On Klinsmann's ejection and suspension

By Mike Woitalla

Just when everything seemed to be going right for Jurgen Klinsmann -- storming through the Gold Cup with the USA playing the best soccer of his tenure and on a record win streak -- he's hit with a ban from the final.

Both the ejection and suspension were justified. Klinsmann was upset with referee Walter Quesada in the second half and the final straw was the ball spike. All precedents point to a one-game suspension. That it happened in the 87th minute meant that the ejection would hardly have been a punishment without a next-game ban.

It’s easy to empathize with Klinsmann’s frustration -- because Quesada should have been showing yellow cards for persistent and dangerous fouling.

It was good to hear Klinsmann apologize for his tantrum. It was also interesting to hear him speak quite differently about foul play than he has in the past.

“It was just frustration because you feel the health of your player [is in jeopardy] in that moment,” Klinsmann said after Wednesday’s Honduras game.

Here’s what Klinsmann has said in the past:

In May 2012: "I think we need to get an edge -- more nastier. … Maybe we're still a little bit too naive, maybe we don't want to hurt people, but that's what you've got to do.”

As a TV commentator during the 2010 World Cup, the halftime advice Klinsmann offered for Ivory Coast was to foul the Brazilians.

Klinsmann infamously made Jermaine Jones captain while the German product was on a two-month suspension for premeditatedly stomping on the already broken toe of Marco Reus.

The U.S. coach has repeatedly defended Jones, who has in Germany been dubbed the “nastiest player in the Bundesliga” and a “serial offender.”

“You play against a player like Jermaine in central midfield, that’s a handful,” said Klinsmann. “At the end of the day, in these games it’s all about who is intimidating who, who controls who, which we don’t see [from the] outside. And when you play against a guy like Jermaine, you want the other guys to say, ‘Shoot, I can’t fool around. I’m going into the grind.’ He’s good at grinding people [down].”

Condoning foul play when the opponents are the victims -- using euphemisms for cheating -- and then displaying righteous indignation when your players are those endangered is a coaching norm that plagues the game. And it’s hypocrisy we should not have from a U.S. national team coach.
21 comments about "On Klinsmann's ejection and suspension ".
  1. Gil McCann, July 28, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.

    I agree that hypocrisy is bad in a coach, especially the national coach - actually, advocating hurting opposing players should be enough to disqualify any coach from consideration as national coach - speaks poorly of our nation.

  2. Joe Smith, July 28, 2013 at 1:27 p.m.

    100% RIGHT!!!, NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO BREAK ANYBODY'S LEGS, BECAUSE YOU ARE BETTER THAT THEY ARE. Nobody needs to get hurt, because of being a very good athlete, who's work harder and have better skills that the opponents. It is absolutely wrong, unprofessional and unethical in any sport. For any coach to be in favor of fouling any opposite player, such person doesn't deserve to be a coach, it is a disgrace. Nobody should ever be punished for being good and better in any sport, that somebody else, by getting kicked by a moron that can compete at your level. I know this in my own skin. I got hurt many times as a forward, by people who didn't have a third of my skills, reason, why I can't not play as I used to be.

  3. Frank Cardone, July 28, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.

    Right on, Mike. Regardless of how well the team performs, I will not respect JK until he realizes that there is no place on the roster of the United States national team for a player like Jermaine Jones. He (Jones)is a disgrace.
    Until then I will root for our team as I have done for more years than some of your readers have lived, but I will root against Jones and criticize JK at every opportunity. Neither of them are worthy of my support.

  4. Allan Lindh, July 28, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.

    Cummon guys, there is fouling, and there is fouling. Hard challenges on the ball sometimes result in a foul, but are part of the game. Sliding from behind, studs up, deliberate kicking the Achilles from behind, driving through someone when they are helpless in the air, elbows to the face -- these are yellow cards. Jermaine Jones is large, brave, clumsy player, but I do not remember many, if any, fouls in which he was inflicting pain and/or injury intentionally. Some of the fouls that were not carded against the US were border-line red -- not just persistent fouling. Jones is on the field for the US because of his courage, and his extreme competitive edge -- not for his graceful tackles.

  5. Tim Gibson, July 28, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.

    Yeesh!...this ain't basketball Mike, put a dress on! In big tourney's like this, whistles tend to get stuck, benches shorten & there's a LOT more ice used in the locker room. I get it & you should too. GO USA!

  6. Wolfgang Woischke, July 28, 2013 at 2:07 p.m.

    lets get rid off Klinsmann.....we have sooooo many better experienced coaches in the U.S!!!!.....why can't we look at the overall picture, in how the National Team is being transformed to a potential consistant world wide competitor.....I don't know a single high level coach,who is perfect.

  7. Thomas Hosier, July 28, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.

    I haven't heard Jurgen say "get out there and break legs lads!" What I do know for the first time I have seen a passionate coach on the Team USA sidelines. The team is riding the crest of their longest winning streak in history ... Klinsmann has tinkered with the side and just might take an aggressive, talented, with the heart to win side to Brazil last year. Come on Mike, Klinsmann's leadership has brought some sizzle to Team USA. The way our guys were being mugged by the Honduras thugs I am surprised Jurgen didn't overheat much sooner. See you at the pitch!

  8. I w Nowozeniuk, July 28, 2013 at 2:24 p.m.

    Allan, if what u say are yellow cards, than you're either oblivious to the laws of the game or u are a perfect match for the MLS referee crew. And if u ever played travel ball, u must have worn the enforcer armband for lack of skill. The foul on Beasley deserved a caution; it was an intentional and blatant take-out with malice. And Tim, what for u constitutes an incompetent ref?

  9. Soccer Buff, July 28, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.

    Everyone needs to stop wearing their daughter's panties here.

    Did any of you watch Brazil thrash Spain? Look at how intense, physical and how often Brazil was fouling the Spanish players.

    That's what Juergen wants....DISRUPT their teams play. That's what Jermaine does....Is Holden/Mix/Beckerman intimidating to any other National Team? ummmmm NO. Bradley and Jermaine are far more intimidating and thats why they are the best central midfield for us..........They are physically intimdating, if we had players that are technically intimdating (Iniesta/Xavi) we wouldn't have this discusion.

    None of you probably are NFL fans and you probably think that sport is too barbaric. Ohhhhh don't hit him too hard.......Look at HS Football, College Football, NFL....people gift high five or applauded on ESPN Top 10 for the biggest hits even if the QB gets a concussion.


  10. Eric Schmitt, July 28, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.

    That's right, guys. Let's not have a coach who is passionate, or defends his players. Let's not have a coach who wants to put the best team on the field. Let's not have a coach who is going to challenge players, experienced and young alike. Maybe JK was wrong in his reaction, but to turn this into another "fire Klinsmann" thread is just ridiculous. Wake up and look at what the MNT, in all its incarnations, has been doing lately, and that's WIN, period.

  11. Robert Johnson, July 28, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.

    I think you have misinterpreted JK. The game against Honduras was clearly out of control and the aggressive players were being encouraged to get ugly by the lack of any cautions from the referee staff. The behavior is common in sports when the game has been lost and there is nothing to lose. Unless the referees put a stop to it.

    I think this is a different context than JK's earlier comments concerning the play of US players. Clearly there is a line when "gamesmanship" crosses over and goes to far. I am not condoning intentionally injuring an opponent. However, what I have always said is that, "I don't play dirty, but if you want to play rough I know how."

    Three cheers for Klinsman who protested the poor officiating in the only manner available to him. It will be interesting to watch the career of the referee who tossed him. His actions will not go unnoticed.

    Klinsman's coaching has already been done. The team is ready and will be more motivated than ever by the ejection.

  12. I w Nowozeniuk, July 28, 2013 at 3:17 p.m.

    Soccer Buff, u also need to read and comprehend the laws of the game which when they are not enforced turns the contest into a physical slugfest with only the ref to blame. Just because a squad does not have enough technically skilled players, should refs swallow their whistles when malice and intent occur? As for 'football', it isn't barbaric unless players decide to hurt the opponent; IMHO, for the majority 'football' fans the one thing that keeps them in the game is concussions and stretchers, and not the athleticism; boredom tends to set in when 8-minutes of action puts the mind to sleep during a 3-hour game. And your reference to 'Panties', what does that really mean; never heard that in boot camp circa 1968, and only heard it from the football coaches a la Sandusky types.

  13. Kent James, July 28, 2013 at 3:28 p.m.

    There is a difference between dirty play and aggressive play. Aggressive play (going for the ball when you actually have a chance to get it, NOT going through someone to get it, e.g.) should be encouraged. Dirty play (elbows when the ref's not looking, purposely clipping ankles while pretending to be after the ball, shirt grabbing, stepping on toes, etc.) should not be part of the game. I hope Klinsmann misspoke when he said we need to get nastier, since I would hate to see the US as being the model for "win at any costs, including whatever you can get away with". I think in the Gold Cup the US has been very aggressive in a positive way, and that's great. Brazil beat Spain by being very aggressive (although in that game, I thought the ref let them get away with too much). The game is a better game when teams are aggressive, and certainly soccer is a contact sport, but once players start to cross the line and purposely try to cheat to win, the refs need to put an end to it (and we need to support the refs that do this).

  14. Bill Anderson, July 28, 2013 at 3:38 p.m.

    I support Coach Klinsmann. I realize that many on Soccer America are still upset that Bob Bradley got sacked. I will just point out the complete turnaround in the style of play. It must make the "old guard" sick to their stomachs to see Klinsmann's success with the team. You've passed your expiration date. Time to move on, and let the new regime continue to advance American Soccer.

  15. Bill Anderson, July 28, 2013 at 3:47 p.m.

    After 6 weeks of silence, during the most famous and beautiful stretch of US Soccer, this is what the editorial board of Soccer America comes up with? LOL You guys are too predictable. I will be cheering with Klinsmann on the platform today as he hoists the Gold Cup and in the home of the HQ of US Soccer gives a giant "in your face" to the old-guard.

  16. Soccer Buff, July 28, 2013 at 6:08 p.m.

    I w Nowozeniuk lol you're silly. it's okay you just don't get it. I'm saying Jurgen wanted to bring a BITE to Team USA it has sometimes lacked in midfield. People bashing Kurgen need to give their panties back to their daughter

  17. Joe Linzner, July 28, 2013 at 6:35 p.m.

    Mr James, I agree that there are fouls and there are fouls. And Playing dirty is not at all what JK advocates but to play Hard and aggressive is what he advocates. The game we witnessed against ES was a travesty of refereeing! One side drops at a mere touch whereas the other side gets hammered and no calls. That is absolutely frustrating and not only for the coach. The referee is there to even things out and prevent such fouling. He MUST apply the rules equally and when obvious bias is Evident something is gonna pop. I salute the coach for caring for his players, I salute him for his apology and Mr Woitalla really does NOT understand the game yet sits in righteous judgement. I agree he is not wearing the right type of glasses....Having played this game for nearly 40 years and not an uninjured part on both legs, thigh down and three broken ribs I certainly understand the difference between FOUL and DIRTY....

  18. Bill Anderson, July 28, 2013 at 8:22 p.m.

    Jurgen Klinsmann adds the Gold Cup to his impressive list of Individual and Team Championships. Way to lead the turnaround of US Soccer (despite threats both domestic and foreign).

  19. Nicholas Adams, July 28, 2013 at 11:20 p.m.

    I think Mr Woitalla needs to take a step back and look at the big picture. I certainly don't condone his reaction but many top flight coaches, (Mourinho, Wenger, Ferguson, etc.), will often get 'confrontational' with officials. Does that make them bad coaches?
    When coaching here in America I have found many youth players too 'honest' when they are genuinely fouled and still won't go down!
    Again, I don't condone diving or 'simulation' as it's called these days, but many Latin American players and Continental Europeans are coached to dive or gain an advantage by whatever means, Klinsmann himself had a reputation for diving.
    However this so called journalists 'Holier than thou'attitude is short sighted and it would seem that he doesn't like the US coach because he isn't American and thinks Americans wouldn't do that! How many Baseball, American Football and Basketball coaches do you often see in officials faces.
    Klinsmann isn't my favourite coach but he does seem to be created a culture of winning and improving the US Men's Team.
    Perhaps it would be more useful if Mr Woitalla wrote about the overall poor performance of officials at this tournament and those throughout American Soccer that we sometimes see most weeks in MLS games, I know there are good officials out there but they are a minority in my experience.

  20. R2 Dad, July 29, 2013 at 2:03 a.m.

    There is context for all of these quotes attributed to Klinsmann, but it's lost in this article. MW seems to think otherwise, but I have not heard or read of JK inciting his players to use excessive force or play recklessly, nor have I seen USMNT players engage in that type of cynical fouling. Tactical fouls, yes, but those types of fouls never result in red cards unless 1) it's the players second warning, or 2) DOGSO, and I don't think there has been one send-of in either the Gold Cup or the Hex. So, Nasty would result in a red card (especially with the refs we get), but there is no evidence of it, regardless of the SoccerAmerica interpretation of JK's comments. In case no one remembers, the dunga 94 world cup winners hacked their way through a poor US team (1-0, but should have been 4-0) on the way to winning that tourney, but they are still remembered as winners, not as hacks chopping up their opponents. Winning is ultimately the best disinfectant, and JK appears to be getting our boys ready for the bigger challenges ahead.

  21. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis, July 29, 2013 at 9:36 a.m.

    My goodness but Mr Woitalla is self-righteous today. When did the USMNT get so pure as to have no place for hypocrisy from its coach?

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