Is Klinsmann worthy of a remarkably long tenure?

By Mike Woitalla

Next month marks the fifth anniversary of Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure as USA head coach.

Only one other nation at the 16-team Copa America Centenario had a coach in charge for as long -- Uruguay’s Oscar Tabarez, at the helm since 2006.

Of the 24 Euro 2016 teams, only Germany’s Joachim Loew (2006) and Spain’s Vicente del Bosque (2008), winners of the last two World Cups, have been in place longer than Klinsmann.

Indeed, by international standards, half a decade is a long time for a national team coach, and even for the USA. Of the 37 men who preceded Klinsmann, only one served for as long as five years -- Bruce Arena, at the helm from 1998 to 2006.

Klinsmann is under contract through 2018, but U.S. Soccer will be thoroughly evaluating the USA’s Copa Centenario performance, which came a year after the USA’s worst Gold Cup performance in 15 years, the failure to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup with last October’s Concacaf Cup loss to Mexico, and a loss and tie with Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago, respectively, in World Cup qualifying.

On the plus side for Klinsmann, it reached the semifinals and finished fourth place at the Copa Centenario. Its 2-1 quarterfinal win over Ecuador marked its fourth-ever knockout-round win in a non-Concacaf competition after beating Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup (Bob Bradley), Mexico in the 1995 Copa America quarterfinals (Steve Sampson), and Mexico in the 2002 World Cup round of 16 (Bruce Arena).

But the 1-0 loss to Colombia in the third-place game meant it finished the tournament at .500 -- three wins and three losses.

Some stats to ponder:

SHOTS: The USA was outshot 0-14 by Argentina, 7-13 by Ecuador, 5-9 by Paraguay, but outshot Costa Rica, 10-7 in a 4-0 win – the USA’s best performance of the tournament.

In the 1-0 loss to Colombia, each team had 10 shots. In the 2-0 opening loss to Colombia, the USA outshot Colombia, 11-8.

In its last four games, as my colleague Paul Kennedy points out in “By the Numbers: USA at the Copa Centenario,” the USA was outshot, 44-22, and the 7.2 shots per game at the tournament are the fewest of the Klinsmann era in official championships.

POSSESSION: According to Copa Centenario game reports:

USA 49% Colombia 51% (0-1)
USA 33% Argentina 67% (0-4)
USA 46% Ecuador 54% (2-1)
USA 36% Paraguay 64% (1-0)
USA 42% Costa Rica 58% (4-0)
USA 54% Colombia 46% (0-2)

DISCIPLINE: In six games, the USA received 16 yellow cards and three red cards. Four players -- DeAndre Yedlin, Bobby Wood, Alejandro Bedoya and Jermaine Jones -- served one-game suspensions, during the tournament. Michael Orozco will be suspended for the USA's next game.

GOALS: In six games, the USA was outscored 7-8 and was shut out in three games. It shut out Costa Rica and Paraguay.

How much do these stats help in assessing Klinsmann?

Of course, the discipline issue is troubling. The USA led the tourney in ejections and only Panama matched the USA in suspensions.

It’s difficult to draw conclusions on the possession stats when they indicate the USA had more of the ball than Colombia in the opener in a game Los Cafeteros were obviously superior and less of the ball while outplaying the Ticos. The possession stat can become skewed after one team is protecting a solid lead.

But the ultimate way to judge a coach is by wins and losses. And at this Copa Centenario, none of the USA wins were upsets and neither were its losses.

Beating teams like Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador is what we expect from a U.S. national team coach, whether it was back when Bradley got paid $450,000 or now when Klinsmann earns more than $3 million annually.

The results at this Copa Centenario were a wash. No better or worse than anyone would have predicted based on the history of the opponents’ records and the talent they’ve produced.

Klinsmann’s inability to lift the USA off the plateau it has been on for decades -- the USA finished fourth-place at a Copa America (on foreign-soil) in 1995 -- is often excused by blaming a lack of U.S. talent. Klinsmann himself frequently chides American players for their deficiencies.

What the stats don’t tell us is what kind of relationship Klinsmann has with his players. Do they have faith in his tactical approach? Are his motivational methods effective? Is Klinsmann -- and his imported staff of former teammate Andi Herzog and former coach Berti Vogts -- getting the best out of the U.S. talent available?

If there’s any doubt, it’s time for a new coach, because one can’t replace the entire talent pool. But one can, as is usually done with national teams, replace the coach if after five years there hasn’t been substantial improvement.

68 comments about "Is Klinsmann worthy of a remarkably long tenure? ".
  1. David V, June 27, 2016 at 3:04 p.m.

    Go Iceland

  2. Wooden Ships replied, June 27, 2016 at 4:12 p.m.

    Agreed Davd V. Nearly 3-1.

  3. Ginger Peeler replied, June 27, 2016 at 5:04 p.m.

    Did you notice how well the Icelanders anticipated positions when passing...even to a fellow player surrounded by 2 or more Brits? That's what I want to see us do!!! What a fun game!

  4. Wooden Ships replied, June 27, 2016 at 10:06 p.m.

    I did notice Ginger. They aren't a fluke. Great team play. With Leicester City and Iceland, 2016 has had some major surprises.

  5. George Gorecki, June 27, 2016 at 3:27 p.m.

    Woitalla notes Klinsmann's inability to lift the team off of its plateau.

    OK, so let's say you fire Klinsmann. Does Woitalla know the qualities that the new coach will need to have in order to lift the team off of its plateau? If he does, then he's smarter than everyone else.

  6. Ric Fonseca replied, June 27, 2016 at 3:36 p.m.

    George, thanks and kudos. As I said in another posting, to bring another coach with WC qualifying games coming up and right around the corner, and 2018 a little over 24 months away, and literally having to start from scratch, revamp the entire system, get players, for cripes sakes, this would be tantamount to "cruel and unusual punishment!" Let Sunny Sunil and company allow JK to finish out his contract. Despite Woitalla's history lesson on previous coaches, our sport has grown and expanded, as have player's skills. Historically speaking, I remember back to the late 60's and early 70's when some soccer savvy folks would decry the US process of getting a bunch of college players and bring them in for a few weeks training before a major match, get our ass kicked and then cried in our beers! Lets say Sunny Sunil and Company do decide to let matter stand, then can we "rally around the flag," fellows, behind and support the USMNT. or will a plethora of calls for his immediate ouster be the "norm"???

  7. Raymond Weigand, June 27, 2016 at 4:07 p.m.

    Hire the Chilean trainer! The Chilean team went at speed for 120 minutes - and it was impressive! I see some good things with the USA ... usually in the first half. Be nice if the second half was even better - similar to last night's game. The secret? Somehow I think that players like Vidal spend twice as much time on their game without their teammates and bring something new and special with them when they do.

  8. Keith Szczudlak replied, June 29, 2016 at 12:24 p.m.

    Would a coaching change really make that much of a difference? As with most coaching changes there is a burst of energy and a temporary spark and then it is back to normal.

    We were out hustled by Columbia in G1 and completely out played by Argentina in the 0-4 loss. Regardless of who was out on suspension, if they were on the field, maybe we only lose 0-3.

    Soccer is not a U.S. priority with male athletes. In every other country COPA country (minus Canada) it is. How many more hours of training over their lifetime do the other teams in Central and South America have over a U.S. player? It shows in the touch they have with the ball and the poise they show on the field. Sure we have a few gems, but maybe one player from the U.S. team would even see the field on a team like Argentina or Chile.

    Until it is a priority, the semis are our championship in any international competition.

  9. Terry Ellis, June 27, 2016 at 4:24 p.m.

    Who could do better? Until you have a strong coach who you are certain ---or better yet a few good candidates --and some good evidence that they could do better--then all of the nay saying in the world is useless. Give alternatives and show us how they are going to accomplish more with the team we have. Anything else is not analysis but just carping. After all they did end up #4 in a major tournament and could have been #3 with some bit of luck as they played Columbia straight up and had the better of them for a good bit of the match.

  10. Wooden Ships replied, June 27, 2016 at 4:27 p.m.

    Terry, we also could have easily not made it out of group. We did and that's a good thing for sure. Not sure how much JK had to do with it though.

  11. Wooden Ships, June 27, 2016 at 4:24 p.m.

    The author asks a legitimate question, that's what journalists do. Earlier someone asked is it possible to wear two hats, technical director and USMNT manager. No its not. It was silly to imply such when Gulati offered it. That's really here not there at this point. Stats, results are quantifiable, intangibles not really. I'm ready for a cadre change, for several reasons. As it is now we will have to play consistently strong to even qualify for Russia. If there's one thing we can point to that has been consistent under JK, and that's inconsistency. I see a lack of personal confidence in his body language and with his players. One of the tells with that is discipline and composure. Those two things need to be givens.

  12. Ric Fonseca replied, June 27, 2016 at 11:22 p.m.

    Hey Woddie, ask ,Bruce Arena of the Carson Galaxy, as he's a perfect example of a GM and HC!!! Though he answers only to Uncle Phil Anzchuts(sp) (AEG Head Honcho.)

  13. Gary Wien replied, June 27, 2016 at 11:44 p.m.

    "The author asks a legitimate question, that's what journalists do. "

    Oh please, Soccer America has easily printed several hundred anti Klinsman pieces since he became coach. The paper never gives him credit for any wins, but will criticize him to no end for any losses.

    IMO, many of our best players in this tournament were among the youngest we have. Soccer America often blasted him for bringing so many German-American players into the fold, but Jermaine Jones was arguably our best player and John Brooks is becoming one of the best US defensemen in decades. Funny how that German-American criticism appears when we lose, but is forgotten during wins.

    The team had moments of brilliance like the first half against Ecuador and utterly pathetic performances like against Argentina when nobody appeared capable of making a single pass. Klinsman made a mistake going with Wondo, but the players deserve blame for their awful performance as well; however, let's not forget these losses were to Top 5 teams.

  14. John Soares, June 27, 2016 at 4:31 p.m.

    Still not a JK fan.....But must agree with Ric. We are past the point of no return as far as the 2018 WC. Beyond that I think the USA performed well in the Centenario. Certainly better than most expected. At least four players have stepped way up in the last two years. Yedlin, Brooks, Wood and Pulisic. With a couple more making progress. IF 3 more move up in the next 2 years the USA could have a good team by 2018..... Here's hoping!!!

  15. Thomas Sullivan replied, June 27, 2016 at 5:22 p.m.

    Ridiculous! Coaches are dumped mid-WC qualifying all the time. Often with spectacular results. Mexico in 2013 then ties Brazil for top of Group A - in Brazil. Brazil just dumped their Coach, Italy is doing it right now and did it in 2004. The list goes on. How about a US coach who can relate to hi skill latin players? Tab Ramos, for a start. There is going to be no strong, experienced obvious candidate. What we have had from JK is no improvement, lots of talk and a lack of confidence in the players he chooses. Count me in the anybody but JK camp.

  16. Ric Fonseca replied, June 27, 2016 at 11:26 p.m.

    Thos Sullivan, you're comparing apples with organges, the countries you mention have had a helluva history behind them in order to dump say Dunga (Bra) but Mexico keeps Osorio. difference here? Brazil has a helluva tradition, while Mexico sees the writing on the wall what with WC Russia is right around the corner. So why bicker about getting someone in to replace JK? Betcha Sunny Sunil and Company know this, since our coaching cupboard is pretty thin if existent!!!

  17. Larry Milnes, June 27, 2016 at 4:43 p.m.

    anyone know the annual cost for JK, Herzog and Vogts combined?

  18. Ginger Peeler, June 27, 2016 at 4:57 p.m.

    I supported JK while he played musical chairs with our guys prior to the Gold Cup...he said he was trying to find the the ideal group to put on the field for the Cup. Instead, even after the tournament began, he continued to play mix and match, to the detriment of the team. I've been ready for his exit ever since. I've seen few reasonable suggestions of who could replace him. Still, if it had to be done, I'd go with Arena on a short contract. He knows the drill; been there, done that. He is already familiar with the MLS players and he's used to working with players born in other countries. I mainly remember the 2002 WC, but he had them believing in themselves and playing beyond their individual talents. While I'm not crazy about Arena, I do think he could come in and work with the talent we have now and the young guys coming up without making radical changes. Let JK continue with his other duties until his contract is up. Just don't ever consider Sampson again. No matter who is coach, I will always support our team (including players I'm not too fond of). They deserve a coach who believes in them and makes them confident in themselves. Go USA!

  19. Ginger Peeler replied, June 27, 2016 at 7:50 p.m.

    Please don't misunderstand me...I am not advocating that we fire JK and hire Arena. The very obvious improvement I see from Klinsmann is a strong back 4 that we've not had in a long, long time. And for the first time in, like, forever (or so it seems), we're scoring from the run of play. NOT our usual bread-and-butter set plays. We didn't do as well as usual with set plays in the Centenario. I want to see us score both ways...a lot! If the powers that be choose to let JK go, then that's what'll happen. I really like the youngsters he's pulled in. Isn't it ironic that the Icelandic kid chose our USMNT and now Iceland is cooking in France ? I hope he doesnt regret his decision and plays well for us when Jurgen calls him in.

  20. Ric Fonseca replied, June 27, 2016 at 11:29 p.m.

    GINGER, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! NO BRUCE ARENA!!!! POR FAVOR!!!! His demeanor for anything having to do with the USMNT is so bad it makes me shiver! Not even for a short-term contract, what two years to 2018? I don't think he gets along with sunny Sunil!

  21. Ginger Peeler replied, June 28, 2016 at 2:23 a.m.

    Whoa! I said I was NOT advocating firing Jurgen and bringing in Bruce. I was trying to look at it from the viewpoint of having to find someone who could step into the program without missing too many beats and upsetting the whole applecart! The decision is not mine to make, thank goodness!

  22. Barry Ulrich, June 27, 2016 at 5:03 p.m.

    You could bring in the BEST coach in the game and s/he still has to work with the available talent! Let's concentrate on the future. Our current talent has gotten us quite a way, but for the future, our programs have got to develop players who can comfortably possess the ball and work out of troubling situations, as we've witnessed the south American players comfortably do in COPA. Also, the future generation should learn to pass to their own players.

  23. Vince Leone, June 27, 2016 at 5:03 p.m.

    If we fire JK at this point in WC qualifying, we better have a strong candidate to step in. It definitely should be someone who knows MLS and American players. I would like to see Tab Ramos get a chance, but he is inexperienced and that would be a big gamble. Definitely not Bruce Arena, given how little offense LA generates with so much talent. You could argue that Caleb Porter should get a shot, but his whining would drive me crazy.

  24. Vince Leone, June 27, 2016 at 5:11 p.m.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember the USMNT under Sampson/Arena/Bradley playing anything but bunker and counter against better opponents. Yes, it was successful sometimes but never convincing. Despite the mixed results, I thought the U.S. looked overall better in Copa America than in any previous major tournament if you factor in the quality of the opposition.

  25. Daniel Clifton, June 27, 2016 at 5:14 p.m.

    I thought reaching the semifinals was a great result for the US. Before the tournament I didn't think that was possible. I think you have to give Klinsmann some credit for the result. I don't think he is a particularly good coach. I think both Bradley and Arena are better coaches. But was Klinsmann brought in just to coach? I don't think so. Remember he is: "The Pyramid is upside down guy." Isn't that what he was brought in for, and isn't that why he is the technical director. It seems to me his regime will have to be judged on whether he actually turns the Pyramid rightside up. If he does that then he can be considered a success. Otherwise forget about it.

  26. R2 Dad, June 27, 2016 at 5:27 p.m.

    "Klinsmann himself frequently chides American players for their deficiencies." Yes, but this criticism have been professional and for the most part constructive criticism (in public). With the exception of the Donovan debacle, most comments are along the lines of Strive to play in the best league you can, Adapt to your surroundings and challenge yourself, etc."The USA was outshot...", but I believe I've read where JK has been demanding players take higher-quality shots instead of a higher quantity of of lower quality shots, so that should count for something in the overall assessment. As far as advancing in tournament play, I'd take a semifinal in the Copa to winning the Gold Cup any day--look at the quality of the opponents. Mike wants to compare JK to the three previous coaches without mentioning the style of play. The US is no longer a counterattacking team like Iceland, and that counts as huge progress in my book. We're not a top 10 team with this possession, but we're going in the right direction. We now expect our keepers to play out of the back, our back line to handle the ball without embarrassing themselves, our midfield to move and touch well enough to create chances in the attacking 3rd--this is much, much better than the old counter-attacking days. Progress in the big tournaments is all that really matters. Let's see how JK does by the end of the next World Cup in Russia before deciding if his stay was worth the money.

  27. Scott Johnson replied, June 27, 2016 at 8:01 p.m.

    Klinsmann was unusally blunt in his public criticism of Benny Feilhaber--that actually surprised me. Of course, perhaps it was already an opinion that had been given in private, and only was made public when Feilhaber started to whine about "not getting a chance".

  28. R2 Dad replied, June 28, 2016 at 4:33 a.m.

    Yes, I remember something about that. Like the LD debacle, I suspect there is more to this story that has not been aired. Which is too bad because I think BF has the right skills--I suspect JK questioned his mentality and it went downhill from there.

  29. Alex Stroessner, June 27, 2016 at 6:03 p.m.

    Did JK snub you for an interview? Unsubscribing.

  30. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, June 27, 2016 at 6:37 p.m.

    Alex - do you think this team has made any progress in the last five years? I sure don't.

  31. Ginger Peeler, June 27, 2016 at 7:32 p.m.

    AA, the only way you're going to get answers to some of your questions is to volunteer, become a board member of your local soccer league. Attend all the meetings, go to the state conventions, become a strong voice for those improvements you deem necessary. Become a referee, a registrar, a treasurer, president or Vice President. Represent the kids in your league and find ways to discover the talent in your area that has been overlooked. I think you'll find it very rewarding, especially when you see some of your suggestions happening! Of course, you may be faced with an uphill battle in some ways, but you know there are many folks out there who are just as frustrated as you and also looking for solutions. You need to find them and work with've obviously got the drive. Go for it!

  32. Ric Fonseca replied, June 28, 2016 at 12:21 a.m.

    Ginger, like AA, I volunteered from the year our son was old enough for k-league play in ayso, which then I had no choice, but was able to immediately see the everyone plays syndrome as being detrimental to nor only my team, but for my son as well. We lasted all of 2-1/2 years in ayso then went to a competitive club, and gradually moved to a board position as CYSA-S Commissioner. Now that was a helluva an eye opener, what with the politics, the self-serving bunch of recreational-type parents thinking they knew about futbol, etc., yada-yada. No matter how much time I devoted at the expense of my own family, while I did some good, we couldn't wait until our kids aged out. Hence, I know that of which I speak, and this is why I say we're mired in a recreational mind-set that hampers our ability to be just as good as the countries we just played.

  33. Bob Ashpole replied, June 28, 2016 at 12:38 a.m.

    Ric, I understand your point, but I have a problem with people using "recreational" as a negative word. I was never anything but a recreational coach, but I did a better job of training youth than most select coaches. It is playing and winning organized matches that is unnecessary. There is absolutely nothing to prevent a "recreational" coach from training a group of "rec" players from age 8 to 12 and produce elite level players, except a lack of desire by the parents and players. That same exception hinders player development in select programs as well. "Everyone plays" is important for development. The USSF DA requires that everyone play.

  34. Ginger Peeler replied, June 28, 2016 at 3:19 a.m.

    AA, no need to be crude. I'm glad you're actively involved. The more people working for our kids and future players, the better. Ric and Bob, I, too, signed up as a registrar the first season my daughter played since we had an apple computer and could use the software. Another woman and I shared the 500-some CYSA-S players in our league. We traded off the boys and girls every other season. Then, I became an assistant coach and, finally, a coach..,while still acting as registrar. When my daughter made the traveling team, I became the registrar for all the traveling teams in our association (we were a separate entity from the recreational players). When I coached in recreation, all of the coaches were parent volunteers. Some, a few, had played at some point and their kids usually were a step ahead of their teammates. But they usually taught the kids well. Each child had to play at least 3/4 of the game. Most coaches played their weakest players as backs. I always put them at forward with my daughter and another player who handled forward duties well. We had one woman who really knew her soccer and was also a referee. She used to take a team each season. We played everybody twice. The other teams always beat her teams for the first game and then they would wipe all of us out when we played again. She was an incredible coach. I was an asst coach for my daughter's traveling team for a couple years before we hired a professional coach. When we moved to Arkansas, I volunteered as registrar for the high school girls' team and a couple traveling teams. I volunteered at the local Y after I moved to Florida, but they already had a registrar.

  35. Bob Ashpole replied, June 28, 2016 at 12:30 p.m.

    AA, I see things differently. No player should be on a select team--youth, junior, or senior level, if he doesn't deserve to be developed to his full potential. Sacrificing the development of one player to win a match or advance another player's development is a coaching failure. Undeserving players should be cut and the opportunity given to someone deserving. That is the real difference between select and recreational programs. That is also the real meaning behind "everyone plays." The slogan is not merely about playing time, it is about inclusiveness vs. exclusiveness and about community.

  36. Brent Crossland, June 27, 2016 at 7:56 p.m.

    Before Copa started I made two predictions. Well, OK, two safe bets. #1 The US would NOT win Copa. #2 SA would start stirring up the 'dump Klinsmann' argument as soon as the tournament was over. As I have said before this is all meaningless rhetoric unless you can propose a candidate. All you are doing is stirring up FUD. Would you drop your goalkeeper from the roster with no idea who was going to be in net?

  37. James Froehlich, June 27, 2016 at 8:29 p.m.

    SA has a long history with US Soccer. It's part of the establishment that JK was brought in to change! Take a look at their advertising to see who pulls the strings: colleges with their camps and major youth clubs with their camps, select teams and tournaments. Every one of them is a target for change by JK. The difference between JK and his predecessors is that JK has no ties to those organizations and can speak more freely. Mike W may be a great guy with respect to youth soccer, but his comments regarding JK and the MNT need to be taken with a few pounds of salt.

  38. Kent James, June 27, 2016 at 11:01 p.m.

    Mike W. has done us a service by assembling the stats, some of which (possession) don't mean much (as Mike pointed out). Overall, the US did a bit better than expected, but could not pull off the upset (even if we may have deserved to against Colombia). When he was brought in to replace BB, JK was touted as a savior (and paid accordingly), who would help us get to the next level (where those coaches without the international credibility of JK, like Arena and Bradley, could not hope to take us). I never thought this was realistic, first because I thought Arena and BB helped our guys perform better as a team than they were as individuals (so I wasn't sure how a new coach would improve on that), and secondly, because no one person could take us to that next level. While it is not too late in the cycle to replace JK, I do think the fact that the US tends to let coaches stay for longer than most helps us progress. But the primary criteria that I think the decision should be based on, which Mike mentioned but surprisingly, no one has commented on, is how do the players feel about JK? If the players have confidence in him, let him stay. If not, he should go...

  39. Kent James replied, June 28, 2016 at 10:07 a.m.

    AA, the players are in the best position to evaluate the coach, since they work with him every day. While I don't think players should pick a coach, I do think their input is crucial. I think you can make a pretty good case for firing or retaining JK. And for me, the players' view would be the tipping point; if they have confidence in him, keep him. If not, try someone else. A team without belief will not be successful, whereas one that does believe, can play above its talent level.

  40. Ginger Peeler replied, June 28, 2016 at 11:52 a.m.

    Kent...agreed! Anyone can see what a difference a coach who is liked and respected by his/her players makes compared to one who isn't really trusted, whom players feel doesn't support see it in all team sports. When reviewing the Spain/Italy game yesterday, Taylor Twellman remarked that the Italy coach was the kind that people all over the world would be eager to play for because of his passion for the game and complete faith in his players.

  41. Kent James replied, June 29, 2016 at 9:18 a.m.

    AA, I'm not suggesting that we neglect youth development because a good coach will save us, but since we're discussing the national team coach, that's the topic I'm addressing. I will say that I think it is a mistake to have the national team coach and the technical director be the same person.

  42. James Froehlich, June 28, 2016 at 12:04 a.m.

    Yes there was hype around bringing in JK but to be honest I personally never bought it despite the fact I wanted JK brought in. I looked upon his appointment as someone who would at last use the "bully pulpit" of MNT coach to stir things up and to actually talk publicly about the sorry state of youth development and professionalism. None of the previous coaches had either the desire or the guts to stir up the soccer establishment. Even with JK's name he has still been stifled in many ways. There is a reasonable case for just making him the Tech Dir but from the push back he's received as coach, the much less visibleTD would have made him invisible. All that said, I am still overall quite happy with the progress since jk took over because I always expected the process to take longer than JK's term

  43. Bob Ashpole replied, June 28, 2016 at 1:05 a.m.

    I think the MNT players deserve a better coach. I never bought the hype either. I also don't buy that JK is the one to lead a reform of player development at the youth level. I don't think he has the management and communication skills or the knowledge for the job. I am not sure what you see as progress. The WNT has had success, but not the men's side of the sport. Failure of the U23s to qualify for the Olympics--again. A 4th place finish at last years Gold Cup. Failure to qualify for the Confederations Cup. One point taken between 2 matches against T&T and Guatemala last year. And business as usual still at the youth and junior levels.

  44. Bob Ashpole, June 28, 2016 at 12:22 a.m.

    The answer to the headline is: "no." JK should have been replaced last year. He wasn't. This year the coaching has been better up to the semi-final with Argentina. I don't like a coach who chooses a "lose small" strategy for a knockout game, regardless of opponent. I don't like a team that plays "nasty" unprovoked and feigns injury or a coach that tells players to play nasty without provocation. I don't know about others but I don't want the US to win a world cup by elbowing opponents in the face or scoring goals by handling when the officials can't see.

  45. R2 Dad replied, June 28, 2016 at 5 a.m.

    Writers for SA as well as posters here really don't like the thought that our players have to "play rough" or "get nasty". Might I remind everyone that we are in CONCACAF, that we don't get to choose which confederation we play in, that we're stuck playing against these countries and we are officiated by their referees. I don't like overly-physical play either, but I can't really change the nature of the countries/teams we play against. Nor change their referee's foul selection criteria (which often appears random). If anything, I wonder how supposedly top-level FIFA referees can officiate in tiny little leagues then be expected to perform adequately on the big stage. There seems to be quite of bit of politically-correct selection going on by CONCACAF, as if there were more important criteria than identifying and going with the best officials.

  46. Kent James replied, June 28, 2016 at 10:04 a.m.

    Bob, agreed. As I've said before, there is a difference between tough and nasty. I want our players to be aggressive, relentless, strong and smart. No need to be nasty. Focusing on being nasty takes away from focusing on what matters (your team playing well).

  47. Bob Ashpole replied, June 28, 2016 at 1:01 p.m.

    R2 you don't seem to understand what I said. I loved physical play. The trick is adapting your play to the match. Every referee and every match is different. I played as rough as the referee allowed, but preferred to beat players by quickness rather than strength and size (although I had the advantage there). The best form of retaliation is to score a goal.

  48. R2 Dad replied, June 28, 2016 at 3:12 p.m.

    Bob, maybe we get smarter as we get more players in Liga MX and get used to the style and officiating. AA, Mexico does seem more effective than we are across the board, but I'll happily remind you of 2012 when we bent over backwards to help a pathetic and weenie El Tri qualify for 2014 because they needed our help so much and couldn't do it on their own ;^) I'm too old for emojis

  49. R2 Dad replied, June 29, 2016 at 8:25 p.m.

    I don't think we have to play the same way against all foes. Vs CONCACAF teams and referees, we should play the brutal kickball that CONCACAF allows, since we don't have to expend skilled European players to do so. Once the Hex is over and we've barely edged out our opponents, switch to a more skillful style of play. This may seem skeptical, but we can enlarge our playing pool, and avoid burning out our top players in these meat-grinder matches. I didn't create CONCACAF, but shouldn't we be rational in our approach to playing in it? No one cares how we get out of the hex, only how we perform at the Copa, Gold Cup and World Cup. We need a B team to get us through the Hex and if kickball will facilitate this so be it. At the end of the day we need a Plan B and playing directly as a tactic is an option we need in the tool bag.

  50. Ric Fonseca, June 28, 2016 at 12:25 a.m.

    James: thank you. I agree with you 100%!

  51. Andrew Kear, June 28, 2016 at 6:35 a.m.

    We can now all agree Klinsmann at best has been a mediocre USMNT coach. There have been some unprecedented loses under Klinsmann.

  52. Ginger Peeler replied, June 28, 2016 at 12:08 p.m.

    And some unprecedented wins!

  53. warren mersereau, June 28, 2016 at 10:54 a.m.


    You have no business sitting comfortably in front of your television watching Copa America and questioning the motivation of our/USMNT players. They were fully committed throughout the competition and gave their all representing our country. Our guys won three matches in a row in an international competition not restricted to CONCACAF for the first time in history. They finished fourth behind teams ranked 1, 3, and 4 in the world. Instead of appreciating our players’ efforts you mock the teams we beat: “The results at this Copa Centenario were a wash. No better or worse than anyone would have predicted based on the history of the opponents’ records and the talent they’ve produced.” In case you have forgotten, Costa Rica lost on PKs in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and they are unbeaten and on top of their CONCACAF group in 2018 World Cup qualifying, while Ecuador, ranked 12 in the world, are currently tied for the most points in CONMEBOL 2018 World Cup qualifying. Our guys beat good teams. And, it was not for lack of motivation or effort that we lost to Colombia and Argentina. The transfer market value of Colombia’s starting 11 was 4-6 times that of our starting 11. Argentina’s starting 11 had 9 players in Europe’s top 6 leagues with 7 players at Champions League clubs and 1 at a Europa League club. The transfer market value of Argentina’s starting 11 was 8 times that of our starting 11. It is bad enough that you question our players’ motivation, but you go even further and criticize them for their behavior: “Of course, the discipline issue is troubling.” Of the four semi-finalists, Chile and Colombia both committed more fouls than the USA during Copa Centenario. In winning the championship match, Chile committed 22 fouls, had 4 yellow cards, and a red card. Rather than pick on our players for their behavior, maybe you should respect the intensity and toughness they have to display to compete at the top level. With all due respect Mike, rather than accept your armchair analysis, I’ll go with that offered by Brad Friedel (printed in The Players’ Tribune), a former USMNT player who actually knows what it takes to succeed in international soccer: “I know what you’re thinking, How is a 4–0 loss a good thing for the U.S.? First of all, there was a U.S. team — with true talent — that did not stop, that did not quit, for 90 minutes. A U.S. team who faced the No. 1 ranked team in the world. A U.S. team, who was among the No. 3 and No. 5 ranked teams in the world to make it to the Copa semis. That’s pretty good company to be in. The level that we need to aspire to was apparent against Argentina. We’ve got a long way to go. But when you look at the lack of expectations people had for this team coming into the tournament, we didn’t do bad at all.”

    Warren Mersereau

  54. beautiful game replied, June 28, 2016 at 11:55 a.m.

    I beg to differ. For all the positives about the USMNT, the biggest negatives are team cohesion, ability to control tempo, simplicity of play, and breakdowns under pressure and non-pressure situations. The latter being an individual problem. Look at the recent progression of Panama and Venezuela who have made themselves highly competitive against top squads. There's a lesson to be learned from these past minnows.

  55. Ric Fonseca replied, June 28, 2016 at 3:14 p.m.

    Warren M: Thank you for your post. It speaks volumes in favor of what our players had to go through, and I take my hat off to them. GRACIAS, USMNT for your effort and sacrifice on the pitch!.

  56. Bob Ashpole replied, June 28, 2016 at 5:34 p.m.

    What Ric said.

  57. Stuart d. Warner, June 28, 2016 at 11:06 a.m.

    Klinsmann has been okay--not dreadful, but also not exceptional. He has hit upon some good talent, Brooks and Wood, for example, and he has shown patience with them. On the other hand, he repeatedly makes bizarre personnel and tactical decisions--leaving Donovan off but including Green on the WC team; starting Wondo, Zusi, and Beckerman against Argentian--as if he wants to prove that he's the smartest person in the soccer room by making these counter-intuitive decisions. I wouldn't mind seeing him go and replaced by Brad Friedel.

  58. James Froehlich, June 28, 2016 at 12:31 p.m.

    Bob Ashpole--I'm afraid that your analysis goes against the majority opinions of the soccer world. While Lowe was given much credit for the tactical successes with Germany, it was JK's accomplishment to lead the revamping of German player development. Obviously no one does something like that alone but even his enemies in Germany give him credit for pushing the necessary changes that resulted in Germany's current successes.

  59. Bob Ashpole replied, June 28, 2016 at 5:39 p.m.

    JK deserves and is given credit for bringing in new (to the Bundesliga) technology and management practices at the professional club level. The credit for the national training centers for the top male teen players goes to other people.

  60. James Froehlich, June 28, 2016 at 12:52 p.m.

    R2--totally agree regarding the issue of "nastiness". Unfortunately that term has too many broader implications that reflexively stir people up. Unfortunately at the professional and especially the international level, "excessive physicality" is an essential part of play. I am referring to the constant bumping from behind, shirt tugging, nips at the heels, etc. For most international players these actions are irritating and disruptive, which is exactly why they are used! We saw a perfect example of what happens when a team fails to use these tactics in the Argentina - US game. We were so respectful that we had few fouls, no yellows and our leading midfielder had only two fouls in the game. Professional players understand the use of "good, clean" fouls and they also recognize the difference between them and the truly dirty, dangerous fouls. It's time that US fans learned the difference too.

  61. James Froehlich, June 28, 2016 at 1:12 p.m.

    Warren M -- great comment!

  62. James Froehlich, June 28, 2016 at 2:32 p.m.

    Ric--just read your soccer experience in your response to Ginger. That was exactly my perspective -- a lot of well-meaning, dedicated, hard-working people whose dedication to providing a stimulating and encouraging youth environment has resulted in the destruction of a path to professional player development. How do we preserve the good while allowing the best to rise to the top? To be continued

  63. Ric Fonseca replied, June 28, 2016 at 3:18 p.m.

    JF: "How do we preserve the good while allowing the best to rise to the top?(sic)" Persevere, and turn up the heat for the cream to rise TO the top. Lastly, IMHO, re-read Warren M's post and better yet, make it mandatory reading.

  64. Barry Ulrich, June 28, 2016 at 6:07 p.m.

    Roc-Even the Calif. Club Coast League, Mountain View, etc.) teams are essential rec leagues. If they wanted to really be competitive, they'd have their teams practicing not twice a week, but 3-4 time a week. They would also have their U-10, -12 and -14 teams primarily concentrating on player development, rather than on playing just to win. Unfortunately, when parents are "paying for their children to play" they want winning above everything else. If the parents would "buy into" the development aspect, then we might see the US eventually begin to compete respectably with the teams at the top of the FIFA ranking.

  65. Richard Brown, June 29, 2016 at 5:28 p.m.

    Yes Klinnesman should never get fired. He should be the manager for life. Like Harkes was going to be the captain for life :)

  66. Richard Brown, June 29, 2016 at 5:35 p.m.

    Bob the new technology he brought in his old Germany team hated it.

    I am a little behind how you train players scientifically. But if your striker gets hurt just as the World Cup started with a hamstring pull. It's likely that the work has not been done on his hamstring. When the quad is developed more then the hamstring. By by hamstring injury and the opposite is true also.

  67. Bob Ashpole replied, June 29, 2016 at 6:15 p.m.

    I hear you. When players have hamstring problems in the first half, the usual suspect is the strength and conditioning coach.

  68. John Hofmann, June 29, 2016 at 5:56 p.m.

    It seems some very knowledgeable people often complain about our youth soccer development focus in the U.S. It seems to me that we have an unusual problem in this country re this matter: we have two (at least) highly motivated competing factions -- the soccer mom/ rec/often local win at all costs faction that includes millions of often more casual soccer supporters, and those concerned with a serious focus on upgrading soccer skills/future of national teams competitiveness levels. One of the great positives in our country is the opportunity for involvement/lobbying for causes. It also can be a real negative from the standpoint of stymying progress for a particular point of view or line of action. It appears to me that this is not a problem with any of the serious soccer nations of the world -- no one else suffers from such a significant division of soccer loyalty. It provides a huge problem for US progress, it would seem, in setting specific soccer priorities, paying for them, etc., etc.
    If there is some truth to this, it would seem there are far more casual soccer people, representing far more monetary and political clout, at this point... Only further passage of time and change in attitudes from huge numbers of people, converting casual observers to dedicated fans seriously focused on national level results, would usher in the real changes that some here are expecting right now...

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