Jurgen Klinsmann: 'There is a gap'

[MEXICO-USA] The Mexico-USA friendly comes just four days after Mexico won the gold medal at the London Olympics. Along with its Under-17 World Cup and second straight Gold Cup crown in 2011, Mexico has been the standard-bearer for soccer in Concacaf. “There is a gap," admits U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "It would be foolish not to recognize that." On the eve of Wednesday's Azteca friendly, Klinsmann spoke about Mexico's success and what he is looking for from the 23 players he called up.

Klinsmann complimented Mexico on its gold medal.

“There is a gap," he said. "It would be foolish not to recognize that. If one team doesn’t qualify for the Olympics and the other team wins the Olympics, there is a gap. On the senior level, they’ve done well over the last two years, too. You’ve got to give them compliments for that. In certain elements, there is a gap, in other elements we can close gaps right away. If we just continue our path and work harder to close that gap, I think a lot is happening in the American system. There are a lot of positives happening in MLS and also our youth development in the MLS and the U.S. Soccer Development Academies. The next couple years will be exciting to follow what soccer in the U.S. can do, but at the moment Mexico is a step ahead of us.”

Klinsmann likes the chance to bring some inexperienced players into a high-pressure friendly match to see what they can do.

"Those are the environments where you want to see them and get an impression of those guys," he said. "I’m not worried about having a couple younger players or even new players like Matt Besler or Steven Beitashour. They’ve proven their qualities over a long time in MLS and they’re doing extremely well. It’s a huge opportunity for those players that are coming to Mexico City now and also for us as a whole team to prove ourselves against a good side.”

Klinsmann wants to see his players move outside their comfort zone, whether it is with the national team or with their clubs. He points to the success Herculez Gomez and Joe Corona have had in Mexico, where they overcame various obstacles to become starters.

"Herculez had enough challenges over the last couple years with different clubs always fighting through and then getting back his starting spot," Klinsmann said. "He’s a non-stop fighter. It kind of makes you what you are today. That’s what he proved in the May-June camp. He was so sharp and hungry, he said now we are giving him the chances and he’s not giving that away any more and that’s why he played in all the games. It’s good to see Joe Corona breaking through in Tijuana out of his comfort zone and making his path through the league, but also doing it differently than a player that had to deal with that disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics in MLS that we talked about before.”

Klinsmann says Chicago Fire goalie Sean Johnson also got a call-up in recognition of the hard work he put in following the disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics after conceding a last-second goal in qualifying to El Salvador in March.

“After the disappointment of the Olympics," said Klinsmann, "we told these players that your path will be much tougher than you thought it would be because you’re missing out on one of the biggest opportunities of your lifetime -- an Olympics. For these kids, watching Mexico win the gold medal brought them some tears possibly. What we also told them was when you fall down, you’ve got to get back up and fight your way back. We followed those youngsters and they did it differently. All these players, we constantly observed them and spoke to their coaches. Sean found his way back to balance and put this horrible moment behind him. He focused on work day in and day out, and said I’ve got to do my best possible for the Chicago Fire and that I’ve got to be consistent, that I’m there to help my team win games and that I’m learning something new every day. I think Frank Klopas has done a tremendous job with him and given him lots of support, and that’s why we called him back in.”

Besides Corona and Johnson, U-23s Terrence Boyd and Brek Shea earned recalls -- in Shea's case only weeks after a much-publicized falling out with FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman.

“I had good conversations the last week with Schellas Hyndman of FC Dallas and we both see a lot of upside in Brek Shea," said Klinsmann. "We all knew that after the big disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics that our youngsters from that program would eventually fall into a hole. They would go through emotional rollercoasters. That’s what happened with Brek -- he went through an emotional rollercoaster and he didn’t have himself under control. Schellas and I, we tried to look through all those elements and we think he needs our support and the feeling that we’re there when things get tough. Things got tough for [Juan] Agudelo, [Teal] Bunbury, [Bill] Hamid, Johnson, for all that whole generation that should’ve been in London these last two weeks. It was a tough pill to swallow for them. We are now at a point where we say we have to integrate those players in our plans and give them playing time and possibilities to be close to the international level and the senior national team overall. You see that in Joe Corona and Terrence Boyd. Terrence was one of the players from the Olympic roster that handled it the best because he went back to Europe and took care of his job. For Joe Corona, maybe that moment was just in Mexico and just to keep up playing instead of living that nightmare that they went through for a couple of months like our MLS kids did. Brek has to learn to focus in and learn to become a full professional 24-7 and learn that the highest priority is what you deliver on the field and learn how to live off the field and he’s in the middle of that process."

More generally, Klinsmann said there are lessons to be learned from Mexico's success.

"I think Mexico deserves a big compliment," he said. "What they’ve done the last three or four years is tremendous. They’ve identified a way they want to play and everybody dedicates themselves to that style of play. It shows you that a lot of elements were taken off the Spanish path during the last six years. We often talk about that more technically, and soccer-specifically, that you’ve got to lead to a system. You have to work to a way where everybody is committed to a cause and for each other. The way Mexico outplayed Brazil yesterday was wonderful to watch. They did many good things there. You’ve got to admire that and acknowledge that.”

48 comments about "Jurgen Klinsmann: 'There is a gap'".
  1. soccer know it all, August 14, 2012 at 5:32 a.m.

    mexico have always had a style and mentality of attacking brazil, playing them straight up. they got that first goal in under a minute and had brazil on edge the rest of the game. they beat brazilin dallas just after the us got pounded in dc by brazil in may. Congrats to Mexico with there GOLD from London.

  2. tim francis, August 14, 2012 at 9:13 a.m.

    Some may protest Klinsmans realistic respectful remarks, but they are needed for balanced constructive expectations and improvement. He's presumedly pointing to the hard work needed to playing a harder possession style of play, as the new us youth development curriculum laudibly articulates and the best countries consistently play.

    What's not said is that much more is needed that may be beyond coach and player effort: a matching culture and professional system that supports our best athletes--not just those who can afford it-- to grow our soccer to the level played by Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Spain, etc.. This is an elephant in the room that no national coach or heroic efforts by players and their families can overcome without chiild prodigies that are way beyond Dempsey-Donovan-Bradley level stars. Klinsman and team are likely doing the best they can with what they've got!

  3. ROBERT BOND, August 14, 2012 at 9:35 a.m.

    we close this gap when the elitists at ussa start putting $ into getting our Hispanics in the mix, they are the future here...DFB-Argentina still only espn3 on the espn site...

  4. Jack Niner, August 14, 2012 at 9:38 a.m.

    Let's see from Herr Klinsman 'Mexico is a step ahead of the US' Ya think!? Please leave Klinsman, you've done enough damage already.

  5. len bilous, August 14, 2012 at 10:01 a.m.

    Someone needs to whisper in Jurgen's ear that the quickest way to close the gap is to add visiontraining.com to the national team...after all, you get better results when you play smarter, not harder!

  6. Peter Skouras, August 14, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.

    We've tried everything and I mean "everything...except for one "major Global footballing element...the PROMOTION - RELEGATION system! Do we realize the impact this will have on American Professional Clubs, Players and Soccer Society? A completely "new" challenge which will "test" all of the above until the "final" whistle of any given US Championship! An entire "new" form of "pressure" that will "test" and bring out the "true" American Soccer player which 1.000.000's of hours of training cannot accomplish. PROMOTION-RELEGATION within our Youth Leagues especially in the Competitive ones...PROMOTION-RELEGATION in the MLS, NASL, USL!!! We need to finally "Globalize!" Soccer America, this should be your next Editorial...PROMOTION-RELEGATION and how it will impact American Soccer!

  7. Derek Armstrong, August 14, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.

    Development like most things takes time to bear fruit. Mexico has been on a course for quite a few years now. They have always been the equal of anyone technically. They have added the ingredients that were missing at the youth level. I suspect with great discipline and planning they have set themselves on a course of success which will last for sometime if they breed generations of players with the attributes they are showing now. The Mexican leagues are much more user friendly to young players than the MLS at the moment. Players in Mexico do get their chance if they persist.The league rules insist on this .

  8. Luis Arreola, August 14, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.

    DEREK, CORRECT. Now lets see how different the current youth development systems and player Identification/recruitment are between the 2 countries. Once Usa figures it out then it will take a few more years for results. How long is that all going to take for a country that has the most youth playing organized soccer in the world?? Too much money involved. It will take too long.

  9. Luis Arreola, August 14, 2012 at 11:16 a.m.

    Peter, of course PROMOTION-RELEGATION is the way to go. No one is currently held accountable in USA soccer for anything like player development, player identification, winning at the pro level, etc. Marketing is the focus. EPL allows 8 foreign players I think. MX allows 5 but has rules in place for their Academies. Many Mexican Fans are asking to cut down to 3 Foreign players per team. MLS will improve countries like Honduras, Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica's player pools with it's current rules. Wait a minute, they already have

  10. Peter Skouras, August 14, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.

    Hey Luis...the problem is that "those" who are involved and have input of some kind in the U.S. game will have a difficult time understanding what we are talking about! Unless you derive, have lived or played outside our borders, the Promotion-Relegation system cannot be understood. It has such an impact on many fronts...Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica ALL have Promotion-Relegation! Even countries you haven't heard of have Promotion-Relegation. ACCOUNTABILITY? FIGHTING AS KLINSMANN SAYS? Fighting for what? A place in the National Team? What about getting "Promoted?" You learn how to fight in situations like these...let alone getting demoted! Yes, MARKETING AND $$$$ with Camps or shall we say "day care", gadgets, ploys, etc., is the focus! It's "America" Luis! Now the EPL and Europe is a different issue. Remember, we are dealing with the European Union for the most part where you can work anywhere within its borders! But here in the States? I would think Bocanegra playing in the Scottish 3rd division could explain...Explain? We've known about this for 30+ years!!! I'm surprised with all of the "intellectuals" involved with the "Beautiful Game" that we can't figure out what the problem is! We better get a move on or the "Federal Reserve" will run out and then we'll have the NASL all over again! Have a good day Luis!

  11. Amos Annan, August 14, 2012 at 12:53 p.m.

    Mexico has a 50 YEAR head start and EVERY kid in Mexico wants to play soccer. The US has made great strides in the last 20 years. It will take another generation of work to get to the top 5 elite level of soccer nations.
    All the nay-sayers on this forum have ridiculous expectations or self-interest in selling something.

  12. John Caine, August 14, 2012 at 12:57 p.m.

    One of the biggest challenges is that for a short period of time USA dominated Mexico and "went to sleep". Meanwhile, Mexico's pride got them to work and "close the gap" and look where they are. They are definitely doing very well at the international level. The problem here is that the level of our MLS is far from the one in the Mexico league. We have many older players that come to finish their careers. We have a "privilege" group of kids that are not the most talented. We need the academy system to improve, promotion/relegations and most importatnly, identification of talent among the Hispanic population. There are many kids that are not playing at the "premier or elite" levels because they are Hispanics. Klansmann: "open the eyes of America"

  13. John Caine, August 14, 2012 at 1:04 p.m.

    Another great point brought up by a player that has played in both leagues, MLS and Mexico, is that in Mexico kids are playing at the professional level at age 16-17 because they are developed in their academies. Here, a player, if he is lucky, he is turning pro at age 20 or 21, with few exceptions. Therefore, that is another "gap". Until the ODP program here “gets" it we will not be able to close the "gap"

  14. Luis Arreola, August 14, 2012 at 1:05 p.m.

    PETER, I agree fully!!

  15. Luis Arreola, August 14, 2012 at 1:11 p.m.

    I wouldn't say dominated as this entails constantly beating somebody for a number of years consistently. It was defenitely a wake up call for Mexico to realize what was wrong and adjust agendas and priorities. Losing to USA in World Cup was unacceptable to Mexico. They have now turned the tide in a big way. What will be our wake up call? John, you are 100% correct!!

  16. 0 M, August 14, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.

    “Mexico has a 50 YEAR head start and EVERY kid in Mexico wants to play soccer.”

    You don’t need every kid playing soccer to be elite. You just need about 20 out of 300 million. The fundamental problem is the kids that are paying to play are the ones playing high-level soccer. The other problem is the coaching level in the US is very poor. You cannot create high-level adult players without high-level coaches and high-level youth players.

  17. Bret Newman, August 14, 2012 at 2:46 p.m.

    Mexico hasn't completely leaped over us until they beat us in WCQ on the road. Just like they know how to beat Brazil, we know how to beat them. I would say they only have the edge on us. The Olympic team is not the real team, and this was a weaker Olympic field. Look, even Honduras beat Spain, and Spain didn't even score one goal in all the Olympic games. And as far as promotion/deregulation forget it! It will never ever happen in the MLS. It just will not work here for obvious reasons. The main one being severe attendance drop, which means loss of money, which means teams folding, which means the league folding. If you don't understand that, then you don't understand the American sport's landscape. We have a lot of professional sports in USA competing with soccer, and most of them are light years ahead of soccer.

  18. Luis Arreola, August 14, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.

    The Olympic Team is not the real team??? The Olympic team was made up of the BEST U23'S of each country with 3 overage players. So in fact, each country competed with their BEST U23 TEAM. Spain won the World Cup which is the highest tournament to win with your BEST SENIOR TEAM. Every country has more than one real team at different age groups where the best in each age group represents them in U17, U20 World Cups and U23's for Olympics. It's a showcase on a world stage to see how the emerging stars will contribute soon enough on their Senior's Side soon enough. Honduras U23's proved to be better than Spain's TOP U23's, the same way Spain's Senior Team proved to be the best in the world when compared to other Senior Teams.

  19. Bruce Moorhead, August 14, 2012 at 4:28 p.m.

    Bret, as the song says, never is a long long time. There WILL be promotion/relegation in MLS and the lower leagues, but it will take bigger stadiums and more money from the 2nd&3rd Div club owners. I don't see this happening for another 20-30 years, but it will happen long as the sun keeps shining. Remember, lots of folks said MLS would never last 5 years, and how accurate were they? It takes generations to create a soccer culture, and we are still in the process.

  20. Bruce Moorhead, August 14, 2012 at 4:39 p.m.

    Luis, agree that it is the real under23 team. I am celebrating the fact that CONCACAF went 6-1-3 in the Olympics. It will help people here and around the world understand that we have quality in this region - its not only US and Mex. If we beat El Salvador, there's a good chance we would have lost to Hon anyway. Hon were not far from beating Brazil. It could have been a Mexico vs Honduras final! Remember, Costa Rica reached 2nd round of a WC, and Honduras beat Brazil in 2001 Copa America.

  21. Luis Arreola, August 14, 2012 at 6:18 p.m.

    Bruce crrect. It will be very interesting and exiting to see when all these Concacaf U23 teams reach the senior level wich shouldnt be too long. Canada, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama showed to be able to compete with anyone. Honduras and Mexico raised the bar in Olympics and made it clear Concacaf will be tough for uears to come.

  22. Peter Skouras, August 14, 2012 at 7:43 p.m.

    Bruce...your point is ridiculous! Your view is unfortunately...every country in the world have the Promotion-Relegation my friend...even at the "PUB LEVEL!" Have you ever played or at least had experience in a relegation or promotion situation? Do you know what a wonderful element to clubs, cities, players, it adds? Unfortunately, Promotion-Relegation has it downside, however, Clubs are Promoted!!! This is "FOOTBALL" my friend! And one more major issue...the "Pressure" that comes with "Going Up and Coming Down" brings out the best in players...20 or 30 years? What are you talking about "Man!"

  23. Gordon Hayes, August 14, 2012 at 7:57 p.m.

    Please don't bite on Luis', who never played the game, continued efforts to divide nationalities and races. Go US men and women of any race!!

  24. Ray Cecena, August 15, 2012 at 5:13 a.m.

    The U.S. needs to focus on more strictly limiting the number of foreign players in teams, so that young american players have a chance to show their skills and gain experience. There is talent in the USA, but those players need the experience they are not getting, because they are not playing. By not giving experience to young players, the future national team will not be experienced and will not be talented, because these players did not get playing time. National teams should also be regulated, and all players should be natural citizens. In the Mexican league, Chivas de Gualadajara, is the only team who only uses players born in Mexico. They have been very successful in their existence; they have the most league titles and are the most popular team in Mexico. Although Mexico is not the strongest nation in soccer, they have been improving recently with the new rules implemented to give players under 21 experience. It has forced some teams to think about their youth development, and it has proved efficient. The Mexican national team has won the under 17 FIFA world cup twice in the last 7 years, they have won the Toulon France Cup, the Gold Cup, and most recently the olympic gold medal. These young domestic players have been getting the playing time, and it has proved successful.

  25. mark courtney, August 16, 2012 at 12:28 p.m.

    Ray ... as with autos, protectionist policies will not work. Is the "homegrown" rule working ? Is England developing better players?

    Our US autos "may" be improving - because they had too. Competition always helps !

  26. Luis Arreola, August 18, 2012 at 11:40 a.m.

    Mark, what is the Homgrown rule exactly? Are mls clubs being hld accounable? If not, then is it really a rule or is it more of a suggestion? Mexico is really doing much better with homegrown players , ,mainly because of no more than 5 foreign players.

  27. Gordon Hayes, August 19, 2012 at 2:54 a.m.

    Mexico is, of course, much better at everything than the US.

  28. Gordon Hayes, August 20, 2012 at 2:33 a.m.

    .........Except in soccer since 2000 as US leads series 11-4-3 and, of course, in the World Cup, the most prestigious sporting event in the world, where the US beat Mexico 2-0 in their only meeting.

  29. Luis Arreola, August 20, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.

    USA has not won one Wprld Cup or Olympics.

  30. Luis Arreola, August 20, 2012 at 9:53 a.m.

    Mexco won 2 U17 World Cup and one Olympic. If you cant acknoledge this as better achievements then you are the only racist here.

  31. Gordon Hayes, August 20, 2012 at 12:59 p.m.

    11-4-3 and 1-0-0 and a 1-0 victory at Azteca with not a full roster - someone get some tissues for poor Luis who is even despised by some of his fellow hispanics.....

  32. Luis Arreola, August 20, 2012 at 5:40 p.m.

    Mexico had less of it starters than Usa. Ahould have still won and dominated but you are too ignorant and too racist to admit that. Usa won and I cngratulate them again. A real soccer fan can acknowledge when their own team wins luckily or in a poor fashion like bunkerin. Read all of the posts here and you will see how many acknowledge the poor style of play. We have some real fans. Go Usa, BOO White Supremacy.

  33. Gordon Hayes, August 20, 2012 at 11:16 p.m.

    Luis is the biggest liar I think I have ever encountered - he lies all the time - he is deceitful and ignorant ad uneducated - all one has to do to prove that this man (andI use that term loosely) is the biggest liar is go to the line-ups for the last Gold Cup final and the line-ups for this last game in which the US beat Mexico 1-0 at Azteca and see which country has the most starters/regulars playing......the worst thing is Luis is not really a man he won't admit he is wrong, he won't say 'sorry, I was mistaken' - he will just call everyone a racist..........the second worst thing is he preaches 'honor' on his racially-segregated club website which make him the biggest horses ass hypocrit lying sack of garbage on the planet......this is a person who said the US only had one shot on goal.......this is a person who said every team for the Chicago Magic soccer club is 85% hispanic.......this is a person that never played the game......THIS IS A PERSON THAT IS A LIAR AND IS PROVEN TO BE HATED EVEN BY HIS FELLOW HISPANICS..............But the saddest part of all this is somehow he has a group of parents and kids fooled - maybe through lies and deceit - who knows - I pity his players.................come on, Luis - for once in your life, admit you lied.

  34. Luis Arreola, August 21, 2012 at 10:51 p.m.

    Gordon is a Nazi lunatic.

  35. Gordon Hayes, August 22, 2012 at 1:29 a.m.

    And Luis is even hated by his fellow hispanics.............

  36. Luis Arreola, August 22, 2012 at 11:35 a.m.


  37. Gordon Hayes, August 22, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.

    And he is uneducated so has trouble with spelling.....

  38. Luis Arreola, August 22, 2012 at 10:56 p.m.

    Nazi. Goron hates Mexicans. Gordon, you must hate alot of eople that are born here and rpot for other countries, dude. El Salvador has a bigger fan base than Usa when it comes to filling a stadium here. In fct any country you can think of. Thats a lot of people you hate.

  39. Gordon Hayes, August 23, 2012 at 2:03 a.m.

    The only people I hate are race-baiters and victims and that is you.................How many shots on goal did the US have?

  40. Gordon Hayes, August 23, 2012 at 2:05 a.m.

    Oh, and liars and you are the biggest one I have ever encountered..........How many hispanics on every Magic team?

  41. Luis Arreola, August 23, 2012 at 1:43 p.m.

    On Magics best team mostky Huspanics. U14, U15 & U16. All 3 are ranked tpp 5 in tge country. Lpok at their rosters. Pateadores U14 90% Hispanic ranked #2-3. Yiu are the liar and racist who cant see reality.

  42. 0 M, August 23, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.


    The USA had 7 shots on goal but probably only 1 that was of any significance. Mexico controlled the game but lost due to lack of patience and perhaps pressure to win.

  43. Gordon Hayes, August 23, 2012 at 8:19 p.m.

    Luis - did you or did you not say that there is 85% hispanics on EVERY team for the Magic? The answer is yes you did write that. Is that true? The answer is no (I answered for you because you won't respond even though you know you lied) so don't try and twist it any other way - YOU ARE A LIAR.......her it is for you - "The Magic in Illinois won almost every age group in Illinois State Cup. They are at least 85% hispanics on every team. Same in California and Texas."...........Are you right or wrong? Does not matter - you are a race-baiter and a liar and a person of no decency.

  44. Gordon Hayes, August 23, 2012 at 8:21 p.m.

    O M - the stats were 3 shots on goal for the US and 3 for Mexico - look here http://www.ussoccer.com/News/Mens-National-Team/2012/08/MNT-Earns-First-Win-at-Estadio-Azteca.aspx.......Luis wrote the US only had 1 shot on goal.....He is a liar and a race-baiter and a victim.

  45. Luis Arreola, August 23, 2012 at 9:44 p.m.

    O M, Gordon is stupidly obsessed wth facts that dont really matter. Whocares if it was 1,3,7 shots. My point was Mexico dominated the game but stil lost. Ok Gordon it was 3 shots . Great. Whatever. I ll take your word for it. Who dominatd the game? Come on!! Dont be a coward!!! Ha ha !! Whatever. You dont have to answer because we all know the answer. My visua estimate was about 85%. I didnt take the time to count exactly. Dont be stupid Gordon. The point is the Majoriy are Hispanics and that is the point. Couod be 60% or 90%. But defenitely the majority And thats the point you idiot. Chek those ages since you are a stat man and tell me who the majority is. Pendejo

  46. Gordon Hayes, August 23, 2012 at 10:57 p.m.

    Nobody cares if it was 1,3, or 7 shots but most people with a decent moral compass care if they write things that are not true -you said it was 1 shot and it was 3.........Nobody, other than race-baiters like yourself, care if the Magic teams are 85% hispanic but honest people care if they state something that is the truth or not - you said they were and they are not......and you don't care..........that makes you a liar...........pity you influence children.

  47. Luis Arreola, August 24, 2012 at 9:07 a.m.

    Me stating that the majority of players on Magics BEST Teams are Hispanic is an observation regarding my overal point that Hispanics are biggest maority picking soccer first and therefore excelling in Usa. Whats wrong with this? Is it wrong to ake the same obsrvation ith black people in basketball in Usa? Does that make ne racist as well? Dont be a hipocrit.

  48. Gordon Hayes, August 24, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.

    Luis is an idiot clearly and now I am sure he does not know the difference between truth and deceit.....Truth is stating things that are accurate, deceit is stating things that are inaccurate.........your statement is inaccurate which makes you A PROVEN LIAR.......oh and just looking at the U15 and U17 teams I would say (not facts, just by sight) there are less the half hispanics on those two pre-academy teams...........LIAR - PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM CHILDREN.

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