Jurgen Klinsmann just loves to stir the pot for the USMNT. I’ve heard it described all week on Twitter as he likes to “spark a conversation”, and on Sunday during the game against Panama, Taylor Twellman asked when he will give an answer.
My question is does he really need too?
The USMNT has a few bad results and it’s like blood in the water for the media, as they question what is he’s doing? To me it’s easy to see what he’s doing; he’s getting us to talk about soccer. Isn’t that a good thing for everyone involved no matter what side of the fence you sit on? If you paid attention to his past, you wouldn’t be so worried.
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Jurgen Klinsmann was named coach of the USMNT on July 29, 2011 to much fanfare. But did anybody in the United States pay attention to how he goes about his business? When he took over the German squad the first thing he did was start by bringing in youth, replacing aging players who had just come off the disaster of Euro 2004. Right away the criticism started in the media as he commuted from the United States and his tactics were largely offensive as he ignored defensive football. One of his biggest critics at the time in Germany was Franz Beckenbauer, a legend in German football.
Any of this starting to sound a little familiar?
After stepping down for the German National team as head coach, he moved onto Bayern Munich in July of 2008 where he helped design a new player development and performance center for Bayern and then launched into molding the team. He only lasted a little over a season when he was replaced as head coach due to a difference of opinion with the club’s board of directors. At the time, Bayern was three points off of first with five games left in the season.
Is anybody starting to see a pattern here?
Is this the Jurgen way? He goes into programs, shakes up the status quo, gets in fights with people above him, starts a youth movement and leaves a program that enjoys success after he leaves but never gets to partake in it himself. After working for ESPN at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa many thought he had his eyes on the USMNT job. Sure enough after taking over the program he has stayed true to his beliefs in how to build a team. In a way it’s Jurgen being Jurgen.
After he was appointed coach, he started off slow and many started to question if he was the right man for the team. There were even rumblings from players on the team after having just one win and a draw after his first six games at the helm. But things started to change in 2012 when the team went into Italy and won a game 1-0. It was their first win against Italy in ten games dating back to 1934. It was no small feat as Italy had been on a 20-game winning streak at Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa. Next came another historic win in Estadio Azteca, the Cathedral of Mexican football where 56,000 attended as the U.S. got their first victory there over arch-rivals Mexico.
I’m sure you know the rest Gold Cup Champions, qualified for the World Cup and got out of the “Group of Death” as they got into the round of sixteen for the first time in back to back World Cups. No big deal you might think as that’s why we hired him. Now if he could just keep his mouth shut and get us the World Cup and not just win it but do it by playing a style of football that is more entertaining that Brazil, Spain and Germany. After all, that is what we want and expect.
Okay I’m going a little over the top; but hasn’t anybody been paying attention to what he’s doing and how he is doing it? Starts a fight with Don Garber and never really admits he’s right or wrong, just kind of changes his tune a little. Leaves Landon Donovan off the squad and goes to Brazil without him.
Someone might want to go back and ask Oliver Kahn about how Jurgen treated Landon; they might find his answer interesting. He gets criticized regularly for his tactics and players he brings into the team and the kicker is how he just loves to revamp a team with youth and how said youth trains.
Are you starting to see a pattern I ask you again?
This is all just par for the course and part of Jurgen being Jurgen. He loves to shake things up as he builds with youth or what other people might refer to as “His Guys”. It’s something that is a standard practice around the world when a new man takes over. Jurgen has checked all the boxes in how he goes about doing it. Just like he has in the past he starts a fight with someone above him, rattles the cage of his players and brings in youth to create a team in his image.
Feb 8, 2015; Carson, CA, USA; United States midfielders Michael Bradley (4) and Gyasi Zardes (20) celebrate against Panama at StubHub Center. The United States defeated Panama 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
In the game against Panama as everybody was rolling their eyes with Chris Wondolowski playing in the game; two more players got their first cap for the USMNT bringing the total to five for the last two games. Matt Hedges, Perry Kitchen, Steve Birnbaum, Will Trapp and Gyasi Zardes are all under 25 and played some minutes with mixed results. After recruiting the world in the last cycle and even getting Gedion Zelalem to become a naturalized American citizen; clearly Jurgen is onto his youth movement for this current team.
Once again it’s Jurgen being Jurgen.
So my question is why is everybody so surprised and why should we worry?
Jurgen has had very good results as a head coach for the USMNT with impressive wins against good teams away from home. He has gotten away from playing easy games and regularly schedules games against more competitive teams in not so friendly environments. Going into 2015 the USMNT team has a chance to defend their 2013 Gold Cup title and automatically qualify for the Confederations Cup. Jurgen also can develop young players by playing in another meaningful tournament in 2016 as the U.S. will host The Copa América Centenario. There’s also the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
He’s using these friendlies to introduce youth into the team with the eye for Russia in 2018. Some of his critics say he doesn’t have a plan, but I just think they haven’t done their homework when it comes to his history. Others say this is an MLS vs. Pro/Rel thing, but I just think its Jurgen being Jurgen and that’s why we hired him. The good news is if he doesn’t finish the job, history says the team will still do quite well with what he leaves behind.
Until then grab some popcorn and enjoy the show the USMNT and Jurgen Klinsmann will put on this season.