USMNT: Why The Recent Slump


There has been a lot of talk recently about Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT as a whole. They have only one win since their win against Ghana to open the World Cup, that coming against the Czech Republic. This discussion was brought up once again after the USMNT lost yet another game due to a second half meltdown.

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The USMNT lost to Chile on January 28th, 3-2 after leading at halftime, and for those that follow the USMNT, they know that happens way too much. So who is to blame? Jurgen Klinsmann seems to think the biggest issue right now is a lack of fitness. However a lot of fans are pinning the blame on him, and as a head coach, of course he has to at least share the responsibility.

Realistically, the blame falls somewhere in the middle where it usually does. Klinsmann has a vision for this country as a soccer nation which is why he has been so critical of the United States’ domestic league, Major League Soccer. It is no secret that MLS is not on par with leagues around the world.

Is it getting closer? Of course it is. Just take a look at this offseason as an example of the quality that is coming to play in MLS. I don’t think quality is the issue here though. Sure, countries like Germany and Spain have more quality players than MLS and the United States do, but the big difference, and the one that I think translates to the national team the most, is the culture.

The United States is not a soccer nation like most of the world is. In just the past few years even, however, the United States is making big strides in the right direction. For a team that fails to make the playoffs, an MLS season is only from March to October. Formal preseason training does not pick up until the middle-end of January so that is a long time without playing games.

I think that definitely showed in the Chile game, which had a roster of mostly MLS talent in their offseason. As the second half drew on, the USMNT was worn out and simply could not keep up with Chile. Jurgen Klinsmann recently mentioned that he would like to see MLS go to an 11 month season.

Unfortunately, the United States is not a country where soccer is playable outdoors for 11 months. Imagine travelling to New England at the beginning of January. You simply could not play in that, but that is not to say you can’t keep your fitness up in the offseason.

That is part of what Jurgen Klinsmann is trying to change in this country, but it will take some time. There is nothing wrong with being critical of the Major League Soccer. Jurgen wants MLS to be one of the best in the world, obviously. If it is one of the better leagues, that directly helps the USMNT out.

Now, what about the other results at the end of 2014 when Major League Soccer was in full swing? Fitness shouldn’t have been the issue than right? I think the struggles of the USMNT were for a variety of reasons. Obviously the World Cup took a lot out of this team so that was big, and I think it is fair to say it was bigger than a lot of other countries.

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  • Also I think another reason falls on Jurgen Klinsmann and his tactics. When the USMNT would get an early lead, which they did rather often last year, they would start to sit back and defend too early. That is why I am a big fan of the USMNT trying out the 3-5-2 and hopefully sticking with it and trying to develop it.

    The 3-5-2 formation presents itself as a more attacking style of play. When they go up, they should be immediately going after the second and then the third. If you sit back and defend and specifically rely on the counter, your opponent is bound to put one through, especially if you are sitting back for half of the game.

    If there ever was a year that the United States soccer program and culture as a whole will be tested, this is the one because they are facing quality opponent after quality opponent, including the Gold Cup this summer. Hopefully by then the USMNT has corrected this issue because fitness won’t be an excuse then.

    What do you think of Jurgen Klinsmann’s comments? Do you agree or disagree? To view all of his comments, click HERE.

    Next: U.S. Open Cup Needs an Upgrade

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