Klinsmann's cronyism reaps its reward: A calamitous Olympic flop

By Paul Gardner

Jurgen Klinsmann decided to give the U.S. Olympic team job to Andreas Herzog. Make that his friend  Andreas Herzog. Herzog had absolutely no special soccer  qualities that made him a candidate for the appointment. His previous coaching experience was hardly a recommendation, as my colleague Mike Woitalla has made clear. In fact, Herzog has one quality that should have ruled him out immediately: he is not American.

Of all the U.S. international soccer involvements, that with the Olympic Games is the one that stirs most resonance throughout the country. Simply because the Olympic Games are a bigger deal in this country than anywhere else. For many Americans -- probably a majority -- the Olympics represent the acme of global sports involvement. It is also an event that the USA is accustomed to dominating.

Soccer fans think differently. For them, the World Cup is the real deal. They have a point. World cup fans are soccer fans -- millions, possibly billions, who live their sport 365 days a year. Olympic fans -- well, who are they? You could argue, not without justification, that they are mostly patriotic flag-wavers who surface only once every four years.

No matter -- the special U.S. relationship with the Olympics is important. It was surely obvious that the Olympic coaching job should have gone to Tab Ramos. It was Klinsmann’s act of cronyism that blocked that. To have the U.S. Olympic team coached by a foreigner is simply a bad idea. And of course it looks even worse when the team flops.

At some point -- let us hope it is soon -- USSF president Sunil Gulati must stop acceding to Klinsmann’s wishes (demands is probably what they are) and assert a less imperial way of running things. Firing the spectacularly underqualified Herzog would be a good first step toward a much needed clipping of Klinsmann’s wings.

Appointments based of cronyism -- “jobs for the boys” is the expression that comes to mind -- have a long history, in all fields of activity, of going sour. Another such setup has just come to grief in Spain.

Who on earth had the idea that England’s Gary Neville could ever succeed as coach of Valencia? His first coaching job, in a foreign country, where they speak Spanish and Neville does not, and where they play a style of soccer that Neville is simply not familiar with. How could he be when he has played all his life in England, for one club, Manchester United?

But Neville got the job because he is a friend of the Valencia owner Peter Lim, a Singapore businessman. Maybe Lim was influenced by Neville’s newly acquired reputation as a television pundit. I’ve heard some of Neville’s punditry and would say this: he is good on English soccer. And articulate, in English. None of which is necessarily going to be of any help in Spain, where they play Spanish soccer and they speak Spanish.

Neville admitted that his biggest problem would be the language gap. Right. But he got the language wrong. I’d suggest it was not the lack of spoken Spanish that did him in, but rather the language of soccer. The Engish soccer language -- i.e. the way that the English traditionally play the game -- differs from almost everyone else. In this sense, it is approximately 50 years behind the times. The key measurement is crosses. The English still insist that soccer is all about crosses. Talk tactics with any English soccer person -- player, coach, fan -- and in no time at all you’re talking crosses.

On the BBC website, journalist Andy West states that one of Neville’s original intentions with Valencia was to have the team “creating attacking width to deliver crosses into the box.”

As though crosses themselves, regardless of what they bring about, are the important thing. How can they be? It must be clear to anyone who has watched more than a few games, that crosses are a very low-percentage attacking weapon. Valuable yes, but not when used relentlessly.

So Neville was in charge at Valencia for 28 games. Only 10 games were won, of which only three were in La Liga. From being a team fighting for a place in the top four, Valencia under Neville became a team involved in the relegation battle.

And so Peter Lim faced reality, and fired his friend. Would that the same reality and willlingness to admit a mistake were alive and well in U.S. national team circles. Ideally, Herzog would already have done the honorable thing and resigned. But resigning or getting fired can mean a big difference in severance pay.

Whatever USSF has to pay Herzog to go, they should do it, quickly. His departure will open the door for an American coach, and it will also make it clear -- above all to Klinsmann, the man who needs to be told -- that cronyism will no longer be tolerated.

63 comments about "Klinsmann's cronyism reaps its reward: A calamitous Olympic flop ".
  1. Goal Goal, March 31, 2016 at 10:15 p.m.

    Immediately above this box it says "no comments yet". I had intended to make a comment but after thinking it over there are no comments needed concerning the dilemma US SOCCER has created here. May it be corrected.

  2. R2 Dad, March 31, 2016 at 11:05 p.m.

    I get that Herzog is a nobody. But look at the list of USMNT coaches: Omid Namazi, Brad Friedel, Javier Perez, Shaun Tsakiris, John Hackworth. These guys, with the exception of Freidel, are also nobodies. And Freidel is a keeper (which might be good but also could be bad). Not only is our player pool shallow, so are the coaching ranks. Hence the urge to swap nobodies, since one non-descript unknown coach is perceived to be interchangeable with another. So US Soccer, please tell us why that's not the case!

  3. Scott Johnson, April 1, 2016 at 2:38 a.m.

    How do you suppose Herzog compares with Caleb Porter, his predecessor as US men's olypmic coach? Porter's a Yankee; won it all at Akron, and now has hoisted an MLS Cup with the Timbers. He's widely considered one of the best of the next generation of American coaches. Yet his stint with the Olympic team was an even bigger debacle than that of Herzog. (Though as was pointed out in another thread, the players he had were mediocre, including two who have since washed out of soccer completely). Casual fans may care about Olympic soccer, but most knowledgable US fans regard it as a youth tourney...

  4. Greg Giese replied, April 1, 2016 at 10:06 a.m.

    Agreed. Olympic soccer for the men anyway has never been on the radar. Hmmm Euro's or u23 Olympics? c'mon. Even the Copa trumps the Olympics by a mile. The strong kids from that age group are already up. That team that AH had was Caleb Porter's. A college coach and they played at college levels. Tolerance for a lack of support was shocking. Players caught off-guard when ball played back to them at that age level is built-in.

  5. Ed M, April 1, 2016 at 9:25 a.m.

    The article title implies the article is about the US men's Olympic soccer team and how badly they did by not qualifying again. The blame is placed on Herzog and the fact that he is under qualified. That is about one line of that. Half or more is about Gary Neville and his failure and why.
    Where is the support for the comment and assertion made that Herzog is not qualified? Who should be the coach then and why? It's easy to write a personal feeling but a journalist has more responsibility to write accurate and informative opinions not just "Trumpisms."

  6. Paul Roby replied, April 4, 2016 at 2:32 p.m.

    The article is about hiring friends for jobs they are unsuited for. The point, not driven home in Herzog's case, is that neither coach had the requisite experience to manage where they were.

  7. Glenn Auve, April 1, 2016 at 9:39 a.m.

    He told you. Tab Ramos should be the coach. He was the coach of one of the youth teams, but now I think he's been "promoted" to being an assistant at the senior team.

    Yesterday's article linked in this article tells you why Herzog was unqualified.

    But maybe we need to recognize that we've got a few good U23 players but not enough to make a complete team.

  8. David Mont replied, April 1, 2016 at 11:55 a.m.

    We may not have good enough players to beat Colombia, but surely we must be able to beat Honduras at home, no?

  9. Ginger Peeler, April 1, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    Scott, I beg to differ! I am in, no way, a casual fan! Soccer is my favorite sport. I've been through the early professional leagues that folded to the indoor soccer that filled the gap to the first MLS teams (and the 2 Florida teams folding). I was fortunate enough to get tickets for all the WC1994 games held in Dallas. I'm also a huge fan of the Olympics, summer and winter. It is not a youth sport that hardly worth our, as knowledgable Americans, attention. You're showing an eletist attitude that has entered our sport. And gotten progressively worse over the years as we are constantly compared to the well established European systems. Our country, our culture, our soccer are different from ALL of those countries. What works so well for them doesn't necessarily work for us. PG was right: Tab Ramos should have been given the opportunity to coach the team. It would have meant a lot to him, where Herzog is obviously of your thinking that it is just "a youth tourney." I was very disappointed with the referee of the second match. The continuous "fall down, go boom" time-eating antics of the Columbians was extremely frustrating to watch...obviously it was even worse to try to play against; Gil got himself red-carded in jig time. I recognize that it was typical time-wasting that is used everywhere, but surely there's some thing in the rules about continuing embellishment? Regardless, I'm sad for our kids and the opportunity lost for more experience for the team.

  10. Ric Fonseca replied, April 1, 2016 at 1:50 p.m.

    Hola Ginger! funny you should mention Tab Ramos, 'cause during the game I pointed him out to my wife, and said, "see that guy leaning on the post (covering the team bench)? take a good look at him, as I think he will be the next US national team coach..." Gee, I hope it comes to pass! And as for the COLOMBIANS "falling down and go boom," well, they're pretty adept at this, in fact, any team that plays us knows how to feign a foul, and know how to sell it to the ref. And a friend was constantly texting me that the US guys need some more weight training and go back to basics. But let us not despair, ginger, let's look at the glass being half full, it ain't empty by a long shot!

  11. Scott Johnson replied, April 1, 2016 at 2:08 p.m.

    In some ways it is unfortunate that the Summer Games are a bit of an afterthought in the soccer world, but it is what it is. Many other international sports (e.g basketball) seem to no problem with the Olympics being the pre-eminent international tournament in the sport; though among major team sports, hoops and hockey are the outliers. Rugby and baseball aren't currently Olympic sports; nor are the various other domestic football codes (American, Canadian, Gaelic, Aussie rules, etc); nor is cricket.

  12. beautiful game, April 1, 2016 at 10:42 a.m.

    Ginger, all the rules are being bent. The referees are derelict in their duties to enforce them. I understand that the flow of the game is important, but the referee should make a pregame statement to both teams what he/she will not tolerate. I.E., how often is a defensive player carded after committing a professional foul off the ball after the referee witnesses it or (should be) alerted by the AR.

  13. R2 Dad replied, April 1, 2016 at 5:57 p.m.

    What you recommend is specifically discouraged in refereeing circles in the US. This would be setting yourself, as the center referee, up to fail.

  14. Larry Chen, April 1, 2016 at 10:50 a.m.

    This country needs to stop blaming the coach for the lack of quality & depth of our player pool.

    how many of the USA starters are currently playing professionally in a top league & getting regular PT on their club team versus the Columbia starters?

    American coach? Haven't seen many in Norcal.

  15. Raymond Weigand replied, April 1, 2016 at 4:24 p.m.


  16. Lou vulovich, April 1, 2016 at 11:28 a.m.

    unqualified coaches from top to bottom, poor or corrupt selection process from U15 up. Fire Herzog and hire Ramos, he can't even get out of the group stages Dallas cup with U20. We have great young players in this country. The coaching style and the selection process are failing miserably. I read so much criticism of Morris, did anyone see one good ball played to him the whole game. Where are all the technical offensive players. When they call Jerome K. a special one on one attacker, that is when I have to shut the TV off. Technically you could have not put a worse combination of players on the field. You don't have to go to Germany or Holland for the players the team brought in, players of that caliber are in every state in this country.

  17. Raymond Weigand replied, April 1, 2016 at 4:25 p.m.

    According to Organizational Process theory...Tab Ramos will not be any more successful. The entire organization would need to change - if change is what you are seeking.

  18. Daniel Clifton, April 1, 2016 at 12:43 p.m.

    I don't know that I can blame Herzog for this failure. How do they lose to Honduras? How did they lose to El Salvador four years ago? As someone pointed out, do you blame that on Caleb Porter? Our whole youth system needs to be revamped starting with Pay to Play. If we continue to rely on Pay to Play for youth soccer development we are going to continue to have mediocre or worse results. I was listening to Herculez Gomez talk about his experience in Mexico in an interview with Grant Wahl and he talked about running into American kids of Mexican descent on these teams he played on. All of them were like him. Their parents couldn't pay for Pay to Play. Mexican clubs are finding these young men and developing them. Until we have a youth development system that doesn't rely on parents paying for their children to play at competitive levels we are going nowhere as a country.

  19. Raymond Weigand replied, April 1, 2016 at 4:28 p.m.

    It's not the "Pay to Play" problem as generally thought of ... not that the teams are closed off to the economically disadvantaged - it is the scouting mechanism that is the failure.

  20. Scott Johnson replied, April 1, 2016 at 5:20 p.m.

    There was a rather insightful comment left over on ESPN, I think--essentially, the US youth system is a "filter, not a net". In other words, it seeks to identify top talent early, develop it in isolation, and from then on keep the riffraff at bay. As opposed to always being open to new players no matter their prior experience, encouraging the most kids to play, and always giving unknown kids an opportunity.

  21. SRH IAM, April 1, 2016 at 12:48 p.m.

    The article lost me when it went on a tirade on Gary Neville's international capability to coach with respect to the headline on "Klinsmann's cronyism." That said, to start with the idea that to coach a US team you must be an "American" is an interesting statement. While I might agree on some of the merits to this argument it changed the course and direction of the article. Should a foreigner coach a National team and is it different when a foreigner like Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho coaches a German or English league team? Who knows? Heck, I'd have no issue with Pep came to the US but that is me personally. Is that really the argument being raised on whether good coaching can only be done with local coaches or was the story supposed to be about "Klinsmann's cronyism?"

  22. Ric Fonseca replied, April 1, 2016 at 1:44 p.m.

    Hey SRH IAM, I had to chuckle at first, then had a darned good laugh reading PG's piece when I saw that I truly believe that he, PG maybe got his two pieces confused, the headline about JK's "cronyism," I said indeed, but then, what in hades does he have to add something about the English Bloke Neville? I know he didn't mean to imply that the concept of cronyism plays big in Europe/England/& the Iberian peninsula, as well as it does here in the goold ole US of A. My advice to PG is to stick to one topic, oh, wait a minute, he didn't have much info to write a whole piece on Herzog, is why he had to fill in about the English dude!

  23. Raymond Weigand replied, April 1, 2016 at 4:31 p.m.

    Ric, you are showing your genius!

  24. Daniel Clifton, April 1, 2016 at 12:48 p.m.

    One of these kids who had approached Gomez said something like: "My parents couldn't pay for ODP (Olympic Development Program)." Gomez said: "Yeah, mine couldn't either." How is that Olympic Development Program working out? What a joke.

  25. John Schultz replied, April 1, 2016 at 9:03 p.m.

    In Illinois it is completely corrupt. They have these A B license coaches scouting kids for their own clubs and cutting others who decided to stop playing for them. It's a complete joke. They offer "hardship scholarships" online but cut the kids who are clearly top 2 players in group fromnadvancing if they apply for it.

  26. Kevin Leahy, April 1, 2016 at 12:56 p.m.

    If there isn't' any talent in this country why, has the Mexican team's set up shop in our borders? Hiring cronies has been going on forever in all walks of life. I would rather see Ramos replace Klinsmann. The U-23 coaching position would take care of itself after that.

  27. Ric Fonseca replied, April 1, 2016 at 1:37 p.m.

    Kevin, you've raised an excellent point, and Herculez is an excellent example of what is going on with Liga MX. Here's a tid bit I've been hammering on for some time now: The Alianza "program" was set up several years after WCUSA 94 by a relative of WCUSA president Rothenberg. this "venture" was supposedl to ID as many youth players and "supposedly" place them on a route to the pros. However, it "morphed" into an indiret marketing branch for Liga MX in that it found a better market in the Latino-Mexican American communities. It has gotten corporate sponsorship and a tv connection, to run what became something akin to a "dream opportunity" while the various Liga MX teams send scouts to cull through the hundreds if not thousands of potential players. What this outfit has done is to act as a surrogate "scouting organization" for teams that offer a carrot and a candied apple to the players and their parents, literally and virtually taking them away from any (???) potential MLS or even university scout. Gomez is but one of hundreds of players with high skills and has been fortunate to be playing pro in both Mexico and now back here. It is a sad state of affairs to have a US-based for-profit group "market" our local talent, yet if no US-based team is willing to grab these talented players, then all power to them and adios amigos! As for the ODP, it is a complete joke, ad Daniel said above.

  28. Raymond Weigand replied, April 1, 2016 at 4:54 p.m.

    The So Cal area (SD & I / LA / IE / R & OC) is rich with talent - probably enough to have a SC Regional team that would challenge any and all USA National teams. And being Regional - would be able to spend more time together on the practice fields.

  29. R2 Dad replied, April 1, 2016 at 6:03 p.m.

    Well said, Ric.

  30. John Schultz replied, April 1, 2016 at 9:08 p.m.

    Ric is absolutely correct. What Alianza does is good but parents and players must be careful what they sign and be better informed as to what they are offered. For one, many of these kids quit school as they make U17 teams in Liga MX because of how demanding This is and because of that clubs priority ezpectance from these kids. Chasing a dream can become a quick nightmare.

  31. John Polis, April 1, 2016 at 2:52 p.m.

    Just a couple of comments here. I realize in reading Soccer America over the last year (at least) that the publication (except for its editor) seem to be on a campaign to get rid of the men's national team coach and all his appointees. I'll just say that every coach I've ever heard of hires people he's comfortable with (and that usually means friends). Many Olympic teams have failed to qualify. Anyone watching the game the other night could see that our players were outclassed physically and in terms of composure. Blame it on the coach? One can always do that. I'd like to see more discussion about the type of players our country is producing and what role that might play.

  32. Ric Fonseca replied, April 1, 2016 at 3:57 p.m.

    Hello Jphn Polis: Yes, I agree with you that some in SA have been on a bent to get rid of JK & Co., and I agree that visturally ALL coaches usually hire those who mirror their style, qualities or skills, and this is something many do not agree with. True Hertzog appeared - or was - over his head, and as for the players, I've always maintained that it IS up to them to perform on the field, 'cause once the whistle blows the only thing a coach can do is agonize, and obviously cannot play the game FOR the team. And lastly that our players abilities must improve is a no brainer, and in danger of sounding goofy, like Confucious said, in order to begin a thousand mile journey, one must take the first step, and as I said above, the glass is half full and lordy-lord, it ain't empty!

  33. Dan Phillips, April 1, 2016 at 3:04 p.m.

    There is nothing to fire. There are no more games for Olympic under 23 team for another 4 years, when the next Olympic qualifying comes up. So what is the big rush. I am sure there will be a new coach in 4 years from now!

  34. ntx soccerchat, April 1, 2016 at 3:25 p.m.

    Why the implications a foreigner is the issue? It didn't affect Sir Alex at ManU, nor Jose at Inter or Chelsea (the 1st time) or Real, it hasn't hurt Pep at Bayern....seriously??

    Why no article asking for TRs head when the 20s don’t advance from group play at a youth tournament in Dallas? Playing a field of what many claim was against watered down competition compared to other years? Does he get a pass because he’s one of us?

    Our struggles are from three problems - First, we aren't very good.

    Our elite do not match up to the elite around the world in virtually any age group after u14 (with a few individual exceptions, and a handful of exciting team results each cycle).

    We are technically and tactically deficient as a nation. The 23s vs Colombia verified that. The physical and psychological pillars are under control. But until we invest heavily on technical and tactical mastery at a speed of play comparable to what the best in the world face on a daily basis, we are spinning our wheels. It doesn't matter who is in charge.

    The second problem is talent identification. I believe many of the best players fall through the cracks (and Mexico and other South American federations agree that’s why they recruit here). And with no top-down playing structure it’s difficult to identify the best of our best. Who’s the best #6 in our u16 player pool? I bet if we examined that group together you and I would identify 2 different players. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that neither one of us is clear what a USMNT #6 should look like?? Maybe the answer is so subjective it doesn’t matter? Maybe we should be identifying the top 20 #6 prospects?

    And that brings us to problem #3 – coaching education – especially at the youth/grassroots level. The USSF isn’t helping here by saying they’re the only show in town and you get all your education from them only. Can you imagine any university or school taking a similar stance? The Fed should lead the charge in coaching education, helping any organization to align to similar standards, methodology, identification methods, playing styles and systems. But in an organization with so many Chiefs (apologies for the expression) this is very difficult. And until we teach our youth coaches how to develop technically and tactically superior players, we are (again) spinning our wheels.

    There is a soccer problem in this country. Pointing fingers doesn’t solve anything. Solving the problem solves the problem.

    Firing JK and hiring TR isn’t going to solve the problem. It might fix things in the short term (I doubt it), but the long term should be our focus. IMO we are no closer to winning a World Cup than we were in 2010, 2002, 1994, etc. That’s the opposite of progress and JK has little to do with that. Sorry for the length.

  35. Ric Fonseca replied, April 1, 2016 at 3:48 p.m.


  36. Raymond Weigand replied, April 1, 2016 at 4:57 p.m.


  37. Joe Linzner replied, April 1, 2016 at 6:07 p.m.

    Amen, a most thoughtful comment. Personal have opined similarly on several boards including "Bigsuccer" (sp. intended) only to be branded, blowhard..... Trump territory, build walls, don't let anyone in and bomb everyone into hell unless yer Americun.... There will never be an acknowledgement that we are technically sub par. How can we be, were American, that we are no longer better conditioned than other teams (injuries because of over training, not because we are NOT in condition to begin with) Anything negative, coaches fault, anything positive, the coach did it wrong anyway. Like Mr. Fonseca says, the coaches ability to do anything during a game stops at the sideline. Blaming the playing out of position issue as underperformance is plain BS. Switching positions is a technical strategem in every game or should be... modern soccer demands it. I remember a high school coach running up and down on the sideline screaming at players to stay in position. His record: W-0, L-10 Again great post....

  38. Vince Leone replied, April 1, 2016 at 6:18 p.m.

    Amen, brother!

  39. SRH IAM replied, April 2, 2016 at 12:12 a.m.


  40. Greg Milton, April 1, 2016 at 4:43 p.m.

    Tab Ramos teams lose slot too. He is sitting there next to JK. So ia Tab a crony? The US lost to Colombia, a pure soccer nation. The US finished with 9? In England when Beckham made a little foul, he was sent off and they had effigies hanging from light posts..he had to sequester himself n family. This articke doesn't lay any blane on the players!!! There's no blame for the various club and acadamies that for whatever reasons promoted these players as the best. shy is Jordan Morris on the national team when he plays soccer like its lacrosse? Why doesn't US soccer allow every poor kid, undocumented kids tryout and I am certsin there are many strikers and mids to choose from. The results will not change until the talent pool is expanded to include every talented player and especially the poor kids who are systematically pushed out of soccer, bc the truth is that those kids play harder and better. JK cronyism aside, the USA team just wasn't that good

  41. Greg Milton, April 1, 2016 at 5:19 p.m.

    Tab Ramos teams lose alot too. He is sitting there next to JK. So ia Tab a crony? The US lost to Colombia, a pure soccer nation. The US finished with 9? In England when Beckham made a little foul, he was sent off and they had effigies hanging from light posts..he had to sequester himself n family. This articke doesn't lay any blane on the players!!! There's no blame for the various club and acadamies that for whatever reasons promoted these players as the best. shy is Jordan Morris on the national team when he plays soccer like its lacrosse? Why doesn't US soccer allow every poor kid, undocumented kids tryout and I am certsin there are many strikers and mids to choose from. The results will not change until the talent pool is expanded to include every talented player and especially the poor kids who are systematically pushed out of soccer, bc the truth is that those kids play harder and better. JK cronyism aside, the USA team just wasn't that good

  42. Raymond Weigand replied, April 1, 2016 at 5:38 p.m.

    Hah! Very well observed.

  43. John Schultz replied, April 1, 2016 at 9:12 p.m.

    None of the USA teams are good. Look at Uni U18 U19 U20 results in last year.

  44. Kevin Leahy, April 1, 2016 at 7:04 p.m.

    Do you really mean to say that, as players, you did't have good coaches & inferior ones. The national team players have always struggled to show the same pedigree technically as the best playing countries in the world. That should not mean we should except inferior coaches. An excellent coach makes all the difference in the world. 2002 is a perfect example. We used the best assets we had to take our game to our opponents.

  45. Lou vulovich, April 1, 2016 at 7:29 p.m.

    Soccerchat, great comments. where i respectfully disagree is it matters greatly who is in charge, from top down. We are hiring coaches with no prior training
    to learn at the expense of generation after generation.
    There is a huge difference between developing and playing to win.
    What is in place to develop players, IMG who are the accredited, experienced coaches, with 10-15 years experience in development at all ages with proven backgrounds, from successful International programs working there.??
    The issue is not about foreign coaches, but i guarantee you as a foreign player and as a foreign coach, you are held at a different standard and you should be, everywhere except here.
    A country of over 300 million people using practically the same 35 players from U15-U23, all being led by coaches with 0 development track records.
    Based on what I see l
    Landon Donovan qualifies to coach our U20 tomorrow.
    No other countries is the criteria to work with youth internationals as low as here. And 0-0-0-0-0 Accountability not only for the results but for the level of play.

    Last of my post. Who experiments with 25 year old internationals at different positions every week, that is ridicules. You can play players anywhere on an emergency basis, but musical chairs with 25 and 30 year olds that ridicules. Jordan Morris has a lot of potential but he is not a old school English striker for people to give him 50 yard long balls and chase them like a dog.

  46. John Schultz replied, April 1, 2016 at 9:16 p.m.

    Agree 100%

  47. ntx soccerchat replied, April 3, 2016 at 12:14 a.m.

    Lou- I should have been clearer. Of course it matters who's in charge, I just don't think it makes a difference re: cronyism, as implied by the title of the article. Fire JK and hire Sigi Schmid and you will see the Thomas Rongens of the world back in the ynt. This will bother some people more than me because I don't think there are that many secrets in soccer that make 1 coach better than the next. For me, it comes down to having a clear playing philosophy, possessing the ability to communicate that philosophy clearly and simply, and having the players with the ability to implement the philosophy would be nice as well lol. I like the img comment but I think we need more imgs, not one (we're too big). MLS will argue that's what they're trying to do with their da systems but I'd say they're not there yet. I don't think JK is the problem. I just think trying to change our soccer system is like someone in Washington trying to change health care (withdrawn, Your Honor).

  48. Joe Linzner, April 1, 2016 at 8:40 p.m.

    Here is a comment that proves that we again keep the players blameless. The US player default mode is Old school bunker and boot and counter. Long passes do not make an effect attack strategy. Just for laughs, next time the US plays a game count how many times a long boot connects with an American player. Replay the Friday Guatemala game. Do the count yourself. Then count the number of simple passes do not connect. Go a step further, count how many we lost because a Guatemalan player steps in front of our player to steal the ball.... a simple step or two towards the ball would stop that dead. BigSoccer experts maintain that my old advice of stepping toward a pass is not a part of the modern game. I was told to NEVER EVER wait on a ball. That is part of situation awareness and is part of basic soccer. It is proof that our coaching system, based on non- soccer educated people, is not up to snuff. A coach of a national team operates on the assumption that all basic are clearly understood and when they are not, who is to blame. Just rewatch the game with a critical eye based on the players. Positions are unimportant when the player is basically inept. It's like solving Calculus equations without a strong basis in Algebra.... or writing a book without understanding English and the vocabulary. When one is standing around watching the ball bounce without attempting to intercept whose fault is that? They were both backs. Not at all out of regular playing

  49. Scott Johnson replied, April 2, 2016 at 1:44 p.m.

    Long passes CAN be an effective strategy--if you have players with the skills to connect them. There's a difference between Pirlo passing the ball over the top to a teammate who has gotten behind the defense (hopefully staying onside), and a US centerback clearing the ball to nobody in particular the second he gets his foot on it. (And panic clearances are sometimes the right thing to do). But the long game can be beautiful if done right--and given that US players often do well on things like athleticism, this might be a style to adopt.

  50. milton stevens, April 1, 2016 at 9:09 p.m.

    paul gardner off on his hobby horse. usa sucks because we are too lazy - and look at our phones 24/7. duh

  51. cony konstin, April 1, 2016 at 9:16 p.m.

    It doesn't matter who coaches the U.S. At this point. We have No flair, no creativity, no genius, no elegance, no beauty and no spectacular.. It was one dimensional, robotic, boring football. The question you have to ask yourself is why? First reason. Did these kids grow up playing King of the court 24/7/365, for free and with no adult interference? No! Did these kids grow up playing on dirt fields? No. Did these kids play on broken glass and rocks? No. And why do we know that? Because most of these players are stiff in the hips , have a weak first touch, and are afraid to take on one or two players... Bottom line. We need radical change.. We need a new vision. We need new leadership.. We need a 21st century master plan. We need a soccer revolution... We need 600,000 Futsal courts in our inner cities and suburbs so our kids can play king of the court, 24/7/365, for free and with no adult interference... For the past 20 years US soccer has spent billions of dollars and promoted gimmicks, smoke n mirrors, $400 cleats, robotic coaching, and pretty uniforms... It is time for a Soccer REVOLUTION!!!!!!!! in the U.S. This is not about one person. We need a national movement. Not a national coach...

    Think about it. We take our number one resource in the U.S. which is our 5 to 8 year olds and we hand them to a nice parent that can't even kick a ball and we ask this nice parent after a nice volunteer hands the nice parent a bag of balls, cones and bibs, then ask this nice parent who can't kick a ball to teach the basic fundamentals of the beautiful game to a group of children who barely can tie their shoes. This is a total disservice to the children, our country and the game itself. No. I am sorry it's a travesty. No, I am sorry again it's an abomination. Now I am not running for president of the U.S. So I am going to speak my mind. I have been coaching for 41 years and it is time for a national movement to straighten this menusha out. Our kids can't dribble, pass, shoot, head, trap, and their first touch is their last touch. People in charge need to be kicked out. We need a SOCCER REVOLUTION in the U.S. We need to create a NEW SPARTA!!!!!!

  52. Scott Johnson replied, April 2, 2016 at 1:53 p.m.

    If a kid's first exposure to the game is rec soccer, in some ways he's already behind. (Fortunately, all of the volunteer rec coaches I've dealt with know how to play the game, and are in good enough shape that they can teach it by example). But there's nothing the coaching apparatus can do to get kids to play soccer in the street at a young age--that's up to the parents and the culture. Of course, one problem with U5-U8 rec soccer is you have MANY kids who are still developing their large motor skills, and for whom kicking the ball reliably may be a challenge--alongside other kids who look like little Messis on the pitch (at least by comparison).

  53. James Froehlich, April 2, 2016 at 1:47 p.m.

    Ridiculous premise for the article! How the mighty have fallen. PG was always good for an iconoclastic perspective on the US soccer scene but that has turned into sheer mean-spiritedness. There are always lots of reasons to criticize a coach but I would have to put his nationality at the very bottom of the list.

    Regarding the issue of why the level of US players seems to fall short, I personally would have to lay the blame on the coaching fraternity. Having been reintroduced to the world of youth soccer recently, I have to say that not much has changed. The emphasis on pure athleticism has continued. While more small sided games can be seen, it is no way near enough to the number of mind-numbing drills. Too often the games are nothing more than a reward to the kids for putting up with the drills where the coaches can take a break. Instead, the games need to be the focal point of training where the coach is constantly interrupting to point out the good and the bad actions. One thing has become more obvious-- youth coaching is definitely a money making proposition for coaches and the clubs where winning now is more important than development.

  54. Scott Johnson, April 2, 2016 at 5:34 p.m.

  55. James Froehlich, April 2, 2016 at 6:06 p.m.

    Scott--great article! One comment: the author refers to the much mentioned lack of pure unorganized soccer in the US. I would amend that to say that there is soccer being played outside the regular club team environments and its in the Hispanic communities. For over 25 years my son has sought out and played with these lovers of the game. The problem is that no official scout ever takes the time to search for these 'hidden' enclaves of talent. The reason, there's no money in it plus maybe just a hint of bias--can't take those college scholarships away for those suburban kids that have dutifully paid their club fees for years!

  56. Scott Johnson replied, April 2, 2016 at 6:48 p.m.

    If by "no official scout" you mean "many of the suburban pay-to-play clubs, NCAA scouts, and perhaps a few clueless pro franchises", correct. On the other hand, certain MLS clubs are well aware of their Latino communities; up here in Orygun we've got a couple of Liga MX academies in operation, Oregon State University is sponsoring numerous mostly-Latino clubs operating in the Willamette Valley through the 4H program run by the ag extension office. And there is something called La Amistad Soccer Club, which is getting a rather infamous reputation in Oregon youth soccer... :) But in many geographies, Latino players, particularly those with passports other than US, have a better shot with Liga MX or other Latin American clubs than they do with the norteamericano soccer apparatus.

  57. Ric Fonseca, April 3, 2016 at 12:04 a.m.

    Scott, it is interesting to read about what is going on in "Orygun", which is what, half the size of California? However, your last sentence is mystifying vis-a-vis "Latino players... with passports other than US..." I do take issue that they have a better shot with Liga MX, etc. first is 'cause even though they may have been born in the US, many do not have a US passport, and those born south of the border, do not have a Mexican or Honduran or Salvadorean passport - remember they probably came here with their parents as toddlers or on their own, and getting proper (whatever this may be) documentation is highly problematic. And that they don't have a better chance "...with the norteamericano soccer apparatus...(sic)" (again, whatever this may be...) is subject for another long comment or article, the most simple answer is that they're simply not only scouted but not wanted!

  58. Scott Johnson replied, April 3, 2016 at 11:54 a.m.

    Absolutley no malice should be inferred from my words, to be clear...and "passport" here refers to citizenship, not the actual document, which many Americans certainly don't have. It's my understanding that Liga MX has a long history of preferring Mexican nationals, especially through its youth system (including abroad), as opposed to big-name established foreign talent it might try and sign. That's all I meant by my prior comment, nothing more. And while Orygun is a fraction of SoCal population-wise (the entire state has a pop of less than 4 million), it isn't Alaska...

  59. Nalin Carney, April 3, 2016 at 10:49 a.m.

    I still believe that Klinsmann & Herzog should be fired. PS- Klinsmann also left the best U.S. player home for the 2014 world cup. GO FIGURE ~ ~ ~ WAKE UP SUNIL ! ! !

  60. Andy Cap, April 3, 2016 at 12:59 p.m.

    Cronyism - Isn't that what US Soccer has been about for decades in coach and player selection.Why is it a bigger
    deal when the cronyism is done by foreign coaches. I agree Tab should have been given the job ahead of Herzog
    but what happened in that appointment has been going on for decades at various
    levels of US soccer.

  61. Scott Johnson replied, April 3, 2016 at 1:20 p.m.

    One interesting thought: In the sports we're Really Good at, the professional leagues pretty much ignore the various international federations (and the local entities running Olympic teams), or at least can ignore them. The NBA has good relations with FIBA but does its own thing; the NCAA does its own thing (and different things for men and women), and high school hoops all do their own thing. Control over these sports is distributed. But not only does soccer have organizations exerting control over the sport, it has many such things...

  62. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, April 4, 2016 at 7:44 p.m.

    The sports we are really good at also happen to the the sports that only we care about.

  63. Scot Sutherland, April 11, 2016 at 6:50 p.m.

    Thank you PG for pointing out the obvious. Herzog was a poor choice, and also for pointing out that Klinsmann needs his wings clipped. Why didn't you take the extra step and ask, "What else would be we expect from a National Team coach who is not American himself?"

    The 1980 Olympic Hockey team had fewer talented players in hockey than the US has in soccer these days. They won the Olympics, not because they had better players, but because they had a coach who understood American players and understood how to make a team out of them.

    I simply don't think we'll have what looks like an American team until we have an American coaching them. Then maybe we'll have the "Miracle on Grass."

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