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Report casts doubt on players' faith in Klinsmann
by Paul Kennedy, March 19th, 2013 8:14PM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[USA MEN] The road to the World Cup sure seemed easier in previous Hexagonals. The USA not only finds itself behind the eight-ball following its first-ever opening game defeat and a schedule that takes it on the road for three of its first four games, but injuries leave the U.S. backline devastated heading into the next two qualifiers. To top it off, a report published on Tuesday suggested there is "near unanimity regarding the players’ flagging faith" in Coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

(Click here for "Friendly fire: U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s methods, leadership, acumen in question.)

The reporting of Brian Straus of the Sporting News is based on interviews of anonymous sources, but they include 22 individuals with ties to the U.S. national team -- including 11 current players. The consensus was that players were “overtrained and undercoached.” Specific criticisms these sources addressed included:

-- Klinsmann's lack of game-day tactics and leadership and lack of faith in assistant Martin Vasquez, who was described "as a decent guy who’s in over his head."

-- Not only Klinsmann's overemphasis on fitness and nutrition and a myriad of off-the-field activities such as yoga, motivational talks and aptitude testing but the “manic” fashion of his training camps.

-- The lack of understanding and confidence in Klinsmann by not just players who might be disgruntled about their roles in the team but by national team regulars.

-- Klinsmann's increasing reliance on German-born and -bred players that has harmed the team's chemistry.

The concerns reached a head after the 2-1 loss to Honduras in the Hexagonal opener. There was criticism about the lack of pregame instruction ("he just threw guys out there and played") and direction at halftime (when he "didn’t really say that much") after Honduras had scored a late equalizer.

The focal point of the story concerned Klinsmann's sudden decision to drop captain Carlos Bocanegra from the starting lineup -- a move that, according to one player, left the team without any leadership on the field. “Everyone was doing their own thing," he said. "And it showed.”

Klinsmann talked at length in response to these criticisms. He said his players always had the instructions they needed and always received it "very, very accurately" from the coaching staff.

“These comments are just normal to me,” he told Straus. “This team is in a transition. Between two World Cup cycles, faces change. We’re doing that, and you also kind of mix up the chemistry. There will be a new group of leaders coming through that process, and that will be responsible for molding everything together.”

Bocanegra has not played since before the Honduras game, so he was not recalled for the matches Friday against Costa Rica and Tuesday at Mexico. Tim Howard, who served as captain for the Honduras game, is injured and not in camp. Nor are Steve Cherundolo and Landon Donovan, the lone players in their fourth World Cup qualifying cycle.

Klinsmann has not said publicly who will captain the USA on Friday, though most believe it will be either Michael Bradley, son of Klinsmann's predecessor, Bob Bradley, or Jermaine Jones, the senior member of the German-American contingent decimated by injuries to Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson and illness to Danny Williams.

It will be hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after the depth of the attacks in the Sporting News report, but a win over Costa Rica and a result against Mexico at Azteca Stadium will certainly mute many of the critics. What are the USA's chances?

During Klinsmann's tenure, it has been maddeningly inconsistent -- which goes to some of the core issues in the team.

The USA's 2012 record of 9-2-3 matched the best in its history and it did win against Italy and Mexico -- at Azteca -- on the road for the first time. But it played very poorly in road losses to Jamaica -- its first ever -- and Honduras, taking early leads in both games, falling behind in the second half but then never looking like it would snatch a late equalizer, a hallmark of the teams in the pre-Klinsmann era.

The stakes could not be higher.

“Things are boiling over,” a source told Straus. “The feeling now is that this is [Klinsmann’s] last chance against Costa Rica.”



38 comments
  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 12:23 a.m.
    The Sporting News??? I didn't know that they actually recognized the existence of "soccer" !! As to the existence of player dissatisfaction, surprise, surprise! Let's see, 4 0r 5 US players have been displaced by the German players. Wonder if their happy?? JK is attempting to move to a more possession based style which hurts midfielders and defenders who can't pass worth a damn. Wonder if they're happy?? JK had the audacity to say out loud that our players need to become better professionals. Wonder if that hurt anybody's feelings?? My comment to the "unnamed sources", is suck it up babies, you're just proving JK right. For those who lack the skills, the last train has departed, the day of the "athletic, skill deficient" player is over. Even if JK were to go, the more skilled players are finally finding their way into the system and your day is not coming back --- but don't worry, you can always become college coaches!!!!!!!!

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 12:40 a.m.
    "During Klinsmann's tenure, it has been maddeningly inconsistent -- which goes to some of the core issues in the team." 24 different lineups in 24 games might explain part of it. Since qualification is assumed, experimentation would seem to be a good thing--unless you're tied to the old Bob Bradley kick-and-run regime. Actually looking forward to getting Holden back in the lineup, to give JK another option.

  1. Alexander Lozano
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 8:09 a.m.
    The timing of this report couldn't be worse & I was 120% for JK's hire as USA coach, which I'm now questioning. Also, have questioned his selections & reliance on German-Americans. Having said that, I do agree with JK's emphasis on changing the American soccer culture & that it takes time...but time is not on JK's side and, if he doesn't get, at least, three points from these 2 WCQs, how much patience will the USSF show? Bocanegra replied on Facebook & seemed to downplay the "discontent" issue...a good sign IMO!

  1. Paul C
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 8:15 a.m.
    James Froehlich and R2 Dad....Thank you for being named sources unlike the article provides. You both hit it on the head. If JK had the player pool to choose from with skilled players he would not have to look to German players. The national team(s) coaches are now looking for skilled players, its the scouts that still can not get away from the big athletic types. We are in transition but a 9-2-3 record during such transition is not bad. Just think how good the team will be when he can call up 22 skilled players.

  1. Brent Crossland
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 8:26 a.m.
    I really don't pay much attention to articles like this. First, as Paul pointed out, if you want me to take you seriously go on the record. Second, I don't think the teams inconsistent play can be blamed solely on the coaching staff -- it's becoming a tradition. Let me make a prediction. If we qualify the follow-up article will be "we always had faith in the coach's system!" and if we fail to qualify it will be "see I told you!".

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 8:39 a.m.
    Given that Klinsmann has tried to introduce a deeper national team pool where players compete for spots, is anyone surprised that some players might be dissatisfied with that? My biggest objection to the article was actually the criticism of tactics, and the suggestion that Klinsmann was in over his head as a coach. The evidence to back up that assertion was an unnamed quote saying sometimes the team feels "unprepared", and that everyone should read Phillip Lahm's book.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 10:29 a.m.
    Paul, shouldnt the scouts be held accountable ?? Because it god damn doesnt seem like it?? At the U14 level it's way too political and scouts/coaches are more worried about where their next job will be than selecting the truly best players. Picking Academy players is the right career choice for them. We "always pick 30-35% from California and 25-30% from East Coast (Usually from 3-4 states) for our younger teams. ALWAYS. How can this % be always close to the same?? And why doesnt it translate to the older teams?? Politics??

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.
    Klins should just drop the entire team and call up the U20's to qualify. If they don't at least they will get the experience. I have to say that the German based players have not impressed me to the point that they should be picked over what we have in Mls and certainly not over the guys playing in Mexico!!!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.
    No one outside of the team and staff members can know what goes on in the locker room or in the training sessions.I still believe in Klinsi, but if players are speaking out, it is something that we need to be concerned about.I agree, when players are dropped or pushed out of their comfort zone,its only natural for them to react.With that said, I don't agree with leaving out Bocanegra. He is past his prime, but I still think he is an important part of the leadership of this team. In my mind, he is the key guy to help make this a smooth transition, even if he is no longer a starter.He would be invaluable in camp and could contribute coming off the bench to provide organization and leadership on the field. I see him as a future National Head coach.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 11:08 a.m.
    I read the article yesterday. Interesting but brings up alot of questions as addressed by a number of people above. I have difficulty totally accepting the opinion of Phillip Lam. Klinsmann had success with the 2006 German National Team, and yet the responsibility for that success is given to Loew and not Klinsmann. Klinsmann says he and his coaches make everything very clear, while we have unnamed sources saying something else. Klinsmann is stuck with an againg captain in Bocanegra who needs to be replaced. He is not even playing on his second division Spanish team. Klinsmann has shown the courage to throw inexperienced players into the baptism of fire. I am trying to see what choice Klinsmann had.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 11:20 a.m.
    Didnt Klins put together that coaching staff in Germany?? Isnt it a good thing to rely on coaches you chose to help you get things done? Or what is the purpose of having a coaching staff then??

  1. Paul C
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 11:35 a.m.
    @Luis Arreola...Man I wish the scouts would be held accountable. You are 100% correct in your assertions. The entire system needs an overhaul and to this point JK has only changed the coaches on all Nat teams. Now he is replacing players on senior team and an uproar from those unnamed players. Change the scouts and scouting/political system and that will change the player pool from U14 up to the senior team. We are taking baby steps and that is frustrating to me.

  1. Efrahim Fernandez
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
    Sorry call me crazy but I will take a strong player with leadership playing in the second div of the Liga over a an MLS PLAYER Starting or otherwise? People tend forget that players are training thru out the week and many players play reserve team matches? They go against the best Competition day in and out in training. REGARDLESS OF AGE is still one of our best center backs. Our objective is to qualify . After that push thru the under 20s so many of them are on the national first team. As to Luis s point our academy structure is based on the england approach a big mistake. .

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
    Klinsi needs to stick to the 4-4-2 and stop experimnting with weird formations. We cannot have a lone striker up top. We do not have a Messi with talent like that. And get rid of Altidore. Who cares how many goals he scores in Dutch league. he never scores for USMNT, and is lazy. Play Gomez and Eddie Johnson up top.

  1. Gordon Hayes
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 11:56 a.m.
    The information posted above about which states players come from is factually untrue and the problem is not player selection - there is no bias in that regard.

  1. Gregg Smallen
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 12:28 p.m.
    Bradley to Klinsmann...has there really been any changes? Except for Arena's '02 team, he was no different either. Until the US develops a consistent playing style and then develops players for that scheme, we will always be 20-25 ranked international side. JK is trying a possession style??...what are you watching? Strong technical players like Jose Torres, Freddy Adu, Graham Zusi, Benny Felihaber, Brad Davis (too old now), and tons of others are useless in the current US scheme...which is a shame. My fear is that the problem is at higher levels than the US coach...

  1. Eric Schmitt
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.
    My response to this is two fold. 1) Cowards. If you're concerned, talk to the coach, not the press, who will blow everything out of proportion. 2) You don't like it? Get out. We'll find someone who will. The whole reason Klinsmann was brought on board was because the long time American model wasn’t working. If you think just being physical and “counter-attacking” is going to get the US to the elite levels and allow them to compete with Germany, Spain, and Brazil, etc, you are dead wrong. Plus, Bocanegra was benched because he is now becoming too old and slow to do the job, plain and simple. Nothing against Carlos, but time catches up to everyone. I might also add that the “beautiful game” approach seems to be working quite well for our U-20 and U18 national teams at the moment. I see a lot of wonderful touch football going on there. If the older guys can’t adapt, there is a great crop of young guys coming along shortly who will be happy to show them how its done.

  1. 0 M
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 1:24 p.m.
    Klinsmann is waiting for the U20 boys to grow up. We should all be excited!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 1:25 p.m.
    Here is the Factual info from usasoccer.com for U15's Current 48 player pool - California 17 players/35.5%, East Coast 11/23%. For U14's Latest 35 player Domestic Camp - California 11 /31.5%, East coast 13/37%. U17 20 player Current National Team - California 5/25%, East coast 5/25%. U18 Current 33 Player Pool - California 10/30% East Coast 12/36%.

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.
    I think Philip Lahm may have been correct. Klinsmann knows nothing about tactics!

  1. Raveen Rama
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
    I agree with Gregg Smallen and Dan Phillips. Klinsman was really successful with the German national team but failed miserably with the club (Bayern Munich?) he coached immediately after the WC.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 4:41 p.m.
    So dont give Klins a MLS club to coach and give him everything he had as German Head Coach.

  1. Bruce Moorhead
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 5:20 p.m.
    Glad to see comments that echo my feelings. I too was 100% enthusiastic about Klinsmann's hiring, and I now have grave reservations. His reliance on non-native "Americans" and ignoring Latino players reminds me of the horrific Sampson years. The German-based players were not ready for the heat and humidity of Honduras, and the temps were a big consideration there. At least Beasley was recalled - he will provide calm experience. I hope for snow Friday!

  1. Dan Eckert
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
    I have no faith in JK. I didn't we signed him and I don't know. He's a great example of someone who has played the game and is an awesome player - but based on just the style of play on the pitch - he continues to demonstrate his ability to help players visualize and actualize his vision. I truly think he's over his head. He's great PR and all - but as a coach - I think with Germany he was just lucky - but now - I think the true problems are being seen. I hope I'm wrong - and I'll be happy to eat my words, but sadly - I don't think I am wrong.

  1. Dan Eckert
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 6 p.m.
    Wow - teaches me for typing this on a plane. Here's a much better version of the my previous post. I have no faith in JK. I didn't when USSF signed him and I don't now. He's a great example of someone who has played the game and is an awesome player - but just based on the style of play on the pitch - he has failed to demonstrate his ability to help players visualize and actualize his vision. I truly think he's over his head. He's great PR and all - but as a coach - I think with Germany he was just lucky - but now - I think the true problems are being seen by all. I hope I'm wrong - and I'll be happy to eat my words, but sadly - I don't think I am wrong. I do like the comment of letting the U20's play, give them the experience and then build for 2018.

  1. Frank Cardone
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 6:10 p.m.
    JK is not entirely responsible for the current state of affairs, but neither should he be immune to serious criticism. Such negative comments from so many players indicates something is amiss. As for me, I have not been impressed by the players from Germany and I will not lend my full support to JK as long as Jermaine Jones is on the field, let alone if he is appointed captain. Jones is a headcase and should not be wearing our national team uniform.

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 7:04 p.m.
    If JK does not get at least 3 points in next 2 qualifiers, he should go. And maybe we re-hire Bruce Arena!

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 10:02 p.m.
    The player(s)who made these comments should shut the "f" up and concentrate on winning. I will say this, Altidore is not a true center forward. Actually, Clint Dempsey would play the position better. I never thought I would say this, but this team definitely misses Donovan.

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: March 20, 2013 at 11:45 p.m.
    Klinsmann's greatest contributions to German soccer during his time as national team coach had nothing to do with tactics, results, fitness, feelings, or nutrition. He identified, and incorporated, a new generation of German players. We hired him to do the same with the USMNT. Our generation of Donovan, Dempsey, Cherundolo, Bocanegra, onyewu, and Beasley, had reached its nadir around the 2010 World Cup and we needed someone to identity and incorporate a new generation. So far, he has deepened our pool of possible players 3-4 times the size of Bradley and Arena. He has identified a host of new players that have the ability to become mainstays of the national team. This alone deserves credit - our insufficient player development from 1999-2012 has left a huge talent gap. Those worried about Bocanegra's feelings, or our ability to be amongst the top three teams in Concacaf need to relax. Germans hated Klinsmann when he was getting rid of the Bierhoff's and Ballack's for Podolski's and Sweisteiger's. We asked Klinsmann to do exactly what he is doing to our national team and youth national teams because we needed it. No one said it would be easy.

  1. Gordon Hayes
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 12:30 a.m.
    Latest U17 roster - 5 players from the Midwest, 2 from NY, NJ, or PA, 4 from CA.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 12:35 a.m.
    Lots of very naive comments here and I'm very disappointed. JK was not brought in to be a better Bradley! If that was the case, then we should have hired Arena! The idea was that in order to climb to the next level we would have to change the style of play and correspondingly change the type of players!!! A little common sense would tell anyone interested that changing the skill set of the player pool was not a short term project. However, as we can see from a number of the comments, the US fans want everything NOW -- and oh by the way, qualify for the WC in a seamless fashion!! Being a tactical genius might help get us to the 2014 WC but it doesn't solve the long term issue. If you are totally satisfied with the performance of the MNT under BB and his predecessors, then you can legitimately gripe all you want, but if you are really interested in the long term development of US soccer, then you need to bite the bullet for a while. Sooner or later we will have to endure the pain of transition, under JK or someone else. BTW it really gets tiresome having JK's Bayern time being thrown about when there is no understanding of everything that was going on at Bayern: players were upset that JK brought in the Donavan; management and players were upset that JK brought iin American fitness trainers; management was upset that they were knocked out of the Champions League by Barca (how humiliating to lose to Barca); they were still within a few points of the top; and the topper was that after JK was booted the management went out and bought 7 or 8 new players amongst whom wass Arjen Robin---get a few of the facts before repeating bogus rumors.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 12:47 a.m.
    Daniel Cliifton -- great points Luis --- totally agree, it's called being a good manager Gak -- totally agree Eric Schmitt --- my blood pressure is still over 200; what a bunch of whiners!!

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 5:03 a.m.
    Yeah well simple point of fact here, we had a very favorable draw for the last World Cup and Bunker Bob came within a Landon Donovan score in Injury Time of finishing not first in the group but THIRD. The fact that Sponge Bob played Clark over Edu, that he used his last Substitute at the very start of 30 minutes of OT, rather than waiting a few minutes to see how things were playing out, of his side ceasing to play high pressure, which got us back into the match and put Ghana into trouble and then just sat back and allowed them right back in, was what we should have wanted to see a coach removed over... instead we saw Bunker Bob getting a FOUR YEAR re-up ... that is OUR ASSOCIATION'S reaction to poor decisions by the last coach. Hey Klinsmann was NEVER MY CHOICE, but he was hired and his side noticeably dropped the goals against number, so we didn't always have to come from behind. Fact is we needed to see the Olympic Team Qualify so those u-23's could be truly in a position to push the old guard, but that DIDN'T HAPPEN, so when we are facing the inevitable aspects of an aging side, we are short of proven replacements. The talk of his bringing in German trained players is nuts, those guys in their early 20's are farther along than practically ANY of the typical MLS rookies of the same age. And as far as Jermaine Jones being a headcase, yeah he is a hard man, he does pick up cards, but go back and look at that BEAUTIFUL CHIP right into Dempsey's stride for the volley that put us into the lead at Honduras, do you really think that most of our other midfielders could be expected to be able to do THAT? Remember we are now wingless wonders, no flank players worth getting excited about, that simply is what we have to work with, Jergen or no Jergen. Talk of pushing up the u-20's to play is just crazy, if we can't get things done with arguably our best most experienced professional players, that we couldn't qualify at the u-23 level for the Olympics, that going to yet a still younger group is going to actually work BETTER??? No We lost a SINGLE match and everyone is ready to flip out, but the fact is that as long as well don't drop points in our home matches and manage to get a few on the road we are VERY likely to qualify for he big dance... however what we can do once we get there is an open question and will be regardless of just who is the coach, sorry but we are ranked in the 30's and as much of a joke as FIFA rankings truly are, that is about where we belong. (ICE)

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 5:06 a.m.
    Rushed Typos... Jurgen

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 8:20 a.m.
    1.)Elijah Martin (Unattached; Fresno, Calif.), 2. John Requejo Jr. (Real So Cal; Carpinteria, Calif.) 3.Corey Baird (San Diego Surf; Escondido, Calif.) 4. Angel Heredia (San Jose Earthquakes; San Jose, Calif.) 5. Bradford Jamieson (Chivas USA; Los Angeles, Calif.), THATS 5 FROM CALIFORNIA. 1.)Jeff Caldwell (NC Fusion; Todd, N.C.) 2.)Conor Donovan (NC Alliance; Fuquay Varina, N.C.) 3.)Junior Flores (Unattached; Manassas Park, Va.) 4.)Christopher Lema (New York Red Bulls; Ridgefield, N.J.) 5.) Wesley Wade (New York Red Bulls; South Orange, N.J.) AND THATS 5 FROM EAST COAST.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 9:07 a.m.
    Gordon, U20 20 Player Roster - 8 from California, only 2 from East Coast, 4 from midwest. Midwest numbers - U14 = 1 of 35, U15 = 6 of 36, U17 = 4 of 21, U18 = 1 of 24. Not as consistent for Midwest as California and East Coast, by no means.

  1. Gordon Hayes
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 1:38 p.m.
    7 from CA, 8 from the Midwest, 6 from what we in the US call the South, 2 from the Southwest, 1 from the NW, and 5 from the NE - facts and truth are here - http://www.ussoccer.com/Teams/Youth/US-Under17-Men/Residency-Roster/Spring-2013-Residency.aspx -there is no bias in player selection, only the illusion of it from people comfortable with that.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 5:34 p.m.
    Yea, I refered to the 20 player roster that just competed in U17 Friendlies. The Residency program has 31 total players. Fairly same ratio, though. I didnt say they were bias. What is clear though is that we are not looking everywhere in USA for the best or it is a huge coincidence that states like California produce close to the same ratio for every youth national team.


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