Klinsmann's men slay the minnow

By Mike Woitalla

In a way, it's not an inviting prospect to face a minnow like Antigua & Barbuda, a country of 82,000 that fails to fill its 10,000-seat stadium for World Cup qualifiers. Not even a soccer stadium, but a reconfigured cricket oval, because soccer doesn't rate as the most popular sport in the twin-island nation.

Antigua & Barbuda has fewer registered soccer players than a small U.S. city. The best the Benna Boys have ever done on the soccer field, besides reaching this stage of World Cup 2014 qualifying, was fourth place in a Caribbean Cup -- back in 1998. The majority of its current roster plays for Antigua Barracuda FC, which finished last in the 11-team USL Pro, the third-tier USA-based league.

So why wouldn’t the USA relish facing a squad ranked 106th in the world? Because the only truly satisfying result would be an emphatic rout. And scoring goals doesn’t come easy for a Jurgen Klinsmann team that had in 18 games scored more than one goal only three times.

The anemic American offense must be particularly frustrating for Klinsmann, once a prolific world-class scorer who now prowls the sidelines as if he’s itching to hit the net himself. On Friday, Klinsmann actually did get his foot on the ball.

This was in the 90th minute. His team had been performing far below the expectations of even the most pessimistic U.S. fans. With a 1-1 scoreline, the USA was slouching toward its most embarrassing World Cup qualifying result since it tied the Netherlands Antilles in 1984.

After an A&B defender kicked the ball out of bounds, Klinsmann pounced and side-footed a pass to Steve Cherundolo so the right back could get the throw-in done swiftly. So he did and Alan Gordon lofted the cross that unmarked Eddie Johnson headed home for a 2-1 win.

Johnson’s two goals and Gordon’s contribution made Klinsmann look a bit better despite the meager win, because they were his surprise additions to the roster. Klinsmann can handle press conferences leading to Tuesday’s game against Guatemala without having to defend leaving Jozy Altidore off the roster.

And while others may criticize Klinsmann for subbing in Jermaine Jones in the 56th minute -- because he predictably got the yellow card that leaves him suspended for the Guatemala game -- I’m not lamenting that.

Building his team around the American-German hatchet man has been the most disturbing aspect of the Klinsmann era. And at least on Tuesday he's forced to take a different course.

16 comments about "Klinsmann's men slay the minnow".
  1. Allan Lindh, October 13, 2012 at 1:39 a.m.

    Cummon that yellow card on Jones was a complete joke. It wasn't even a foul. And while Jones is admittedly a bit of rough old cob, he shares one quality with Gordon and Howard -- he plays hard every minute, like he really cares. That's why he's out there. There are times when the entire US lineup doesn't have enough fire in their bellies to melt a small cube of soft butter.

  2. Nicholas Hurd, October 13, 2012 at 2:07 a.m.

    It wasn't a foul. It was an obvious and intentional and stupid handball. Jones is a joke, in a similar away game against a better opponent (Costa Rica, Honduras ..) he is a red card waiting to happen. Klinsmann needs to go, no strikers make good coaches, too much ego. We beat Antigua & Barbuda 2-1, that's a good result? We had two players out and did not fill the roster spots. Our youth movement is Johnson (28) and Jones (30) (you could even count Beasley after his earlier inclusion). Need a midfielder and a left back, how about Pontius and Lichaj? How did Bayern Munich do with Klinsmann ? I am thrilled we won, but I see no chance of improving under Klinsmann. Get a coach that understands U.S. soccer. The potential is there. Yallop ? Olsen as an assistant ?

  3. Paul Stierle, October 13, 2012 at 7:09 a.m.

    Where's Wondo? I would like to see more hungry MLS players that play with heart. San Jose would of blown this team out of it's park. Klinsman is too german in his approach. I am German but I like the red, white black and blue style of San Jose or Salt Lake. But I am a sounders fan.

  4. David Mont, October 13, 2012 at 7:53 a.m.

    I thought Klinsmann was a terrible coach even before his appointment, and he has done nothing to prove me wrong. The team is completely lost, there is no coherent play, it can't create any chances, it has absolutely no style. They just knock the ball around hoping that something good might happen. It did twice last night against a last place USL PRO team -- I'm supposed to be, I guess, very impressed.

  5. Carl Walther, October 13, 2012 at 4:07 p.m.

    Ever since Klinsmann brought in J.Jones who the German media, labeled the dirtiest player in Germany, and called for his players to "play dirtier," I have lost all interest in the US National team.
    Maybe "thug" soccer is what he's used to, but it's not what I want my kids to see.

  6. beautiful game, October 13, 2012 at 4:56 p.m.

    Too many players had a flat game... noticeably Dempsey and for Mr. Mzeshtam and Hurd's comments, ask yourself how many players on the USMNT have a solid soccer IQ with the ability to make things happen and show up every game.

  7. Karl Ortmertl, October 13, 2012 at 6:19 p.m.

    A win is a win in WCQ soccer. Survive and advance. Just look at the bogus takedown of Goodson leading to the A&B goal. That's why even minnows are very dangerous on their home turf. So far JK's regime has been unimpressive, but to go back to a US coach? I don't trust them on the international scene - the US soccer establishment is way too insular. In the next round, JK will need to make ammends with Altidore, try to coax Dempsey into adjusting his game to what he's got around him on the US squad and try to coax Donovan into showing up, period. We need all of the talent we have at our disposal to make it thru the next round because, unfortunately, JK hasn't built up much of anything resembling a style we can play with. Therefore, individual talent like Donovan, Dempsey, Altidore, Bradley, Torres, F.Johnson and Howard will have to see us through.

  8. John Soares, October 13, 2012 at 10:38 p.m.

    Come on Ric.... you can't have it both ways. After dogging Bradley for years, JK is your hero, fine. But at least admit it. So far nothing to brag about. If you give him credit for the (yet to be seen) great improvements.
    You need to give him responsibility for these extremely poor performances/results.
    A "victory" against Antigua with the winning goal scored in 90th minute is "3 points" but a sad performance.

  9. Daniel Clifton, October 14, 2012 at 11:54 a.m.

    I have to agree with the comment about Dempsey. He hasn't played worth a damn on the national team for a number of games. I don't understand Klinsi's use of 5 defensive midfielders on the team. I don't understand his failure to bring in guys like Lichaj, Feilhaber, and Spector. I think that, assuming we get into the Hexagonal, it is going to be really interesting. I think at some point, like in the second Jamaica game, Klinsmann is going to have to play a more offensive oriented lineup.

  10. Futbol Genio, October 14, 2012 at 1:11 p.m.

    Klinsi said he wanted a "hard(er)" team, and with it comes Yellows & lousy offensive soccer. Germany plays hard soccer & it makes it competitive, but not usually fun to watch. Watch Belgium, Spain, Colombia, Argentina(now), & some others & I know Clint, & Landon, & Jozy, & Sacha, & ...would flourish in similar systems. Sadly, we "in it" now, so all we can do is hold breath & PRAY....

  11. R2 Dad, October 14, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.

    Nick H: we have tried many, many american coaches that "understand" US soccer, but have had poor results. Why go back to a poisoned well? Maybe after all the old guard have retired AND a new, possession-based youth program has been instituted.
    Carl W: In case you haven't noticed, these concacaf qualifiers are quite a bit more physical than la liga allows. Did you notice how Jamaica manhandled the USMNT down there? Unfortunately, we aren't in the group that gets Turks & Caicos, San Marino, Butan, Malta, and Mauritius, with an all-Spanish referee crew.

  12. Bill Anderson, October 14, 2012 at 5:37 p.m.

    Jason Kreis.

  13. Joseph Pratt, October 15, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.

    We can come up with all sorts of explanations and excuses, and, yes, CONCACAF WC qualifiers are tougher than people realize, but this was a team comprising (supposedly!) the best players the US (oh, and Germany...) can produce, struggling against essentially the 11th place USL team. Antigua & Barbuda has 2,200 registered players; the US has 4.2MM!! Pathetic.

  14. beautiful game, October 15, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.

    Amici sportivi...beam yourselves back to earth...the reason Dempsey, i.e.,flourishes in the EPL is the quality of guys around him...that team quality on the USMNT is thin and the results speak volumes of U.S. soccers inability to produce quality through the high school and college pitches.

  15. Luis Arreola, October 15, 2012 at 11:35 p.m.

    The players are here for any type of style. There are European, Hispanic, African leagues all over USA. You want a possession style of play? Gee, where do we find those players? The scouting is the problem. Winning is still what makes all of the big Academies and clubs the money it wants to make. Who o you think will be scouted and identified at U8-U13? The faster stronger players or the more technical ones? Its common sense. If you constantly reward a failed system how do you get rid of it??

  16. Nate Nelson, October 16, 2012 at 12:10 p.m.

    Antigua & Barbuda has fewer registered soccer players than a small U.S. city. The best the Benna Boys have ever done on the soccer field, besides reaching this stage of World Cup 2014 qualifying, was fourth place in a Caribbean Cup -- back in 1998. The majority of its current roster plays for Antigua Barracuda FC, which finished last in the 11-team USL Pro, the third-tier USA-based league.

    So why does the USSF EVEN ALLOW USL TO HAVE Antiqua..The Government of Antiqua is smart as teams from the USA have to trek down at great time and "exspense" .Anitqua tourism visitors come spend money..NOW USL wants to annex the Cuban football league to be a part of USLPRO like they tried with Puerto Rico!

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications