Klinsmann's promises of progress are not to be found

By Ridge Mahoney

Two games and two depressing defeats into the Hexagonal, the USA is still in a good position to qualify for Russia 2018.

And therein lies the problem, and the problem is not the Concacaf allotment of three automatic qualifiers plus a playoff spot. The problem is that the Americans, while not as good as the 2002 players who reached the World Cup quarterfinals, are genuinely talented, somewhat experienced, and reasonably competent. They are certainly good enough to qualify and probably scratch out a few points in Russia. In other words, more of the same.

The problem is that under Jurgen Klinsmann there has been no progress, no bonafide steps forward towards the proactive, possession-oriented, transformational fleet of players he supposedly set out to find and curate five years ago. Yes, it’s great to have young players like Julian Green and Bobby Wood and Christian Pulisic in the European pipeline and they will most likely be key components of the team for the next decade.

But progress is measured in true advancement of the nuances and subtleties as well as an overall impression. The USA is no more deceptive in its combination play and its tactical acumen has not grown. How to use time and space and angles in different parts of the field can be instilled through instruction and repetition. National teams like Iceland and club teams such as Leicester City are greater than the sum of their parts because of team cohesiveness and coaching inspiration, and through application of sound principles can compete with and sometimes beat opponents imbued with more skill.

Whatever it is that makes a team better than it “should” be, the USA is lacking.

Is this due to some of its most experienced players – Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore – forsaking the harsh European game for the more forgiving fields of MLS, or are they victimized by a coach bereft of ways to challenge and prepare men who’ve been around the block a few times?

Klinsmann speaks of younger players coming through to push the veterans, but that is not progress. It is change, and in a national team -- like in a business or an industry or a family -- change is inevitable, a byproduct of time. Players age and are replaced (unless you are Jones or Kyle Beckerman, apparently). It is the natural order of things.

Progress is improvement, an inexorable process of enhancement and refinement. It is not always slow and steady, and up the ziggurat missteps and stumbles are inevitable, but the periods of stagnation are followed by restarts and reboots that start the process in motion again.

One can argue that advancing out of a tough group at the 2014 World Cup showed progress but in that tournament the Americans played a typically American game: hang tough defensively, battle for every ball, and score opportunistic goals. Same as it ever was.

Qualifying for a seventh straight World Cup is a notable accomplishment. It is not progress. In the two-plus years since that tournament the competitive record is poor: loss to Jamaica in the 2015 Gold Cup semifinals and subsequent loss to Mexico in the Concacaf Cup.

In a one-off tournament, the Copa America Centenario played on home soil, the Americans achieved Klinsmann’s objective by reaching the semifinals by beating two South American teams as well as Costa Rica. It’s a notable accomplishment.

But this year it has also been beaten in Guatemala, 2-0, in a World Cup qualifier, lost again to Mexico, 2-1, last Friday in Columbus, and on Tuesday embarrassed by Costa Rica, 4-0, the same scoreline and opponent the USA defeated at the Centenario. 

Vis-à-vis Costa Rica, that’s an eight-goal swing, and yes the Americans were missing a few players through injuries, but three of Costa Rica’s regular defensive starters were out as well. For the USA, only Geoff Cameron was missing from the back line that leaked chances and eventually goals. Where’s the progress?

One or two regional rivals are heading in the right direction. Panama has yet to qualify for a World Cup but since it stunned the U.S. in the 2011 Gold Cup group phase it has grown stronger and tougher to beat. Coaches and players have come and gone and the process has continued. Limited resources and a small player pool notwithstanding, Panama is the most formidable it has ever been as a soccer nation. It started off the Hexagonal by beating Honduras away and tying Mexico at home, which the USA failed to accomplish.

Costa Rica also seems to trending upwards. After failing to get out of its Centenario group, it rolled to five straight wins in the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying -- the same stage of that 2-0 USA defeat in Guatemala City -- and prior to trouncing the USA posted a 2-0 qualifying victory over Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain.

Against Mexico, the Americans battled back from a sluggish start but were lucky to be down just one goal instead of two or three before they tied it up, only to lose in the 89th minute. No defeat is more bitter than what occurred Friday in Columbus -- the sight of a Rafa Marquez header floating into the far top corner is seared forever into the mind -- but the Americans vowed to redeem themselves in Estadio Nacional.

Instead, they stunk it up individually and collectively. John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, Bradley and Jones were especially bad, Altidore blew his cool midway through the second half to earn a caution, and even the effervescent Christian Pulisic couldn’t put on the dazzle.

They can’t blame the formation this time; they stumbled and bumbled in the tried and true 4-4-2. Passes went astray, marks weren’t picked up, traps were flubbed, and for most of the match they looked like Sunday players who had shown up at the wrong field but were persuaded to give it a go. This wasn’t just a bad game, it was what former coach Bora Milutinovic would call a "catastroph." Complete and utter dysfunction across the board.

If timing means anything, this is the right moment for U.S. Soccer to change head coaches, with a January camp falling in the middle of a four-month interval until qualifying resumes in March. Only the players know if they can still play for Klinsmann, and are confident that all the juggling of formations and positions and assignments can be successful in the long term.

Through its pride and competitive spirit, this team has bounced back from adversity before. Those qualities didn’t show up on Tuesday. A 4-0 thrashing by Argentina in the Centenario semis stung, but that result, even at home, against such an incredible team can be forgiven.

Just how forgiving is U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, in whose hands the futures of Klinsmann and the USA team reside? We shall see.
64 comments about "Klinsmann's promises of progress are not to be found".
  1. Robert Heinrich, November 16, 2016 at 9:16 a.m.

    Okay, so Michael Bradley was once a competent box-to-box midfield engine who could ignite attacking moves, linking play through the middle. Those days are LONG gone. IMO, the main issue with this team is having to depend on two slow, technically mediocre central midfielders. There is no dynamism, no creative play, and a crippling lack of mobility. The team has decent attacking options, but they don't get the ball enough. Yes, the back line is mediocre, but the country hasn't yet found players who can push Jones and Bradley out. We need that development desperately. Yes, Klinsmann should be fired now because the lack of energy was abysmal.

  2. Mark Buckley, November 16, 2016 at 9:18 a.m.

    To: US Soccer

    Merry Christmas and please fire him.

  3. David V, November 16, 2016 at 9:24 a.m.

    David V
    commented on: November 15, 2016 at 9:05 p.m.
    in 2018 Altidore will decline, he's had a poor career, it's time to admit he never lived up to the expectations...USA has many, many problems which will keep them a 2nd tier national team for at least another generation... BUT if you played a bunch of young players now, and did that for 5-7 years, they would be close to the top in the 2nd tier in 4-6 years. PS... JK is long overdue to be gone he's a big ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  4. Aaron Holloway, November 16, 2016 at 9:25 a.m.

    Perhaps the biggest problem is that Dempsey, Bradley and the rest of the MLS "all-stars" need to be told that they need to conform to Jurgen and NOT the other way around. His past coaching success had come from players who want to play for him and were willing to sacrifice their wants/wishes for the good of the team. Sunil and the rest of US soccer need to look in the mirror and realize that the USMNT plays in one of two weakest WC qualifying groups and barely can survive! If US soccer wants to win a World Cup, they need to change the way they go about business and start asking other top level national teams what they do to win, but also, listen and implement the changes with heavy hands! Otherwise, Costa Rica and Mexico will continue to kick the stuffing out of us NO MATTER who is on the sidelines!

  5. Joe Linzner, November 16, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

    I have one question! How many passes did these US Players complete? They certainly completed many to Costa Rica! They played kickball last night. Soccer certainly wasn't their game. No cohesion, no communication... in short, a bunch of individual kicking a funny looking round ball around and serving it to the other team. Disappointing substitutions. Put in Kljestan for Bradley, Nagbe for Jones, gooch for leadfoot Altidore.... Huge disappointment for me and I generally defend mr. Klinsmann..... wrong team fielded against a team just plain superior to us! Perhaps there is a silver lining!

  6. David V, November 16, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.

    JOHN BROOKS is the BEST EXAMPLE of why you (read: USA at all levels of play) can't have an American Football (England Football) mentality of Athleticism, strength, size, speed over skillful and tactically smart soccer players... sure, if you can wrap all of those in with skill and tactical intelligence, that would be good, but the US first picks (at all levels, including most of your youth teams out there)... the US first picks the type of players that would be good for American Football (and England Football) over what would be good for REAL Football ... Wake UP Americans!!!

  7. don Lamb replied, November 16, 2016 at 10:40 a.m.

    If you look at our younger players, you will notice that this is not the case at all. Pulisic is a prime example that you are wrong about that attributes we are looking to bring into the system.

  8. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 10:59 a.m.

    Don, I've seen it for decades... I'm not sure what planet or country you live on... I've described the USA to a T. I know the elite people is USA soccer... I'm spot on with what I say

  9. don Lamb replied, November 16, 2016 at 11:33 a.m.

    I respect what you've been seeing for decades, but if you look at the CURRENT U17s, for example, you won't see a bunch of big "athletes." And Pulisic was in the youth system well before he was at Dortmund, Jake. Emerson Hyndman? Rubio Rubin? Many, many more names that break the stereotype...

  10. don Lamb replied, November 16, 2016 at 4:10 p.m.

    What does that have to do with the type of players that are selected? Of course USSF is limited in the number of players they can select. They don't have infinite resources. Good thing MLS is starting to step up... And what you didn't mention is that the bulk of our top players at 18 yo have signed with big time European teams. We must be doing something right.

  11. don Lamb replied, November 16, 2016 at 7:14 p.m.

    Just because it's not optimal doesn't make it corrupt. It's growing and getting better. Compare our culture to Costa Rica's, Mexico's, Uruguay's, Chile's, etc. and you will see why the numbers are how they are. We still can't replicate the passion that was in that stadium last night because the game doesn't mean as much here as it does in those places.

  12. don Lamb replied, November 17, 2016 at 8:50 a.m.

    That is a ridiculously oversimplified solution to an extremely complex problem.

  13. don Lamb replied, November 17, 2016 at 12:44 p.m.

    Maybe come talk to me when you actually have some real world experience about making a career out of developing players. Your theory that players will just become superstars on their own is not based in reality. The game is complex, developing players is complex, and building a business with a million dollar facility that provides scholarships to every player who needs one is complex. "Life's best solutions are usually the most simple ones" -- this is just a cliche and a total cop-out of an answer providing absolutely no evidence of perspective whatsoever. You showed the other day that you really have no knowledge of this subject with your comments about Ben Lederman and Barca's academy. They have proven results, and trust me, it's not because they have your laissez-faire attitude about developing players.

  14. don Lamb replied, November 17, 2016 at 4:37 p.m.

    99% of professional players around the world came up in highly structured environment. Including Ronaldinho, Messi, Ronaldo, etc. etc. etc. Of course they played with their friends... Everyone around the world plays pickup soccer with their friends. That does not mean that all of those guys made it to be pros. Your ignorance to the Barcelona academy just proves your ignorance on this entire subject. Yet, you claim to have all the answers -- just go play in the street everyday, and you will reach your potential! That is ludicrous.

  15. don Lamb replied, November 18, 2016 at 9:34 a.m.

    Ronaldinho was discovered as a 9 year old when his team won 22-0 and he scored all 22 goals. Messi went to Barca at 12 or 13 but he had been Newell's Old Boys academy for years already. Okay, so you know so much about Barca's academy but you didn't know anything about their production of players like Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, etc. etc. etc. etc. (they literally produce too many players -- they can't sign them all), and you have never heard of Ben Lederman? That's just ignorance. Of course, players reflect on the their own neighborhood and street soccer experiences. That is the essence of the game to them, and that is where they realized their greatness and passion for the sport. That does not make a structured academy environment any less important. It seems to be an either/or thing for you. A true soccer culture embraces both (and you say that I sound like a Trump supporter when you are the one who can only see one side of the coin here). You seem like more of a poser, wanna-be barrio/street soccer guy instead of someone who actually operates in the real world. And you are so entrenched in your viewpoint that you are almost militant about the virtues of street soccer and the atrocities of academies, when they are, in fact, both very important. Of course I don't have a Ronaldinho in my system (what kind of silly question is that?). I do have a VERY talented 6 year old who terrorizes 9 year olds. He is an African boy who's older brothers play at a high level, and he has a chance to really be special. But that is beside the point -- if he did not have the academy environment, he would not be nearly as good as he could be.

  16. don Lamb replied, November 19, 2016 at 7:20 p.m.

    Oh you mean the Cruyff that is one of the architects of the Ajax and Barcelona academies?? It wasn't a street soccer program that he started at those clubs that turned them into two of the best producers of talent in the world!!!

  17. Kent James, November 16, 2016 at 9:36 a.m.

    This column nailed it.

  18. David V, November 16, 2016 at 9:36 a.m.

    JAKE, you're right... it's the youth problem... and it will take a generation at minimum to "fix"... but still JK should be fired, he pretty much stinks up the joint

  19. aaron dutch, November 16, 2016 at 9:43 a.m.

    Jake is 100% correct, our talent is not top 25 in the world more like top 40 so we don't have any of players of quality. MLS doesn't develop players. The most basic technical quality of playing with the ball, control, possession, pace, vision, tactical quality of vision, position, role, channels & movement off the ball. If we focus on technical & tactical (which everyone in the world that is any good does by U-14) then with our solid physical tools we should be good enough for CONCACAF. But when our best suffer from these limits as a group its impossible to overcome the performance. MLS/USL/Academy/Youth "SuperLeagues"/NCAA non of them are development emphasis of technical/tactical for 4-6 years 24/7 without that focus players cannot grow to compete with mid to top league talent.

  20. David V, November 16, 2016 at 9:48 a.m.

    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG... MAHONEY is WRONG, KENT JAMES is WRONG!!!! the MAHONEY and broad AMERICAN comments and the JK garbage and the pathetic 2014 US showing, it's all wrong... you espouse a magical formula that will make your 2nd tier mediocre group into a "magical run" that somehow makes magic at one tournament, and defies all odds (read: GET BIG TIME LUCKY, like 10,000 to 1 shot) ... this is the mode of desperates hoping to change the inevitable... it's a YOUTH PROBLEM... it's pick-up games in the street, it's an organic problem, It's a soccer mentality that values find-the-best-American-Football-type-players-and-make-them-our-hope-for-soccer instead of recognizing and placing a value on SOCCER talent/Skill/Guile/Trickery/Intelligence... you can't fix this for at least a generation... the culture has to change and you need kids playing on the street and in the playgrounds every day after school, on the weekends, at recess (add that to the structured coaching, and then we'll have something to talk about)... it WON'T happen until then

  21. Kent James replied, November 16, 2016 at 11:34 a.m.

    Mahoney is not saying the youth system is great and if only we had a different coach we'd be a top 10 team. He's saying that JK was supposed to revamp the system to produce better players (certainly a lot to ask, but he was seen as a savior) and he didn't. On the other hand, JK does not seem to be incorporating the talent we do have (mediocre as it may be) as effectively as he should (taking out Pulisic, playing such a defensive midfield, etc.).

  22. Pasco Struhs replied, November 16, 2016 at 12:23 p.m.

    @David V - I think you are spot on about the youth being the answer, but if you think we are somehow going to transition to pickup games of soccer after school or on weekends etc., I think you are dead wrong. IMO times have changed. There is no more time for pickup games of any sort after school or on weekends. I have three children in middle school and between homework (my 8 year old gets about 1.5-2 hours a night), piano, boy scouts, girl scouts, club soccer practice, dance, gymnastics, etc. neither they nor any of their friends have time to go down to the local sports field and play anything - no baseball, no American football, no frisbee, and no soccer. OK - maybe every now and then, but this idea that kids can come home from school every day and go out and play until dark is long gone in my experience. For example, next year the bus will leave for high school at 7:30 am and after attending whatever after school clubs and sports they might participate in, they will return by bus way after dark with 2-3 hours of homework yet to do. Moreover, even if they could go play pickup games, I don't think that is the answer. Professional soccer players from ManU to Barca don't go to practice every day and play pickup games. They go through intense pre-designed training (which may include scrimages) in order to hone their skills.

  23. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 12:50 p.m.

    Pasco... you said "but if you think we are somehow going to transition to pickup games of soccer after school or on weekends etc., I think you are dead wrong." I didn't say we were going to do that...I said if we were going to fix it, that's what would have to happen. Whether you want to fix it or not, is another story, but it won't happen until it's organic. Your kids doing whatever they want is fine, but leaving you outside of this... this also identifies a hurdle, from American soccer's perspective, on how to fix it... we don't have the kids doing what they do in other countries soccer-wise... you illustrate a point... if all these kids are doing all these other things ALL over America, that is another uphill battle for ever dreaming of winning a world cup for the USA. Also, I wouldn't look to Man U (England hasn't done anything internationally for 50 years, and they were lucky then on home soil). But you could look to Barcelona... but in regard to Barcelona, you're way out in left field, ALL of their youth players played in the streets, or Futsal, or in exactly the ways I described. You're kind of illustrating what I'm talking about... that most Americans don't get it. With all due respect, you are so way off that you thought I was suggesting pros such as those at Barca go out and play pick up games (although big clubs do have that type of small sided scrimmage often). I think most here would have understood what I was saying and that is that the YOUTH learn/ed so much of their football when they are young in non-structured ways (not that structured along side of it is bad)... in the creative non-coach threatening environments, and with tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of ball touches coming from non-structured environments.

  24. David V, November 16, 2016 at 10:14 a.m.

    We keep thinking the answers are with a coach (of course JK should be fired but...) and we keep expecting a different result even though our approach is the same (never addressing the youth problem)... you know what they say about the definition of insanity

  25. Worthy Walker replied, November 16, 2016 at 10:49 a.m.

    I think we all agree that there are more problems than just Klinnsmann. However, that particular problem can be fixed now and will not take a generation to fix.

    At least we can get some motivation and tactical sense for the players David V says suck so bad.

  26. j bapper, November 16, 2016 at 10:39 a.m.

    As a long time supporter of the US National Team, what's most shocking with the current crop of players is how technically poor we are. Even players like Michael Bradley, who was once a pretty good technical player, now is not even an average player technically. We used to have some very good technical players like Landon, Claudio Reyna, Tab Ramos, Damarcus Beasley. From what I see, Pulisic, Bobby Wood and Fabian are the only players with elite technical ability... the rest of the team is extremely poor. As many people have mentioned, this all has to start at a young age at the youth level. Every training session should have 30 minutes of technical work before you do anything else... dribbling, trapping, first touch work, one touch passing. This should continue all the way through the U19 level. I can tell you from what I've seen, there are no youth coaches from Rec to USDA that work on this. This is the base or core for every elite player and you can obviously see that Christian Pulisic has spend thousands of hours working on his technical skills. Until there is a fundamental change with the US Soccer training curriculum we are going to have technically inferior players. It has to start at the top and Sunil Gulati and Juergen Klinsmann need to leave for us to start over.

  27. David V, November 16, 2016 at 10:57 a.m.

    j bapper... I think you are only part right... see my comment at : November 16, 2016 at 9:48 a.m.; The formal must accompanied by the informal... and now we're into culture... pick-up games, etc.

  28. j bapper, November 16, 2016 at 11:29 a.m.

    David V - the Hispanic kids will continue to have informal or pick up games as part of their soccer culture... unfortunately the rest of the soccer playing kid's will continue to pay a lot of money to go play at youth clubs with mediocre coaches.

  29. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:01 p.m.

    that may be true, but they won't rise to greatness, or if they do, it will be about 100-1 versus the pick-up game kids. Call it what you like, and it doesn't have to be the sandlot of yesteryear... it can be in futsal courts outside and inside alike...maybe big club teams (who need the money and need to be in control and don't really necessarily thrive when the kids don't need them), maybe these big club teams can have a "baby sitter" coach who charges $1 per kid to get into a "PickUp" type of game, and if 15 kids show up then the 20 year old novice of a coach can pick up his $ for that hour and justify being there (and it's also a recruiting mechanism)... whatever social solution you come up with... whatever it is, it will have to foster a bazillion touches, freedom, fun, creativity, NO COACHING GUIDANCE, no Negative critiquing, no Critiquing at all, etc. Whether this comes about or not is not what I'm predicting, but I am telling you this, the USA WON'T MAKE IT ON THE WORLD STAGE (A.K.A. A WORLD CUP CHAMPIONSHIP) UNLESS THIS TYPE OF ORGANIC ACTIVITY TAKES PLACE.

  30. Wooden Ships replied, November 17, 2016 at 3:07 p.m.

    David V, I agree with your assessment of pick up - free play and its necessity. There isn't enough time spent, nor is it the emphasis, in what's become training for soccer in the USA on touch and freedom with the ball, to witness adult soccer players with the requisite abilities to compete at the highest levels. Cadres of coaches and oceans of parents can't replace or create the love of the game.

  31. Kevin Leahy, November 16, 2016 at 11:46 a.m.

    Technical training is the bread & butter of all the worlds biggest clubs. Anyone can watch most of the U.S. players and see they are not as comfortable with the ball as the top tier countries. Americans like winning so much that, corners are cut to accomplish that. You cannot stop teaching because a player is fast, big, strong, or athletic. That aside, I have no doubt that, this team can do better if a change is made right now with JK. We have enough talent available to @ least finish third in this federation. Not playing in the W.C. is a disaster for a multitude of reasons!

  32. Goal Goal replied, November 16, 2016 at 12:53 p.m.

    Kevin, technique is not part of the program fro DA clubs. Creativity is frowned upon. Coach sees a kid taking on someone 1v1 and all you hear is pass the ball. You hear the same things from some of the parents on the side line. Kids who have technical ability are stymied in there play. These coaches want to get to the goal as fast as they can and score and that means lots of air balls. I thought this view was supposed to be eliminated by US Soccer.

  33. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:11 p.m.

    Kevin: One great comment here, you said "You cannot stop teaching because a player is fast, big, strong, or athletic." If fact, if your kid is any of those things, you have to be especially proactive that a knucklehead coach doesn't short change your kid and derail his development because he only accentuates the physical attribute... which is what about 99% (or more) American coaches do, on all levels of the game... and in every level age wise (elite, select, etc.)

  34. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:13 p.m.

    Fanfare: You said "...technique is not part of the program fro DA clubs. Creativity is frowned upon. Coach sees a kid taking on someone 1v1 and all you hear is pass the ball. You hear the same things from some of the parents on the side line. Kids who have technical ability are stymied in there play. These coaches want to get to the goal as fast as they can and score and that means lots of air balls." WOW, WOW, WOW... FANTASTIC QUOTE... WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!!

  35. Delroy Wallace, November 16, 2016 at 11:57 a.m.

    "Instead, they stunk it up individually and collectively. John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, Bradley and Jones were especially bad, Altidore blew his cool midway through the second half to earn a caution, and even the effervescent Christian Pulisic couldn’t put on the dazzle". Face facts , most of the players are useless. Totally incapable of playing at the desired level. Klinsmann or any new coach needs talent! Technically good players, real speed in players, good vision and a bit of subtleness and creativity. Our players are simply not good!

  36. Kevin Sims, November 16, 2016 at 12:27 p.m.

    Was unable to see last night's match, but let's be clear about what's on the coach: player selection; system of play; style intent; restart performance ... What's on the players: team mentality; technical skills; willingness yo pursue most challenging environments to improve & sharpen game ... Would appear I was fortunate to miss this stinker!! Youth system lacks overall insightful coaching to maximize player technical growth & speed of thought & creative problem-solving - hard to imagine there is a clear solution to lack of soccer culture that one man can fix

  37. Doug Lister, November 16, 2016 at 12:44 p.m.

    I can blow all of your arguments about the talent pool out of the water in about 15 seconds. The U.S. got beat last night by a team that started 3 players that play in Europe. One of those plays in Portugal, hardly a top flight league, at best on par with the Championship in England? The U.S. started Woods up front, Pulisic and Johnson on the wings, Brooks and Chandler in back, all starters in the Bundesliga. Do you honestly believe that they start in Germany because they don't have talent? Guzan did get relegated last year along with Aston Villa, but caught on at Boro and even though he's not playing much, he's sitting behind Victor Valdes. Omar is starting at Pachuca in Liga MX, arguably the best league in Concacaf. The rest of the players unless I missed someone are starting in MLS, the same exact league that all but 2 of the other Costa Rican starters play in. So the talent pool is not that different between the 2 teams that played last night. One could make a strong case that the U.S. talent last night was a little better. Why is it coaching? Many including myself believe that Yedlin is better than Timmy Chandler. After playing for Big Sam last year and starting in the premiership for most of the year, he has proven that he's probably the best player for the position, but Jurgen is a bit upset with him right now so Chandler starts. Jurgen lets his personal feelings(not personnel) dictate who plays and who doesn't(see Landon Donovan). When the U.S. needed a spark last night in the 70th minute, did he bring in a forward or winger for a defender? No, he made a like for like change and took off Pulisic who seems to be the biggest playmaker. I welcome someone to write a well thought our rational rebuttal. But I really don't think that it's possible.

  38. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:24 p.m.

    Doug Lister.... you just unwittingly made my point. Costa Rica is a 2nd tier team, you just proved nothing in regard to "how does the USA get to the point where it wins a world cup?" You just proved that it would be good to be fired (which is what most of the intelligent commenters have said), and that we are lacking in technical quality to be a top tier team. Playing in a top tier league, but down the list in a top league doesn't make you a top tier player (and by extension, addition to national team)... See English players in England as a prime example of that.

  39. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:25 p.m.

    good for JK to be fired

  40. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:28 p.m.

    So good for you, you just proved what most intelligent commenters were assuming implicitly... USA is a 2nd tier team, and its coach needs to be fired. Whose arguments you are "blow"ing, I'm not sure, but there's nothing of any real note you've made.

  41. Doug Lister replied, November 16, 2016 at 2:32 p.m.

    David, if you have nothing to add, why comment?

  42. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 6:31 p.m.

    Doug, no malice intended. I responded because in my opinion, you set up a straw man that suggested that it was all a coaching solution which was needed, when it is actually a developmental solution that is needed

  43. Doug Lister replied, November 16, 2016 at 8:21 p.m.

    David, you're correct in assuming that I'm placing the blame for last night and Friday squarely at the feet of Klinnsman. I never said anything about winning the world cup. The U.S. might have one of the most talented rosters that they've ever had and it's being wasted by a coach who has no clue about tactics and that was the reason that he left the German National team

  44. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 10:24 p.m.

    Doug... I agree JK is a horrible coach. But I also think (with all due respect to the players) that our players are on the world scene, 2nd tier.

  45. Goal Goal, November 16, 2016 at 12:48 p.m.

    No rebuttal from this end DL.

    Old, old saying. The fish dies from the head down. The main fish needs to go and we should all know that it isn't JK. He should be the second fish to go.

  46. Asa Christiana, November 16, 2016 at 1:02 p.m.

    The problem is two-fold. Yes, Klinsmann has been uninspired and probably uninspiring. But he's also right that the decision of our core veterans to stay in MLS has hurt the USMNT. Every player knows that playing on a lower level does not prepare you well for the highest level. And its hard for our Europe-based players to shine when they are teamed up with guys who are not thinking and playing at the highest level.

  47. Will G, November 16, 2016 at 1:46 p.m.

    Some of these comments make me laugh. Did some of you really watch that game last night and come away with "we aren't technical enough" and "JK doesn't have the right youth setup." As soon as we all admit that we are nothing more than an average (maybe slightly above average) footballing nation, we can begin to move forward. The result of last nights match had nothing to do with technical ability. It was down to abysmal defending, tactical ineptitude and shocking player/formation choices from the manager and a complete lack of ideas going forward. We can bang on all we want about technical this and technical that, DA this and non-DA that - the entire system has to change and it will take years to see whether or not JK had the right ideas about our youth system. Personally, I think it will fail. For me, the biggest issue is that we are not creating professionals at a young enough age. MLS would much rather spend $7M/year on some washed up European star instead of giving $200,000k to 35 US players under the age of 20. Think about that - one Frank Lampard could fund our entire U18 and U19 YNT players in professional clubs. We can't afford players to miss out of the highest competition ages 16-20. It is too late by the time they get a real chance.

  48. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 2:12 p.m.

    Certainly Frank Lampard was a waste of money, got it. Will, most of the intelligent commenters are saying system has to change. but I'm just wondering... what kind of technical skill were you looking at when the botched "trap" happened at the back by Brooks, and then the goal was scored because of it?

  49. Will G replied, November 17, 2016 at 11:24 a.m.

    I'm not totally convinced Brooks botched a trap on the goal. I think we was stuck between heading the ball and trying to bring it down. Look, Brooks had an absolute howler, but overall he has been our best defender. I would like to see Brooks partner with more of a ball playing center half. The Brooks/Gonzalez partnership doesn't work as both are ball winners and neither are ball playing center halves. My point is really that the US has to get everything right to compete against the top 20 teams in the world. They have to play well, they have to be set up correctly and the manager has to choose the right players. For me, the 4-0 loss to Costa Rica was more about not getting any of those things above right than it was about our technical ability. I would never argue that we are technically great - I just don't think that was what the loss was down to.

  50. Wooden Ships replied, November 17, 2016 at 3:12 p.m.

    Agreed Will G.

  51. Kevin Leahy, November 16, 2016 at 1:51 p.m.

    You are correct Doug. In the here and now, this present roster of players is not being served by it's coach. Really feel like the argument about MLS does not hold water. The U.S. did pretty good in 2002 with more than a few MLS players. A team that had two 20 year olds playing wing midfield. Do you think the present roster with a proper coach could not compete with that team? How many of the 2002 players would have held down starting spots in the Bundesliga? To be in the bottom of the HEX is a disgrace and missing the World Cup is a disaster for every phase of American soccer!

  52. James Weisbard, November 16, 2016 at 2:05 p.m.

    I agree Klinsmann should be replaced. Addressing the perpetual debate about why doesn't the US have players with dribbling and ball control skills like much smaller nations like Costa Rica. Looking how Germany has become the world champions and why Costa Rica and even Iceland are more successful at present than USA is instructive. Unlike other professional sports in the US,MLS teams have very few if any paid scouts. The difference is despite millions of Americans boys playing youth soccer,most potential prospects are overlooked because of this. Klinsmann stated few potentially good players are overlooked in Germany even if they reside in small villages. Bundesliga teams have 100s of scouts so almost no one is missed. US Soccer has tried to create a youth system which would find much more potential prospects and at an earlier age but to improve the quality of players there must be much greater investment to create a system similar to Germany's. Costa Rica having a small population of 5 million and a small size in some ways is an advantage. Probably few if any prospects are overlooked. They are identified earlier and receive very good coaching beginning at a much earlier age. A larger sized country makes it easier to miss potential prospects. Canada which has a population of 30 million and 3 teams in MLS is 110th in the FIFA rankings behind Nicaragua and barely ahead of the Dominican republic.Despite hockey being the overwhelmingly most popular sport,Canada should have more potential footballers than Costa Rica logically. But its' immense size and lack of a system to find boys who have potential is why they produce few top prospects. An example of how identifying boys at an early age who have potential and providing them with proper coaching is Iceland. Iceland with a population of 330,000, doesn't have a true domestic professional football league is ranked 21st in the latest FIFA rankings. They are successful because most of their tiny population live in the capital or very close by. They have built many indoor facilities due to its' winter weather,and have an incredible amount of coaches with the highest or second highest level of certification in UEFA, given its' population.

  53. James Madison, November 16, 2016 at 2:23 p.m.

    There is something wrong when a nation with more players in "academies" than Iceland's total population can only field one truly world class player--Pulisic.

  54. Goal Goal replied, November 16, 2016 at 3:58 p.m.

    JM I disagree with you. We have had world class players the problem is we don't have enough of them and our chances of being consistent in developing such players is hindered by the youth coaching. You have to have players who can work together and be on the same track with the same vision during the game. We can't put 11 world class players on the field at the same time and until we do our goose is cooked. If you are developing them where are you going to get them?

  55. don Lamb replied, November 16, 2016 at 4:18 p.m.

    And the academy system is fairly new. Pulisic is leading the way, but there are a lot of kids around his age that are going to push this program up at least a notch or two. You don't produce players overnight, and Iceland has been at it for much longer building that infrastructure and culture.

  56. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 6:36 p.m.

    James...Pulisic is world class????? FANFOR.... the US has had World Class players???? I see this as part of the problem, some of us think that these players are world class

  57. Bob Ashpole replied, November 19, 2016 at 10:31 p.m.

    The problem is meaningless terms like "world class." It is so obscure that people can say whatever they want. Is Carli Lloyd, 2015 women's world player of the year, not world class? Donavon is essentially an MLS product. Pulisic developed in the US too. The field and the ball are the same size and shape world wide. What matters most is the individual and the training opportunities. We have good coaches here in the US. Not enough of them by a long shot, but it doesn't take a foreign accent to be a good coach. Hopefully more people have learned this in the last couple of years.

  58. Miguel Dedo, November 16, 2016 at 4:50 p.m.

    Bradley, Dempsey, Jones and Altidore did not "foresake" European soccer. They no longer had jobs in European soccer. We should accept the facts of what our skills and resources are, enjoy what we have.

  59. Julio Vargas, November 16, 2016 at 8:44 p.m.

    JK was not hired to qualify the US team to the WC. He was hired to do better than Bob Bradly. Nothing of that happened. In the last WC we got as far as BB would had got us anyway. He was supposed to make the US team an attacking, aggressive team, looking for the win from the beginning. However, all these years have been very much the same old story, with no real results with except of a few friendly matches. He should have been fired after last WC. He needs to go!

  60. John Hofmann, November 16, 2016 at 9:06 p.m.

    Have grown to love soccer over many yrs, staring in 1978 when my oldest kid (then 10) went to sign up & no coaches - could only get him on a team if I coached. At some time got required F Lic. Ended up coaching youth teams for abt 20 yrs, and never really had any real grounding in teaching fundamentals. Have watch SA columns for many yrs - lots of complaints, argu- ents, but seemed little focus on practical problems. Would appear more talented, educated coaching needed at basic levels. How to accomplish this, in a (reality) non-soccer nation? People commenting here are passionate soccer people. Most in US are not. How do you best get that changed? To me a good suggestion above re signing a number of US youngsters with money wasted on over-the-hill overseas talent. How do you accomplish this, especially if run-of-the-mill "fans" pulled in by famous/foreign names? How best to afford getting top-talent kids outside upper-tier white kids into the national system? My assumption would have to be that Sunil and soccer leadership is paying constant attn. to these types of issues, but how does one know? Money is the number one factor running just about everything in this country (not to my liking certainly) - and the reality is that soccer is way down the power structure in this country. Is the leadership strategizing about these things?

  61. R2 Dad, November 17, 2016 at 12:45 a.m.

    Just as a point of reference, we should remember how well Mexico played recently and how gawdawful they were in 2012. Team performances fluctuate, even with the same squad. I say run JK through this Hex and if we don't qualify, fire him and blow up this USNMT squad and go with youth. If we are going to go with a possession-oriented attack we need a real attacking mid to build around. Since we can't just pick a Modric or Ozil out of thin air, there should be a nation-wide search for a #10. If we do hire BA, we won't need a #10 and we can go back to all that effective counterattacking everyone seems to love so much.

  62. aaron dutch, November 17, 2016 at 2:08 a.m.

    we dont have the players, system, coaching, structure, passion, commitment, vision, equity, diversity, leadership. Besides that we are world class. If we could fix one of these every 5 years we would make huge progress over the last 20 years and the next 20 but we don't even benchmark ourselves to any successful nations. Until we are honest on these metrics we can never progress in any meaningful way.

  63. Andrew Kear, November 18, 2016 at 9:28 a.m.

    To people that still support Klinsmann and denigrate US soccer all you have to say to them is that Arena and Bradley won with slightly less talent. This is all coaching. Even Brazil can fail without decent coaching. Look at the World Cup where they lost to Germany 7-0!!!!! One man and man only is to blame for recent USMNT woes and that is Klinsmann. He is gone if the US does not win its next game. I think we all know that. It is a shame he has undone a quarter century of hard work by the USMNT program.

  64. Andrew Kear, November 19, 2016 at 2:56 p.m.

    The US does not compare to the best teams in the world. However, since 1990 we have improved more than any other major country. The US used never qualify for the world cup before 1990. In the last quarter century the US has been in every world cup. Is this Klinsmann team going to stop this trend. The US team's biggest achilles heal is Klinsmann's team tactics and player selection, which borders on insanity. Even the Mexican coach was mystified by Klinsmann starting lineup last week! Alsa, poor Bradley who is always played out of position. He now has to play 15% harder just to compensate being out of position. In some respects the US is down before the game even starts. This is the legacy of the mad tinker. The US is a much better team than Costa Rica, but with Klinsmann in charge they are in danger of losing to everyone.

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