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#USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann at his chit-chatty best

Mar 21, 2012, 4:04 PM EDT

German soccer star J Klinsmann is i

Say what you want about Jurgen Klinsmann. Quibble with the man’s formations or his quirky personnel selections. It’s your right as an American to think you know more than the coach. (Just get in line, because a lot of other “assistants” out there think they know Clint Dempsey’s “proper” role and who best fits the midfield mix.)

But you cannot complain about Klinsmann’s chatty, affable ways. That fellow likes to talk.

Which works out splendidly … because we like to listen.

ESPN Soccernet’s Leander Schaerlaeckens, currently icing his fingers from a marathon transcribing session, found Klinsmann at his chit-chatty best. This piece is more than 2,400 words from the big German brain now running U.S. matters.

Two of the really interesting take-aways here:

When you or I watch U.S. games, we might lament the give-away or a squandered shot. But Klinsmann sees things at a different level. You get the feeling he’s watching for wholly different qualities, perhaps more of the cerebral bent.  For instance, listen to what he believes will make the team better:

We need to learn to read the game faster, anticipate it faster, be smarter moving into spaces ahead of time. This is a big learning process that we have in front of us. If you don’t close down spaces ahead of time, you get caught and you get killed. Italy had three big chances in the first 20 minutes. If [Sebastian] Giovinco is a little bit more patient, we’re down 2-0 after 20 minutes. They have to be very alert, very sharp, very awake during games. And you only get that alertness from playing against the best.

And Klinsmann put to rest any suggestions that he and Landon Donovan aren’t getting along. In all honesty, I haven’t heard any such speculation. Then again, I’ve been busy.

Here’s Klinsmann, still from the Soccernet piece:

No. There’s no problem at all with Landon. It’s for us way unfortunate that he wasn’t available for the last eight games, whatever reason it was. We take it as it happened and are straightforward in our relationship, and obviously we want to see him back in the team. This time it was bronchitis. The other times was other injuries that hit him. There’s absolutely no problem with Landon.

But we need Landon with the team to move forward because the train has left at 200 miles an hour and he was not on the train for eight games, which was not ideal for us but it is what it is. [Friendlies in] May and [World Cup qualifiers in] June comes quickly, and that’s when Landon needs to be there and understand where is the team. We need him here as soon and as quickly as possible.

I’ll have some thoughts on Klinsmann and the “Donovan conundrum” tomorrow. (Hint: there’s nothing personal between them, but something definitely interesting might be at work here …) 

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