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Klinsmann: 'It would be a miracle if we had played well'
by Paul Kennedy, March 5th, 2014 8:22PM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[USA-UKRAINE: Reaction] Jurgen Klinsmann came to the defense of his team after a disjointed and often horrific performance in the USA's 2-0 loss to Ukraine in Cyprus. He admitted there was a lot of work ahead and was hopeful of learning more when he brings in a new group of players -- from MLS and Mexico -- for the April 2 friendly against El Tri.

In particular, Klinsmann came to the defense of his backline that was badly exposed on the two goals.

"It would be totally wrong now to criticize what went wrong," he said in his post-game press conference. "It was clear to us that playing a completely new backline, playing players that come out of the club system, who are in a difficult situation not having the same confidence they usually have, there’s a lot of work to be done and a lot to build on. Still, we continue to get John Anthony Brooks back in there, we see where he’s at, Geoff Cameron took the right back role and so on. [Edgar] Castillo flies all the way from Tijuana and played a decent game. You see individuals a lot in these type of matches, so it’s understandable that collectively, it’s not clicking. It would be a miracle if we had played well, still we need these games.”

Ridge Mahoney: Three thoughts on USA-Ukraine
Mike Woitalla: U.S. Player Ratings

Klinsmann praised Ukraine -- a team that almost knocked France out of the World Cup -- and its midfielder, Anatoliy Tymoschuk.

“One player that I’ve always admired stepped it up tonight, that is Anatoliy Tymoschuk," he said. "He’s a player you can see is on the Champions League level that we often talk about. He runs the show like a quarterback and gets everybody on the same page. Even if they’re not aware or alert, he wakes them up. It was impressive to see him in there tonight; it seems like he’s getting younger and younger.”

In a subtle jab at his player pool, Klinsmann added that "the more you go in an overall pool the more you see that a player like Tymoschuk, we still have a ways to go to get to a player at that level."

Klinsmann said the decision to go with European-based players was a no-brainer, especially because he'll get a chance to see his other players in four weeks against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz. He said flying over MLS players on Monday, having them playing on Wednesday night and fly back Thursday for MLS openers on Saturday made no sense.

"So we have to make those compromises and we are happy to make those compromises because it gives us the opportunity to see the European players here," he said. "The same with the Mexico game on April 2, we do it the other way around, we’ll be missing the players from Europe and they have the opportunity to show where they are at right now.

Klinsmann leaves behind many European-based players who have hardly been playing or been playing and playing poorly. Regarding Jozy Altidore, who was dropped from the Sunderland squad for Sunday's Capital One Cup final at Wembley, he said all he can do is hope he gets a chance to play and break out of his scoring slump.

"At the end of the day," he said, "we can’t influence everyone’s situation on the club level. We can follow it, we can talk to the players, we can talk to the coaches as well, but at the end of the day the players have to solve it. It is very important that our players get into a rhythm for the next 10-12 weeks.”



42 comments
  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: March 5, 2014 at 9:47 p.m.
    The problem is......, that THE problems, are supposed to be lessened by these games, not the other way around......good lord !

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: March 5, 2014 at 10:09 p.m.
    Castillo had "a decent game," and proud of Brooks being in the line up? I am speechless, both players played poor, klejstan a decent player has never impressed, oneywu played decent, bedoya and Shea performance was promising and poor Tim Howard made quality saves before he was beaten. Bradley friedel wrote that we have a quality side that can compete, he said our only weakness is our defense. I agree.

  1. Mark Hardt
    commented on: March 5, 2014 at 10:14 p.m.
    Horrific. Klinsman continues to give more chances to players that don't deserve them. Why is Gooch even considered. Altidore is a mess. Did you see the volley from Johansen. Given a full game he would have scored. Altidore should benched and Johannsen given the start.

  1. Ed Solomon
    commented on: March 5, 2014 at 11:58 p.m.
    Whatever he says, he is not defending the outcome rather giving excuses to the fact that they lost to a troubled team. But if they won the game, coach will get all the credits. That's the way it is in USMNT. And it very sad. Why can't just they admit that they can not put a decent team like the USWNT in spite they have more money to spend. Excuses, excuses, excuses......

  1. Mike in SoCal
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 12:38 a.m.
    AJ should start over JA up top. That is clear as day. Sadly Dempsey is a shell of himself. His career has been going in one direction since leaving Fulham, down. Again, sadly, he's more of a liability than asset and unless can pick it up big time in Seattle he shouldn't be starting in Brazil. Everyone dissing Besler/Omar CB pairing just got a dose of reality. These guys have only been getting it done in qualifying, each is still learning, makes the occasional mistake, yes but they have formed a good partnership and understanding. Widebacks too were both disappointing. Another poor US game for Klejstan. No bubble guys made a case for inclusion for Brazil except for Johannson, who should be starting after today. He was defensively tracking all the way back to the 18-yard box and looked 1000x more lively than Altidore.

  1. Claudio Garcia chamorro
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 7:25 a.m.
    The problem is .... The problem is .... KLINSMANN With shorts months to go before the biggest tournament in the world .... He still farting around with unknown players and positioning them in wrong spots ... Excuses - excuses - excuses - Tymoshuck - Who cares ? Worry about your squad - which clearly represents your ultimate goal. You are becoming another Moyes - You have got to go friend ! How long you have been at it? " there still more work to be done " You are praising another player ? If he is not going to

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 8:07 a.m.
    The problem is that the US team doesn't have a coach. It has an impostor.

  1. ROBERT BOND
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 9:25 a.m.
    Paul, is there anyone talking about keeping Putin from preening again in the 2018 World Cup? I will never spend a penny to support his dictatorship!

  1. Stuart d. Warner
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 9:55 a.m.
    The US has three good central defenders, and all are in MLS, so who else was K to play there? Surely not Cameron, because K doesn't need him there. So, you find out what Brooks can do and see if Gooch has anything left. Castillo was not good, however, he's a bubble player, so K wanted to see him again. About JA or AJ, last year the former was huge, but now his club situation is bad and his minutes are inconsistent--hard to perform in such circumstances. But even though AJ has certain technical skills JA doesn't, the latter is so much stronger, and once he gets one goal, more follow. Dempsey does not have a good work rate--never has--and his body language is dreadful. As of now, he may be on the bench in Brazil, with Donovan in that position, and Zusi on the right and Bedoya on the left. That would put Fabian Johnson competing for left back with Beasley. We should remember that we didn't have Zusi, Donovan, EJ, and Bradley, which made matters hard offensively. Lastly, I'd recommend we have a drinking game--everytime Jermaine Jones gives up the ball or makes an errant pass we take a drink. The problem would be we all would be passed out by halftime.

  1. Andrea Hana
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 9:58 a.m.
    With a "last minute" venue change, "last minute" line-up, going in against a team who brought their best for a matter of pride and in the face of a national crisis... I'm glad that, in spite of a loss from our "c" team, the Ukraine team won. The went home with much more than the US would have. Perhaps this was done on purpose. It would not be the first time that the US team has backed down for good reason. When it comes time for the real stuff, they'll bring it.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 10:37 a.m.
    I am amazed at the naive comments posted above. Does no one understand the purpose of these last minute friendlies? How exactly is JK supposed to try out new players -- maybe he should just throw Brooks into the first game of the World Cup and see how it works? Or, Castillo is getting regular time with his team how will he measure up now? Forget that the back line hadn't played together!! Oh yeah, fire JK and forget the new depth of the player pool, the results of the past couple years. Absolutely embarrassing comments.

  1. Tyler Dennis
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 11 a.m.
    Dempsey is definitely struggling and has been for awhile. Johannson is showing himself to be top quality... quality over brawn any day. Castillo is not a left back, even though he plays one for the Xolos. The best pairing here is Beasley LB and Castillo LM... he is a much better attacking player than a defender.

  1. Terry Ellis
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 11:18 a.m.
    I would not be showing my hand either if I were coaching the MNT. Let's wait and see what happens at the WC before any calls for the coaches head!

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 11:42 a.m.
    JK needs to get rid of Jozy Altidore once and for all. The guy sucks! Slow, lazy forward. Can't ever score when we need it. Start Aaron Johansson. Much beter. Quicker, faster, better shooter. And get Timmy Chandler back in at Right Back. The defense needs him. Also, keep Brek Shea on the team. He is great coming off the bench. Always adds spark!

  1. Doug Lister
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 11:43 a.m.
    Everyone ought to take a step back and look at James' comments above. And then read JK's comments above. Oh and BTW, just because the red head on tv says it's true, doesn't make it so. Sasha was a spark when they needed it at the beginning of the second half. Just because AJ is playing well at AZ doesn't mean he's the second coming of Pele. It seems to me that a certain JA was in that same position a year ago and look where he is now. Give some credit to the opponent who played a very good inspired game. The ignorance above is absolutely shocking. Does anyone forget that this team will start and end with MB in the middle? This was a team that for all intents and purposes, hadn't really played together. It was ugly, but games like this are meant to be a training excercise.

  1. Ryan Clouse
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 11:45 a.m.
    Klinsmann is by far the best COACH we've had! The uswnt brings in there best players EVERY game that's why they have done better not to mention the woman's division is weaker! Jurgen knows who's going where come June but now is a perfect time to work on the youth and see if any of them deserve to go as well! We don't lose that game if we fly in all of the others, (Donovan, Zusi, mix, Bradley, Omar, besler, etc etc). Excuses??? What excuses he flat out said we played bad, which we did!

  1. Kevin Sims
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 11:57 a.m.
    Mr. Froehlich gets it. The criticism when USA loses is over-the-top ... and praise when USA wins is as well. A coach can only truly evaluate players in a competitive environment. Yes, the match exposed weaknesses ... but also some strengths. The match served its purpose as an audition for many players. I find fault with all four backs on the second goal ... the lack of cover positioning and anticipation and commitment to full-speed, immediate recovery at the right angles is disappointing. This repeated lack of defensive acuity among all candidates for months and months concerns me the most heading into Brazil. Punishments will be swift and severe against top teams. I am confident the USA will show as the best attacking team in the nation's history, but not so good as to offset defensive woes. It will all be very interesting!

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.
    JK needs to bring in his best lineup for Mexico game April 2nd. Including Euro players. Who cares if they miss a league game or two. WC is more important. That means,bring in Timmy Chandler, Aaron Johanson (forget Jozy Altidore. He sucks!) and others! Time to get serious, and not worry how long flight is from Europe, etc.

  1. Errol Young
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 1:18 p.m.
    Most of you don't get it. This is a friendly and JK doesn't need to prove anything here other than trying to figure out what our WC squad will be. Winning this game should never have been the objective although it would have been nice. The objective is to see what the other players from the pool can do without injuring the guaranteed first team player. Also, why risk your best players' (MLS) real job for a nothing game? JK is the best US coach ever... granted Bradley and Arena weren't bad but they aren't in the same league. The US team shows more finesse football now as opposed to kick-and-run soccer which we had in the past. Well, done Jurgen and congrats to the guys who did well on this outing. Can't wait to see what you'll do in Brazil! Go USA!!!

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 2:43 p.m.
    Right. And that is why JK should have given more time to Aaron Johansson and Brek Shea, and not Jozy (out the door) Altidore! Altidore is a waste of time. The guy sucks!

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 3:54 p.m.
    Errol, James, or Doug, I am probably the most qualified person to talk about whether there is harsh criticism deserve to the US national team. Unless like me, you've marked some players at a high level or coached at a high level, then you all should reevalute your criticism on us.

  1. Nate Nelson
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 4:17 p.m.
    What can he say..He has a nice new contract and regardless of the World Cup outcome he going to get paid. DO you get paid if you don't perform at work?

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 5:18 p.m.
    Klinsman gets it. He has the proper mentality. World Cup winner as a player, Coached a young German team to a better than expected performance in 2006. Not many other coaches have accomplished that. Is at a higher level, especially compared to those commenting here.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 5:35 p.m.
    When players play bad when it matters, especially when trying to make a World Cup team. here's a hint everyone, they don't make the team. You can call that harsh, but its the reality. As a former coach under nationally ranked D1 team, former Region IV player that marked national player and professionals, and played at the collegiate level, this is what happens.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 5:57 p.m.
    Sorry, Charles, but Klinsmann hasn't accomplished anything as a coach. He didn't coach "young German team to a better than expected performance in 2006". Germany is always expected to play well in a World Cup (and usually does). 3rd place in a home WC is not a huge accomplishment for them. As a matter of fact, they did at least as well in 2002 and 2010 playing far away from home. And, moreover, it's a well known fact now that Klinsmann was more of a figurehead, a well-known name at the top. Coaching was really done by Löw. There is a reason why Klinsmann was available for the US job with no demand for him in Europe. He's not rated there at all.

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 7:06 p.m.
    And he still hangs on to Jozy. Stupid. A waste. Play Aaron Johanssona as striker, much better. And JK needs to get over his tiff with Timmy Chandler. He is the best right back we got!

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 8:05 p.m.
    David M -- I have read your many, many comments over the past year or two and they have been uniformly negative --- about everything and everybody. You may be very knowledgeable and experienced in soccer but it definitely doesn't show up in your comments. Regarding Klinsmann's resume, you need to do a little research before you repeat the tired stories of JK's "failure" with Germany. The German NT had fallen much below their normal quality and were not expected to shine at the WC despite country advantage. When JK "AND" Low brought in younger players and they made a great run at the WC the entire country was thrilled. The team far exceeded expectations. Haviing Low as his technical guru in no way lessens his accomplishment. Remember he brought in Low and had the humility to allow Low to do his job. All you have to do is google the stories in the German newspapers if you want to REALLY understand what happened. The same goes for the trash printed about his time at Bayern. JK is no Pep Guardiola but he has brought a new and successful theme to the USMNT---more ethnic players, high pressure and improved passing (certainly not great but the US has few skillful passers -- more on the way). A final BIG PLUS is that he actually TALKS to the PRESS as opposed to silent Bob and grumpy Bruce. US Soccer needs the visibility. When JK roles out his starters, his formation, and the game tactics at the WC we will have plenty of time to complain. Right now there is little reason to do so.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 8:08 p.m.
    Doug L -- loved the reference to the "red head". Dead on.

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: March 6, 2014 at 8:10 p.m.
    Agreed. But he needs to do the same now. JK needs to play the younger but better Aaron Johansson at striker instead of that horrible Jozy Altidore! Bench Jozy once and for all. Play Johansson!

  1. Manny Hirschel
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 12:09 a.m.
    Dump Altidore-can't control or hold the ball and has not scored. Start Johansen, a proven prolific goal scorer this year.

  1. Errol Young
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 2:33 a.m.
    Cisco - I commend you for your credentials but, as you said, you were a D1 (college) coach. That doesn't mean much to me since both Bruce and Bob were the same at UVA. Also, you really don't know the credentials of the rest of us to make that statement. Again, this game was just to test others in the pool to see who else can fit the squad. As for Jozy, I'm not very impressed with his work rate lately but maybe JK is just trying to wrestle this decision through this test. And, yes, both Brek and Aaron are good - actually Aaron is a bit better in my opinion and definitely first team. But, JK bringing them on during the 2nd 1/2 proves that he knows who the game changers are. Maybe you can learn something from him since you didn't make it past D1 coaching (if that's what you call it).

  1. Claudio Garcia chamorro
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 2:37 a.m.
    To all To say that my comment or anyone else's is ignorant in nature is pretty stupid on your part. This stage is to be use to air them regardless of its nature. I wish nothing and expect nothing but the best from our team and will either laugh of joy or cry in pain, once we get going on the WC. With about 90 days or so to go before Showtime, shouldn't we be oiling the machine with most of the pieces (players) that will be part of it. Klinsmann has had plenty of time in his hands by now and with time approaching quickly its time to create and maintain the nucleus of players that will eventually be at the WC. It is evident that JZ has demonstrated that he is capable of NOT finishing even when he is on a breakaway and ends up 1 v 1 with the Golie. So many ask - why is he still playing on the team ? Doesn't Klinsmann see what EVERYONE sees? Why isn't he played consistently on the EPL - assumption must be granted that over in the UK the feeling is mutual to many of the comments here. Klinsmann has seriously struggled with Central American/Caribbean teams that many may view them as poorly talented countries such as Honduras, Jamaica, Salvador, etc. And instead of continuing to play with Mexico (boring! how about Chile, Argentina or Uruguay for Latin countries .... After the WC, hopefully we can get together and either say I was right or wrong about Klinsmann Either he'll take the glory or the guillotine ! Me NOT impress at all with his accomplishment, at this stage with all the support from Gulati, $$$ and a stellar contract extension WITHOUT having to prove much, the team should be in much better shape while displaying much better results at this stage and closeness to the WC. Excuses and by simply saying " the team played bad tonight " does not mean anything and it's no reason for praises. I read comments/praises - he said it after the game - and so what he said it? We played the way we played because of the team's formation which is totally and entirely up to Klinsmann isn't it ? Just because he was a great player does NOT qualifies him as a great coach - by now - he should have done much more and gotten better results. PERIOD!

  1. Errol Young
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 2:53 a.m.
    Claudio - how can you dare compare the US team to any of the 3 you just mentioned?! We just don't have that talent as yet. Do you think that there are any World Players of the Year in the US line up? Do you really think that the US has a chance of winning? JK's job is to create the foundation so that in a few years we'll have that level player. In the past, our primary stock of players were only coming from US colleges or the nearest acquaintances. Now, JK and team are recruiting and finding real talent everywhere. The US will be a force to reckon with in a few years. And, if your beef is about money, let it go since he's being paid adequately for what he's doing. Compare his salary to Dempsey, Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, et al and you'll understand that he really doesn't make that much with all the burden and responsibility that he has to shoulder.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.
    Errol, I suggested harsh criticism to players when it is deserved. As a former coach at D1, former collegiate player, when players play at a sub-par level they need to be called out that what can make them a better player. I understand you've never been a part of a higher level and you comments show it.

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 3:42 p.m.
    Problem with Altidore is that he is way to one dimensional. He needs the perfect situation set up for him in order to score. If I hear Twellman reference his name with BIG/STRONG/PHYSICALITY, one more time... Josie doent even work hard to get the ball back at the start of the final third or the middle. Cant have this anymore.

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 3:46 p.m.
    Honestly if I heard a coach was coming our way with college credentials... I would probably run the other way. This is in most cases as they seem to be old school run and gun and hell bent on using this tactic to keep them employed instead of risking some bad seasons to play the game with a more modern appraoch.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 5:20 p.m.
    BJ Genovese, you've never played soccer at a higher level let alone college. If you want to put your bono fides on the table please do so. I'm sure you've marked players like Landon Donovan like I've had.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 7, 2014 at 8:47 p.m.
    Cisco --I would love to know where you are coaching so that I can make sure none of my grandchildren gets anywhere near you. Players do need to be called out when they don't perform but a GOOD coach does that in the privacy of the locker room not in front of the press and international media. You may know the technical aspects of how to play futbol but you obviously know nothing about how to manage a team and the individual players.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: March 8, 2014 at 11:22 a.m.
    Clearly you can't read. I wrote "former coach at D1." As for your grandchildren arguement we are talking about adult professional not your grandchildren. In fact, Klinsmann criticize his back line in public by saying, "it would be a miracle if we played well." Moreover, Klinsmann said in private and public regarding Dempsey to play at a higher level said, ""[Clint's] job will be to keep his level the highest possible. My job is to help push him to that level and when I am not happy to tell him to his face." This is what good coaches do, if your grandchildren do not want to be subjected to this when they become adults you're not teaching them the psychological element to compete.

  1. marco gonzalez
    commented on: March 9, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
    THIS IS WHO I WOULD TAKE TO BRAZIL: Howard, Cameron,Besler,Gonzalez,Johnson Jones,Bradley,Kljestan Donovan,Dempsey Johannsson ................. Guzan,Rimando Parkhurst,Goodson,Beasley Beckerman, Bedoya,Zusi,Diskerud,Shea Johnson, Altidore

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: March 9, 2014 at 1:15 p.m.
    Quite obvious which players showed some soccer IQ.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: March 9, 2014 at 1:19 p.m.
    Marco, good luck with your selection.


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