Klinsmann's Men: The ÜSMNT Thread - Just get us to Brazil

Mr. Wednesday

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teddykgb said:
I don't think he's wrong to suggest that if the USA really wants to enter the world elite, it's going to have to move away from the mentality that permeated the Bradley regime.
 
I think if the USA really wants to enter the world elite, it's going to have to start by putting world elite talent on the field.  We're closer than we've ever been, but we're still a long way away.  We have one player (Jermaine Jones) playing on a CL elimination round team.  We have one more (plus one who's been in national team retirement for years) playing on a team in CL position in a top-four league.  We have one more playing for a "major" club in a top-four league.  To really be a world elite team, we need to have players that are in demand by world elite club teams.
 
Bradley was grossly underappreciated in some quarters with respect to the job he did of identifying the best way to deploy our best players.  I think he didn't always do a good enough job of getting his team to start games strong, and I don't necessarily agree with his tactical decisions on defense, but in balance, I think it's unlikely any but the most elite of coaches could have done better in the 2010 cycle.
 

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teddykgb said:
At the risk of being completely wrong, I think when Klinsmann speaks of mentality he's trying to get to the point where the US team never feels it has its back against the wall.  The idea that we need to show up and play like superhuman effort machines to even stand a chance against the cream of the crop.  There is no doubt that we could continue to try to produce these types of results and at times would continue to do so, but JK seems determined to change the mentality to where the US truly believes it can stand toe to toe with everyone else.
 
He may be wrong (and probably is) and guilty of oversimplifying it to a mentality problem-- there's clearly a talent problem on display as well and no amount of attitude change is going to overcome that, but I don't think he's wrong to suggest that if the USA really wants to enter the world elite, it's going to have to move away from the mentality that permeated the Bradley regime.
 
All of the above, of course, is just my opinion and interpretation of both the Bradley regime and JK's seeming desires
 
I just don't understand this line of thinking.  What is the foundational assumption of this plan?  That US players are actually world class, if they'd just get their heads right and focus?  That they are leaving potential untapped because of some psychological shortcoming?
 

teddykgb

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Titans Bastard said:
I just don't understand this line of thinking.  What is the foundational assumption of this plan?  That US players are actually world class, if they'd just get their heads right and focus?  That they are leaving potential untapped because of some psychological shortcoming?
 
Probably yes and probably no.  I'd bet that it's more the inverse -- that if you perpetually think you're inferior to your opposition you perpetually will be.  That, of course, rings relatively true.  But you seem to be expressing skepticism that a simple mentality change would somehow make the players better and on that point I would agree.  The mentality change is probably something that has to happen for the USMNT at some point, but that probably wasn't the appropriate first step, may have helped if we actually COULD stand toe to toe with anyone in the world first.  It doesn't help that his best player went AWOL and whatever limited pipeline there was either got injured or plateaued.
 

Titans Bastard

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teddykgb said:
Probably yes and probably no.  I'd bet that it's more the inverse -- that if you perpetually think you're inferior to your opposition you perpetually will be.  That, of course, rings relatively true.  But you seem to be expressing skepticism that a simple mentality change would somehow make the players better and on that point I would agree.  The mentality change is probably something that has to happen for the USMNT at some point, but that probably wasn't the appropriate first step, may have helped if we actually COULD stand toe to toe with anyone in the world first.  It doesn't help that his best player went AWOL and whatever limited pipeline there was either got injured or plateaued.
 
 
Honestly, I think this is a product of wishful thinking.  It's more pleasing to believe that we'd be a great team if we just changed managers or changed mentality than it is to believe that our players simply aren't at that level.  If the former is true, it's an easy fix.  If it's the latter, it's not.  Hence, we want to believe the former regardless of whether or not it's true.
 
Klinsmann's problem is that he can't separate handling the day-to-day, game-to-game operations of the USMNT from the needs of our player development system.  Really, these two issues are almost entirely unrelated.  By the time players reach adulthood the developmental die is mostly cast.  While there is always room for improvement on the margins, that improvement generally takes place at the club level, where a player spends the vast majority of his time.
 
We have a lot of developmental issues and they need to be sorted out.  That's not Klinsmann's job.  It's just not what the Manager of the National Team does.  The idea that he is some sort of soccer psychologist/alchemist who can transform lead players into gold through sheer motivation is pure nonsense.
 
Instead of dreaming about the players he'd like to have, he needs to focus on the realities of the players we do have.  He needs to take stock of their attributes, strengths, and weaknesses.  From this pool of players and information, he needs to figure out how to craft a team that emphasizes our collective strengths and hide our collective weaknesses.  This is a basic job description of a manager.
 
We're learning, though, that Klinsmann isn't implementing any such tactics.  He's simply voicing the same meaningless generalities to the players that he spews to the media.  When you get past the rhetoric to the real stuff, there's nothing there.  There's no plan.  He's lost at sea.
 

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Mr. Wednesday said:
I think Klinsmann's concerns on mentality are entirely of his own making.  We had zero problems with back-against-the-wall performance under Bradley in the 2010 cycle.
 
Dead balls on.
 
I think Klinsmann's trouble comes from two places:
 
1. He's decided that he needs to show these stupid Americans how to be top-flight players, because they don't know how to do it.
2. He thinks that tactics are so over and it's all about the next wave of physical and psychological conditioning.  
 
Both come from arrogance and wrong-headedness.  Americans would love to be top-flight players, but they aren't.  And Jozy Altidore and Geoff Cameron are never going to be Robin van Persie and Vincent Kompany.  Fortunately, the American players knew this--you don't wind up at AZ or Rennes or Stoke without noticing that the best players in the world are at other clubs.  So yeah, they worked their asses off--that was part of the American players' identity, FFS.  It made them think they could win if they just worked 20% harder than everyone else.
 
And the psychological/physical stuff is just a fucking disaster.  Head games and blood tests are going to take the team nowhere.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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The thing that's the most maddening to me is that fitness was already one of our strengths.  JK's "fixing" what isn't broken on that front.  It's one more piece of evidence that despite all his bloviating, he really was clueless about the actual state of the U.S. team and player pool.
 

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Mr. Wednesday said:
The thing that's the most maddening to me is that fitness was already one of our strengths.  JK's "fixing" what isn't broken on that front.  It's one more piece of evidence that despite all his bloviating, he really was clueless about the actual state of the U.S. team and player pool.
 
This is certainly my understanding of our program. Every article I've read since 2002 about the "American Identity" has said there isn't a fully realized one (at least in the sense of a consistent style of play) but we can always count on our fitness and speed and hard workitude, basically all of the non-soccerish things that make you say "fuck I wish we had more goddamn talent."
 

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This is certainly my understanding of our program. Every article I've read since 2002 about the "American Identity" has said there isn't a fully realized one (at least in the sense of a consistent style of play) but we can always count on our fitness and speed and hard workitude, basically all of the non-soccerish things that make you say "fuck I wish we had more goddamn talent."
You would think that with the identity the team had when Klinsmann came in , that tactics would be THE thing we needed to work on. When to pressure, when to sink back and counter, where our backs overlap the wingers, etc. Instead Klinsmann has either outright ignored tactics or at the very least de-emphasized it
 

Mr. Wednesday

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It's almost as if someone in charge was so infatuated with the idea of hiring a big-name foreigner who could sprinkle magical Euro dust on the program to make it better, he completely ignored the big-name foreigner's reputation for being a rah-rah-type guy who wasn't big on tactics.
 

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Mr. Wednesday said:
It's almost as if someone in charge was so infatuated with the idea of hiring a big-name foreigner who could sprinkle magical Euro dust on the program to make it better, he completely ignored the big-name foreigner's reputation for being a rah-rah-type guy who wasn't big on tactics.
The obvious solution is hiring a South American!

I hear Diego Maradona is available.
 

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Interesting chatter this morning on Klinsman "losing the locker room" - for what it is worth, the SiriusXM Football Show in the AM and Counter Attack Radio in the PM are both stacked with information.  I can see the assertations of a ship without a rudder or a single, galvanizing force.  It would seem that in such a fluid game, where there is no "offensive" or "defensive" package that a team mentality would be of great importance.  If Klinsman cannot generate that, then, in my opoinion, he is doomed to fail.
 

teddykgb

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Titans Bastard said:
Honestly, I think this is a product of wishful thinking.  It's more pleasing to believe that we'd be a great team if we just changed managers or changed mentality than it is to believe that our players simply aren't at that level.  If the former is true, it's an easy fix.  If it's the latter, it's not.  Hence, we want to believe the former regardless of whether or not it's true.
 
Klinsmann's problem is that he can't separate handling the day-to-day, game-to-game operations of the USMNT from the needs of our player development system.  Really, these two issues are almost entirely unrelated.  By the time players reach adulthood the developmental die is mostly cast.  While there is always room for improvement on the margins, that improvement generally takes place at the club level, where a player spends the vast majority of his time.
 
We have a lot of developmental issues and they need to be sorted out.  That's not Klinsmann's job.  It's just not what the Manager of the National Team does.  The idea that he is some sort of soccer psychologist/alchemist who can transform lead players into gold through sheer motivation is pure nonsense.
 
Instead of dreaming about the players he'd like to have, he needs to focus on the realities of the players we do have.  He needs to take stock of their attributes, strengths, and weaknesses.  From this pool of players and information, he needs to figure out how to craft a team that emphasizes our collective strengths and hide our collective weaknesses.  This is a basic job description of a manager.
 
We're learning, though, that Klinsmann isn't implementing any such tactics.  He's simply voicing the same meaningless generalities to the players that he spews to the media.  When you get past the rhetoric to the real stuff, there's nothing there.  There's no plan.  He's lost at sea.
 
I think you're far more right than wrong, but when you read quotes like:
 

"They want us to play the beautiful game, but we're not a technical team
like the Germans. We're not Spain or Brazil," the player told the
Sporting News. "What we're good at is we work hard, we fight and we
compete. We have great athletes and we're a good counterattacking team.
Maybe we need to go back to what we're good at."
 
Doesn't that make your blood curdle? It's probably even an accurate assessment, but if a player on this team really thinks that, isn't that sort of proof of some of what Klinsmann is saying?  The tactics have undoubtedly been a problem, but these types of quotes are just not ok to me.  I want no part of the inmates running the asylum.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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From a big picture "are we where we want to be as a soccer nation" point of view, I agree with you.  Day-to-day, I agree with the anonymous player: it is an accurate description of our present player pool, and no amount of wishcasting is going to change that.  Our short-term aspiration should not be to be something we are not and cannot be, our short-term aspiration should be to make the most of our level of skill.
 
Long-term, we certainly should be aspiring to that level of skill, but that's a job for the USSF's development programs, not the national team coach.
 
Edit: By the same token, I think there's some value to trying to tweak style of play at the margins.  Just because we're not Germany or Spain doesn't mean we can't try to hold the ball more to take pressure off of our defense.  I think the player's statement is an indictment of JK in terms of his failure to communicate strategy to the players.  He should be able to sell them on making incremental changes to their play without completely abandoning the things that the team does well.
 

Titans Bastard

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teddykgb said:
I think you're far more right than wrong, but when you read quotes like:
 
 
 
Doesn't that make your blood curdle? It's probably even an accurate assessment, but if a player on this team really thinks that, isn't that sort of proof of some of what Klinsmann is saying?  The tactics have undoubtedly been a problem, but these types of quotes are just not ok to me.  I want no part of the inmates running the asylum.
 
 
"They want us to play the beautiful game, but we're not a technical team
like the Germans. We're not Spain or Brazil," the player told the
Sporting News. "What we're good at is we work hard, we fight and we
compete. We have great athletes and we're a good counterattacking team.
Maybe we need to go back to what we're good at."
 
 
(I guess you can't quote a quote, so I'd thought I'd list it again).
 
 
 
See, this doesn't bother me.  Everybody knows that the US doesn't have as much talent as Germany, Spain, or Brazil.  I know this, you know this, everyone knows this -- including the players.  It's impolitic for a player to acknowledge it to a member of the media, but not saying out loud doesn't mean they don't already know this.
 
The quote is an appeal to reason and reality.  We are who we are.  How are we going to deploy the resources we actually have in the most efficient way possible?  Klinsmann's vision for the team is untethered to the actual limitations of the player pool.  The anonymous player wants the team to play within its abilities.  This is eminently reasonable.
 

teddykgb

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Titans Bastard said:
"They want us to play the beautiful game, but we're not a technical team
like the Germans. We're not Spain or Brazil," the player told the
Sporting News. "What we're good at is we work hard, we fight and we
compete. We have great athletes and we're a good counterattacking team.
Maybe we need to go back to what we're good at."
 
 
(I guess you can't quote a quote, so I'd thought I'd list it again).
 
 
 
See, this doesn't bother me.  Everybody knows that the US doesn't have as much talent as Germany, Spain, or Brazil.  I know this, you know this, everyone knows this -- including the players.  It's impolitic for a player to acknowledge it to a member of the media, but not saying out loud doesn't mean they don't already know this.
 
The quote is an appeal to reason and reality.  We are who we are.  How are we going to deploy the resources we actually have in the most efficient way possible?  Klinsmann's vision for the team is untethered to the actual limitations of the player pool.  The anonymous player wants the team to play within its abilities.  This is eminently reasonable.
 
It's defeatist.  It's absolutely the wrong mentality.  You don't have to have the talent of Spain or Brazil to play the beautiful game.  The modern game is requiring the skills that we associate with "the beautiful game" and it isn't OK for our players to just reject the notion that they can't learn some of these skills.  Of course, you can't become tika taka overnight, but it doesn't change the fact that if the players are going into this with the assumption that they can't play a more modern style then in reality things are pretty hopeless long term. 
 
I would agree wholeheartedly with the post above yours by Mr. Wednesday.  In reality, Klinsmann probably can only mess at the margins in terms of how much evolution is possible at the actual USMNT.  If he's relying on this sort of mentality change to produce fundamentally different results, then he's clearly out of his mind and possibly his depth and he needs to evolve.  But I guess I Just find it hard to disagree with his most fundamental point that the players cannot adopt this sort of second or third tier mentality if they wish to achieve serious success.  I truly find that quote from the player absolutely repulsive, it's excuse making at its finest.  The fact that they can't play at that level is not a reason to not try.  I have absolutely no desire to watch the USMNT play like Stoke City for the next 50 years because they're too afraid to try to learn another way.
 

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I agree with teddy on this one, that quote in particular has really annoyed me. I agree it seems like JK may be losing the team but a quote like that along with allusions to strife between the German players and American players (Bob Bradley called up a lot of these guys himself, so that one surprised me a bit), seem pretty defeatist by the players. Of course we're not as good as those teams mentioned but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to be, and that quote implies we should not even be trying to move in that direction. While the comment might just apply to the present situation, with a national team playing as infrequently as it does you need to always treat the present as development for the future so if the current expectations never change and we keep playing the same style just because it's what we know, the team will never improve. If these were Clint Dempsey or Michael Bradley quotes I might give them more weight but we don't know the answer to that unfortunately.

I'm not even defending Klinsmann--there are plenty of troubling things in the article about him--but I don't like that quote at all.
 

Titans Bastard

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teddykgb said:
It's defeatist.  It's absolutely the wrong mentality.  You don't have to have the talent of Spain or Brazil to play the beautiful game.  The modern game is requiring the skills that we associate with "the beautiful game" and it isn't OK for our players to just reject the notion that they can't learn some of these skills.  Of course, you can't become tika taka overnight, but it doesn't change the fact that if the players are going into this with the assumption that they can't play a more modern style then in reality things are pretty hopeless long term. 
 
I would agree wholeheartedly with the post above yours by Mr. Wednesday.  In reality, Klinsmann probably can only mess at the margins in terms of how much evolution is possible at the actual USMNT.  If he's relying on this sort of mentality change to produce fundamentally different results, then he's clearly out of his mind and possibly his depth and he needs to evolve.  But I guess I Just find it hard to disagree with his most fundamental point that the players cannot adopt this sort of second or third tier mentality if they wish to achieve serious success.  I truly find that quote from the player absolutely repulsive, it's excuse making at its finest.  The fact that they can't play at that level is not a reason to not try.  I have absolutely no desire to watch the USMNT play like Stoke City for the next 50 years because they're too afraid to try to learn another way.
 
It's not defeatist, it's a realistic, clear-eyed assessment of the current player pool.  It's an appeal to common sense.  It's a plea to not bury one's head in the sand.
 
Here's the problem with what you are arguing: the vast majority of player development occurs at the club level.  When we have the right players to implement a "beautiful game" style (which isn't clearly defined), it won't be hard to transition the USMNT to do this, because the players will be accustomed to this style at their clubs.
 
If we want to emulate Spain or Germany, we need to develop better players.  This has almost nothing to do with the USMNT or the manager of the USMNT.  The job of the USMNT and the manager of the USMNT is to win with the players we do have, not pretend they are something they are not.
 
Essentially, you want the team to play a way that emphasizes their weaknesses and hides their strengths, all based on the vague hope that this will somehow lead to an improved player pool, which it won't.  That doesn't make any sense, and that's what I believe is at the heart of that player's comments.
 

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Lousy coaches have a system and try to shoehorn their players into it.  Good coaches take their players and devise a system that maximizes their skills.
 
 
If you want to adjust the developmental system and implement a consistent way to play throughout the junior teams so that 5 years from now the USMNT can play at a higher level, I'm all for it.  Expecting the current group of players, that have had almost no playing time together, to play a completely different style than they are used to is just asking to be sitting home next summer.
 

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They should play like Everton did this past weekend, tackle hard, press every ball and  not give up.  The assessment is realistic ~ we don't have enough world class players but we have world class athletes.  This doesn't mean don't use your skills, it means appreciate your skills and the other teams. Until kids start playing pick up soccer like I used to play pick up baseball, we won't develop the skills of Brazil, but with so much soccer on tv, it has helped kids learn how to think about the game. Even 5 years is optimistic but anything is possible.
 

Phil Plantier

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My worry is that next week the US has zero or one point and then won't make a change. Mexico understood early enough that Sven wasn't going to work out... will the US have the same ability to make a change?
 
Although I'm strangely comforted by the idea that this kind of article shows that soccer really is becoming big-time...
 

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IMO Klinsman should be in charge of developing the US Soccer system as a whole rather than serving as head coach. His desired changes are systemic. This broad brush big picture stuff is not beneficial to the US team in the short term. He's trying to take an entire group of players who have learned how to play the game one way and are expecting them to play an entirely new game. It's not working. That's part his fault and part the fault of he only system the current team has played in.

Klinsman is right to want to change the face of American soccer. The style of play that we have been using has gotten us to a point but no further. I'd we truly want to develop US soccer into a world power, it starts at the youth level by changing the culture of individual play that is ingrained in everyone's head from U-6 on and promoting more team concepts like passing and movement off the ball. The US has the athletes to play a total football style of pressing, passing and movement but not the technical know how. That technical know how starts with the ground up. I understand that some of the the MLS youth academies are starting to fill that void. But it takes someone at the national team level to promote it on a serious basis.

My biggest concern is that there is a panic move to get rid of Klinsman which results in a backslide for the entire USSF. A "well his way didn't work so we have to go back to what we know and do what we are capable of" moment. I don't like that, mostly becaus th way we've played up till now hasn't been successful. Barcelona isn't great becaus there are 11 great individual players on the team. They're great because they play like a team in a system they execute very well. That is coachable. But like learning a new language, it's better learned when you're young and malleable.

Long story short, Klinsman is a long term solution. On the short term, there will definitely be growing pains. If he's not he best solution for the short terms due to tactical ineptitude or just an inability to communicate, then they really need to find someone to help him make tactical adjustments. I do think you can play to your strengths in the short term without sacrificing long term development of a style of play that will allow us to be more competitive.
 

teddykgb

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SoxFanInCali said:
Lousy coaches have a system and try to shoehorn their players into it.  Good coaches take their players and devise a system that maximizes their skills.
 
 
If you want to adjust the developmental system and implement a consistent way to play throughout the junior teams so that 5 years from now the USMNT can play at a higher level, I'm all for it.  Expecting the current group of players, that have had almost no playing time together, to play a completely different style than they are used to is just asking to be sitting home next summer.
 
The only "system" that Klinsmann is forcing people into is trying to have an open mind about how the game is supposed to be played.  He's played multiple formations in matches, mostly consisting of playing one of his 82938 DMs in various attacking formations, but the dearth of quality midfielders is not exactly his fault.  The conventional wisdom you cite would be appropriate if Klinsmann were stubbornly trying to implement 3-4-3 while not having the talent to do so, but most of what I've seen him speak of on the topic is very basic football stuff.
 
Which I guess is a part of my point.  Pass and move, ball retention and pressing are not qualities you can only acquire as a 7 year old in Spain or Brazil.  Maybe Klinsmann can't teach this stuff properly, but the USMNT failings right now are pretty basic.  These players CAN learn to move better without the ball, to leverage their supposed fitness advantage to press teams out of the match....this is all accomplishable TODAY.  If he can't teach it, then that's an issue, but that doesn't mean the philosophy is bad.  No, there's no chance that this team will be able to have the tremendous touch and inherent movement that some of those players have developed, but even 50% of that would likely see very different kinds of results.  If they're not willing to try, to buy into the generic concepts, then to me that is on the players, not the manager.  As EP Sox fan is saying above, I absolutely know and agree that this stuff is better implemented and drilled at lower levels, but I just wouldn't be against this team going back to some older version of tactics just because it is safe and comfortable.  Even at the expense of results.
 

Snakebauer007

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EP Sox Fan said:
IMO Klinsman should be in charge of developing the US Soccer system as a whole rather than serving as head coach. His desired changes are systemic. This broad brush big picture stuff is not beneficial to the US team in the short term. He's trying to take an entire group of players who have learned how to play the game one way and are expecting them to play an entirely new game. It's not working. That's part his fault and part the fault of he only system the current team has played in.

Klinsman is right to want to change the face of American soccer. The style of play that we have been using has gotten us to a point but no further. I'd we truly want to develop US soccer into a world power, it starts at the youth level by changing the culture of individual play that is ingrained in everyone's head from U-6 on and promoting more team concepts like passing and movement off the ball. The US has the athletes to play a total football style of pressing, passing and movement but not the technical know how. That technical know how starts with the ground up. I understand that some of the the MLS youth academies are starting to fill that void. But it takes someone at the national team level to promote it on a serious basis.

My biggest concern is that there is a panic move to get rid of Klinsman which results in a backslide for the entire USSF. A "well his way didn't work so we have to go back to what we know and do what we are capable of" moment. I don't like that, mostly becaus th way we've played up till now hasn't been successful. Barcelona isn't great becaus there are 11 great individual players on the team. They're great because they play like a team in a system they execute very well. That is coachable. But like learning a new language, it's better learned when you're young and malleable.

Long story short, Klinsman is a long term solution. On the short term, there will definitely be growing pains. If he's not he best solution for the short terms due to tactical ineptitude or just an inability to communicate, then they really need to find someone to help him make tactical adjustments. I do think you can play to your strengths in the short term without sacrificing long term development of a style of play that will allow us to be more competitive.
Is JK really the guy you want in charge of changing the entire system top to bottom? I dont know about that
 

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The only thing I really have to add to the style/philosophy debate is that regardless of whether he should be trying to or not, I don't think Klinsmann has the coaching chops to implement the change he wants. I mean that purely in his role as a national team coach; for example, playing Bocanegra with the first team & Cameron with the reserves leading up to Honduras, and then starting Cameron over Boca when he and Gonzalez have no experience together, was a really dumb move. The article had a player quoted as saying they don't practice a match's gameday tactics beforehand nearly a third of the time. I really don't know how Klinsmann expects to implement change without practicing it first.
 
Some good news: Alvaro Saborio hurt his knee and is doubtful for Friday.
 

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Sorry about not getting backlinks to posts, but the editor seems to be more borken than usual right now.
 

Pass and move, ball retention and pressing are not qualities you can only acquire as a 7 year old in Spain or Brazil.
 
No, but it's not so inaccurate to say that you can only acquire them as a 7 year old.  I'm exaggerating for effect, but the broad consensus seems to be that there's only so much you can do with a player once they're old enough to be a pro.
 
Moreover, to the extent that these things can be trained, surely JK isn't going to effectively train them in less than 20% of their soccer-playing time during a year.  If the players aren't learning the abilities they need, isn't that the business of their club coach?
 
I'm not sure we're so far apart, though...
 

These players CAN learn to move better without the ball, to leverage their supposed fitness advantage to press teams out of the match....this is all accomplishable TODAY.
 
I think this is arguably true, but it's more and more obvious to me that JK doesn't have the first clue of how to accomplish it.
 

soxfan121

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1. I think Klinsmann, in his own mind, gives himself too much credit for the sea change in the German National Team program that coincided with his tenure. I do think he had something to do with it but the talent had been groomed from a young age to play in a new way. However, being "in charge" during a fundamental shift in philosophy gave Klinsmann a sense of being involved in it, rather than benefiting from it. 
 
2. Related to #1, I think Klinsmann's goal with the USMNT is to enact the same fundamental changes. However, there hasn't been a concerted national effort at changing the development of young players and the talent pool is much, much more shallow. I think this relates to the complaints about the German-Americans in the team from unnamed sources. Klinsmann favors those players because they exemplify where he thinks the talent pool should go, into the future. And the complainers are correct that the majority of the talent pool "can't play like Germany" due to a lack of talent. 
 
3. Basically, I believe Klinsmann wants to be the director of the USNT program - Gulati's job. He wants to put together the fitness/nutrition/training programs that will build the talent base. He wants to emulate the German model and implement changes that force the US talent pool to begin playing a more technical system. 
 
I don't think as USMNT Head Coach, he can accomplish those goals. He has limited ability to affect much more than lineups, callups and tactics. And he seems to suck at lineups and tactics, with his man management skills also questionable. 
 
As a Director, Klinsmann would drive the US program forward and hasten the day when the USMNT has talent that can compete on the world stage. As Head Coach, he is overmatched by his poor grasp of tactics and hampered by his ambitions to "fast-forward" to a day where he a team he could deploy as he sees it in his mind. 
 
Klinsmann is a vision guy, not an operational guy. He's doing "big picture" things when his job is details. He is poorly suited to be the Head Coach and much more suited to be the Director of the program. 
 
4. I think he's fired after the second loss in this upcoming two games; I think the USMNT is going to get handled easily by Chile and absolutely destroyed by Mexico. And on the heels of these unnamed complaints, he'll be canned and a more tactical/conservative manager brought in to try and reverse this recent trend and to try and qualify. 
 
IMO, it would be better for the long term health of the program if Klinsmann were promoted to Gulati's job, where he could focus on the long term player development stuff he clearly favors. Hire Tim Lieweike to run the business side of that operation. And go get a coach who can look at the talent available and deploy it tactically so it makes the most of what's available. 
 

Jeff Van GULLY

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teddykgb said:
The only "system" that Klinsmann is forcing people into is trying to have an open mind about how the game is supposed to be played.  He's played multiple formations in matches, mostly consisting of playing one of his 82938 DMs in various attacking formations, but the dearth of quality midfielders is not exactly his fault.  The conventional wisdom you cite would be appropriate if Klinsmann were stubbornly trying to implement 3-4-3 while not having the talent to do so, but most of what I've seen him speak of on the topic is very basic football stuff.
 
Which I guess is a part of my point.  Pass and move, ball retention and pressing are not qualities you can only acquire as a 7 year old in Spain or Brazil.  Maybe Klinsmann can't teach this stuff properly, but the USMNT failings right now are pretty basic.  These players CAN learn to move better without the ball, to leverage their supposed fitness advantage to press teams out of the match....this is all accomplishable TODAY.  If he can't teach it, then that's an issue, but that doesn't mean the philosophy is bad.  No, there's no chance that this team will be able to have the tremendous touch and inherent movement that some of those players have developed, but even 50% of that would likely see very different kinds of results.  If they're not willing to try, to buy into the generic concepts, then to me that is on the players, not the manager.  As EP Sox fan is saying above, I absolutely know and agree that this stuff is better implemented and drilled at lower levels, but I just wouldn't be against this team going back to some older version of tactics just because it is safe and comfortable.  Even at the expense of results.
 
I agree with this post 100%.  And I also agree that firing Klinsmann would be the wrong move if they struggle/fail to qualify.  Hiring him was with the long term in mind.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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soxfan121 said:
1. I think Klinsmann, in his own mind, gives himself too much credit for the sea change in the German National Team program that coincided with his tenure. I do think he had something to do with it but the talent had been groomed from a young age to play in a new way. However, being "in charge" during a fundamental shift in philosophy gave Klinsmann a sense of being involved in it, rather than benefiting from it. 
 
Moreover, the sea change that Germany needed was completely different from the change the U.S. needed (to the extent that we needed one).  They were clinging to outmoded ideas regarding fitness and nutrition.  Heck, JK imported many of his ideas from the U.S.!  Why, then does he feel like this is something that he needs to make over here?  I suppose he might argue that we were too wedded to a particular style of play, but my counter would be that the style of play had evolved to maximize the skills of our best players and was not dogmatic with the program.  Further to that, I think the U.S. players are (or ought to be) reasonably coachable so that a competent coach could push them to play differently, but that involves coaching, not a succession of mind games.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Jeff Van GULLY said:
I agree with this post 100%.  And I also agree that firing Klinsmann would be the wrong move if they struggle/fail to qualify.  Hiring him was with the long term in mind.
 

If the US doesn't qualify for the World Cup, Klinsmann will be lucky not to be deported, much less fired. And rightly so.
 
Not qualifying out of CONCACAF is unforgivable. It would cement Klinsmann as the Bernard-Henri Levy of soccer.
 

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teddykgb said:
The only "system" that Klinsmann is forcing people into is trying to have an open mind about how the game is supposed to be played.  He's played multiple formations in matches, mostly consisting of playing one of his 82938 DMs in various attacking formations, but the dearth of quality midfielders is not exactly his fault.  The conventional wisdom you cite would be appropriate if Klinsmann were stubbornly trying to implement 3-4-3 while not having the talent to do so, but most of what I've seen him speak of on the topic is very basic football stuff.
 
Which I guess is a part of my point.  Pass and move, ball retention and pressing are not qualities you can only acquire as a 7 year old in Spain or Brazil.  Maybe Klinsmann can't teach this stuff properly, but the USMNT failings right now are pretty basic.  These players CAN learn to move better without the ball, to leverage their supposed fitness advantage to press teams out of the match....this is all accomplishable TODAY.  If he can't teach it, then that's an issue, but that doesn't mean the philosophy is bad.  No, there's no chance that this team will be able to have the tremendous touch and inherent movement that some of those players have developed, but even 50% of that would likely see very different kinds of results.  If they're not willing to try, to buy into the generic concepts, then to me that is on the players, not the manager.  As EP Sox fan is saying above, I absolutely know and agree that this stuff is better implemented and drilled at lower levels, but I just wouldn't be against this team going back to some older version of tactics just because it is safe and comfortable.  Even at the expense of results.
 
There are other ways to be stubborn than just imposing a system, such as not playing Altidore for a succession of games last year when he was playing lights out in the Eredivisie, or calling up Bocanegra this go-round when we have many three or four defenders injured. I'd understand if we were full strength, but we aren't and I'm fearful our young guys are going to lack communication like they did vs Honduras
 
While he didn't impose a system, he's had 24 games to gauge his players abilities and develop a system for them. What exactly, is that system? What formation has he used the most? The players need gameplan consistency from the coaches, instead of being jerked this way and that. With Bradley, they knew they were going to play 4-5-1 or 4-4-2, with two DMs or a DM and Michael going box-to-box. The only consistent thing Klinsmann has done is play 3 DMs and hope for them to somehow develop an offensive attack. 
 
Developing a program is absolutely no excuse for not qualifying for the WC. That's our bare minimum. We've been to 6 in a row. Is playing mind games and jerking the squad around going to get us to a WC semi-final? If we don't qualify for the WC, it will set us back more than whatever limitations we've had up to now.
 
I think soxfan121 hit it, JK would work better in Gulati's job, but knows he can't get it so he's trying to impose those types of changes from the position of HC. 
 

teddykgb

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Infield Infidel said:
 
There are other ways to be stubborn than just imposing a system, such as not playing Altidore for a succession of games last year when he was playing lights out in the Eredivisie, or calling up Bocanegra this go-round when we have many three or four defenders injured. I'd understand if we were full strength, but we aren't and I'm fearful our young guys are going to lack communication like they did vs Honduras
 
While he didn't impose a system, he's had 24 games to gauge his players abilities and develop a system for them. What exactly, is that system? What formation has he used the most? The players need gameplan consistency from the coaches, instead of being jerked this way and that. With Bradley, they knew they were going to play 4-5-1 or 4-4-2, with two DMs or a DM and Michael going box-to-box. The only consistent thing Klinsmann has done is play 3 DMs and hope for them to somehow develop an offensive attack. 
 
Developing a program is absolutely no excuse for not qualifying for the WC. That's our bare minimum. We've been to 6 in a row. Is playing mind games and jerking the squad around going to get us to a WC semi-final? If we don't qualify for the WC, it will set us back more than whatever limitations we've had up to now.
 
I think soxfan121 hit it, JK would work better in Gulati's job, but knows he can't get it so he's trying to impose those types of changes from the position of HC. 
 
I was responding to the assertion that JK is a bad coach because he's doing what bad coaches do -- shoehorning players into a system that doesn't fit them.  There's just no evidence of this.  I don't feel compelled to defend his ability to coach tactics because I agree with others that I would like to see more from this team from a tactical perspective.  I don't know what system suits their best XI, I don't know who their best XI is, and I don't know which system suits their entire talent pool.
 
I have no issue with sitting Altidore, he hasn't done much for the US in a while and the undercurrent there was that it was attitude related.  I'm not entirely sure how people on this board who experienced the last few seasons of Red Sox baseball can be comfortable with the players having too much control over the manager.  If the manager felt Jozy needed to be checked a bit and did so during a relatively innocuous period of team development, I'm ok with it.  If he thinks that Bocanegra isn't going to help, choosing him just because it would be less controversial isn't a good idea. 
 
Jozy is a very good player.  He's still scoring in the Eredeviste, but he's probably going to be completely isolated again tomorrow.  It's absolutely up to the coach to find a way to field a functional defense and midfield from the available player pool.  I think JK has used a shit ton of players because he hasn't been able to find one.  That search is continuing into yet another round of uncapped players who are getting a shot.  Add in all the injuries and of course things have seemed a little haphazard, but isn't this exactly what many of us were killing Bradley for? We all sat here and watched Bob Bradley select the same players over and over again in order to try to grind out results.  The myth of Torres was born.  He may have been more right than wrong on that player, but I'm completely in favor of finding people who can play a more progressive style of football.
 
I agree with all of you that he's got to coach better.  The players need to know the plan and execute it.  I agree that he might be better off as the head of the institution instead of coach if he's not able to translate his ideas into tactics. I'm just really really really not into giving the players a pass on statements like the one I quoted earlier or giving into the mentality that US Soccer players have to play in a particular style.  We can be better than that.
 

soxfan121

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teddykgb said:
 We can be better than that.
 
Not tonight we can't. Into the future? Yes, absolutely. You are correct when looking at any stretch past the next 6 days. 
 
But two bad losses - as it looks like they are about to post, given the dissension and situation - and it's gonna get bad. 
 
Changing the mentality is a long term project that starts in youth development programs and won't yield results until 2022. 
 

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teddykgb said:
I was responding to the assertion that JK is a bad coach because he's doing what bad coaches do -- shoehorning players into a system that doesn't fit them.  There's just no evidence of this.  I don't feel compelled to defend his ability to coach tactics because I agree with others that I would like to see more from this team from a tactical perspective.  I don't know what system suits their best XI, I don't know who their best XI is, and I don't know which system suits their entire talent pool.
 
When you watch the US play, do you see the team employing a strategy that makes use of the best of the players' abilities?
 
A manager's job comes down to putting his players in the best possible position to succeed.  Is Klinsmann doing this?
 

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teddykgb said:
I was responding to the assertion that JK is a bad coach because he's doing what bad coaches do -- shoehorning players into a system that doesn't fit them.  There's just no evidence of this.
 
Daniel Williams has 5 starts as a right-winger under Klinsmann. Jose Torres keeps getting played as a #10, Sacha Kljestan as a wide midfielder, etc. For other players it's the role they're asked to play, like asking Jermaine Jones to be the playmaker in the final third. There's plenty of evidence that he routinely plays guys in ways that don't suit them.
 

teddykgb

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Billy R Ford said:
Daniel Williams has 5 starts as a right-winger under Klinsmann. Jose Torres keeps getting played as a #10, Sacha Kljestan as a wide midfielder, etc. For other players it's the role they're asked to play, like asking Jermaine Jones to be the playmaker in the final third. There's plenty of evidence that he routinely plays guys in ways that don't suit them.
But not in favor of any particular system or formation.  Jose Torres is played as a #10 because he's probably the most creative player we have.  We've got no wingers whom anyone would consider legitimate for the USMNT, even the introduction of Shea was not particularly well received and then he got injured.  Unless people want us to play like a 5-2-3 formation some players are going to have to be played out of position, we're just completely empty in so many key positions.
 

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teddykgb said:
But not in favor of any particular system or formation.  Jose Torres is played as a #10 because he's probably the most creative player we have.  We've got no wingers whom anyone would consider legitimate for the USMNT, even the introduction of Shea was not particularly well received and then he got injured.  Unless people want us to play like a 5-2-3 formation some players are going to have to be played out of position, we're just completely empty in so many key positions.
Or you could play a system that doesn't need out and out wingers instead of playing guys there who are going to fail anyways
 

soxfan121

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Bruce Arena chimes in, bemoaning the selection of "foreign" players: 
 
"Players on the national team should be - and this is my own feeling - they should be Americans," Arena told ESPN's The Magazine. "If they're all born in other countries, I don't think we can say we are making progress."
 
"I don't even know some of the players, which is odd as the former coach," said Arena.
 
 
Hey, Bruce? Shut the fuck up. 
 

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Yeah, we should only play real Americans like Earnie Stewart!  
 
Herculez Gomez got his start in soccer playing goalkeeper.  He could make a comeback at the position under Klinsmann.
 

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Yeah, the Arena thing is nuts. The notion of an American soccer nativist is mind-bending.
 
I've said this before about JK in the context of the Altidore benching, but just about everything he's doing is better suited to managing a team like Germany rather than the U.S. All that stuff about keeping the players uncomfortable and fighting for places is fine if what you're trying to do is motivate a deep pool of top-level talent to focus on the national team. When you only have 4-5 good players, your job is not to keep everyone off-balance, but to figure out how you're going to take those 4-5 good players and build a winning team around them.
 
Now, that can include more technical soccer. But the notion that a team's collective technical ability will improve if you jerk around the personnel and tactics seems hopelessly naive to me. Pick your guys, pick your approach, and then focus on letting them build the collective understanding that can help prop up weaker individual technical skills.
 
I am super nervous about this week.
 

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Joe D Reid said:
I am super nervous about this week.
 
It's all about the Costa Rica game.
 
It would also be helpful if the non-US games produced more draws like the first round.  Anything to keep down the total number of points distributed among our competitors.
 

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Spacemans Bong said:
If the US doesn't qualify for the World Cup, Klinsmann will be lucky not to be deported, much less fired. And rightly so.
 
Not qualifying out of CONCACAF is unforgivable. It would cement Klinsmann as the Bernard-Henri Levy of soccer.
 
They should qualify. 
 
What does Bernhard-Henry Levi have to do with any of this?
 

SoxFanInCali

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Yeah, as much as we want to start accumulating points as quickly as possible, remember that 3rd place out of these 6 teams gets you in, and 4th will have a home-and-home with New Zealand for another spot.  Even if this week goes badly, there is still a good chance of advancing.
 

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http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2013/03/19/big-debate-friendly-fire-incident-us-national-team-camp-comes-under-scrutiny
 
Well, let's see: The US have been a disjointed, uneven team that plays without chemistry or balance. They've blown four leads in four road qualifiers, have seen their goals per game plummet by almost 40 percent in the last two years, and have played 23 different lineups in 23 games under Klinsmann. For good measure, their loss to Honduras to start this round of qualifying was a carbon copy of their loss to Jamaica in the middle of the last round. So they don't adjust well. Or learn from their mistakes.
 
Add a sprinkling of distrust and internicine sniping to the bouillabaisse of disappointment, and you have... well, you have a team that badly needs at least three points from the next two games. And doesn't look much like one capable of getting them. 
 
 
Of course, all the doubters (myself among them) are going to look like geniuses when we get four points from the next two games.