Commentary

Klinsmann had a long run at the helm

By Mike Woitalla

Regardless of what Jurgen Klinsmann may have gotten right or wrong during his nearly five and a half years at the USA's helm, his tenure was remarkably long relative to national team coaches around the world.

Klinsmann was appointed U.S. national team coach on July 29, 2011. He guided the USA to the 2013 Gold Cup title and, after qualifying the team for the 2014 World Cup, had his contract renewed in December of 2013 though 2018.

At the 2014 World Cup, a win over Ghana and a tie with Portugal earned the USA passage to the second round, where it fell to Belgium.

Klinsmann getting fired this week meant that of the 32 teams that competed at the 2014 World Cup, only six still have the same coach: Germany (Joachim Low), France (Didier Deschamps), Uruguay (Oscar Tabarez), Colombia (Jose Pekerman), Iran (Carlos Quieroz) and Australia (Ange Postecoglou).

At last summer’s European Championship, of the 24 teams, only Germany’s Loew (2006) and Spain’s Vicente del Bosque (2008), winners of the last two World Cups, had been in place longer than Klinsmann had been in charge of the USA. Euro 2006 winner Portugal was led by Fernando Santos, who had taken the helm two years earlier.

At the 2016 Copa America Centenario, won by Chile while the USA finished fourth behind third-place Colombia and runner-up Argentina, Klinsmann and Uruguay’s Tabarez were the longest-serving coaches of the 16 teams. Chile’s coach, the Argentine Juan Antonio Pizzi, had been on the job for four months when tournament kicked off.

Some nations are notably impatient with their national team coaches. Mexico, for example, has had 18 (!) head coaches in the last 20 years. The USA has had four during that time: Steve Sampson, Arena, Bradley and Klinsmann.

Germany is a glaring exception when it comes to attaining success while keeping the same coach for a long period.

The most common approach, when a team is in a rut, is to change coaches. After all, one can’t swap out the entire player pool. But a coaching switch can invigorate the players. Those who’ve felt they haven’t been given the playing time they deserve are inspired to prove themselves to the new coach while the regulars realize their spots are no longer secure unless they impress the new boss.

12 comments about "Klinsmann had a long run at the helm ".
  1. Rich Blast, November 23, 2016 at 5:57 p.m.

    Klinsmann was terrible. However, no one will succeed unless the landscape is changed where more kids want to play soccer and can do so at a reasonable price. I know too many parents that are just not willing to pay the huge price of Club Soccer.

  2. Allan Lindh, November 23, 2016 at 6:19 p.m.

    Sorry Rich, kids must start sooner, no later than 4-5. Not on organized teams, but with friends, siblings, parents, grand-parents etc. In the park, in the back yard, living room, anywhere. Unless the ball learns to love their feet very young, they will never be great.

  3. j bapper, November 23, 2016 at 6:29 p.m.

    Klinsmanns biggest accomplishment by far was recruiting German-Americans to play for the US. We made no progress at all on developing a more fluid, attacking, possession style of play. You can blame the players but Klinsmann picked the players and there were better ones out there that Klinsmann never gave a chance. He stuck with past their prime players or players that should have never been in the National Team - Jones, Bradley, Beckerman, Zusi, Chandler, Bedoya, Wondoloski to name a few. He finally started to infuse some youth and speed in the team but it was too late.

  4. Wooden Ships replied, November 25, 2016 at 9:37 p.m.

    Yes J.

  5. Andrew Kear replied, November 27, 2016 at 10:44 a.m.

    The German American have been just as bad as the US born players. In fact the whole team has been bad under Klinsmann.

  6. Chris Hussion, November 24, 2016 at 9:16 p.m.

    Look guys, here is the real deal. I didn't grow up with soccer so here is the perspective which I believe is true. We can't have a foreign coach run our program unless they truly understand the USA. Soccer has too many sports to compete with and will never overtake Basketball and Football and probably not Baseball. The vast majority of countries have futbol as their #1 sport so the best athletes migrate there. Not in the US. Until majority of the best athletes lean toward soccer, we won't dominate in the world. Hopefully we can compete. Doesn't mean we don't change things to help things along from an early age or doesn't mean we give up... but one must accept the above reality.

  7. Raymundo Ramirez replied, November 25, 2016 at 11:51 a.m.

    Chris, I'm going to slightly disagree on your point of athleticism. The US has more athletic soccer players than Mexico and Costa Rica. What US players have always lacked and continues to lack is the technical ability to be comfortable on the soccer ball: the skill to make the ball do what you want it to do. This is slowly getting better, and Klinsman knew that a quick fix to the team was to bring in German-American players who were developed in Germany and not here. What Klinsman also brought to the team was a World Class soccer mentality because he was once a World Class player. None of our US players had played at his level and won the awards he did. That's why I understood his decision to cut Donovan from the World Cup roster. It surprised me, of course, but I understood that no World Class player, captain or leader would ever take a sabbatical in the middle of qualifying. Us, as Americans do feel a sense of entitlement to take breaks and have a vacation. This is true, but Klinsman, a foreign coach tried to shake that level of comfort we hold. If we want to compete with the rest of the world, then our players have to be as hungry and love the sport as much as the Brazilians, Spanish, Argentinians, Dutch, Germans, Mexicans, etc. What American coach right now can teach us that?

  8. Wooden Ships replied, November 25, 2016 at 9:46 p.m.

    Raymundo, IMO, you offered strong insight. Allen and you addressed our shortcomings. Athleticism is not as big a deal that many US sports fans think it is for soccer, nor is heigth. I wish JK the best. And, your correct, never heard of professional footballers taking sabbaticals.

  9. :: SilverRey :: replied, November 26, 2016 at 11:31 p.m.

    Just some quick info for those who want to criticize Donovan for his 'sabatical': From the beginning of the '08 season, he had ONE offseason until he went to Cambodia in '13. _____________________ In that time - '08 full season, '09 winter (offseason) with Bayern Munich (which Klinsmann was coaching at the time), '09 Gold Cup Final, '09 MLS Cup, '10 loan to Everton (offseason), '10 World Cup (r16), '10 Supporter's Shield, '10 MLS Cup Semifinals, '11 winter break (offseason), '11 Gold Cup Final, '11 MLS Cup winner, '12 loan Everton (offseason), '12 MLS Cup winner, '13 (offseason) Cambodia vacation. ______________ In the span of 5 years he had ONE offseason where he wasn't playing. And yet people call him soft for wanting a break. Compare that to any professional player in America no matter what sport (how many months off do NFL players get?).

  10. Raymundo Ramirez replied, November 27, 2016 at 10:47 a.m.

    SilverRey, thank you for researching Donovan's schedule and matches from years back. It's an impressive run, but your final comment touched on my point: "Compare that to any professional player in 'America' no matter what sport..." Only in America do people feel a sense of entitlement to take breaks and go on vacation. Let's compare that now to other players who have been the leaders and faces of their countries. I bet that Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo individually played more matches Landon Donovan since 2008: With their deep Champion's League runs, league matches and league tournaments, and resenting their countries during World Cup qualifying, Euro Cup qualifying, Copa America matches, etc. Neither of those three players would have taken a break during that time. Trust me, I wanted to see Donovan go to the 2014 World Cup. His experience alone could have helped us, but I understood Klinsman's point. His remark about American sports and Kobe Bryant being overpaid during the end of his career stirred lots of controversy, but it turned out to be true as well.

  11. Daniel Clifton, November 25, 2016 at 9:12 a.m.

    Allen has got it right. Until kids start playing the game in their back yards at an early age we as a nation will not improve. I live across the street from a family where the kids get out in the front yard and play soccer.

  12. Chris Hussion, November 26, 2016 at 9:35 a.m.

    I understand what is being said and with that you have made my point. In order for kids to play in the back yards with friends, family, etc so that they start out young and have the "hunger", Futbol must the at least the top 2-3 sports. I am in no way speaking negatively towards the athleticism of Futbol players internationally, all I am saying is Futbol misses out probably on the best athletes in the US to play because the prototypical player most likely has sought out football or basketball or baseball because of their parents and media and if it needs to start at 4-5, then the window has closed. As far as athletes in another country not being as "athletic", they make up for it in playing different styles...possession vs long ball vs some are more "chippy" etc. I admit... I thought soccer was a stupid game growing up and even in to adulthood until my kids started to play. I learned the game by becoming a referee and now see the beauty in the sport. I don't believe having the foreign coach helps the hunger. Klinsmann hurt matters with the USMNT. Klinsmann lost it when he cut LD and never regained his respect. Now maybe if he was able to change things at youth level .... who knows. US needs to have and develop their (our) own style (foreign influence is fine but trying play German or Italian or Brazilian style is not us.) It will take someone who understands that to take the US to next level. Meanwhile we are thankful for our lives, family, friends, and freedoms

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