Klinsmann outlines his vision of future of U.S. Soccer

USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

In a rather unprecedented move on Friday, U.S. Soccer announced that they had signed U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to a contract extension through the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as well as adding the role of technical director to his job title.

Much has been made of the turnaround in the USMNT’s fortunes in 2013, but until now, the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) waited until after a World Cup tournament to decide on whether they’d move in a new direction or give the incumbent coach an extension.

While the move was controversial, it provides Klinsmann a chance to continue his work in revamping the youth setup and overall soccer philosophy coming from U.S. Soccer all the way down to the youth clubs where future USMNT and USWNT stars are groomed.

“I’m extremely pleased, proud, happy to have the opportunity to continue our path toward Russia 2018,” Klinsmann said during a media teleconference. “The fact that I’m allowed to take on the technical director role as well and have an influence and hopefully a good hand in guiding several other areas throughout the U.S. Soccer landscape in the next couple of years – connecting all the youth teams, connecting the academy programs, connecting to coaches education and other areas – (is) something very exciting to look forward to. I’m very pleased and looking forward to long-term development here.”

USSF president Sunil Gulati admitted in the teleconference that he’s been very impressed with what Klinsmann has done in World Cup qualifying and the way the U.S. squad won the Gold Cup in 2013, and was looking for a long-term commitment from both sides. In addition, the signing of a contract now, six months before the World Cup, eliminates any chances for Klinsmann to spurn an offer from the USSF for another opportunity, whether at the club or international level.

“There are also pragmatic market considerations,” Gulati said for announcing the deal on Friday. “After the World Cup, lots of things could happen. Jurgen may have other interests, we may have other interests. This is a way of making a long-term commitment to each other, one that we’re pleased with. Traditionally we’ve waited until after the World Cup. We decided not to do that here.

“I think Jurgen is a unique coach with unique opportunities so that’s certainly part of what we wanted to do, but we like what’s been happening with the program over the last couple of years.”

The addition of the technical director role to Klinsmann’s title doesn’t change much, as the 49-year-old head coach has spent plenty of time during his two-plus years on the job working with the U.S. youth national team coaching staffs and integrating them with the USMNT staff at a number of opportunities. This week, Klinsmann was in Bradenton and at Lakewood Ranch to speak with the Development Academy coaches who were taking part in the 2013 Academy Showcase.

Klinsmann confessed that taking the U.S. through World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF was a new experience and one that took much of his energies to learn about and become prepared for. However, now that he has a better understanding of U.S. Soccer and the rest of the region, he feels that he can adequately achieve his aims as technical director.

“The first two and a half years were a learning curve for me, as well, my first time going through CONCACAF, my first time going through the different stages of qualifying for a World Cup and making it,” Klinsmann said. “That experience has been a great experience but not an easy one. As you know we started the Hex with a loss in Honduras and then we took off.

“But having done all that, I have a better understanding; I have a better feel for the Federation. You get to know each other, you know now who plays what role, so that all became, not a routine, but something you’re familiar with. Now you can touch other areas. You can have good conversations with people that drive the game at all different levels in this country. That’s why I’m so eager to take that role on as well because I want to be part of it. I want to be part of soccer making it to another level in this country and build on the strong foundation that was already built by the people before I came on board and to keep on improving everything here.”

Though he’ll always be judged by the USMNT’s results at the World Cup competitions, Klinsmann already has an early wish-list of goals that he’d like to achieve. The USMNT head coach wants to prepare for the 2016 Olympics with camps starting next year, he wants to continue to identify more dual-nationals who are eligible to represent the USA, and he wants to work very strongly with Major League Soccer for Americans up to the age of 21.

Klinsmann cited the fact that in Europe, if youngsters at the top clubs aren’t in the first team, they’re playing regularly in Under-21 or Under-23 divisions or even in the new UEFA Under-19 Champions League. In MLS, outside of a few clubs that have played more of their younger players, a majority of the homegrown players or other youngsters signed find it hard to break into the first team, and the reserve league just isn’t doing enough under Klinsmann’s standards to further their development.

“We want to improve the competition,” said Klinsmann. “We want to improve the quality of the players. A big topic from us, on our end, is that we have to find ways to give playing time to kids coming out of the youth system. The kids that go into the professional ranks, how do we make sure that these kids continue to play and play 40 or 50 games a year which they badly need in order to grow and in order to reach their highest potential one day. Because if they miss out on one or two years and only sit on the bench or are not playing at all, being loaned out or whatever, they miss a big chunk of their development and therefore will never reach their highest level.

“If I look at Tab’s group that was in Turkey,” Klinsmann continued, “you can look at all of these players name by name and you can see how many games they ended up with in the last season, playing in MLS or in other clubs, then we are far, far behind (other nations). Those are topics that we need to put out on the table, that we need to find solutions for because at the end of the day we’re all going to benefit from it.”

MLS commissioner Don Garber admitted in his State of the League address that the league is spending $20 million per year in academies and player development. Though there may not be immediate results, the new contract for Klinsmann gives him a chance to help see more youngsters improve and potentially raise the level of the USMNT to an even higher level.

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86 Responses to Klinsmann outlines his vision of future of U.S. Soccer

  1. Go Klinsy! Good job so far.

  2. usaalltheway says:

    What do you guys think of all this?

    I am not to excited to hand over the reigns to JK for the next World Cup cycle without seeing positive results from this World Cup first.

    He has done well in the qualifying, for sure. However, apart from that I don’t see too much to excited about. A few wins against Italy’s and Germany’s B-teams, a few good results against some decent although middle-of-the-road newcomers, such as Russia and Bosnia.

    For me, I won’t be happy without beating Ghana and at least tying either Portugal and Germany or beating one of them.

    • usaalltheway says:

      I am not too* excited….

    • the original jb says:

      This is a long-term investment by US Soccer in improving the overall structure of soccer in the country. It is not so much about results in the 2014 or even 2018 World Cup.

      That being said, who would be a better manager right now? JK’s results have been impressive so far. Personally I think JK has identified our biggest problem relative to the other powerhouse soccer nations as described in the article above. I’m on board with giving him 5 yrs to see what he can do about it.

    • BCC says:

      Klinsmann has improved the psychology of American soccer, which has long been one of our primary impediments. He will need time to remove the long-standing inferiority complex that has driven on-field strategy, and that cannot be done in a couple years. Mentality is informed by tradition, and we don’t have much positive history.

      What do we have to lose by making a long-term commitment to Klinsmann? Not as if we were tearing it up before he arrived. Spain, Germany, and other world powers have far more to lose when hiring because there is much more at stake.

      • Darwin says:

        Well said! I agree with your sentiments, and agree that our team will not stop playing the underdog overnight.

        • mike says:

          keep him as tech director…lose him as gaffer.

          • Ryan says:

            +1, he can help our game without being our coach. would be nice to get some total football installed since our players are so versatile and athletic. We’ve got players playing different positions every week

          • jefpal says:

            That makes the rather big assumption that he would stick around if he was no longer manager.

    • Paul Miller says:

      Just for the infusion of infectious optimism alone, it’s a good move. Try to imagine the void Klinsmann would leave behind if he wasn’t extended. JK has always been a mixed bag, with questionable personnel and positioning choices (and for a while questionable tactics). That was true here, at Bayern and with the Germany team. But then again, we’d question any coach’s moves, so the criticism really is one of degree. And I’m the first to admit that some of his choices I’ve questioned have ended up working out, at least so far.

      If US Soccer based his next cycle’s employment on Brazil, that may be an unfair hurdle for any coach. If Germany and Portugal play to expectations, we’re done after three. Of course, we’ll do what we can there, and try to exceed expectations while hoping one of the favorites (Portugal) can be contained, and of course playing well and getting a result in the Ghana game. But all that aside, US Soccer thinks it sees something that is worth riding for another cycle, others (especially the Swiss) have expressed interest in JK, and thus this move.

    • MFP says:

      If we perform at the WC, which I personally expect, there would be a ton of suitors lining up for him. I think it’s worth the risk given his track record so far.

      Heck, besides coach and technical director, I think we should think about calling Jay Goppingen in to Camp Cupcake as well.

    • Joe C. says:

      I remember rumblings even before Bradley was hired about hiring Klinsmann, what with him being a big soccer name, both on the field and as a coach, who took up residence in the U.S. I think Klinsmann becoming the USMNT coach was a long time in the making and works well for both sides, so it makes sense to lock that relationship up for a while to come, no matter what happens in Brazil.

    • Tyler says:

      Lets say we lose every game at the world cup. Who do you want instead of Klinsmann for 2018? Who do you realistically think the US could bring in to take over? It’s a tough group our players will just have to step up.

      • Darwin says:

        It’s tough for Klinsmann to get what he wants for our system, when it involves items that won’t improve our standings or product on the field at the moment. Nevertheless, “catching up” to other nations in terms of mentality, lifestyle, and development of players is crucial for our long term success.

        Remember, other national teams are involved in minimal player development. MLS spending $20 million on player development is setting a new precedent. New U-19, U-21, and U-23 divisions should be run by MLS like Liga MX, where youth teams travel with their full team and play on the practice fields. USSF should continue to invest in the U-13/14, U-15/16, and U-17/18 levels.

    • Alf says:

      I think the possibility of not getting out of our WC group was a factor in the new contract. If we don’t get out of our group the immediate effect will be JK’s departure to the Swiss. The other immediate effect will be any dual nationals sitting on the fence will go the other way. I have mixed feelings about the dual nationals but if they are citizens, then they should be given the chance if they are good enough. I feel our youth players will now be put to the test if they get the number of matches that JK wants them to have. Bottom line is that we will get out of the group and will have a revamped youth system heading to Russia. I believe Gulati got this right.

    • GW says:

      It is clear you either did not read the article or you don’t understand it.

      Basically.JK want’s young US players to have the opportunity to play more games and face better competition.

      • usaalltheway says:

        I did read the article Mr. Sarcastic. Attacking me in such a way only shows how low your character is as a human being.

        Also, the word is not “want’s” but “wants”. Perhaps that was just a silly typo, everyone makes them, but if not then you desperately need to start reading more books.

        Back to the point at hand, I am not in favor of JK as our coach. People over-value what he has and is doing as a coach.

        The team isn’t performing as well as many, many or you guys think. The reality is that the team is still disjointed, clumsy, timid and lacking direction. The player rosters are usually terrible. Playing so many of our best players out of their nature and best positions will be exposed at the World Cup. The fullback situation is the worst of those cases. Also, I am sick and tired of seeing Jones and Bradley paired together. It doesn’t work AT ALL and will also be exposed at the World Cup.

        I have watched every single USMNT game that was possible and I have seen only two games where the team was playing an attack-minded, control oriented style; Panama in Seattle and Jamaica (although I forget the location at this point). The rest of the time, the opponent has been dominated or unconcerned. Italy dominated the match we won. Russia completely controlled the midfield and was very dangerous. Bosnia lost because the coach subbed out 6 players at half time. German was playing with it’s B team. Belgium KILLED IT and did so without much effort. We couldn’t beat Scotland nor Austria. Remember how the team struggled against Canada for crying out loud??

        In our region, we struggled as a team against both Costa Rica and Honduras in both the away games (losing them both) and the home games (both 1-0 victories that were lucky outcomes). The game in Azteca was a nightmare; the team couldn’t string together three passes. Even the 2-0 game at home was very poor soccer at best.

        I think too many of you guys have your blinders on and see what you want to see, not what is actually happening.

        JK’s coaching record is also very problematic. Yes, Germany took the number 3 spot in 2006 but remember, JK didn’t have to go through qualifying with them. That is a HUGE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE. His time at Bayern M. was poor; he couldn’t manage the best players in the world and it showed up in the locker room and on the field. And at this point, it’s basically impossible for the USNMT to not qualify for the World Cup. Case in point: Mexico this cycle. In other words; I am unimpressed by that fact.

        Stop seeing what you want to see and start looking at the actual facts. JK is not a good coach and it shows. He is however a very positive character with a great approach to PR and getting high-profile friendlies.

        • HoboMike says:

          In this case, the facts are slightly misleading. There are club coaches and there are international coaches. No matter what, it would have been hard for Klinsmann to go into Bayern and manage there, with all of the strong personalities (players and higher-ups). Bayern is a powerhouse – they needed a manager who was used to dealing with outsized personalities. A club like Bayern made a huge mistake in hiring a coach with zero previous club coaching experience. He was doomed from the start and it was obvious.

          You also have to remember that Gulati brought in Klinsmann to revamp the way the US plays. Guess who else did that? Germany. They were playing droll soccer with very little creativity and vision, and there were legitimate concerns from the German public as to how the team was going to perform in the 2006 world cup. Klinsmann not only shed the traditional German stereotype of the boring, strong footballer and infused them with attacking prowess, he also made it “cool” to be German again (remember, national pride in Germany was always a hush-hush thing due to incidents of the past). More than anything, that’s what he brought to Germany.

          Gulati hired Klinsmann to do the exact same thing (sans the national pride part) – completely revamp the way the US plays soccer. Remember, he was only hired after the 2011 Gold Cup final. You simply cannot revamp an entire system in only 3 years. Results or not, love him or not, this was the right move for the long-term future of US soccer.

        • GW says:

          Mr way.

          What sarcasm?

          “Stop seeing what you want to see and start looking at the actual facts”

          Take your own advice. You are citing a bunch of useless, irrelevant information. As some one else used to love to say ” past performance is no guarantee of future results”.

          It doesn’t matter what JK did with Germany or Bayern. He is here now.

          The USMNT is in the WC. How they got there is irrelevant. History will tell you that many teams that struggle to qualify go on to have good World Cups and vice versa.

          Fortunately, the USMNT drew three teams that should be excellent tests of where they are really at.

          In about six months or so everyone will be able to judge for themselves just what kind of job JK did with this bunch.

    • JP says:

      This is a great move. Who else do you expect would want the job that could provide more or even an equivalent amount of technical teaching to our squad and us youth academy’s. We are lucky he was willing to accept it b4 the results of the world cup. Past technical directors and youth academy coaches have let the likes of Nevin subotic, de Rossi, and other players, who are now top European talents in their position to declare they are playing their international football where they have dual citizenship. Great move by gulati and hopefully Klinsmann can help prevent more occurrences like these

  3. Mike O says:

    I’m not for or against just giving him the keys for now but I am very excited that he’s the technical director of US Soccer. He really understands that game and how to develop your program. I think he will excel in this and I predict that after 2018 Kreis will be the head of Us Soccer on the pitch and JK will take over for Sunil Gulati.

  4. BrianK says:

    USAATW,….pity your not too excited.

    As for Klinsman,…..I get a kick out of Gulati saying that he is impressed with what Klinsman has done. Klinsman was a German international, a world and eurpean champion, has played for several prestigious clubs, coached Germany to 3rd place in ’06, speaks several languages and is a motivator of men. Gulati,…??? What we do know is that he is tight with Jack Warner. So are we supposed to be impressed that Gulati is impressed?

    • GW says:

      Gulati is a figurhead, one vote out of 14. One reason Gulati signed BB in the first
      place was that the USSF was not entirely sold on JK back when Arena transitioned out.

      Gulati is not some dictator. If the entire USSF board was not impressed by JK’s work this signing does not happen.

      Go check out who those other 14 votes.

      You may or may not be impressed but since you feel Gulati is feckless, it might provide you with a small crumb of perspective, though you may not care.

  5. Kojo says:

    I am in the camp that as a general rule it is a mistake to retain the National Team Coach for more than one cycle. The situation as a whole becomes stale. People (Coaches, Players, support Staff) all start to go through a routine rather than building on what has been already built. With that said I am beginning to question this belief because Del Bosque and Low have both been around for more than one cycle for Spain and Germany and both teams are still performing at a high level. So it is good to see that Klinsmann is aware of this by stating that “you get to know each other, you know now who plays what roles, so that all became, not a routine, but something your familiar with…”
    Also his results with the the Men’s senior team has been strong this year given that at the same time he has created a new culture within the US Soccer Federation and any top level business person will tell you that one of the hardest things to do in business is to change the culture. You have to have a plan, you have to get key stake holders to buy into the plan, and you have to get them to implement the plan. Changing the culture of a business or US Soccer takes time and a lot more than 3 years which is where Klinsmann would be if he were to leave after this Summer. He is spot on in that we stop developing our players to their highest level from age 17 – 21 because that is when players really begin to understand the tactics of the game and continue to sharpen their technique. It is also an age when the competition takes a giant leap forward especially from age 17 – 18. You weed out those that are no longer committed to being students of the game. Do I have what it takes to be a professional player? Is going to college and getting a degree a better life choice? Do I believe that I can make it? And if I make it how good will I be? This leap forward is similar to the U12 to the U13 level when soccer gets more competitive in this country when kids play on the regulation size fields and truly competitive travel teams are formed with more practice sessions. A lot of players begin to question their commitment and wonder is it really worth it for them to keep going. Klinsmann being appointed Technical Director only makes it official because he has been the de facto Technical Director for the last 2 1/2 years so I am in the camp that it makes sense to sign Klinsmann to the contract extension now rather than waiting.

    • Green76 says:

      The two cycle coach has caused me some concern of growing stale in the past. However, both Arena and Bradley had guys who were “Their guys”. They held onto them too long and stopped looking hard for new talent. Klinsman seems committed to assessing each position three to four deep maybe even deeper. He consistently challenges each player to play at their best continuously and find ways to improve to earn the top spot. His Meritocracy keeps the best pushing themselves and lets the guys under them know their hard work will be noticed. This approach will keep the team fresh and competitive as long as Klinsman remains committed to it.

      • beachbum says:

        you saying Klinnsamn doesn’t have his guys too? come on now, yes he does, and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s normal. Klinnsman coaching in an unprecedented time of depth for the USMNT also a factor and good on him for expanding that. Bradley did the same thing, trying out a long list of players compared to those before him. It’s more that Bradley’s list of his guys included JB and Rico imo (not taking a swing at those guys btw)

        • foooo says:

          JK may have his guys too, but unlike Arena and Bradley, JK is unlikely to hang onto them the same way if they aren’t playing up to standard. That’s the difference.

          • beachbum says:

            disagree that’s the difference as the player pool is totally different depth wise now as already mentioned, especially in comparison to Arena, changing the equation. all seem the right guys for their times except I their second cycles, which did not work. we’ll see with Klinnsman and hope it all goes well

  6. RB says:

    “he wants to continue to identify more dual-nationals who are eligible to represent the USA”

    So we’ll also have more of that whole debate, including of course the more xenophobic commentary it always features…

    • LEM says:

      That’s the saddest sentence of the whole article.
      It sounds as if he has giving up on the idea of us being able to develop players that are as good or better than other countries fourth stringers.
      I have nothing against dual nationals but sloppy seconds is not a way to build a respectable National Team.

      • RB says:

        “It sounds as if he has giving up on the idea of us being able to develop players that are as good or better than other countries fourth stringers.”

        Wow—not the impression I got at all. Seemed much more a small, additional kind of point to the main one, which is all precisely about developing and improving the US youth system.

        (Also not sure that Aron Johanssen, for example, was a fourth stringer in Iceland’s eyes…)

        • slowleftarm says:

          AJ was not a fourth stringer but his other option was Iceland. Doubtful any guys who grew up in Germany would choose the US if they had a realistic chance of playing for Germany.

      • GW says:

        Here’s a cliche for you:

        A rising tide floats all boats.

        If you beliv

      • Darwin says:

        dual-nationals will help us achieve immediate results while we focus on children of 15 years old, like the team that thrashed Brazil the other night. Or would you rather those kids play instead of Julian Green?

      • Lorenzo says:

        Jack McBean, Gusseppie Rossi, Pablo Masteroni, Tab Ramos, Sebastion Llegett, Hoyos boy, Jose Torres, Joe Corona, on and on and on and on…

        Just because they are duel national doesn’t mean they haven’t lived in the United States.

        • slowleftarm says:

          As long as the player has spent some time in the US, which is the case for all the guys you mention, I’d love for them to play for the US if they’re good enough. It’s the Germericans who have never lived here and are just passport Americans that I have an issue with.

          • XPK says:

            “just passport Americans”
            Did you actually type that about kids born to Americans in the Armed Forces on foreign soil?!?!
            What exactly does living in America get anyone that simply being American doesn’t?

    • whoop-whoop says:

      I Think Klinsman has it right. Do everything in your power to improve development of future players while utilizing the best of whatever citizens are available in the present. People will always complain… those with the opinion that there is some kind of hierarchical pecking order of of least to most American is completely irrelevant to what matters in the fairly pragmatic world of law and athletic competition: Do you have a passport, how good are you.

      There’s no perfect candidate and certainly he isn’t a savior, but I think keeping Klinsman on in then role of technical director is what drives this extension. It’s a fair bet that by the end of mid cycle to Russia, JK has a strong assistant to run the nuts and bolts, hands on affairs of managing the NT and has taken on a more CEO like, broad over view visionary position.

      Not because there were and are no quality men within US Soccer, but because of the nature and rigidity of any bureaucracy … I think it has been a positive having an outsider not spawned from the same ol’ same ol’ channels offer his perspective. Hard to duplicate the combination of background and experience that are uniquely suited for this task at this place and time. A World Class player who competed and won at the highest level for club and country, who played all over Europe, in the worlds top leagues, came up in arguably the world’s finest development system and yet is also open to new ways of doing things. All of this is coupled with a familiarity of the US, it’s culture in and out of the game through decades of living in this country.All in all, I think this is a positive step for US Soccer.

      • Mokers says:

        I think you are correct. The goal is to keep Klinsman along as technical director past the current cycle.

        I am not sure why people think he doesn’t want to promote homegrown talent. He is saying that he wants to make sure there are more opportunities to play youth players in the domestic league and he is correct. More games with a higher level of competition is the best thing for development.

  7. MFP says:

    “Big compliments” to JK for resigning.

  8. Drewbles says:

    “$20 million per year in academies and player development”

    How does that compare with leagues in Germany, Spain, and Holland that are producing the top talent in the world?

    • Turgid Jacobian says:

      A story in 2010 in SI said the BL clubs (36 teams in BL.1 and BL.2) spend >$100M/yr on youth development (for 36 clubs). The federation also did something like build 100 youth centers around the country employing a couple of full time coaches for $3M/r.

      They also made it a requirement that every BL.1 and BL.2 team build a youth academy, and reduced the number of foreign-player roster spots.

      The article is here.

      Deloitte’s annual football finance report put BL revenues at about $2.8B (MLS ~$400M).

    • whoop-whoop says:

      That jumped out at me as well. Obviously a pittance…. a transfer fee for a single player to run all development academies. Baby steps…. it is kind of nice to have a system of academies in place to b!t&h about.

    • Tom says:

      The clubs in Spain have their own youth development, but if we pick out the best, Barcelona’s La Masia, operating costs are 11 million/yr.

    • GW says:

      Not a good comparison.

      In Europe the clubs do the bulk of the player development.

      The National FA, the feds if you will, just have to channel the material developed by the private sector

      In America the private sector does not carry as much of the burden. So the USSF comparatively has to shoulder more of the burden.

      Look at the women’s game or look at how many more American men developed once MLS became established.

      That 20 million has to be compared to what was spent before and how they plan to spend it.

      • beachbum says:

        well said. the situation continues to improve and evolve from 5 years ago, 10 years ago, etc. For those of us that have been along for the ride from then to now these $$$ announcements , academy developments, stadium projects, etc. fuel the fire that is happening with US soccer

    • Turgid Jacobian says:

      A story in 2010 in SI said the BL clubs (36 teams in BL.1 and BL.2) spend >$100M/yr on youth development (for 36 clubs). The federation also did something like build 100 youth centers around the country employing a couple of full time coaches for $3M/r.

      They also made it a requirement that every BL.1 and BL.2 team build a youth academy, and reduced the number of foreign-player roster spots.

      Deloitte’s annual football finance report put BL revenues at about $2.8B (MLS ~$400M).

    • GW says:

      Drewbies,

      Another way to look at it is to look at the US Olympic basketball team.

      Those players were be developed by the AAU, then the colleges and then the pros. US Olympic basketball hardly has to spend one centavo on US player development.

      How much money do you think the Spanish FA spends on player development?

    • Mueller says:

      Not much comparatively. Its probably what a relegation dweller like Freiburg or Sunderland spends.

  9. bottlcaps says:

    I think the majority of pundits commenting on this article, have come to the same conclusions. The catalyst for keeping Klinsmann, is not primarily for the fact that he will advance us out of our World Cup group, but that he has the ability to advance IS soccer as a whole.

    If we fail to get out of the group, I will not be the fault of Klinsmann. It Group, which some have called the group of death, definitely contains the “bete noire” of US Soccer, in Ghana and Germany, the two teams responsible for knocking the US out of the last three World Cups, and the remaining team, Portugal, contains one of the World’s true superstars. Ronaldo. It will be a truly Herculean task to advance out of the group. But the amazing thing, is that many feel we can.

    It is not beyond the realm of possibility to get results from the Games against Ghana and Portugal and the fear of one of the Worlds great teams in Germany, is not as present as it should be due to the “cross-breeding the US has done with out Germericans..

    But should it not pan out, we do not get out, should that be the end of Klinsmanns influence over natinal Team soccer in the US.

    The USSF does not think so, and kudos for them for taking a bold step

    • Turgid Jacobian says:

      Their theory was that *hs-aged* kids were playing too many *crappy* games (and getting poor coaching all the while). They wanted to restrict that to provide some quality assurance on coaching and opposition.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Another issue is that in many youth leagues unlimited substitution is still allowed, which stunted the fitness development of our young players.

      Another issue is the crazy schedule many club teams and high school teams have. The high school teams in my state often play as frequently as 4 times a week, allowing no time for recovery, making players far more vulnerable to injury and leaving little to no time for actualy practice and development. Development academy generally plays only once a week, with the rest of the time spent on practice.

  10. beachbum says:

    the timing of the resigning is fine imo but the USMNT need to perform in Brazil or the negative pressure will be an issue to deal with after the World Cup. Not saying Klinnsman would not be able to deal with that. If the USMNT performs well, no problems of course.

    it’s all about how we play this summer to me and I hope we play well. I’m sure others will bring up that it’s about the long term, and it is, but not at the expense of focusing on this cycle’s results in Brazil

    once again I think Klinnsman negotiated well and got all he wanted in the deal, good on him and his inner circle

    • GW says:

      JK is a poor loser. A very poor loser.

      I have trouble seeing him focusing on anything other than the 2014 WC right now in terms of the senior team.

      Besides, if the team phones it in at the WC and plays like the Brookyn Nets or the Houston Texans well, signed contracts just mean it costs more to fire you.

      • Gary Page says:

        I see absolutely no basis for your comment. If he were focused only on 2014, why would he care so much about youth development? He has indicated from the very first that he is focused on long term development of US soccer from top to bottom, the exact opposite of what you are saying.

        • GW says:

          You might have noticed I wrote “in terms of the senior team”.

          That means he is not likely to put any “development projects” on the WC squad or involve them in the build up in any way other than peripherally. I would not want him to.

          Obviously he is expected to multi task.

      • beachbum says:

        “Besides, if the team phones it in at the WC and plays like the Brookyn Nets or the Houston Texans well, signed contracts just mean it costs more to fire you.”

        it’s all about how we play this summer, agree, tho Gary Page’s seems spot on to me. And Jurgen negotiated well to get paid now while getting all else he wanted. we’ll see what happens of course but I doubt even with a Texans/Nets showing this summer that Gulati would axe him. You think he would?

  11. MikeV says:

    The USSF got this right. JK has improved US soccer from top to bottom. IMO , he has the right ideas to help bring US soccer development to a higher standard. If the US makes the changes JK is proposing, then we will see some results by 2018. The full results will not be seen till 2022.
    All HAIL JK !

  12. Dennis says:

    I think if a coach stays with a team too long, he will eventually be torn between displaying the trust and faith he has in the players and the need to bring in new talent as as the veterans age. Alex Ferguson was one of the few coaches who managed to do that with a single team over a very long period successfully and of course, even he had some times where it was pretty clear his relationship with the players was strained. There will be players who are leaders in 2014 who will be on the sunset side of their playing careers by 2016 and need replacing. How a coach handles dismissing a player while still exhibiting his trustworthiness and demonstrating his belief and commitment to the players he is keeping or bringing is one of the toughest things. For instance, had Arena dropped Pope or Bradley not given Onyewu a chance disrespecting their past pivotal contributions could have effected the coach’s ability to command the trust of the players. Of course, both Arena and Bradley did drop players. Bradley for example dropped Hejduk and Casey, both who made pivotal contributions during qualifying, and I do not think anyone thinks that resulted in the players being suspicious of Bradley’s honest faith in them.

    Still, If a coach has a shorter term with a team, he does not face the issue of long-lasting relationships with players and how to handle the faith and trust issue. That is something I think a lot of people worry about.

    • GW says:

      Dennis and others,

      This entire two cycle thing is a bit of a lazy myth and needs to be taken on a case by case basis.

      THE BRUCE ARENA EXAMPLE
      He ran out of players. The US simply did not have enough quality depth when he was around to withstand the aging and injuries that are inevitable with a team on a 4 year cycle. And it any of you care to go back to will see that advancing out of the group in 2006 was a pretty close thing and that that Group was very similar to the 2014 group that the US has drawn.

      The Czech republic were a monster team and Italy only won the World cup that year. It came down to Ghana and Reyna missed a goal by a few inches and then conceded a goal when his knee blew up and he consequently gave away the ball that lead to Ghana’s goal.

      MANAGER’S MESSAGE GROWS STALE?

      Change out the players. That is what SAF did. The US is on a 4 year cycle and that happens naturally with the US anyway. Besides after the way JK handled Donovan and Jozy can any of you really say he does not know how to handle players?

      OTHER NATIONS RARELY HAVE TWO CYCLE MANAGERS

      Managers in Europe rarely want to stay for more than one cycle

      In Europe a National team manager is thought of mostly as a part time job for old guys who will then retire , new guys who if they succeed in making name will move on and land a good club gig or fired managers who need to mend their image and then get a good club gig. Roy Hodgson fits two of those three categories.

      Mourinho wants to manage Portugal but only after he retires because he is “too young” now.

      Part of Bradley’s problem landing a gig with a Euro club is that he is primarily seen as an international manager since his MLS club experience only means he is not familiar with the very different European club scene. I have no doubt he would succeed if he is given time to adapt but that is the one thing those guys never give a manager. It is succeed instantly every year for the next few years with them.

      THE USMNT JOB IS NOT THAT ATTRACTIVE TO HOT SHOT FOREIGNERS

      If you want a high profile furriner to lead the program JK is the best and maybe the only guy to do it. For one thing he really wants the job. For another thing he is already Californicated.

      JK is a highly unusual specimen in that he has all that WC winner and Euro cred yet is very familiar with the US scene.

      And he also has the media savvy and the steel necessary to deal with what appears to be a highly political USSF. So of all the high profile types he is the one most likely to succeed at it.

      Unless any of you think Porter or Kreis or Petke, etc. etc. can suddenly step into JK’s shoes and continue this upward arc then it seems insuring JK’s continued presence is a good idea for the next few years.

      • Gary Page says:

        Probably the best analysis here and one of the best I have read in a while (outside of my own, of course). I would add just one thing. While it might have been advantageous to wait until after the WC, even the slight chance that we might have lost JK justifies the long term commitment, IMO. Who else has indicated a desire in taking over the men’s team that has anywhere the quality of the resume that Klinsmann brings?

      • beto says:

        +1. here in the USofA we see the USMNT as kind of a All Star level team, where coaches and players who have excelled past MLS get a shot.

        in Europe National team coaches are often the senior managers who either are between club gigs or specialize in running national teams. Bradley is certainly trying to bridge the gap between the two categories while Jurgen is excelling in the role of national team boss.

        this timing is great too because i don’t see any MLS coaches that are 100% ready to make that jump, but in 5 years hopefully we have a few options and to add to that I don’t see too many international National team specialists ready and available to come in and try to manage this unique job.

      • Dennis says:

        My main point is that it will be a challenge to manage the need to replace aging players with new recruits while at the same time maintaining the rust of the remaining veterans. It is not that it cannot be done, but it is a challenge and one that there is no way to predict the success of. SAF has managed over the hyears, but it is a tight-rope to walk (Wenger who has also been successful for a long time, but not so much as by getting rid of aging players, but by being able to replace veterans who leave for greener pastures while in their prime with soon-to-be comparable stars).

  13. Adi from Oregon says:

    Many insightful & positive comments from many knowledgeable US soccer supporters! I would like to add that what better, talented coaching choice would have been available from the TOP soccer countries in the world for the USSF? It is a great symbiotic US/Klinsmann relationship which makes this resigning a win-win result. He’s instituted better possession and technical soccer in the US which has shown initial success. Klinsi uses foreign trained players to further strengthen the present US team and to provide good examples and incentive to local US trained players. Since Germany and Spain have demonstrated the value of youth soccer training, he will use it to ensure strong future US soccer development. I also have to say Danke Schoen for any of his influence in bringing the German power-house Bayern Muenchen to Portland to play the MSL All Stars, hopefully including some Timbers.

  14. Kevin says:

    In terms of young kids on MLS rosters, what about a USL Pro team that is for U23 Americans. I remember hearing that back in the old NASL days there was a Team USA, do that where they MLS teams loan their youngins there.

    It helps that it would just increase the team chemistry down the road tremendously.

    • beto says:

      as much as Team USA was joke this idea isn’t terrible.. although if these U23 are good enough to be on the national team radar they are probably good enough to be getting minutes at their MLS clubs. The way SKC utilized their partnership with Orlando last year is the model that every club should strive for.

      chemistry is something the US has always been short on as our national teams rarely have more more than 1 from the same club and often 10+ different leagues/countries where other national teams are quite the opposite. Having more players in a couple of league is probably the best we will get to this. Either the biggest leagues (EPL, Bundesliga, etc) or MLS; nothing between would be the best situation..

  15. Ian Woodville says:

    Getting the USA to qualify for the WC is not much of an accomplishment. CONCACAF is by far the easiest region to qualify from. Frankly, I have not been impressed by anything about Jurgen except his ability to spout endless nonsense any time a microphone is put in front of him. Nonetheless, we can’t really gauge his ability until we see how the USA does in the WC final round.

    Soccer in the USA suffers from several problems, but the most basic is the failure to compete with football and basketball for the best athletes. That won’t change until there are more jobs and better pay for USA players. Continuing to expand the lower levels of professional soccer, imposing tighter limits on foreign players, and most important, establishing better pay for the all players in MLS are all important parts of the solution.When Jurgen starts talking about steps like these, we should pay some attention to him.

    • Gary Page says:

      While better pay for MLS players is good, Klinsmann believes, and I think any soccer pundit would agree, that for the foreseeable future, the best US players need to play in top European leagues. For the time being, MLS is a feeder league for good US players. By talking about youth reserve teams for MLS he is addressing the issue of lower levels and player development. Finally, if US soccer gets only one fourth of good US athletes, that is the equivalent of getting all the good athletes from a country of 75 million, which is a bigger population than Spain, France, England, Portugal, Italy, and any number of good soccer nations.

      • Ian Woodville says:

        Nothing wrong with good players seeking work outside the USA, but to attract at least some of the best athletes, a quantum leap in pay and jobs for USA players is needed, not just a handful of places overseas. You have to convince folks that spending 10,000 hours on the practice field will produce something like NFL or NBA rewards and you need to expand opportunities to learn the soccer craft so that late bloomers and such can succeed. There’s little evidence that MLS clubs have any ability to identify and train good domestic players. Relying on their reserve and youth squads is not likely to be effective.

        • beachbum says:

          the Galaxy are beginning to earn dividends from their efforts, for example

          • Ian Woodville says:

            One of the things missing from current efforts to identify and train young players in the USA is an appreciation of how difficult it is, how many promising young players won’t pan out. In England, only something like 5 percent of the players tied to professional clubs at age 16 are still playing professionally by the time they are 21. In other words, to get 11 21-year-olds who are capable of playing any sort of professional soccer, much less high level soccer, you need 220 16-year-olds. No one in the US is talking about training programs of that scale.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Increasing pay would help but restricting foreign players, therefore decreasing the overall quality of MLS, sounds like a terrible idea to me. It also would be difficult to implement under our employment laws.

  16. dabes2 says:

    i like making a long term commitment to Klinsmann even though I don’t love the 2 cycle coach.

    He’s got his finger on the right issues. I think he is unique in that he’s got enough gravitas to make progress with all the different constituents in the USA development systems (e.g. youth clubs, youth nats, youth pros). And while he doesn’t control anything but national team programs, this is what is needed. Someone who can be a diplomat to make change with the youth development and the young professional development.

    If he’s sucessful at that, the 2nd cycle coach issue is really just a short term hiccup. If Klinsmann gets tired, maybe he’ll even have the wisdom to put himself out to kick himself upstairs to the technical director role full time and hand off coaching to a successor.

  17. Nate Dollars says:

    i’ve said my piece elsewhere, but just from reading the comments on this post, i gotta say, it’s pretty embarrassing how many people think we are so BLESSED that klinsmann would choose to coach our team. seriously, are we really going to thank him for taking our money *before* he’s even done anything of note?

    if you want to gauge how far we still need to go as a soccer nation, just listen to the people saying that we are so fortunate that a talented player from a top soccer country would work with us.

  18. GW says:

    “if you want to gauge how far we still need to go as a soccer nation, just listen to the people saying that we are so fortunate that a talented player from a top soccer country would work with us”

    I would focus more on the fact that fans tend to judge the USMNT’s development more by particular parts rather than as a whole.

    “*before* he’s even done anything of note?”

    That is BS. You don’t know if Arena, or Bradley or anyone else would have gotten this particular team through this particular qualification tournament. Those guys have never managed this team. They have never played these opponents. I’m talking about 2012-13, not 2009-10.

    You think it would have been easy for them, you think you know but then none of you predicted that El Tri would have turned in such a gutless, spineless, chikens++t performance and barely qualified did you? So please don’t tell me how easy it is and how anyone could have gotten this USMNT qualified for Brazil in 2014.

    Many of you had this edition of El Tri as a better team than this USMNT edition.

    If you are upset about going to a foreigner after always having American managers ( Bora excepted) , then blame the US fan since most of you wanted two cycle Arena fired and you wanted boring Bradley’s head on a pike, if reading SBI comments is any judge.

    Could an American have done as good or better than JK this past cycle? Maybe, maybe not, but we’ll never know.

    As I pointed out to Mr. “Jozy is the world’s greatest forward until he has a bad game, now he is dead to me” above, the best part of all this is you now know that the US will face an excellent test in the World Cup which hopefully will tell you exactly where this team is.