Stepping on toes? That's not the solution to improving U.S. soccer

By Mike Woitalla

Do you wonder what kind of advice Jurgen Klinsmann was giving his players during their loss to Argentina?

The U.S. coach revealed some in his post-game press conference. After the USA managed zero shots, one corner kick, and had only 32 percent of the possession in the 4-0 defeat, Klinsmann said he had screamed at them to “go at them, become physical, step on their toes.”

Step on their toes? I wonder if that’s what the U.S. Soccer Federation is teaching at their recently revamped coaching schools.

If that phrase rings a bell, it’s because after a 4-1 friendly loss to Brazil in 2012, Klinsmann said, "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. … We've got to step on their toes more and get them more frustrated."

Of all the assessments one can make about the Copa Centenario semifinal, a lot more comes to mind than the USA “showing too much respect,” as Klinsmann complained about his players, and a lack of toe-stomping.

For example, Argentina had a player who hit accurate short-, mid- and long-range passes to his teammates throughout the game. And that’s just Sergio Romero, the goalkeeper.

Whenever the Argentines failed to find a gap in the U.S. defense, they passed back, to the defenders, and very often to Romero, and launched another attack toward a different part of the field. No doubt this possession play tired the U.S. players.

You would never have guessed that the Americans had four days of rest after their quarterfinal and Argentina only two days. Because the Argentines, all of them, had the skill and savvy to, as they say, let the ball do the work.

Klinsmann deserves credit for guiding his team to the Copa Centenario semis to get to play a team that finished runner-up at the last World Cup and Copa America and is No. 1 in the FIFA World Rankings. Besides being a valuable, although frustrating, experience for his players, it also exposed an audience of millions of U.S. TV viewers to the fantastic brand of soccer played by the Argentines.

There are not many teams in the world that could have done better against this Argentine team, which had the greatest player in the world, Lionel Messi, at his finest. And is so stacked with talent that Sergio “Kun” Aguero, who scored 24 goals in 30 English Premier League games last season, was left on the bench.

Would the USA have fared better if they had gotten more physical? It’s not like they played like choirboys. Clint Dempsey nailed Javier Mascherano with a forearm to the neck and Brad Guzan felled Ezequiel Lavezzi with a left-arm swing in the first half. Both Dempsey and Guzan were lucky to escape without getting carded and neither strike helped the U.S. cause. At the final whistle, the foul count was 12 by the USA and seven by Argentina.

Chris Wondolowski getting physical did hurt the USA big time. After mis-trapping a pass from Kyle Beckerman, Wondolowski kicked the ball back into the U.S. half. He gave chase and wrestled Messi to the ground even though Messi still had three U.S. defenders and Guzan to beat. Messi scored on the ensuing free kick.

Wondolowski was starting for the first time in the tournament because Bobby Wood was serving a yellow-card suspension thanks to foolish flying tackle at midfield against Ecuador. Also missing for the semifinal was Jermaine Jones, red-carded against Ecuador, and Alejandro Bedoya, a starter in the first four games who got his second yellow in the quarterfinal.

Jones’ red card against Ecuador ruined the USA’s chance to play a man up for 38 minutes and made what could have been an easy win a 2-1 nail-biter. In the 1-0 win over Paraguay, the USA had to play 42 minutes short-handed because of the DeAndre Yedlin’s ejection for two reckless tackles.

One can’t help wondering whether some of this indiscipline comes from Klinsmann imploring his players to get nasty and step on toes. His assistant, the Austrian Andi Herzog, after failing to qualify the U.S. U-23s for the 2016 Olympics said, “We have to play nasty, too.” He said that after a 2-1 loss to Colombia during which his team collected two red cards and six yellows.

Did John Brooks, who was lucky the ref didn’t see it, sprint down the field to shove Michael Arroyo in the back, during the Ecuador melee that got Jones ejected, to impress his coaches who want nasty?

Who knows? But one can only hope that Klinsmann doesn’t really believe that getting more physical is the solution to closing the gap between U.S. soccer and an Argentina, whose superiority comes from individual skill, creativity and clever combination play.

70 comments about "Stepping on toes? That's not the solution to improving U.S. soccer".
  1. John Tarley, June 22, 2016 at 5:21 a.m.

    Ask Roy Keane.

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, June 22, 2016 at 6:29 p.m.

    My understanding is that Roy Keane advocates rough play as a counterstrategy to force opponents to stop rough play and get back to playing soccer. He played in a league where teams typically attempted to intimidate opponents with reckless tackles. While he did what he felt necessary, I don't think he confused stepping on toes with playing soccer. My understanding is based on reading and watching, so I don't know what's true first hand.

  3. John Bolger replied, June 23, 2016 at 5:56 p.m.

    If we had Roy Keane on the team, we would be playing Sunday

  4. Gus Keri, June 22, 2016 at 9:02 a.m.

    Spot on, Mike. I have always questioned this philosophy. It seems that Klinsmann is trying to compensate for the lack of skills in American players by pushing them to be nasty. Obviously, USMNT is paying the price each time they step on toes.

  5. Wooden Ships replied, June 22, 2016 at 9:19 a.m.

    Gus, he is compensating, I agree. I do like the article, and no it doesn't need to be a part of the coaching curriculum. There is however an understanding that there is a place for physicality. That too requires a level of sophistication. I don't believe JK and Herzog and MB are strong leaders.

  6. Gus Keri replied, June 22, 2016 at 11:40 a.m.

    Agree with you, Wooden. There is a sophistication for being physical. But if the players don't have it, the coach should not encourage it. This is Klinsmann's mistake.

  7. Andrew Kear, June 22, 2016 at 9:13 a.m.

    Klinsmann is lowering the bar when it comes to US soccer.

  8. :: SilverRey :: replied, June 22, 2016 at 5:55 p.m.

    Seriously, instead of actual tactics JK wants us to rough them up. Great vision there.

    Is that the road map given to achieve JK's 'exciting, pro-active' soccer?

    Looked like empty bucket / boot the ball defense to me....

  9. Richard Beal, June 22, 2016 at 9:20 a.m.

    What did you think was going to happen when #1 plays #31? Our players are not good enough to compete against elite teams and that is no fault of Klinsmann.

  10. Sean Patrick Kersten replied, June 22, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

    Our players could not keep up with the speed of the game, due to our lack of talent in mid field. The MLS, the great feeder league to the MNT is a second rate league where the old European players go to retire and extend careers a few years. Bradley is a case and point a STAR in MLS is lost when playing at speed of Argentina and Columbia. How many passes did he make that were intercepted for goals or chances on goal during this tournament. Was disappointed with choice of Beckerman and Wondolowski, would prefer youth and speed, i.e. Pulisic and Nagby. Time to retire these two players and look for replacements, but until MLS developers creative players to compete on World stage US will suffer.

  11. Andrew Brown replied, June 22, 2016 at 6:25 p.m.

    That's would be a nice excuse except I can remember 1994, 2002 and 2009. I've seen how it can be handled and apparently Klinsmann has no idea how to do that.

  12. ROBERT BOND, June 22, 2016 at 9:23 a.m.

    put me to sleep...

  13. Ray Almubaslat, June 22, 2016 at 9:32 a.m.

    We always sound like a broken record blending Klinsmann or Bradley or whoever for the lack of creativity or lack of confidence with the ball that our players have when it comes to competing against the best in the world in Soccer.

    With all respect to everyone who seems shocked at the US loss to Argentina you must have never seen or lived through international cultures of Soccer who play the game day in and day out from the age of 5 on the streets, in the parks, at schools and in clubs. I say this because if you did you would know the real problem with US Soccer. It is not about stomping on players feet or playing nasty that is going to make us a better Soccer nation (I always felt we have always done a fantastic job at that all along :) But rather it is about raising a generation from the age of 5 on playing, living and breathing the game day in and day out. It is about turning our public parks into pickup Soccer venues for children at all ages to play the game together without the constant supervision of parents and adults so they can learn to feel the ball and cherish the game in their soul and develop the real connection that should exist between them and the Soccer ball. This is where kids learn how to play Soccer, not on organized sessions with the constant interference of coaches and clueless parents, and certainly not while spending their time sitting on couches playing FIFA video games.

    In the United states we believe that we can program kids to become top Soccer players and end up coaching them minute by minute and holding their hands play by play without letting the kids figure it out on their own through trial and error and learn how to create and innovate for themselves on the Soccer pitch. This is the only way it can be done and if you try to cut corners like we have been trying for the past 20-30 years we will continue to fail.

  14. Wooden Ships replied, June 22, 2016 at 9:47 a.m.

    Bingo, bingo, bingo Ray.

  15. Ray Almubaslat replied, June 22, 2016 at 9:52 a.m.

    *blaming Klinsmann or Bradley..(fixing typo)

  16. Seth Vieux replied, June 22, 2016 at 10:52 a.m.

    Spot on Ray.

  17. Al Gebra replied, June 22, 2016 at 11:34 a.m.

    Ray, I agree with you to a degree. But what I observed when I was with a large US company living in Guadalajara for 2 years, I would see kids playing pickup basketball and American football games and tennis. Then I would see these same kids go out and play some very good soccer. What I picked up on when they played soccer was they did the same moves as they saw the Mexican pros did plus they even walked, talked and made the same gestures as the pros did. Re organized youth soccer in Mexico, my 2 boys played at the Escuela de Futbol in Guadalajara for 2 years just like many of the other Mexican kids did. Those Mexican kids were the ones who got noticed and went on to bigger things. Those that just played pickup soccer did not.

  18. Thomas Sullivan replied, June 22, 2016 at 12:06 p.m.

    It didn't quite work that way for Messi. He was in an academy from a very young age and was learning to play in a very structured environment. There are plenty of kids here who play constantly and many flaws with the structured approach to development but we have what it takes to be great.

  19. Andrew Brown replied, June 22, 2016 at 6:32 p.m.

    That's great except the kids in our system and teams have had the up-bringing you're saying doesn't exist.

    I've seen kids with baseball scholarships to Big10 schools playing phenomenal soccer, while wearing their favorite soccer jersey.

    We have gaps in our process. Some have started to fill in (MLS teams in USL) and some remain to be closed (fully paid for Academy teams?).

    Main sore point after this game is, we know how to be successful in these type of games and it's clear Klinsmann does not.

  20. Leia Ambra replied, June 23, 2016 at 2:36 a.m.

    Right on!

  21. Philip Carragher, June 22, 2016 at 9:33 a.m.

    Maybe JK was trying to teach his players two things: first, learn from Roy Keane's perspective on professional fouls (see John's comment above for the link)and their importance for results in important matches; second, US Soccer should not show too much respect for players like Messi...

    I'm not sure what JK's tactics were for solving the latter issue of over-respect: was that supposed to get his players to feel ok about fouling Messi? How about marking Messi? I've been out of coaching for awhile but is that a no-no tactically? Or are we too proud? Certainly giving Messi room to launch guided missiles to Argentine attackers can't be a good tactic, but fouling him is? For me the best use of having Wondo in the game would have been for that and that alone: don't allow Messi the ball or room to set and pass forward.

    And as far as imploring players to foul or get nasty, my son played for a D1 college team and his head coach stopped practice and told his players to go at each other harder. Next play, a kid had his knee blown out.

    I can't help but think JK's biggest problem stems from a youth system that isn't delivering better players to the USMNT. Who's responsibility is that? Our player development system stinks.

  22. Jack Niner replied, June 22, 2016 at 12:01 p.m.

    A LOT of poor soccer players are in D1 - they may have size and be athletic but they are mediocre soccer players. And the majority of college coaches tactics speak to this - long balls from the back to space up top in the hopes a speedy forward can outrun everyone else, overly physical play/ hacking, lot's of bunkering. Less than 20% of D1 soccer teams play 'good' soccer.

  23. Ed M, June 22, 2016 at 9:39 a.m.

    I'm wondering why I'm even wasting my time posting about such a poorly written article the only serves to attempt to stir up hits to the site.

    Whether it's Kinsman or Bradley or Bora, the US men's team is always lacking because US Soccer fails to find the real talent in the country. It's impossible to believe that we do not produce better players than we have in military bases in Germany or pay to play camps in the US. The DA system is a failure and should be dumped. Better youth training for coaches needs to be employed. Also, other training modules should be looked at.
    The current team is a very good team but those who expect that they can compete with Argentina at this moment if we only had a better coach or leader are living in fantasy land.

  24. Amos Annan replied, June 22, 2016 at 10 a.m.

    American youth club soccer is about winning games, not developing skill.

    This is why American soccer has a difficult time at the elite level... besides being 90 years behind the rest of the world.

  25. Andy Cap replied, June 22, 2016 at 10:31 a.m.

    Great comment. I have watched so many DA games the soccer is all about running hard,and hitting long hopeful balls into the opposing teams back four.
    If you cant get to the ball it becomes a high speed collision game try to beat up your opponent in their half of the field. The DA club in my city is also the biggest club in the state. The DA and ECNL programs are only used to attract huge numbers to the club.
    There is no player development going on
    The EDOC in every communication about the club only talks about their size and how they are all about winning.

  26. Kent James replied, June 23, 2016 at 1:32 p.m.

    I don't think anyone is suggesting that a coach will make us better than Argentina. What good coaching can do, is help a team play better than the sum of its individual parts. We generally did that in the previous two games, but not against Argentina. Many, I think rightly, attribute some of that to JK's selection of Beckerman and Wondo, because they suggested a mentality that was trying not to lose too badly using known quantities, rather than being more adventurous (using Nagbe and Pulisic instead).

  27. Carl Hudson, June 22, 2016 at 9:49 a.m.

    These are things that make Men’s professional soccer SUCK:

    Grabbing, pushing, shoving, arm-locking, hand-pulling, clipping,
    toe stomping, kicking, elbowing, tripping, pushing from the back,
    head butting, kneeing, simulation, trash talking, diving, shirt pulling.

    The women don’t do these things. That makes for a better game.

    Start giving yellows for every one of the above FOULS, and get back to playing soccer.

  28. beautiful game replied, June 23, 2016 at 12:18 p.m.

    Technical skills, instinct, mental toughness and purpose makes a solid player.

  29. Kent James replied, June 23, 2016 at 1:33 p.m.

    Could not agree more.

  30. Bob Ashpole replied, June 23, 2016 at 9:33 p.m.

    "The women don't do these things." Guess again. Women may be more subtle, but they are also more vindictive. Ask a referee if you doubt.

  31. Richard Brown, June 22, 2016 at 9:56 a.m.

    Hello Richard,

    How are you doing? The US did nothing good in this game. They could not put three passes together. When they did pass to a flank player. Who was inside the field to square pass to? I saw no one there. From there they could make a break out pass. It reminded me when Gansler first got the team. The free kick Messi took was brilliant. Not afraid of him someone said so no one marks him?

    The team is not doing the things they should be doing at this point in time under him.
    On physical play you have to challenge people for the ball. You can't given them space to play unchallenged.

    I don't really like us to play real physical, but you have to at times. Not talking about stepping on their feet. I think he meant do that on headers hold them down when you go up.

    He is not building on the game they already had.

  32. Georges Carraha, June 22, 2016 at 9:57 a.m.

    To better understand what is lacking in US Soccer, you have delve into the sports culture. In most soccer countries, most kids only have soccer as a sport to play and most of their free time is spent playing with the ball. American youth soccer player are "robots" with no feel and rhythm with the ball. You cannot be a great dancer if you do not feel the music and have rhythm. The majority of our youth soccer coaches suck and have no clue about what it takes to succeed in the modern game. You cannot wait until U15 to tell a player to play fast and understand quick transition. We are stuck in the world of medals and trophies without accomplishing anything. Place the kids in challenging environments to learn to play and think quick early and master their technical skills rather than gloating about winning meaningless games and tournaments. If we want change, we have to be bold and go against the old system. We are afraid to "step on toes"!

  33. Seth Vieux replied, June 22, 2016 at 11:03 a.m.

    I coach U10s and U11s and completely agree. I will say, however, that I'm hopeful for the future as there are far more competent youth coaches available now as to compared to when the current 28-34 y/o USMNT players were kids. Without question there is still a huge coaching deficit, but it has improved significantly from when I was a boy. As more and more youth coaches were experienced players themselves (the major change between now and the 80s/90s when a coach who had also been a real player was almost a mythical character), the youth players are getting more and more good technical training. I am impressed by the level of play in youth premier leagues as compared to a generation ago. We must instill strong technical skills at a very young age so the players have the ability to learn to play fast. We are making progress, but are still many years away from having a generation of 20-28 year olds who are remotely in the same discussion from a technical level.

  34. Amos Annan, June 22, 2016 at 9:58 a.m.

    Stupid to criticize Klinsmann for this. Obviously being physical is part of the game and they were not going to make up for the 90 years head start Argentina has with more technical ability.

    "Step on their toes" is just a way of saying be more physical and close them down.

  35. David Mont replied, June 22, 2016 at 10:09 a.m.

    I think that Klinsmann's "stepping on toes", and other parts, is literally what he meant. After all, isn't that what his favorite player, Jermaine Jones, is best known for? The US was lucky to still have Dempsey and Guzan on the field at the end of the first half -- they both should've been redcarded.

  36. Wesley Hunt, June 22, 2016 at 10:04 a.m.

    Ray I couldn't agree more. Until we have a soccer culture where kids are immersed in the sport from the cradle, where parents, Uncles and Aunties are following their favorite teams, talking soccer, and kicking the ball around to thier kids at the half times. Until we have the same kids wandering around on the hots summer days looking for pick up games on the futsal courts or grass fields doing the latest cool move and dreaming of the day they turn pro or play for the national team. Until that time we will not even have the beginning of good creative attacking team like Argentina. Any academy system only builds on that basic foundation. With out it we get physical never say die kind of players who just don't quite have enough skill or instinctive soccer smarts to play at the highest level. The system turns out soldiers a plenty but very few creative warriors. Nothing Klinsman can do about that. At least the team didn't bunker in and had a few moments of attacking creativity in the midfield. But the passing game is only as good as its weakest link and the kind of pressure that Argentina applied exposed those links.

  37. Richard Brown, June 22, 2016 at 10:13 a.m.

    George we do try create machines instead of players. We got under pressure don't try to pass our way out of it. Clear out with a general purpose. Most of the time we lose the ball, but far from our defensive goal.

    Even in youth soccer we try to teach them to be high percentage instead of trying thing to be inventive. We don't want kids to try things even though that is what practice is all about because it might be a lower percentage option.

    Ever notice once where in the area two touch goes out the window. Most of the time it's one touch. Nothing is better then to two touch in congested space to promote player confidence. But if the player loses the ball the coach said he should have one touched the shot.

  38. David Mont, June 22, 2016 at 10:14 a.m.

    There is no shame in losing to Argentina, even 0-4. It's, however, shameful the way the team played yesterday. Yeah, clearly Argentina has superior talent compared to ours; however, wasn't that the case during the Confiderations Cup 2009 when the US faced Spain and Brazil? And just compare how we did then to how we did yesterday. And whatever happened to much talked about, by journalists and fans alike, unprecedented depth the US team supposedly has? I could never neverstand where they saw this "depth", unless if was just a reference to the number of players that JK has tried.

  39. Andy Cap, June 22, 2016 at 10:19 a.m.

    Mike,come on you know that he was not asking them to play dirty.No,he does not think playing like that will make up the gulf in class.

  40. Winston Reyes, June 22, 2016 at 10:43 a.m.

    Klinsmann,step out

  41. Jim Romanski, June 22, 2016 at 10:57 a.m.

    I agree with Andy that he was not asking them to play dirty. I think he wanted to see more pressure. Argentina certainly put more pressure on the US players and ran right up to them almost stepping on their toes. Yes Argentina is better at handling that pressure. But teams that don't keep the pressure up give teams like Argentina too much space which is what happened.

    With a bit more pressure and without the bad mistakes this could have been a closer game.

  42. Emile Jordan, June 22, 2016 at 11:39 a.m.

    You know, one bad apple... Just a quick microcosm. I had a 7 year old boy playing in a tournament that one parent in particular, not his dad, was yelling at him to pass the ball. Result player asked to be subbed and came off the field struggling to breath he was so upset for being yelled at by another parent when he was playing his heart out. This little 7 year old had great skills and imagination and enjoyed playing with his teammates very much. He supported his teammates on both sides of the ball and was encouraged by his coach to dribble, pass, and take shots at will. Practices were simple; individual skills, 1v1 games, small sided games, silly game or skill competition at the end. They came to practice early and left late, sometimes staying to practice with my U12 team. On off days you would see them milling around playing with their sibblings and friends. The unadulterated kids were fine. The outspoken parents wanted fairness in sharing the ball and more organized systematic play. The cool parents kept their distance and stayed quiet. You know the rest of the story Paul Harvey. You saw it last night!

  43. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, June 22, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

    I'm familiar with parents who act like clowns but if you think only American parents yell at kids during youth games, you are very much mistaken.

  44. Jack Niner, June 22, 2016 at 11:43 a.m.

    Playing physical is going shoulder-to-shoulder, not hacking people. It is VERY disturbing that hacking is being promoted by the USMNT coaches - says they've run out of ideas.

  45. Ric Fonseca, June 22, 2016 at 1:53 p.m.

    GOSH DARNED IT, I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT, I JUST KNEW IT AND CALLED IT, that someone on this page would pick up on Jk's "Step on their toes.." comment and make a mountain out of a mole hill! for effing sakes folks, he was just using a figure of speech, as if he is thinking in German and translating it to English. His message was to have our players be more aggressive, cripes I used to tell my rec team players, then competitive, scholastic and college players to play and "get in the opponent's face," play tough. Jeez, I remember when coaching a DII team and playhed away, I used to have an English lad whom I had to constantly tell him to tone his very aggressive style, and at one game someone yelled at him from our bench to "play him English style," he does, takes out the opponent with the ball, gets red carded while his coach, who happened to be of German descent, pounced on me and called me some not so nice names accusing me of encouraging "dirty English play, not skillful aggressive football!!!" The point here is that what JK said, is just an expression, somewhat childish, however, while also tuning in to the so-called color commnentators, for a minute I thought that Lalas and Fiore would mix it up a bit, Fiore just lacks any good football acumen and knowledge, and have wondered just why they added him to the broadcast. Lastly, and obviously the article has YET AGAIN, generated enough commentary, and IMHO, Argentina - tho I must admit is NOT my fvorite team - is darned good at this juncture and I am waiting with baited breadth to see them play Chile. Lastly, I see NO ONE above has pointed out that in the long run, ending the tournament either in 3rd or 4th place, AIN'T a bad deal, consider that this is for the entire Western Hemisphere of the Americas football playing world. And even though it pains me to say it, however we finish this Saturday, it sure as hell is much better than ending at Siete a Cero!!! Go on lads, step on their toes!!!

  46. Bob Ashpole replied, June 22, 2016 at 6:46 p.m.

    I hope your explanation is correct Ric. In the past he used the word "nasty." Maybe he meant "tough" rather than "dirty."

  47. Raymond Weigand replied, June 23, 2016 at 2:25 p.m.

    Cheers! Some sensible understanding.

  48. Emile Jordan, June 22, 2016 at 2:19 p.m.

    Thank you Fire Paul Gardner Now for your comment. I agree, but our "clowns" are like Donald Trump. Their perception is our reality. Anyway, not everybody bows down to these "clowns". We are persevering and producing world class players to be, like Christian Pulisic and Mallory Pugh. Players are being discovered and developed. They are just not of age yet.

  49. Kevin Sims, June 22, 2016 at 2:23 p.m.

    Until, if ever, the USA is awash in the passionate soccer culture that exists in other countries, the USA will have no hope of competing with the elite. Speed of play can be taught a bit and we try; but the comfort the elites display and the decision-making on and off the ball whether defending or attacking is a function of culture more than any coaching. We will from time to time compete well enough to steal some big victories; but consistent play at the elite level is simply beyond our grasp now. JK is correct when he pushes players to aspire to play in the best leagues and with the best teams ... duh. Make no mistake, LeBron James raised in New Zealand never becomes The King.

  50. Emile Jordan, June 22, 2016 at 2:59 p.m.

    Thank you for your comment All American. Our DA is relatively new, but I would say it is a major step in the right direction. Top U.S. Youth Clubs and MLS Teams have stepped up to the plate because of the DA. The age groups have been expanded. Player identification has been expanded. Emphasis on quality and quantity of training including health and education is an expectation for members. Many, many DA products are playing in college, the MLS, and with European Clubs Dev Teams. There will always be outliers contributing, but it is undeniable that the standard for youth development is rising in large part thanks to our DA and national team programs.

  51. Jack Niner, June 22, 2016 at 3:24 p.m.

    I would NOT equate American college soccer with success in player development - For me much of what I see in college soccer are all the bad habits being reinforced. It's generally an ugly uninteresting game.

  52. Emile Jordan, June 22, 2016 at 3:47 p.m.

    I do not watch college soccer. However, high school used to be all comers welcome and now the best high school teams you can't make their freshman team if you don't play Club Soccer at a pretty good club level. The quality has gone way up even without the DA players. In college, I imagine the best teams have a lot of former DA players. The quality may not be good, but certainly much improved. College Coaches resumes now are more and more becoming ex-pro, successful Club Coach, USSF A Licensed Coaches. The college game is evolving.

  53. Carl Walther, June 22, 2016 at 3:53 p.m.

    Klinsmann = Euro Trash

  54. Ric Fonseca replied, June 23, 2016 at 12:30 a.m.

    Carl, I thought you had better sense than this. How sad!

  55. Lou vulovich, June 22, 2016 at 7:20 p.m.

    I am pretty sure Wondoloski stepped on Messi' toes for the second goal. If Klinsmann or anyone else thinks that by playing more physical soccer against Argentina was the answer. Hahaha.
    We have D/A and coaches who never had a decent, experienced coach in their life. Most played in old MLS about the level of the USL today.
    They are going to supervise and develop the next superstar how,???.
    Nothing will ever change unless someone changes it.
    Watch Chille all technical all intelligent and fearles, someone put a plan in place a long time ago.
    Argentina is nothing more then average without Messi. 3-4 players on their team have the first touch of an Elephant.

  56. Lou vulovich, June 22, 2016 at 9:26 p.m.

    He must have decided that teaching them to step on toes was easier than working on their first touch and pass. If players who step on toes is what he is after, he should have a great selection probably 80% of MLS players.
    Poor MB trying to link up with Wondo and Zardes,
    poor guy.

  57. Ric Fonseca replied, June 23, 2016 at 12:40 a.m.

    Lou your comments takes me back to my firstDI coaching gig in the late 70s when I took a new team into NCAA play. The team I inherited, a club side in the LA/San Fernando Valley was a mix of American (read: former ayso) and Latino players (read:unaffiliated club/Latino leagues); sadly it was the former ayso players that were very surprised at my coaching and teaching techniques as well as tactical training, that during the pre-season training they insisted, and even went behind my back to the Univ's AD that I bring in their former ayso coach who'd teach them dribbling and ball control techniques. Even sadder still, the AD agreed and went over my head and brought in the fellow. Mind you, the AD was also the baseball coach and knew jack sheets about our jogo bonito, and much to my chagrin, this "noble experiment" failed miserably as the AD all of a sudden saw the light of giving in to some former rec/ayso players and let me run the team. Since it was our first NCAA season, we didn't do too badly, finishing in the middle of the pack of nine teams with a home-home schedule. Point is here that what you, Lou V say about teaching them to work on their first touch, should not take time at this NT level. That "80% of MLS players...(sic)" is the answer, are you a former ayso player?

  58. Lou vulovich, June 23, 2016 at 1:09 a.m.

    No disrespect Rick. You went over my head, I have no idea what you are getting at.

  59. David V, June 23, 2016 at 11:09 a.m.

    OH No, JK is another Jose Mourinho or Van Marwijk... despicable characters... I didn't think I could like Klinsman any less... but I do now.

  60. James e Chandler, June 23, 2016 at 11:13 a.m.

    All this analysis yet the difference in sides like Argentina, and the US is as simple as the quality of players' first touch.

    The quicker the ball is settled, the more time to do the next thing.
    The ability to control the ugly ball, that's part of it too, and the USMNT plays plenty of those.

    Dempsy's cheap foul, and Wondo's on Messi, shameful.
    If you have to deliberately cheat to have any success, then perhaps you're in the wrong vocation.

  61. Joe Linzner, June 23, 2016 at 11:57 a.m.

    why take that comment as literally stomping in toes, Could it be as saying "don't play in fear but play physically and not consider them untouchable" Don't hold back, play an unabashedly aggressive game that lets them know they are playing a team that we will not treat them with kid glove and give as much as we take

  62. Kent James, June 23, 2016 at 1:37 p.m.

    I would hope that JK's use of "step on their toes" is due to English being his 2nd language, and he really meant "not be afraid to match their physicality". I would hope that no US coach ever coached his players to be dirty; such play has no place in the game. Physical play yes (going hard to the ball, not shying away from challenges, etc.), but shirt grabbing, kicking ankles, elbows to the face, etc., no thanks.

  63. Bob Ashpole replied, June 23, 2016 at 9:36 p.m.

    The US vernacular is "Get in their face."

  64. Raymond Weigand, June 23, 2016 at 2:33 p.m.

    I had a Polish coach - "step on their toes" is a gentle reminder to play defense - close enough to be able to step on a toe. It is not a directive - it is a fun reminder. Watch the replay - our team defense was giving too much space. After all, we were already down in the first 4 minutes and Argentina could have just played possession for the remainder of the game - as our team defense were still playing like we were tied 0-0

  65. Kent James replied, June 24, 2016 at 5:58 p.m.

    I think you've gotten the accurate interpretation of JK's words (what is he, Alan Greenspan, where we have to discern what he really means??). IF 'step on their toes' means mark them very tightly, as opposed to giving them too much space (because you have too much respect for their first move), then ALLES KLAR! And it actually makes sense. Thanks for your insight!

  66. Gary Wien, June 23, 2016 at 3:27 p.m.

    people talk about the US needing a soccer culture... sorry, but this was the US at its worst. You don't need a soccer culture to make two passes in a row. Guys that should be able to make a nice pass coughed up the ball nearly every time. And guess what Soccer America - that's not on the coach!

    Face it, we had a rather brilliant first half against Ecuador (and Soccer America begrudgingly gave credit for it) and we had an utterly pathetic performance against Argentina. The players are to blame imo not tactics.

  67. Bob Ashpole replied, June 23, 2016 at 9:39 p.m.

    I disagree. A teams failure to connect, make break out passes, and switch fields is on the coach.

  68. Joe Linzner, June 24, 2016 at 12:26 p.m. can practice all that but whe you get on the field the coach is unfortunately tied to side of the field. He cannot make the passes for them, they must collect hold and pass and that must be done in any formation on the field////// the point is keeping the ball, passing the ball, shooting and any technical requirement has to be of sufficient quality. With the US, we unfortunately are incapable of rapid play. rewatch the many 50 50 balls did we keep, how many of our passes were intercepted becau we did not shield a pass by stepping towards the ball and they stepped in front... tactics are useles when the basics are missing. It is like teaching calculus without having the prerequisites.

  69. Raymond Weigand replied, June 24, 2016 at 4:52 p.m.


  70. Kelly Ross, June 25, 2016 at 5:10 p.m.

    I began playing in 1975 in central Kansas. There was an explosion of youth soccer growth in the US through the 80's. Following the 1994 World Cup in the USA, there was another explosion of growth through partticipation. US Soccer's 2010 master plan included a goal of winning the 2010 World Cup. And yet again, here we are in 2016 regurgitating the same shortcomings of USMNT play. What IS the magic formula? What is the right approach? What can bring overwhelming success to/for USMNT soccer? In my humble opinion, we need to reach out to the inner cities and find enthusiasm and energy and creativity with more minority players. Paul Gardner has been wailing for years to invest more in the Latino community for future stars. I say as much, we need to look into getting more blacks into the game. But that is iust one possible direction. Quell the overcoaching. Quell the results oriented activities at younger ages in favor of letting kids play and figure it out and have more fun.

    Speaking of stepping on toes ... ite seems there is a tremendous amount of that occuring in the Copa and Euro matches. Contact & fouls which, when seen on reply, shows more and more fouls involving players stepping and stamping on opponents feet, ankles and calves in some instances. Definitely not what a beautiful game, to be enjoyed by skillfula nd artful play needs, in my humble opinion.

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