 2012 at 11:06 p.m.
    Has anyone given thought that COCACF is more competitive than its ever been? Jamaica is no longer a bunch of converted track & field runners. Costa Rica, and Panama have also invested heavily in their programs. If Junior Hoilett ever decided to play with Canada, they could make some noise. Klinsmann can only "coach-up" his current roster only so much. Donovan is no longer a 90 minute player. It's probably his, Dempsey's, Bocanegra's, and Cherundolo's final WC. The USMNT needs to look beyond 2014.


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