The Klinsmann Interlude (Part 3): Damage Repair -- Bruce Arena returns: Tab Ramos waits

By Paul Gardner

Bruce Arena never had any doubts about his own ability to move smoothly and successfully from the college game to the pros. I did. I thought the change was altogether too fundamental, too demanding. It looked to me like a change that, even supposing it could be made, would need time.

In no time at all, Arena proved me to be quite wrong. He had everything that was needed to coach pro players, who came in a much greater variety of styles and ages than anything Arena had seen in college. His achievement was immediate and unarguable, as he led D.C. United to the first-ever MLS championship in 1996.

An obvious area where Arena’s expertise would prove inadequate, I had thought, would be in handling Latino players. He had, admittedly, done a great job with Claudio Reyna at the University of Virginia, but Reyna was young, and an American product. What would happen with an experienced player from Latin America?

The question was not academic. In that first MLS year, Sunil Gulati, as the league’s Deputy Commissioner, was busy signing up star foreign players whom he judged would give sparkle and prestige to the league. Having signed the players, Gulati would then allocate them, somewhat arbitrarily, to an MLS club. Among Gulati’s signings was Bolivia’s Marco Etcheverry. He was on his way to D.C.United.

So, like it or not, Arena was to get his first experience with an experienced Latino star. Arena did not like it. He let it be known that he didn’t want Etcheverry and requested that he be traded for another player. Gulati said no.

I had closely followed Etcheverry’s career since his early days with the Bolivian youth club Tahuichi. I knew the sort of player he was, very skillful, very creative ... and not, definitely not, a player who relied on that college staple, hustle.

So Arena’s reluctance to accept Etcheverry, of course, confirmed my fears. Arena knew only the parochialism of college soccer, he would try to import that to the pros, and it wouldn’t work. Of course he wouldn’t want anyone as disruptingly exotic as Etcheverry.

Etcheverry, supposedly the star of the team, didn’t get to start regularly in D.C.’s early games. Arena believed he wasn’t in good shape, but was quickly impressed by his skills. Soon Etcheverry was starting. And then he was running the show. His brilliance was not to be denied -- least of all by Arena, who made no secret of his new-found admiration for Etcheverry’s skills, calling him “the heart and soul of this team and the heart and soul of this league.”

That early indication of Arena’s pragmatism, his readiness to change direction and take on the challenge of the new, was vastly encouraging. Halfway through the 1996 season, Jaime Moreno, another Bolivian, was added. With Raul Diaz Arce, Arena now had three Latinos on his team. It seemed to indicate that Arena would be a friend to Latino soccer.

I’m not sure that things have worked out that way. Pragmatism remains the key to Arena’s strengths. Pragmatism allied to canny insights into the sport. Arena’s subsequent career has not exactly been Latino-friendly. When he took over the Red Bulls in 2006, his first move was to ditch Amado Guevara, the team’s MVP.

Two years later, on joining the Galaxy, Arena quickly traded Carlos Ruiz to Toronto.

Arena, then, cannot be said to have shown either great friendliness or hostility to Latino players. In an ideal world, that is as it should be. But the current situation in the USA is anything but ideal. The Latino game is being snubbed. It needs a leader who will stress its importance in the American scheme of things, someone who will make sure that it gets a fair deal.

I cannot see Arena being that man. On his World Cup teams in 2002 and 2006, the Latino presence consisted, essentially, of one player -- Reyna. At the Los Angeles Galaxy, there have been Latino players -- notably the Brazilian Juninho, a pretty permanent midfield presence between 2010 and 2016. But among Juninho’s strengths were an admirable work rate and his rustic tackling. He was no Etcheverry.

There remains a Latino presence on the Galaxy: Giovanni Dos Santos, much closer to Etcheverry, to the true Latino style. But in 2016, Arena’s final year at the Galaxy, his pragmatism took on a bizarre, rather alarming aspect. Juninho, age 26, was let go and the Galaxy midfield started to fill up with decidedly physical players. Steven Gerrard had arrived from England, robustly skillful but with a penchant for thigh-high tackles. Next came American Jeff Larentowicz -- a certified enforcer whose presence guaranteed that the Galaxy’s midfield foul rate would prosper. Then the unthinkable -- the signing of Dutchman Nigel De Jong, a breaker of legs and a disher-out of karate kicks, known to all and sundry as the sport’s No. 1 bad guy.

And that’s where we are, with Arena’s current view of the game focused on a rough-house midfield. This can hardly be seen as good news, for Arena is now the man who will take the USA into the 2018 World Cup. Is he preparing to do that with an overtly physical midfield? If so, than we can forget about expecting any sympathy from Arena for the Latino cause.

Which leaves this matter, so vital to the healthy future of American soccer, apparently unrecognized, largely undiscussed and, of course, glaringly unresolved.

I am led, regretfully, to a conclusion that I have long dismissed as unacceptable. That the Latino impasse will not, can not, be resolved by an “Anglo” (i.e. non-Latino) coach. That it will take the appointment of a Latino coach to a position of high authority for the necessary changes in practice and in mindsets to be made.

The Anglo coaches seem willing to accept one, even two Latinos on their teams. But rarely more. That will not work. A stylistic decision is required. The sudden brilliance of Nicolas Lodeiro with Seattle is remarkable -- but how much more remarkable would it be if Lodeiro were supported by players with a full understanding, a feel for the Latino game? How many? I don’t know, it would depend on so many different factors. I would say at least two more, to provide the creative element of the team. That is not a Latino takeover -- something so many Anglos seem to fear -- but it would mark a decision, a stylistic decision, to play a Latino-oriented game.

We have seen this happening at FC Dallas, where it took a Latino coach, Oscar Pareja, to bring it about. His mixture of Latino and non-Latino players has been highly successful, not only in the results column, but also in playing lively, attractive, attacking soccer.

Pareja, then, could be seen as the future, the man to take over from Arena. But I think there is a better candidate. I have already mentioned him, pointing out that he is the only one of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s men's coaches who is Latino: Tab Ramos.

Now that the damaging Klinsmann influence has been banished, it is to be hoped that Ramos will be allowed to spread his wings.

Scandalously, Ramos was denied the Olympic coach position when it was given to Andi Herzog. Ramos is now 50, yet his coaching experience goes no further than the U-20s. Sitting on Klinsmann’s bench, taking notes, has been a criminal wasting of Ramos’s talents. That talent seems formidable to me.

On March 3, 2013, in the Concacaf U-20 final in Puebla, Mexico, Ramos’s USA team put on a magnificent performance -- the best I have ever seen by any U.S. national team, at any age level. The soccer was exciting, stylish, at times quite superb. The Mexicans won the overtime game 3-1, but Ramos had made a huge point. Americans could play cohesive, stylish soccer. As it happens, eight of that U-20 team were Latinos. Ramos assured me he had not gone looking for Latino players. He wanted players who were “not afraid of the ball.”

Most of them turned out to be Latino.

Then came the Klinsmann influence, with Ramos fading into a bench-dwelling note-taker. He needs to be re-vivified, and he has some catching up to do. If he is not given a top U.S. appointment, he should go seeking an MLS job. He has so much to contribute to the future of the American game, and to what is going on right now. His voice is the voice that needs to be heard to bring together the contrasting elements of Latino and Anglo soccer, to work out an everybody-wins solution to the soccer culture clash that complicates the American game.

• The Klinsmann Interlude (Part 1): A Sorry Experience for American Soccer

• The Klinsmann Interlude (Part 2): Total Failure to Acknowledge Latino Presence

51 comments about "The Klinsmann Interlude (Part 3): Damage Repair -- Bruce Arena returns: Tab Ramos waits ".
  1. R2 Dad, December 2, 2016 at 10:40 a.m.

    Agreed. But there's got to be more than just one Tab. In a country this large, with generations of USMNT alums, all we get is just the one? Who is everyone else in the U team pyramid, and why are they so lame in comparison? By my accounting we should have at least half a dozen Tabs running around, but we don't. Why not, US Soccer?

  2. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 4:44 p.m.

    Here's the order... Arena, Ramos, Kleiban... excepting of course, US Soccer tells Xavi they'll shell out $10M per year for the next 10 years ... if they do that... USA quantum leaps into the Tier 1 soccer nations

  3. Daniel Clifton, December 2, 2016 at 10:56 a.m.

    Another good article by PG. I don't share his apparently assumed opinion that Arena will eschew Latino players on the national team. I must admit I was surprised by the signing of De Jong. De Jong also did not last long with the Galaxy, which demonstrates again Arena's pragmatism. The signing of Steven Gerrard also did not work out. I hope MLS teams will change their approach to DP's and avoid the signing of these aging European stars.

  4. Joyce Macmahon, December 2, 2016 at 11:41 a.m.

    I have been screaming this for years. Bring on Tab Ramos. :)

  5. Ric Fonseca replied, December 2, 2016 at 1:42 p.m.

    Joyce: Amen, hallelujah, and praise the Lord!!!

  6. David Sacio replied, December 2, 2016 at 2:56 p.m.

    I have been saying this for years. We have a wealth of diversity in this country and we keep on buying into European soccer being the best soccer.
    We are not Europeans. We are Americans
    and could play much better soocer than this.
    We should have Tab Ramos as our next
    Coach please. We should have an all-Latino midfield in my opinion followed by
    the best players this country has to offer which I believe are many.

  7. David V, December 2, 2016 at 11:53 a.m.

    PART 1) Generally not bad article... certainly what PG espouses is far superior to any JK approach, as anyone who had a clue about the game knew before the JK era ever started... SCATTERED THOUGHTS, since I don't get paid to write as PG does... 1) whether PG is correct or not, and I think he mostly is, as I've made the point before many times on SA, coaching changes are not going to make a tier 2 team (USA), into a tier 1 team (Spain, Holland (well what we used to think of as Holland), Germany, Argentina, Italy, Brasil, teams that have a real shot at winning a WC)... if the coaching change helps to make a change in the OVERALL CULTURE OF THE USA, then it COULD help to move in a tier 1 direction, but that's another topic... 2) as I stated before, at least in so many words, I think what PG means by Latino is someone whose origin, or family roots come from south of the USA border (Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America (where I think he is lumping in Brasil)... in that sense there is a lot to appreciate, but not all of these places and countries are tier 1 (Mexico isn't, Bolivia isn't, Honduras isn't, C.R. isn't, Venezuela isn't, Uruguay has been but it isn't now, etc., etc.... but some could be break through to tier 1... maybe a Chile or maybe an Uruguay, and maybe, and this is a long shot, maybe a Mexico)... so, while you are lauding the merits of south of the border countries, while this is certainly better than the JK approach, realize, it isn't going to take you to the tier 1 promised land - see my point 1). As I've said before, all this USA coach talk is fine, but realize it is really a conversation about how to move a lower-to-mediocre tier 2 soccer nation into a top tier 2 soccer nation. (Most don't want to hear that, but ... to those of you who don't, I recommend a book by a Danish fellow regarding an emperor and his garments). Now 3) I've spoken many times about American Football and English Football being the dominant model for USA soccer- this is a pathetic model, as I've stated many times over on SA and it supports a 2nd tier nation status very well... of course, take a look at England (2nd tier - OK, they got lucky 50 years ago this year, on home soil, but that's it... do I detect some ruffled brows and snarls at this mention? My advice to you is to go back and read the story by the aforementioned Dane). To get away from the American/English Football model and move to a "Latino" inspired model (that's my name for what PG is talking about, even though I don't know for sure what he means by Latino) can ONLY be a HUGE step in the right direction for US Soccer. OK, and lastly, scattered thought #4... 4) Gio Dos Santos... he is an interesting character... probably fits the "Latino" labeling by PG based on Gio's heritage... one Brazilian parent and one Mexican parent. I do have to admit, that I can't stomach watching much College Soccer (that place where players play who can't make it as a pro, (TO BE CONTINUED)

  8. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 12:09 p.m.

    PART 2) (... can't make it as a pro which has been sold as bill of goods to American parents as a destination for youth players), not can I stomach watching much MLS (some but not much). And I have to admit, I haven't seen that much of Gio since he realized he couldn't make it in the truly big league (he left Barcelona years ago), but I do remember his skills schooling the USA a few years ago for a brilliant goal... at any rate... and this can be as much of a question for all you Soccer Experts out there as it is a comment on my part... but Gio learned to play a huge portion of his game in Spain... and this is NOT a Latino style (to use PG's Latino sense of the word)... you may wish to talk about many "Latino" surnames which are similar or the same as those in Spain (we all know the history of Spain's new world endeavors- but please, don't get into politics here- I'm just stating why the names are the same (but not in Brasil of course). Spain is a European team with a very unique style they invented, and there may be many "Latino" players who can adapt to this (OK, Lio didn't really adapt, he learned it under a Spanish team's training) but the "Latino" style that PG is talking about, is not the same as in Spain. All that said, Gio is an interesting case, and although he has according to PG's definition of Latino, a "Latino" heritage, his soccer heritage, at least in his most influential years, is more Spanish than "Latino". NOW LET IT BE SAID, I THINK TAB RAMOS could be a very good candidate as PG mentions. ONE SIDE TIDBIT TO COME (SEE PART 3)

  9. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 12:13 p.m.

    PART 3 - You all need to look at a Gary Kleiban... Soccer America has mentioned him many times, and he has been very successful... google him, his career... he has the PG definition "Latino" connection, and has studies under the masters at Barcelona, and he has blended the US with the Latino, and place a lot of kids on the US National teams... he may not be in line before TAB RAMOS, but if he were groomed now, and could influence some of the culture of soccer in the USA, he would be the next step after TAB... AND Don't Forget... we won't go tier 1 until there is a significant youth culture change.

  10. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 12:41 p.m.

    @ Jake... the prize is the senior team... Mexico has no shot at it in the next 10 years, easily 10. Exporting or not, the prize is the senior team... while I'd pick Brasil or Argentina any day over England, any day... I wouldn't necessarily pick them over Spain, Germany, Italy... we know the German route is a failed path a la JK... but your comment about Europe is misleading... don't follow the English-inspired European path... you could make a very strong case for following Dutch, Spanish, Italian European... and back to Argentina and Brasil... obviously quality players, but Lio can't and highly likely won't ever take his Argentina to the promised land of a WC final victory... and Neymar is likely the same... I say likely because Neymar is much younger, and there could be some good Brasilians coming up... but they are NOT the Brazil of our youth... good on them for 2002, but mostly the top era for them has been gone since the 1980s... obviously they have had some quality players... as much as I agree with your posts, on this one, you sound very American in your approach with exports per capita etc. REMEMBER, this is all TIER 2 talk, as far as the coaching changes and US Soccer making changes... it doesn't really address the important Cultural change... which is necessary to take us (the USA) to the tier 1 state... a coaching change won't, unless it impacts youth culture (and I don't mean mere US team choices... I mean at the playgrounds, etc.)

  11. Caxamarca ZVX replied, December 3, 2016 at 10 p.m.

    Interesting points all David. Spain didn't invent a style, they combine Dutch Total Football and South American football into their style, a style known as Tiki Taka as we all know that has been dominant for Barcelona and the National Team. Most to all Latin American nations and Latinos in the US play a similar (to each other) possession-style, technical, creative game. Though amongst we Latinos we don't include Brazil as Latinos (the wide definition including any nation in the Americas where a romance language or derivative is spoken) there is a common influence upon world soccer from that nation, above and beyond probably. To the point of Brazil, Champ in '94, runner-up in '98 and Champ in 2002 hardly looks like old history in the scheme of the WC. Especially in the light of a first German Championship since '90 or 2 straight Italian failures to advance from their group. Spain in comparison was a flash in the pan and on par at this point with England and France as 1 times winners (though more accomplished for not having won it on home soil). Further, have you seen this iteration of Brazil under Tite? Truly 1982eresque...

  12. frank schoon replied, December 4, 2016 at 10:51 a.m.

    Can"t stomach watching College soccer,LOLOLOLOLOLOL'
    Yes, and realize these players represent your better players who have gone through Travel Soccer and developed in the Soccer Academies, for at least 10years. Realize the money these parents have spend and than look at the product these players on the field produce. I can only stomach about 45min. of these games. If and when I record these games , I do so with the purpose of showing what not to do

  13. Allan Lindh, December 2, 2016 at 12:35 p.m.

    Thank you Mr. Gardner, you are on a role. Now if only a way can be found to encourage young Hispanic players in the US to get a college education, at least 2 yrs worth at a JC, and get a start in pro soccer. Because the Elephant in the Room that no one wishes to address, is that most (90%?) players who sign pro contracts young will NEVER make enough money in soccer to support a family. And a young Hispanic in this country without some college, and often without even a high school degree, faces a very tough economic life after soccer.

  14. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 12:44 p.m. may be right, in terms of what is best for a player's future, which is something that should not be taken lightly... but from a Soccer perspective... having to play college soccer means the end of one's career

  15. Allan Lindh replied, December 2, 2016 at 1:43 p.m.

    But surely what is best for all the young players future should be the first concern. Not that hard. Just make a requirement for all MLS academies to provide GED courses for all kids who didn't finish high school, and when they finish high school, require JC enrollment and attendance, AND provide tutors. Under-age kids require parents signature, the parents will be supportive of an educational component.

  16. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 1:53 p.m.

    Allan, there you have it. You can make this (the person's best interest) successful without, from a soccer perspective, condemning them to college soccer while still getting them college while playing pro. My point isn't "don't get a college education" but don't sell college as if it is under the same model that American Football, Basketball, etc. are, or have worked in the USA. And for those parents who think College is the stepping stone to Pros... they've been sold a bill of goods

  17. Ric Fonseca replied, December 2, 2016 at 2:27 p.m.

    Mr. Lindh: First as a recently retired college professor and former coach and AD, it is very simplistic to assume that all a Latino needs to do is to just show up at a local ComColl/JC and all will be just peachy. sorry, I don't mean to jump and rain on your article, but after 40-plus years in the system, it isn't as simplistic as it sounds or is, and with budgets being as tight as they are, the college systems in general, and on down to the coaches themselves, are not going to bend over backwards as we all know what happens without that college sheepskin, and to even suggest that to require "mandatory" enrollment, mi amigo, it ain't gonna happen for various and sundry reasons, far too numerous to mention here!

  18. Allan Lindh replied, December 2, 2016 at 3:07 p.m.

    Ric Fonseco I hear you, but I was NOT suggesting putting a burden on the JC system. I was suggesting that the MLS academies make serious efforts to get young kids to continue their educations, and that they provide the tutors and the study environment. And to call a spade a spade, for the 90% of the young kids who sign pro contracts who will never make a real living out of soccer, they would be vastly better off finishing high school and playing college soccer than they will be after they are dropped from the pro soccer world for not being good enough. I suspect that this would not be a radical suggestion in Germany, where I'll bet a bottle of good whiskey that they have long had educational components to their academy programs. Actually I would be surprised if some MLS academies don't already have such programs.

  19. Stephan Fatschel replied, December 2, 2016 at 4:24 p.m.

    Allan makes a very good point about JC and should also be a requirement at USL level where most of the young pros will likely start.

  20. Bill Wilson, December 2, 2016 at 1:15 p.m.

    If we want to move forward David V, the first step is to stop trashing MLS. For better or worse, the MLS/USL pyramid is what we have for a professional soccer structure in this country. Expecting that the various grass roots constituencies who fund and control US Soccer or NCAA Universities are suddenly going to follow some sort of "model" that doesn't support their immediate interests is foolish. This fantasy that everybody is going to give up their entrenched positions and money for some initiative to grow Latino influence in US Soccer is even more absurd. In our history as a Country the only thing that forces change in anything is disruptive influences. I have been waiting 40 years for the US Latino (whatever that may be) soccer community to demand their rightful place at the table, but they are unable or unwilling to work through the system to make this happen. It seems to me like it is a lot easier for them to act like victims and go back to hide in their own ecosystem then force change. Run into obstacles....organize, don't quit and force change. Maybe one of these mythical US Latino creative players can overcome the obstacles and lead the way to be the break through star we desperately need, much like Jackie Robinson. I am still waiting for this to happen but all I hear are excuses why this is not possible or they run off to Mexico. Until then, the only disruptive influence I see on the horizon are MLS and USL Academies and through good old American self-interest, greed and competition they are the best near term path forward to find the best US players whether you like it or not. Stop bashing these leagues and start demanding, as fans, that they produce increasingly better players for our local teams and, indirectly, US Soccer.

  21. Kent James replied, December 2, 2016 at 2:01 p.m.

    You're right about the importance of MLS (and the lower professional leagues). All top tier soccer countries have good domestic leagues. They are vital to player development (especially when it is so hard for our players to go elsewhere). Criticize the MLS, sure, but support it and demand change. The soccer culture requires a domestic professional outlet that inspires greatness in young players!

  22. Ric Fonseca replied, December 2, 2016 at 2:04 p.m.

    Mr. Wilson: First, as a US Citizen of Mexican origin, I take complete issue with your comment that you've been "waiting for 40 years for the US Latino... soccer community to demand their rightful place at the table (sic)" as I find it insulting and ignorant of your part, because if you did or have done your due diligence, I too have been waiting since the mid-60s and have lived through the following decades to get to the table. We not only have been waiting for "rightful place at the table" but have washed the dishes, cooked the food, and have set the table, but for you to say that we need an invite is very nearsighted as a table placing and a chair is all we want. Also that "Maybe one of these mythical US Latino creative players can overcome the obstacles... like Jackie Robinson...(sic)" I ask you Senor, just how long did Jackie Robinson have to wait? So you also say they "run off to Mexico," dear Senor, they do so because they are simply put, as Paul Gardner illustrated above, they are NOT invited to the table, and a case in point is the recent WNT U-20, when at least seven of the young ladies, raised and trained in the US of Mexican parentage played for the Tricolor, and why, was it because they were not invited or good enough yet they played for Mexico and damned well? Anyway, I could go on and on, and take it from one who has walked the walk, talked the talk, and still thinks the thoughts, especially during the four decades you mention. Lastly, I do want to say that these articles are not something new to Mr. Gardner, and true while I've railed against some of his drier articles, he HAS been one of the very few "US/Brits" who has championed, yes, the plight of the US Latino player within the sphere of influence that is supposedly known as "US Soccer" from the local youth rec leagues on up, going back to the 70s, especially early during that decade when I first met him, and as for his take on Mr. Arena, KUDOS to Paul Gardner for taking the time and courage to call it as it is, and what has been and hopefully not what it will be!!!

  23. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 2:04 p.m.


  24. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 2:20 p.m.

    @ BILL AGAIN... (OOPS, sorry about caps not coming off)...I'm not expecting anything... all the things you mentioned about college this and that... I'm not expecting any of it. I'm just telling you... if the goal is world cup glory, it has to be a cultural change... whether that change ever takes place or not, I'm not predicting. And College, as a part of the development model... if that ever changes, I am not saying it will or it won't, but I am saying, if that is a part of the development model, there will NEVER be World cup glory for the USA... NEVER

  25. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 2:32 p.m.

    @ Ric Fonseca... Loved the "US/Brits" designation. I have often referred to this losing mindset as "EnglandWest" (meaning US emulating England). Many of the American public have bought into this, which incidentally has been sold by "US/Brits" or "EnglandWest"to capitalize ($) upon them. Good Marketing out of England has pulled the wool over US too.

  26. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 2:37 p.m.

    @ Bill... MOST, not all, of MLS and College Soccer plays "50/50 Jungle Ball" (I can't claim I invented these terms, but they are accurate... you'll have to look up the Kleibans and 3four3 for the originators). To ignore it, hide it and not expose it (you called it trashing)... well, I'm not writing too much more, again, if you read Emperor's new clothes... that will make my point.

  27. Bill Wilson replied, December 2, 2016 at 6:36 p.m.

    Ric, I am sorry that you found my comments insulting, but I do not withdraw them. In fact I believe this is a dialogue that needs to happen and it has nothing to do with being racist or culturally insensitive. I said nothing about an "invite" (sic back at you), but said the Latino community needs to organize and make demands of the establishment. Show me where this has happened in a systematic way. I have done my due diligence and have one simple question. Despite millions of kids playing soccer through the years, why has there never been one of these so-called creative US born Latino players who have made a real impact in MLS or the USMNT? I am as tired of seeing the same Anglo suburban players, with all of the flaws that come with growing up in our dysfunctional development system, pretend to be a creative attacking player as anybody. I am also sick and tired of seeing MLS executives flee to Argentina and Columbia to find these type of players. I don't understand why there has not been one US born Latino coach or one kid who has had the persistence and will to fight the system and be a role model for others. All it will take is one influential creative US born Latino star to change the narrative completely. In 2007 MLS formed a Hispanic board to help guide the outreach to this community. It folded quietly a few years ago with little to show for it's efforts and no screaming from their membership about this. I think what the Latino community lacks is leadership willing to raise hell, demand change at all levels and not rest until it happens. I don't see this and maybe it is because all of these so called leaders have grown comfortable feeding at the trough. The only other answer is that the Latino leadership is happy with the new initiatives in MLS and US Soccer. Stop talking about the past and just get the change that is needed done. Waiting around for someone in the old order to give up their place in the hierarchy or their source of income (for example coaching positions) is foolish and will never happen. Disrupt and then do it again.

  28. Ric Fonseca replied, December 4, 2016 at 1:03 a.m.

    >Bill Wilson, Dec 2, 6:36pm post: Bill, would it surprise you to know that as far back as 33 years ago, I together with several other Latin-American US Resident coaches, with USSF Coaching licenses first met at the NSCAA Convention in Santa Clara, California to form a nationa l coaches association which we eventually Incorporated as the LATIN AMERICAN SOCCER COACHES ASSOCIATION (LASCA) and even were successful to the point that at the subsequent NSCAA Conventions in DC, Phil, etc. we had regular annual meetings, workshops and were even "given" a booth by the NSCAA! Our goals and objectives were then to bring to light the hundreds of thousands of Latino (or "Hispanic" If you prefer) players at all levels, coaches, administrators, game officials, held several coaching clinics in LA, NJ, Sf, etc., and were so successful that the NSCAA Board of Directors invited "us to the table" and formed the nucleus of what eventually became this organization's attempt to address the "inner city" membership? Yes, mi amigo, we HAVE tried to the point that then LASCA president, former USAF Academy Head coach Luis Sagastume (graduate of Univ San Francisco) and I met with Alan Rothenberg, Hank Stenbrecher, and when the MLS was forming I met with Mark Abbott in 1994, to discuss how LASCA could "help" out in what I call "The US Soccer Sphere of Influence," with the primary purpose of having a place set as the US Soccer table? So you see, we HAVE tried our damnest, to the point that we were successgful to have US Soccer, in the late 90's, appoint at least a handful of scouts whose primary job was to identify Latino talent across the breadth and width of this vast country of ours! So you might say, then, what the hell happen to LASCA? Simply put, and even though I am a 30-year plus member of the NSCAA, the association was subsequently subsumed by the NSCAA and US Soccer, and several of our officers were also subsumed to, yes I will say it, the detriment of our association, Very sadly, LASCA is now but a mere memory, and many of us are very sorry and even embittered that some of our very own leadership/members were "wooed" away. During LASCA's early years, we were all very idealistic, yet very realistic, because in trying to form a national organization was and still is doable, it requires a lot of time, and of course, dinero-money. That the NSCAA tried to make it work, I've yet to see the results of our then nascent efforts and their following the dissolution of our association; that US Soccer tried to do something for the US-Latino Soccer Playing Sphere of Influence," I am very sorry to say,is nothing short of a sick joke, just try to enumerate or even name the number of Spanish speaking or Latino Scouts in US Soccer's employ. In short, you know, I could write a book on this topic, and perhaps I shall, though I know some have tried, but to get it published is nigh to impossible so it must be self-published, and then a marketing plan must be implemented, etc. etc.

  29. Bill Wilson replied, December 4, 2016 at 9:54 a.m.

    Ric, I did not know the specific detail you have provided in this comment but it was quite illuminating. I don't doubt that there have been numerous efforts through the years to make a dent and I also don't doubt that many of the early pioneers have been bought off. That is unfortunately the way it works. It is time for a younger generation to pick up the mantle and just get it done. The climate for change and the outright racism that I suspect impacted your ability to make progress is not what it was anymore. Not that some of it is not there today, but from my conversations, your average soccer fan could care less what ethnicity a world class USMNT player comes from. I still believe that the MLS Academies are the answer. The expansion into 21 US metropolitan areas means that the landscape is better covered. The growth of USL, most of whose teams have or will have Academies, means that very few parts of the country will Not have opportunities. This is not perfect, but it should provide an outlet for talented Latino kids to begin to flourish that the current US Soccer sanctioned system can never provide.

  30. Bob Ashpole, December 2, 2016 at 2:52 p.m.

    Paul your analysis is slanted. Latino includes Italian, French and Columbian heritages. Playing in Hispanic leagues and for Hispanic coaches is also an indirect influence. That doesn't detract from your point that Bruce Arena is pragmatic, i.e., sensible and realistic. I agree, but I see pragmatism as necessary for effective coaching. Finally don't you see Ramos and other US coaches benefiting from a change from JK to Arena? I do if for no other reason than a lessening of tensions.

  31. Ric Fonseca replied, December 4, 2016 at 1:15 a.m.

    Bob, that you throw in the Italians and French, is "interesting," indeed, but please the correct spelling for the others is C-O-L-O-M-B-I-A-N-S. Oh but wait, you forgot the Brasilerios, ooops, Brazilians in English? And, as I am sure you know, the name Latin America includes ALL of the countries south of the US border, yes, including Brasil - ooops Brazil in English - but the Caribbean is at times inlcuded as part of the umbrella term. And, o yes, please don't forget that up until February 1848, a huge and large chunk of Mexican territory (formerly part of New Spain under the Spanish Conquistadores - ooops, conquerors in English) was Mexican, of course after Mexican Independence, but was - shall we say, "stolen at the barrel of a gun" when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo enabled the US to acquire that huge and vast land of territory west of the Mississippi/Missouri rivers. Oh well, sorry but I digress from futbol!!!

  32. Bob Ashpole replied, December 4, 2016 at 3:09 a.m.

    Ric, you have corrected my misspelling before! Latin countries refers to Romance languages. Hispanic to the Spanish language of course, although the definition might change because the phrase Latin America is commonly misused as you suggest. I mentioned those three countries because players from those three countries were MNT players coached by Arena in addition to Reyna. The reason he said "essentially."

  33. Bob Ashpole replied, December 4, 2016 at 3:36 a.m.

    I should have mentioned Mexico and Argentina as well (Carlos B. and Pablo M.).

  34. David V, December 2, 2016 at 3:28 p.m.

    Brian Kleiban... my apologies... I keep saying Gary Kleiban, Gary is Brian's brother, and sort of the PR man... Brian has placed several players on US youth national teams... (and no, I'm not related to the Kleiban's)... let me jog your memories... I believe SA has covered a lot of this... Brian moved through local ranks and is now at the Galaxy academy as a coach there, several players on USNTs, learned from and traveled to meet Barca masters, and play against them... all doing this in a SoCal..... READ SOME OF THE OLDER STUFF ON KLEIBAN back 4-7 years ago, but here are a few links: (this is done by an admirer of his, it's not Kleiban)... here's a story about his players a few years ago ( and here's an SA article on one of his kids he worked with (remember the trip to South America where the kids scored a bunch of goals and got assists and Claudio Reyna's kid scored one goal? It was the Kleiban kid who got the "bunch" of goals):

  35. frank schoon, December 2, 2016 at 3:42 p.m.

    One of the main problems for the last 40 years is that U.S soccer has been controlled, run and influenced by the English and the Germans. The coaches/players that came over to the US and propagated the style and philosophy of play of these two countries has hurt the development of American soccer. Can you imagine right after the WC'74 the Dutch, Brazilian and Yugoslavs came over and became the dominant influence in American soccer what a difference the US game would be.
    The German and English are not known for technical and cerebral game. For the English it was ,roll up the sleeves take the denture out and "fight" and for the Germans it was, fight and run "stampfen und laufen". It wasn't until 10 years ago that Germans finally woke up and decided to change their style of game by following the Dutch style which is epitomized by Bayern and Barcelona.
    Barcelona proved that you don't need big, strong and fast midfielders but small and quick technical, a la Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Kroos, Pirlo,etc. But that is something the US soccer braintrust has overlooked. Here is the catch, US soccer style is unable to control and possess the ball after 2nd or sometimes the 1st pass. Since most passes end up as 50/50 balls, thus resulting in many duels and black eyes which makes it more difficult for small, technical midfield players in the US like a Xavi or Pirlo( see how his game is changed playing in the MLS) for they wouldn't last in this rugged mindless style of soccer the US plays. The US plays a counter attacking game for they lack the ability to dominate, meaning unable to make 5passes in a row without incident.
    In sum it is not about the lack of hispanic control or lack of hispanic players (good ones, I mean) but the quality of the soccer played in the US. Look at the WC'14 where Germany beat Brazil 7-0. Germany is made up of white Europeans and not hispanics and look what happened. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE QUALITY OF SOCCER PLAYED, NOT THE SKIN COLOR

  36. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 4:09 p.m.

    Frank, pretty good points made. But a few minor corrections... 1) While influenced by the Dutch, Johan C. and company are not the fathers of Barcelona style... a man, who is still alive, named Laureano Ruiz (Rooo-eeth)is... he is actually also the inventor of the game "Rondos" back in the late 50s (everyone knows that name now, ROAN-DOSE, please not RON-doze (the first syllable rhyming with the pocket fisherman's inventor's name)... it used to be called Piggy-in-the-middle in America. Then the Spanish took in Cruyff's stuff and moved it into their own Spanish style. 2) Interesting you mention Germany...they chased Spain for 3 major tournaments and said they would emulate Spain (so did everyone else for that matter) and Schweinie said and did try to pattern his game after Xavi's... they chased for years, and they copied the Spaniards, and in my opinion, Pep Guardiola helped Germany win the WC by helping the Bayern players to learn the game better... HOWEVER, and HERE IS THE POINT I WANT TO MAKE... the Germans had the raw technical talent (in general) to adapt to the higher level game and come out victorious... we/USA does not have top notch technical players to work with and polish... This all goes back to the culture and the fact that coaching and coaching philosophies alone WILL NOT get the USA World Cup Glory... it has to be a cultural change (pickup games or their analogs, etc, etc.) and 3) another minor point is that this English/German (and this depends on which part of the USA you are in) control, run, influence is over 50 years.... not sure if anyone here was suggesting skin color, but your point is true nonetheless. and OH MAN, are you so right about the lack of technical skills of USA players, and 50/50 Jungle ball being played... because the skills don't allow them to play a possession game, or tiki-taka, creative, skillful, with guile and trickery type of game.

  37. frank schoon, December 2, 2016 at 5:12 p.m.

    In Holland we call it Rondootje which was around the 50's there too for I as a youth Ajax player played it then. "Rond" means round in Dutch, in other words you stand in a circle with a couple players in the middle. I'm sure this little game was around even in the 30' probably came about with a bunch of guys standing around passing a ball keeping it away from someone. To say that someone invented it is like saying someone invented the give and go pass which actually came about playing in the streets whereby you pass against wall let it ricochet as you receive it back running past the defender.
    The Germans always had raw talent, but that is not the question. After WC'02 the Germans finally realized their needed a drastic change in style of play. They wanted less running, reduce counter attacking soccer as a style of play and more ball possession. In other the Cruyffian philosophy of letting the ball do the running not the player, which ran counter the traditional German philosophy. This is why Van Gaal , a Cruyff disciple, came to Bayern and began instituting more of the dutch brand and that continued with Guardiola who was coached and developed by Cruyff.
    Cruyff came Barcelona in the late '87 after Barcelona was dead in the water for the past decade as a team.
    It was Cruyff who brought back the 4-3-3 but employed 3-4-3 since in the 80's most teams played 4-4-2.
    Cruyff came to Barcelona and employed the methods of total soccer and its inner workings as played by Ajax of the early 70's and the Dutch National team of WC'74.
    He employed these methods and thus the "Dream Team". Barcelona coached by Frank Rykaard and continued by Guardiola followed the manner of play that Ajax of the early 70's and Dutch team of WC'74. Soccer today is so much influenced by how the dutch and Ajax played back in the 70's....4-3-3 and high pressure defense.
    As far as the US game goes, it has to change from the bottom first and on the pro level they should get rid of the american coaches( look at England where all their good teams have foreign coaches) and bring foreign coaches in.

  38. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 8:46 p.m.

    Rondos, in Spanish means "rounds"... invented in 1957 by Ruiz, documented everywhere.

  39. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 8:50 p.m.


    Barça's method

    "Barça's method means learning technical skills, piggy in the middle, posession game, shots, tactical movements... Everything with many repetitions".
    You invent, Cruyff evolves and Guardiola makes it perfect?

    "I was the inventor. Cruyff and Guardiola copied, but I can see all the imperfections. There are always imperfections when you copy".

  40. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 8:52 p.m.


    "When I coached Johan Cruyff in 1976 he was in love with english football. I told him that that football was too physical. It was exactly the opposite of his qualities".

    "When Cruyff came back as a coach 10 years later he wanted players with quality and talent".

  41. David V replied, December 2, 2016 at 8:56 p.m.

    With all due respect to Johan Cruyff and Oriol Tort, the man who laid the foundation for the philosophy and the ideas about football that symbolize the Club today was Laureano Ruiz, a man from Cantabria who believed the players’ technique was more important than their physical attributes.

  42. frank schoon replied, December 3, 2016 at 8:58 a.m.

    David, To say someone invented "rondo" crediting it to a specific person is a little too far fetched. It is like crediting someone with the Bicycle kick as displayed by Pele being invented by him or for that matter the rainbow move, which some say was invented by the great Sekularic..All this type of stuff has been done all over. I'm sure you will find someone in Hungary stating that Puskas invented the pullback move which he did against England in the 50's making Billy Wright look like a fool. All this stuff has been done before by other players in other countries although perhaps not prevalently.
    Cruyff like all europeans of his generation, including myself, loved English football because we grew up with watching the 'wizard" Stanley Matthews and English soccer was living off its laurels with teams like Manchester United with George Best in the 60's or Jimmy Johnstone of Celtics , all of whom were magicians with the ball. But Ajax in the late 60's coached by Michels turned the world up side down with a new coaching/training philosophy of which had to do so much with the environment the dutch lived in, was predicated upon "space and positioning" for there was so little space in Holland to live in. The problem with England was that they never changed their playing philosophy. After Stanley Matthews ,England never produced really great players, although I have to admit Bobby Charlton was close to Matthews in greatness.
    You must have spanish influence to credit Ruiz for technique being more important than physical attributes. But the player who personifies Ruiz's so-called believes was Cruyff who had no physical attributes only technical ones and more importantly his mind was also light years ahead of anyone when it came to thinking the game. Because Cruyff lacked the physical attributes he invented basically the 'shadow striker' or rather a roaming #9 center forward position dropping back and allowing other players to run into the space, which is what Messi does to avoid the hard tackles.
    Although you credit Ruiz , I totally don't accept that, for example total soccer was mentioned decades before Michels invented it with Ajax, but Michels got credited for it. It was from total soccer , switching positions, ball possession, high pressure defense, quick and efficient passing, off side trap, offense being the best defense. Cruyff took this philosophy with him to Barcelona and created the "Dream Team". The only difference with Guardiola is that Cruyff instituted the youth system for the youth to follow and prepare them for the pros. Cruyff didn't have a youth program to draw from when he created the 'Dream Team' ,he started from scratch. Fortunately Guardiola followed Frank Rykaard another coach who likewise was coached and trained by Cruyff and before that Van Gaal . Therefore it made it easier for Guardiola to coach Barca for he had a foundation to work from, which Cruyff didn't have when he began to coach Barcelona in the late 80's

  43. Glenn Mcwilliams, December 2, 2016 at 5:34 p.m.

    Thank you frank schoon! - let's keep the skin color commentary and references to "Latino" style play at the border, and focus on the soccer - and the skill development necessary to rise to the top. The United States of America will absolutely win a WC one day. And all of you talking about a cultural change are exactly right. This will happen when more of our youth start to appreciate, love and believe in a future in this game. But this will take a cultural shift where big, corporate financial support/sponsorship turns away from fat, slow, dumb, criminally-inclined American Football players and teams (and other sports), and start supporting the beautiful game. This will only occur when more American sports fans begin to understand and appreciate soccer for the spectacular game it is. This will only occur when soccer LOOKS LIKE the spectacular game it already is. This is already underway with the MLS and the Development Academy, but could be so much better! There is so much going on in a soccer game!! Engage the American fan/consumer. Not with imported "Latinos". OMG! That is so dumb. One camera? You have one camera view showing most of the game! Every once in a while you zoom in, usually on a replay. The rest of the time, the game looks like kick-ball, back and forth, boring to the consumer. News sportscasters are part of our problem as well. We need more coverage. That will come when the games and the ACTION are better understood by the consumer. TELL THE STORY. SHOW THE ACTION. USE MULTIPLE CAMERA VIEWS. SHOW REPLAYS OF THE INTENSE ACTION DURING RE-STARTS. PROVIDE PLAYER & COACH BACKGROUNDS DURING RE-STARTS OR BREAKS. Support the game, the players and the action. Explain what is going on. American soccer doesn't suck. Our representation of what soccer is (to the otherwise uninformed) is what sucks. SHOW this country how exciting soccer is. Thereby increase viewership and consumption of soccer. Thereby increase economic value of soccer. Thereby increase interest in soccer by more of our athletic youth. Thereby increase our overall ability to play better, increase incentives to improve the skills that win games. Damn, who is in charge here?!

  44. David V replied, December 3, 2016 at 12:28 a.m.

    we need to get rid of the Brit announcers, that would help. Or, reduce the numbers... maybe 1 Brit per 5 person team at the WC telecasts etc.

  45. frank schoon replied, December 3, 2016 at 12:49 p.m.

    The soccer commentators in America are pathetic ,especially the color commentary, and that goes for college soccer, MLS or the National is just poor. I expect the color commentary to come with something insightful about the game but alas nothing.Many times I turn the volume down and not listen to the commentary. I wish we could bring in foreign commentators especially who played the game at the highest level to give the color. This foreign commentators are more critical especially the Dutch ones for the Dutch are by nature very critical. By bringing foreign commentators telling what the team is specifically doing wrong at times, thereby enabling not only the "watcher' to learn more about the game but also would help those players watching,and widen their horizon and understanding of the game. One of the problems with American announcers is that they are not allowed to criticize the product . For example, so often do I see a right back pass directly to the wing which in effect is terrible pass to make, not perhaps technically but tactically in so many ways is it wrong. As a matter of fact during the days when Cruyff played for Ajax in their glory days of the 70's , making a pass like that would get you benched, but today you see types types of passes made everywhere, without the coach even blinking an eye. Another example is a long pass downfield to an attacker who is outnumbered about 3 to 1..terrible wasted pass without the announcer ever commenting on it. There are so many bad or incorrect situations occurring during the heat of the moment that is never mentioned and therefore it doesn't benefit the American fan to learn and improve his knowledge of the game.

  46. Bill Wilson, December 2, 2016 at 7:04 p.m.

    You all can talk about whatever systems or style you like and it means little to the people earning a living off the game in this country. To them the system is not broken and "cultural" change bottom up or top down is nonsense. The people paying their salaries are perfectly happy with the system as it is. To expect them to head off into the sunset and let foreign coaches take their jobs is complete fantasy. Get real. The system in US Soccer is not going to fundamentally change despite all of the wishful thinking. Only MLS/USL can bring change. Focus on this if you want to complain about something.

  47. Scott Johnson, December 3, 2016 at 7:03 p.m.

    Everyone agrees that the System is Broken, but nobody is sure how to fix it.

  48. Caxamarca ZVX, December 3, 2016 at 10:20 p.m.

    Bruce may have brought in a rugged mid at Galaxy, but he has always seemed dedicated to a hammer at the "6", Armas, Mastroeni (both Latinos BTW). But that hasn't dissuaded him from openly identifying the glaring lack of a creator, passer and classic-type "10" for the US for the last several years...good to hear and probably heartening to the writer as it is to me. Feilhaber, Brazilian-born is that type of "Latino" player spoken of. (See my earlier comment of how we Latinos view nationals of non-Spanish speaking American nations).

  49. Boston Baby, December 4, 2016 at 1:45 p.m.

    Good read. I agree with a lot of it but not so much with the idea that you can guess what Arena will do based on what he did in the past. I have read quotes recently that indicate that he wants a creative midfielder and that he sees Bradley is a #6 (if even that). That leaves no place for Jones as a starter unless he displaces Bradley.

    I think we won't know what Arena will bring until we see who goes to the Jan camp and who he calls in for the next NAT game.

    Tab Ramos - I always hated seeing him taking notes while JKs buddy Herzog sat next to JK. One has to wonder which one was the bigger idiot? Were the stupid player calls or dumb formations JKs idea or Herzog's ? No matter, theyre both history... about a year too late

  50. Bob Ashpole, December 4, 2016 at 4:28 p.m.

    I don't think most people appreciate the quality of national team coaches that the US has for both the women's and men's programs. At least they don't talk much about the positives. There is no reason for the US to use foreign coaches (and I don't consider immigrants to be foreign coaches). Giving the coaching jobs to US coaches has a trickle down effect and promotes the professional growth of US coaches. So there is a very strong reason to hire US coaches to coach US teams and manage US programs. A second point is that modern coaching is very much a team effort. While someone is in charge that just means that someone is responsible, not that he does all the work and makes all the decisions. The head coach has to delegate and has to rely on others, especially in specialty areas like strength and conditioning, goal keeping, mental skills, and sports medicine and in areas like scouting.

  51. Scot Sutherland, December 7, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.

    Have you forgotten Martin Vasquez, PG? The best spell the US National Team had under Klinsmann happened when Vasquez was running practice. I believe Vasquez banishment coincided with hiring Bertie Vogts and shortly after the Herzog appointment.

    I have coached against Vasquez and engaged in several conversations with him. He is an excellent coach and would be a great man to parter with Ramos. Perhaps we can get Pareja, Ramos and Vasquez into the mix with the pragmatist Arena lending his considerable wisdom. Sounds like a very American approach to me.

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