There's an old saying that I think makes some sense: "Praise in public, criticize in private."
It’s one that Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t adhere to. We got a lot of it during his ongoing bashing of the USA’s greatest player ever, Landon Donovan.
Klinsmann couldn’t even manage to refrain from criticizing Donovan on the eve of his farewell game.
The latest targets of Klinsmann’s public jabs have been Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. Two men who like Donovan have contributed more to the progress of American soccer than Klinsmann has yet to match.
On the eve of the USA’s 1-1 tie with Honduras on Tuesday, Klinsmann ripped Dempsey and Bradley for returning from Europe to play in MLS.
Dempsey had been under fire before from Klinsmann -- who offered the opinion last year that Dempsey “hasn’t done shit.”
I get what Klinsmann is trying to do -- raising the bar higher in hopes of motivating even such brilliant and accomplished players as Dempsey to not be complacent.
But is disparaging the likes Bradley and Dempsey publicly before a game really going to get the best out of them? It doesn’t seem so based on what happened against Honduras on Tuesday.
Dempsey is in the midst of a pretty darn good season with the Seattle Sounders. Bradley, on the other hand, is going through perhaps the toughest episode of a stellar career while playing with a historically dysfunctional club he’s trying to resuscitate.
Both Dempsey and Bradley took a break during the most crucial part of their club season to play in a friendly game and were greeted by Klinsmann’s criticism -- which of course went viral.
Bradley, who had an ankle surgery a few months before the World Cup, had a disappointing tournament. That must have been a difficult experience for a player whose dedication and efforts for the USA have always been beyond reproach.
Against Honduras, Bradley was making his first return to national team since Brazil 2014 -- days after Toronto’s playoff chances decreased to a sliver and showing signs in recent MLS games of being a man in distress.
On the eve of Bradley’s return to the national team, Klinsmann did what’s referred to as kicking a man when he’s down.
It’s time for Klinsmann to reevaluate his motivational tactics. And while he’s at it, realize that his MLS-bashing comes across as a hollow excuse when he can't lead his team to a win at home against Honduras.