Mar 21, 2013, 4:50 PM EST
DENVER — Where did this perception of a Jurgen Klinsmann spiral come from?
Let’s dive into the “Why?” on this sudden, raging unease and unrest over the U.S. manager.
Why, for some fans, media and supporters, was he the darling of our U.S. Soccer establishment one day, a prized innovator ready to get this team off its plateau, then something very different the next? Why was he suddenly a bumbling know-nothing (at least in some eyes), a man who is risking our World Cup and needs bailing out worse than the banking system of 2008?
It really comes down to five perceived problems. Let’s look at them:
Treatment of Carlos Bocanegra
I distinctly remember watching Carlos Bocanegra, the once stately U.S. captain, during a couple of sequences in semifinal qualifying. He was caught out of position and just did not have the foot speed to recover. I recall thinking, “Hmmmm. This is a problem.”
Players do get older. The quickness and mobility slips away. Some can make positional adjustments and “think” their way into a slightly more prolonged career. But only a precious few can keep their game at international level into their mid 30s, and Bocanegra turns 34 in May.
We all wrote two years ago about the inevitability of it, about how Bocanegra would struggle to be effective as a 35-year-old during the 2014 World Cup. Guys like Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron were always going to pick up the baton at some point.
Is this really so shocking?
VERDICT: Not guilty
Grand designs abandoned, grand promises not kept
What about that higher defensive line, the sharper passing out of the back, the more attack-minded philosophy as represented through consistently aggressive tactical approach?
Klinsmann did arrive with visions of something better, something more stylistic, something attack-minded that U.S. supporters could really get behind (although the highly pragmatic approach under Bob Bradley doesn’t look so doggone bad anymore, now does it?)
On this one, Klinsmann has made little or no progress. His best results have arrived via matches that highly resembled Bradley’s blueprint, which was about tightly organized lines of defense, and then offense through counter-punch and set piece magic.
Here, Klinsmann’s hands have been tied. His most dynamic man, Landon Donovan, has been scarcely available. His options for wingers and playmakers? Meh.
I know everyone wants to see more – but honestly, you really think Jose Torres is all that? Klinsmann did himself no favors through over-promise. Otherwise …
VERDICT: hung jury
A semifinal round that didn’t go swimmingly
In the end Klinsmann’s team finished atop its semifinal round group, earning 13 points to match the team’s second-highest total in a semifinal round in the last five World Cup cycles.
But style points were lacking (see above) and it did come down to the final match day, which is probably too close for comfort for either Mexico or the United States, the region’s powers.
VERDICT: hung jury
Perceptions of player mistreatment (mostly Jozy Altidore)
Criticism of Klinsmann on this is rather silly.
The coach upset a bunch of folks by not calling Altidore for two qualifiers last fall, never mind that he was scoring regularly for AZ in the Netherlands.
Klinsmann simply didn’t think Altidore was working hard enough – especially as a guy like Terrence Boyd set the example for how to seriously get after it during practices.
I said all along, this was never about Altidore in qualifying; the United States had enough muscle to reach the final round. This was about building the best Altidore for the long haul – and what manager wouldn’t want that?
Klinsmann sent a message. Altidore heard it. The young striker is better off.
VERDICT: not guilty
Inclusion of multiple German Americans
This is one where Klinsmann has over-reached. Yes, Fabian Johnson, Timothy Chandler, Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones and Boyd are either bright young stars in the making or talented figures who offer the team something more concrete right now. (Jones and Chandler, by the way, were brought into the system under former manager Bob Bradley.)
But there was surely a point of diminishing return here, where Klinsmann began running a risk of doing harm to the domestic coaching establishment, and potentially to his locker room, too.
He is absolutely correct that Chandler, Johnson, etc., are “Americans,” and they are 100 percent eligible to play for the national team. He made the point again at Thursday’s news conference.
Still, perhaps a little more discretion here, a little more judicious use of this card, would be helpful. In terms of mitigating locker room cliques and ensuring that development here remains a valued cornerstone of the U.S. Soccer organization – rather than just picking off the “passport players” developed in other lands – he’s probably got enough players in the pool now who didn’t grow up in the United States.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:01 AM EST
We pick three clubs in three countries that could be a landing spot for the out-of-favor Sunderland striker in the January transfer window.
Nov 28, 2014, 10:10 AM EST
The Baggies are coming off losses to Chelsea and Newcastle, and are four points back of eighth place Arsenal. The NBCSN match kicks at 745am ET.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:37 AM EST
Spain (4) and Germany (3) are the only nations with multiple members.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:35 AM EST
Manchester United’s legendary midfielder will stay in his assistant coach role for Ireland, spend more time with his family.
Nov 28, 2014, 7:58 AM EST
Vice Sports writer Kevin Koczwara has the story of Alston’s fight with chronic myelogenous leukemia.
New England Revolution, 90 minutes from MLS Cup, must simply avoid second-leg disaster vs. Red Bulls
Nov 27, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
It’s been a long time since the New England Revolution lost by mulitple goals, which the New York Red Bulls must achieve to reach MLS Cup 2014.
Nov 27, 2014, 9:26 PM EST
The big Europa League sides have begun to advance to the knockout round, with a few more very close to joining them.
Nov 27, 2014, 4:09 PM EST
Toffees seal spot in Europa League knockout rounds after terrific away day display.
Nov 27, 2014, 3:17 PM EST
Three FIFA ExCo members and German legend latest to be under the spotlight.
Nov 27, 2014, 2:05 PM EST
Brazilian legend hospitalized for second time this month.
Nov 27, 2014, 1:15 PM EST
Whelan charged by FA over accusations of anti-Semitic, racist remarks.
Nov 27, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Spanish giants drop Christian symbol as they link up with Abu Dhabi based bank.
Nov 27, 2014, 10:55 AM EST
Can Spurs and Everton make a top four charge? Will Saints stun Man City?
Nov 27, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Watch the incident unfold, as Brazilian striker is behind bars.
Nov 27, 2014, 9:13 AM EST
Wilshere has surgery on left ankle, as young midfielder set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Nov 27, 2014, 8:51 AM EST
Bradley opens up about his first season at Stabaek, his future in Europe and much more.
Nov 27, 2014, 7:28 AM EST
Klinsmann’s men drop further in FIFA’s latest rankings.
Nov 26, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Is the FA getting too involved in non-events?
Nov 26, 2014, 10:30 PM EST
Wenger was in good spirits following his side’s victory that put an end to his two-match losing skid.
Nov 26, 2014, 9:50 PM EST
Yes, Barkley dove and yes, (news flash) Martinez is overly protective of his players.
- Sure there’s “interest throughout Europe”, but where is the best spot for Jozy Altidore? 0
- Pick just three?!? FIFPro World XI midfielder shortlist is Juve-heavy, really good 0
- VIDEO: PST Extra examines huge top four showdowns in Premier League 0
- Huge blow for Arsenal as Jack Wilshere is out for three months 0
- Bob Bradley talks Stabaek, job offers, offseason plans and more 0
- USA drop five places in latest FIFA world rankings; England on the up 2