[MY VIEW] Three weeks after U.S. Soccer re-signed Bob Bradley as national team coach, Juergen Klinsmann said he was courted
but didn’t take the job because he wasn’t guaranteed enough authority. We don't know the other side of the story, because the USSF bosses won’t comment. But it's pretty clear that
Klinsmann isn't the right man.
This is, of course, déjà vu all over again. After the 2006 World Cup, U.S. Soccer let Bruce Arena go after eight years at the helm and came close to hiring Klinsmann. USSF President Sunil Gulati never explained why the deal didn’t go down. But the German, who has now resided in Southern California for more than a decade, commented on the record why the deal wasn’t sealed in May of 2010.
Klinsmann, well known as a shrewd negotiator from his playing days – which included stints with seven different clubs in four countries – alluded to authority issues at that time as well. He said, "There were different opinions, you know, what players could get the permissions in MLS, what role it plays."
A crucial requirement of a U.S. national team coach is for him to appreciate MLS’s importance to the future of American soccer. The pro league is, in fact, more important to the future of American soccer than the national team, which depends on MLS’s progress if it is to turn into the world power it has the potential to be.
MLS must become profitable, so that it can raise its level of play by drawing more foreign stars – and so that it continues strengthening its youth development programs, which are the best hope for producing world-class American talent.
Now Klinsmann says the Federation approached him about the job after the 2010 World Cup – and offered him enough of money -- but the Federation would not, in writing, grant him “full control of the technical side.” He didn’t offer details on exactly what control he wanted. But one can speculate that he wanted guarantees on MLS player call-ups, control over the U.S. national team schedule, and possibly oversight of the entire national team program.
Even when the DFB, the German federation, was desperate to hire Klinsmann to lead Germany at the 2006 World Cup, it didn't hand over the keys and give him the authority over all aspects of the national team program.
And the USA doesn’t need a coach to revamp its system. What the U.S. national team needs in a coach is one who can succeed at the World Cup, where it has hit a frustrating plateau.
The USSF, since Gulati became president in 2006, has made player development a priority, introducing the Development Academy league, which fosters MLS clubs’ youth commitment, and by expanding and diversifying its scouting system.
U.S. Soccer should only have been serious about hiring Klinsmann if it believed he was without a doubt the best man to lead the USA to success at the 2014 World Cup. And we certainly don’t know that.
Klinsmann’s greatest achievement in his short coaching career is guiding a world power to a third-place finish on home soil when Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup – four years after it finished runner-up in Japan.
He was deservedly credited as a great motivator, but his assistant Joachim Loew – the current head coach of Germany – handled the hands-on coaching of the team.
In Klinsmann’s only other coaching stint, at defending champion Bayern Munich, he was sacked before completing his first season.
Klinsmann’s accounts of the most recent “negotiations” with U.S. Soccer are puzzling. Why would he expect to get in writing in 2010 what he didn't get in 2006 when his leverage was much greater? What was different now about his stance to that of Gulati and Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer's CEO?
His attributes may be convincing. A great playing career that included a World Cup title. An encouraging view of the game – advocating attacking soccer. A celebrity and fluent in several languages, he may be a PR dream for American soccer.
But someone with such a modest coaching resume shouldn’t be surprised when all his demands aren’t met.
Refusing to make the compromises that American soccer needs from its national team coach is enough to know he’s not the man for the job.
sounds confusing to me... nobody likes to be micromanaged, believe me... The US was a Landon Donovan last second miracle goal against Slovenia from being eliminated from the second round, and would the USSF renew Bradley's contract if LD haven't scored?????
Interesting slip-up on the 'Slovenia' comment, Paolo--because just as much as we were one goal away from going home against Algeria, we were also one goal away against Slovenia from a pressure-free last game. Difference is, we actually scored both goals.
So, supposing Edu's goal had counted, as it should have, but Donovan doesn't score? That still gives us 5 points. The answer to your question then would be 'yes,' now wouldn't it?
And 'micromanage' just assumes the question--what were the actual differences? There are lots of rumors, one of them being that JK wanted to hire all the U-X coaches, another that he wanted to be able to set the dates of who the team plays, and wanted to be able to call in players even if it's not a FIFA date (that was what it was 4 years ago--JK wanted a full team for the Copa America, which wasn't even possible to guarantee under FIFA regulations).
If you believe that "MLS making a profit" is integral to the success of the USMNT, you must also believe that Chrysler making a profit is also integral to the success of the automobile. Fact is, MLS has always sought to make a profit off of limiting talent, and pay for players. Just as going to McDonald's every day doesn't push the culinary arts in the US, neither does supporting MLS every day push the envelope of the USMNT. Their goals are simply not compatible, no matter how much control an MLS executive like Sunil Gulati exerts at USSF. It's time to stop pretending that MLS has the best interests of US Soccer in mind, and that it's always compatible with their portfolios.
Throwing Klinsmann into this situation, a guy who recognizes that the US Soccer pyramid is "upside down", was never a real solution for USSF. He was a PR ploy. After a summer full of dubious rumors connecting Bradley to Villa, Fulham, and finally setting up a faux competition with Klinsi, it's pretty clear there was an organized campaign to turn Bradley into our "Special One". At 1/5 the salary of Capello, and a good track record of working with SUM/MLS/USSF bosses on personnel choices, it's pretty clear Bradley is the special one for the establishment, not supporters. By many reports, as '14 looms, we face the thinnest and most unsettled talent pool of up and coming players since the '90 resurgence. In that light, it looks like SUM/MLS/USSF has concluded that expectations must be managed as tightly as MLS outlets, and that Bob Bradley is their consensus choice to run that show.
Mike W. Klinsman probaly not the right man but you must understand the frustrations of US soccer genre when Klisman get 72% of the vote Bradley's 16%. It is not Klinsman it is just about anybody but Bradley. Even the other got 12% and who knows who is/are the other/s? It could be my eleven year old son! Even with him we'd done better. He has been beging me to be the coach so he could be the star on the his team just like the Bradleys. Are you getting my drift? But why write about Klinsman non success' he is "water under the bridge", he is not the coach who will kead the US to failure it is your "favorite" Bradley. Write about his incompetence.And the USA doesn’t need a coach to revamp its system. Aren't you the one who said that and I quote "What the U.S. national team needs in a coach is one who can succeed at the World Cup, where it has hit a frustrating plateau".
Needless to say anymore......
I don't think the comments of Klinsmann and Bruce Arena were merely "sour grapes." The USSF is solely about the bottom line right now, and doesn't really care about how the US National team does, only about getting the 2018/2022 World Cup, which they believe is the key to the future of soccer in the USA, as it may well be. I was looking through some of the USSF meeting minutes, and the board over the last year unanimously voted to devote $8 million to the bid to get the 2018/2022 World Cup. Also Dan Flynn projected a $2.9 million dollar budget deficit for 2011.
I think that Gulati wanted Klinsmann, but Flynn put his foot down when it came to the transfer of power in writing re: the technical committee and team commitments because
A) Flynn wants control of milking the team for every last dollar in light of the projected deficit and his history and reputation for bringing solvency to the USSF,
B) dissolving the technical committees could be an unpopular decision with the USSF organization, and could jeopardize Flynn keeping his job,
C) in light of A, and that Gulati values the World Cup bid above all else (as well he should), Flynn likely framed the decision making with Gulati that Klinsmann could jeopardize the push for the World Cup, and the future solvency of the USSF if power transfer were put in writing, and
D) looking at the makeup of the board, less than half even know who Klinsmann is, and Gulati and Flynn have a blank check to do whatever they want to do as long as they don't rock the boat in other corners of the USSF organization.
US Soccer's commitment to player development and a home based professional league were and still are a major requirement to improving the USMNT. Bringing focus to the next stage of development for US Soccer may require some fresh blood within the national staff. Player wise, we are a nation of midfielders and goalies. Clever to point out that JL was the success behind the 2006 German team- not JK. Expanding the US Development Academy program through realtionships with foreign clubs may improve US Soccer's ability to produce world class strikers- which we seriously lack. USA will not win a World Cup until we have world class strikers. From the business perspective, making money is not a crime for MLS. It is providing jobs where there were none, media exposure on a serious level that did not exist. Like many, I want to see the USA hoist the WC trophy in my lifetime.
This article tries to turn speculation into fact. What the author failed to say in his article (either due to his slant on the topic or because he is trying to protect the USSF) is that Sunil verbally promised Jurgen some things but would not put those things in writing in the contract.
It was also crappy of this author to criticize Jurgen's coaching resume. After 2002, the German National was supposed to a rebuilding cycle with a lot of their veterans being on the downhill side of their career. The fact he put a team of young players out there that defied the odds by not only getting out of the group stages but was just shy of getting to the finals. And that sane group of young talent took third place in 2010. The USMNT should be so lucky to have back to back Quarter Final World Cup finishes. That fact right there should show you that Jurgen might just be the one to get US Soccer over that hump.
Klinsman may not be the right fit for the U.S. team. That much is true.
However, to say that Bradley IS the right fit is pure ignorance.
Spot on, Michael... except the word I would choose is idiocy.
Mike you need to wake up and smell the coffee. Your article is based on pure speculation of what you think went down in negotiations with Klinsman - not facts. Gulati is a micromanager with a long storied history of controlling behaviour. Bradley is willing to be his puppet on a string and we've all seen how successful that has been. The USMNT shows up but can't finish could be written year after year after year. Klinsman brings the type of experience and judgment needed to bring the team to the next level. Until we commit to raising the bar for the coach, we will NEVER have a team that performs any better than what we've come to expect when team USA is on the field.
"And the USA doesn’t need a coach to revamp its system. What the U.S. national team needs in a coach is one who can succeed at the World Cup, where it has hit a frustrating plateau."
Maybe revamping the US 'system' (if you can even call it that) is what we need to break that "frustrating plateau".
Ever think of that, Mike?
Your article is much like BB's post-game interviews.... a lot of blather and really of not much value.
Mike Woitalla, you are another Bob Bradley sycophant. You have no idea why the deal fell apart, so you conclude the non-hire was a good thing based on your dislike of JK's history. Then just say you dont like JK, but don't arrive at facts from the smoke you blow. Soccer America, there is a seething rage from the grassroots at what is happening to the NATS. Cover it properly or you will go the way of newspapers soon.
God forbid we bring in someone with fresh and innovative ideas, or allow some to run the entire 'technical' side of the current stale program you (Mike) seem to defend. Nowhere do you mention that JK stated that they were unable to put the VERBAL agreements on to paper. How can one write this article and leave the key word out? I suppose since the 'bosses' as you refer to them won't comment they cannot be questioned? So, we'll spend the next 4 years spinning our wheels with this program going nowhere while countries around us continue to improve. It's not about JK, its about the USSF and 'the bosses'.
This is a disgusting piece of hit-piece journalism, designed to carry out what Mike's MLS' masters want done, namely to discredit Klinsmann so that we can all happily "move forward" again with MLS Bob for another unhappy 4 years so that MLS and USSF parochial interests can be looked after. This does it, my MLS season tickets are gone after this season.
Shame on you Mike Woitalla!! For years I have had the highest regard for your articles and opinions on US Soccer but with this article it's obvious that you have become a shill for USSF and MLS. First of all you chose to continue to repeat the distorted story of Klinsmann's departure from Bayern -- a REAL reporter/columnist would check the actual story before repeating it through innuendo!! Second, in England, France, Germany, Spain, etc the MNT coach has the luxury of concentrating ONLY on winning the WC. Unfortunately, when it comes to developing a player pool, we are a minnow!! Therefore we need a coach that would devote some time to doing what he can to IMPROVE and EXPAND the player pool. Let's face it with the present pool of potential players, 50 at best, it shouldn't take 4 years to pick the best 25. I could do it with a dart board and save US Soccer lots of money!! We need someone who will speak and lobby on behalf of soccer skills. Mike, you talk about PR as if it isn't critical to the growth of soccer. Obviously USSF must share your opinion otherwise we wouldn't have had the gregarious Bruce Arena and BB as our spokesmen for the past 12 years. Man!, Yogi Berra would be a better PR for soccer, at least people would listen. Third, you imply that the "authority" issue was primarily one of scheduling games and getting player releases from MLS. Well, until someone who KNOWS shows up, I THINK that the authority issue was based on Klinsmann's desire to clean house on the technical staffing side, and we all know that USSF couldn't stand for that.
I think Klinsmann probably would have done a good job. But remember, Gullit sounded like a good choice for the Galaxy. Arena may have a point about needing an American who understands the system. But I like Klinsmann. Just a point about Bradley. Since he was hired, he 1) Won the 2007 Gold Cup, beating Mexico in the final, qualifying for the Confederations Cup; 2)Beat Spain and made the Final of the 2009 Confederations Cup; 3)Finished Top of the Group in CONCACAF Qualifying, ahead of Mexico; 4)Won our World Cup Group, ahead of England; 5)Lost the Round of 16 game in extra time to Ghana. That's a helluva record, in my opinion. I was at the England and Slovenia matches. They were fantastic. Of course, I was devastated at the loss, with the QF or SF beckoning. But Bradley sold me when the team didn't quit on him at the Confed Cup after the first two games. He's a good coach, not perfect, but good. And Gulati is not stupid. Nor is Woitalla.
Great insightful comments from all especially Ric, Hector, David S, David H, and Brad. Evidently none of you are willing to listen to Mr. Arena's command? to "Shut up!" What unbridled arrogance! Two little words which completely sum up what USSF thinks of the soccer community. Still buying USSF tickets and merchandise?????
Here are a few quotes from Grant Wahl's SI article from 9/22--some comments Mike W just missed!!---"This is purely speculation on my part, but if Klinsmann wanted the final say, in writing, over choosing the U.S.' opponents and venues for games, that would have put him in direct conflict with Flynn, who's in charge of the federation's business side as the de facto CEO, and who relies on friendlies as a significant revenue source.
(Flynn, a former executive with Anheuser-Busch, is U.S. Soccer's highest-paid official, having earned $646,066 in the most recent federation tax statement made available for public review, covering the dates between April 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009. Flynn earned more than U.S. coach Bob Bradley during the same time period. Gulati, a Columbia economics professor, is not paid as the federation president.)---------------"Dan Flynn: The general secretary of U.S. Soccer keeps a low profile, but he may have had the most to lose had the federation accepted Klinsmann's demands. From a business perspective, Flynn has been good for U.S. Soccer's bottom line: Since he took over as general secretary in 2000, the federation has gone from financially shaky to solid ground. That has given Flynn a lot of power inside the halls of Soccer House, but some fans may wonder: Is it too much power?"
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/grant_wahl/09/22/klinsmann.talks.us.soccer/1.html#ixzz10l4BUagy
My take on Klinsmann has always been that there is an odor of Hugo Sanchez about him---the constant lobbying for the job and complete lack of concern about the effect that his undercutting of the current coach would have on the USMNT. That worked out so well for Mexico when Hugo finally got the job.
I'm not necessarily the biggest Klinsmann fan, but the reality is that the USSF had all the time in the world to conduct a thorough, methodical search for a new manager. Sunil and company could've interviewed multiple candidates of both foreign and American descent, and then made an informed decision about who could lead us forward. Instead of a real search, it appears that Sunil talked to two candidates that he was already incredibly familiar with, and was again unable to close the deal with his preferred candidate.
In any case, there is simply no denying that the vast majority of die-hard supporters of the USMNT were outraged over the decision to rehire Bradley and have now become even more so after hearing Klinsmann's recounting of why he didn't sign up for the job. This is a story in and of itself, and I look forward to reading about it in SoccerAmerica.
The United States needs a foreign coach to advance on the world stage....bottom line.
"And the USA doesn’t need a coach to revamp its system."
You are joking right? Last time I checked, youth soccer in the US is essentially a "pay to play" system that effectively freezes out large swaths of potential players. We are a nation of 300 million, there is simply no excuse for the lack of quality players coming up.
Have you noticed Chelsea's starting lineup lately? So many black players in that lineup. Maybe America should start looking in the 'hood for players...
I agree with Mike W. I also think Eugene was spot on!
@James, I would look forward to telling Bruce Arena to "shut up!" to his face, the arrogant tool of MLS/USSF interests. And no, I'm not buying MLS or USSF tickets and merchandise until "regime change" takes place. :)
Are you kidding me!! It is clear and has been clear that the US soccer program needs to be revamped. It is not working, it is wrong; it’s been wrong and if we continue to be in denial then it will remain wrong. The proof; soccer is the most highly participated youth sport in the US yet we cannot produce world class players. There is a lot wrong. It is a money making business. It caters to the well to do and those that can afford, not to attracting and developing the best talent and players with a love for the game.
I coach at a small soccer club in a predominantly minority area in Denver. We try to make it as chip as possible. Yet we have good players and athletes who cannot afford the $75.00 a season. So they drop out or skip seasons. If I drive down 5 miles to the Dicks Sporting Park where the CO Rapids play, I will see players in their Development Academy which cost $2000 a season. A lot of my players, who kick the ball around their yard for the love of it, can run circles around these kids at the “ACADEMY”. But guess who gets scouted and gets the best resources and facilities and on the US youth teams?
NOT THE BEST. But those who can afford to pay for it. You think, Messi’s mom paid $2000 a season for him? Or Beckham’s, or Thierry Henry’s or Ronaldo’s.
Give Klinsmann his pick of 20 athletes from the NBA, NFL and, MLB and a 2 month training camp and they will give the current US soccer team a run for their money. Give me the players that came through my team for the last 2 years and half the resources and facilities of the Rapids Academy and I bet we beat them.
This is my first read of this author and it just continues to confirm, that the people in authority, in positions of influence and power in US soccer just don’t get it!
Great piece, Mike. While I know you're savvy enough to know that this is a controversial topic, I think your position is reasoned and well-articulated. I'd quibble with a few points but I generally agree that there is little evidence that Klinsmann would be the savior of USMNT (though I don't dislike him at all). He certainly doesn't have the coaching resume to demand total control of the whole system.
When you say "the USA doesn't need a coach to revamp its system" I'm not sure if you mean we don't need to revamp our system, or that we just don't need the USMNT head coach to be the one in charge of revamping the system. I'd argue that it does need revamping but I don't see why responsibility must reside with the national team coach.
Anyway, great piece and never mind the haters.
Mike, you're crazy. There's no way that Klinsmann could not have improved the USMNT program. Just Klinsmann's cahrisma and media accesibility would have given US soccer a higher profile. And isn't that what Gulati was lamenting? That US soccer would would have been in the US media headlines another 2 weeks had they beaten Ghana. Well, with Klinsmann, win or lose, they would have had that. Besides that, Klinsmann would have taken US soccer to the next level. At least it would have been a shot. What have you got to lose? Now we'll never know. We're stuck with dull, boring, predictable Bob for another 4 years. Ugh!
I get all the comments about change and Bradley. I was not happy with his contract renewal, but it is still an issue to me of development. We need to get it right with the youth and expand our effort with minorities. Barcelona's success is not an accident and part of that lies with Cruyff. We should reach out to him for his expertise on building from the ground up. Does anyone really believe that the USMNT roster could have won the last WC? The selection of the first eleven even being different in the last game? When we have touch and control like the top six in the world, then the coach will make a huge difference. It gets hard for fans when you don't feel like you are moving in the right direction.
Hey James, thanks for sharing what most of us didn't know about Dan Flynn and his importance to US Soccer, I feel much better now knowing that bit of info. This will obviously help us in our qualifying games as we prepare for the next World Cup. I can sleep peacefully tonight, we're going to be alright after all.............
Lots of comments to digest.... well, I now have learned that Dan Flynn may actually be the "most powerful man in American Soccer/futbol" Maybe Mike should interview Dan Flynn and get an inside scoop... or maybe 60 minutes could do one...
Mike, I've always enjoyed your writing. The only thing is, if Germany---I don't think we need to list the trophies and finals they've played in--- decided it needed to be revamped and gave Klinsi full control, despite the resources and knowledge available at the time in '04 (none of which the USA enjoys)... how can you say the USSF doesn't need to think in those terms? They gave him the control and resources--- and it certainly did get him a lot of flack from the establishment during the beginning of his tenure... right up to the '06 WC. But it needed to be done then and there, just as it needs to be done here and now.
There is nothing wrong with a magazine like “Soccer America” publishing personal opinions of authors like Mike Woitalla or Paul Gardner. It can stimulate discussions and may even generate some value-added impulses. And we should be grateful for having this forum for exchanging our views.
Sadly, what surfaces from these comments and what has been obvious to many of us soccer fans with an interest in the ‘system’ or perhaps even a prior involvement in it, is the suspicion, that USSF still seems to be led by an ‘inner sanctum’ with a very poor sense for sharing the rationale of significant decisions by its Executive with the members of the expanded Board and its fan base via proper and timely media releases.
In an interesting interview with Sasha Victorine of the MLS Wizards Network (refer to www.klinsmann.com), Klinsmann answers the question how close he was accepting an offer by USSF for the head coach job. When it is not a secret that USSF interviewed Klinsmann for the job, why did USSF not issue a PR release, even a brief one, as to why they could not make a deal with him?
I found this part of Mike's article in defense of MLS/USSF particularly hilarious given the example provided in support of the USSF's committment to youth player development. "The USSF, since Gulati became president in 2006, has made player development a priority, introducing the Development Academy league, which fosters MLS clubs’ youth commitment" The US Development Academy caters exclusively to U16 and U18 players, that is far too late when one considers that other countries such as Spain, Holland are addressing youth player development at ages 7+. Moreover, in such countries 16 and 18 year old players are already being signed to professional player contracts. If the USSF/MLS are serious about youth player development they need to start much younger than 16 & 18 year olds, by that time it is far too late for them to gain the necessary technical skills to compete as world-class players.
Sorry, Mike but I feel the USMNT is in a stagnant position with Bradley at the helm and, frankly, was VERY disappointed when I heard that Bradley's contract was renewed until 2014! My passion for the USMNT has been seriously dampened, thanks to Bradley & Gulati! I feel it's time to get a foreign coach...which I never thought I would say...and IMO, there's few better than Juergen Klinsmann! He wants "total control"? I'm fine with giving it to him. I think the entire USSF could use his knowledge & influence. Besides, Juergen has lived in the USA for many years, knows the soccer culture & American player, and IMO would never sabotage MLS, just for the national team. Perhaps, it's because I'm more of a "country over club" person but I just don't feel very confident about the immediate future of US soccer & wish Klinsmann had been given "full power"! Also, wonder if Guus Hiddink was ever approached about the USMNT job? He would've been another solid choice IMO...far better than Bradley! Thanks...for nothing, Sunil Gulati!!
Lets see, Guus Hiddink working under Sunil Gulati..... Just the thought of it has made my day!
Mike, I just want to know how much did Sunil pay you to write this article.
Who cares about the Poalnd friendly! No one supports Gulati Bradley and US soccer since the Klinsmann fiasco. They both need to be fired and USSF needs to be revamped before any meaningfull change can take plsce.