There has been lots of talk in the soccer media of late about the job U.S. men’s national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann is doing. Some people are out for his blood, with former national team player, Taylor Twellman using the term “tipping point” over and over again during the broadcast of last week’s 4-1 loss to Brazil.
Skeptics like Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl believe that result “will have even more people questioning the direction in which Klinsmann has his team going.”
Klinsmann lacks tactical acumen; he’s experimented too much with the lineup, brought in too many fresh faces, and so on and so forth.
But before we put Klinsmann away to pasture, let’s take a deep breath.
The naturalized American is the most successful coach in U.S. men’s national team history.
His soccer pedigree is unmatched – as a player, he’s won a World Cup with West Germany, a Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich and a UEFA Cup with Inter Milan.
And as a coach he took Germany to the World Cup semifinals in 2006, and last year in Brazil, his U.S. squad exceeded expectations.
To emerge from one of the toughest groups in the tournament and almost beat a highly fancied Belgian side was an amazing achievement.
There are big differences between soccer here in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. Klinsmann has helped pull off that Band-Aid, showing both how far we can go and also how limited we are.
Soccer competes at a disadvantage here, given the three major sports dominance, and MLS, while growing, is still one of the worlds’ weakest big-money leagues.
Klinsmann’s complaints about U.S. athletes playing in MLS are hard to take, but accurate.
“I made it clear with Clint [Dempsey's] move back and Michael [Bradley's] move back,” the coach has said, “that it's going to be very difficult for them to keep that same level that they experienced at the places where they were. It's just reality. It's just being honest.”
If you want to be one of the best basketball players, do you choose to play in the NBA or in Italy? You have to compete against the best.
His lineup experimentation comes from necessity not fussiness. If someone proved they could do the job, they would not lose their roster spot.
But soccer does not live long in the past. José Mourinho who won the Premier League for Chelsea a few months ago is already feeling the pressure for his team to perform just weeks into the new season.
Past accomplishments will only keep Klinsmann safe for so long. Yahoo! Sports’s Leander Schaerlaeckens wrote, “The entirety of Klinsmann’s tenure has resided somewhere between failure to live up to the hype and outright failure.”
The United States is at a crossroads in soccer. The younger generation has taken to the game like never before. Girls and boys alike are filling soccer fields and stadiums across the country.
Where we go from here may be determined by having the right person in the most important job in U.S. soccer.
Is Jürgen Klinsmann that person? Coaches and teams are judged by the “big” games. The match against Mexico on October 10th won’t just determine which nation gets to play in 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
It may very well be that “tipping point” Twellman was talking about for Klinsmann.
Video of the week
Here is an object lesson in why you play until the final whistle, kids, courtesy of Portugal and Albania in a Euro qualifying match.
From the wires
Major League Soccer's expansion franchise in Los Angeles finally has an official name: the Los Angeles Football Club, or LAFC.
That has been the informal name of the franchise since its deep-pocketed ownership group was granted the expansion team nearly a year ago. The club finally made it official Tuesday on Twitter, saying its supporters demanded the name.
LAFC is owned by Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, American venture capitalist Henry Nguyen and a celebrity-studded list of minority investors including Magic Johnson, Peter Guber, Tony Robbins, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra.
The group intends to build a downtown stadium on the site of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, which will be demolished.
LAFC will begin MLS play in 2018, a year later than originally planned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.