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Kyle Martino says U.S. national team problem is more Martin Vasquez, less Jurgen Klinsmann

Mar 23, 2013, 5:58 PM EDT

Martin Vasquez

Kyle Martino may really onto something with his take on what’s happening inside the U.S. national team, with the fissures that have developed and that became so very public last week.

NBC’s lead soccer analyst wonders if the problems with communication and lurching progress on the new regime’s tactical initiatives are more about Klinsmann’s staff, less about the coach himself?

Specifically, Martino believes assistant coach Martin Vasquez (pictured), a longtime Klinsmann confidante, is “in over his head.”

Martino spent several days around the team’s practices in January as Klinsmann and his staff ran a month-long camp. Martino said he saw some of the same things once stated publicly by standout German national teamer Philipp Lahm, whose 2011 autobiography included some critical passages on Klinsmann.

Martino believes some of the U.S. player complaints laid out in Brian Straus’ powerful story last week ring true – but not for the reasons some people might think.

What’s going on is this: Jurgen Klinsmann is a good coach. He’s the type of coach that is a motivator. He’s an icon. He’s a legend. He can get guys that want to jump over mountains. He’s not a tactical guy. Which is why he was successful with Jogi Loew during that 2006 run in the World Cup, because he had that tactical guy with as his No. 2.

Martin Vazquez is in over his head. He is not the No. 2 that can deliver the philosophy and the message of Jurgen Klinsmann. I saw it with my own eyes in the training sessions.

They are trying something huge, and enormous overhaul of the U.S. National Team, I don’t think the message is getting there. Martin Vasquez and Jurgen Kinsmann failed at Bayern Munich to do it. Martin Vasquez failed on his own as a head coach [at Chivas USA] to do it and I worry with the U.S. national team that it’s going to be a problem going forward.

What we are seeing, perhaps, is exactly how this stuff works its way into the daylight. Straus’ article, anonymously sourced, was the critical icebreaker on a conversation that needed to happen. The next story or stories (the ones reported by quality journalists and respected media figures like Martino) will move the story along.

Here’s the video clip as Martino talked with NBC’s Russ Thaler at halftime of Saturday’s D.C. United-Columbus Crew contest; the match was on NBC Sports Network.


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  1. militarydischargeinfo - Mar 23, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Interesting take on the whole thing…

    Many don’t feel Vasquez has the chops.

    The question remains: Why does JK retain confidence in him….

    Possible answer: Vasquez knows America and has contacts with the Latin community along with central and south American contacts.
    So far JK’s plan to rebuild the US program utilizes relationships with overseas entities to scout possible USMNT candidates.

    Maybe to direct a possibility but Vasquez is still on board….

  2. philneezy - Mar 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    Klinsmann hired Vasquez. Therefore, Klinsmann is the problem.

  3. mvktr2 - Mar 24, 2013 at 4:38 AM

    When the Brian Straus story broke it immediately took me to my other sports preoccupation, college football, specifically my team for 35+ years Alabama. I’ve seen it all from coaches and athletic directors so incompetent they almost destroyed the program (Mike Dubose, Mike Shula, Andrew Sorensen, Bob Bockrath, Cecil Ingram) and I’ve seen coaches and adminstrators fully in charge wholly competent performing at a hall of fame level (Mal Moore, Gene Stallings, & Nick Saban). Furthermore I think big-time college football & basketball provide the most obvious examples of coaches ‘in over their head’ at storied programs such as Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, etc where the expectation is to be the equivalent of Brazil, Germany, & Spain in international soccer.

    When I heard about locker room riffs, incompetent coaching, and worst of all non-stick-to-itness with game day switching and not following the practice plan put in place for days and weeks I immediately thought of poor Mike Dubose. The internal drama that plagued him was offensive and defensive staff members whom wouldn’t speak to one another, a star player whom wouldn’t get off the buss in LA, an OC & OL/co-OC at odds on approach, in short a locker room and staff deeply divided.

    I was never crazy about the selection of MV by Jurgen and suspect this is the one thing we the USMNT fan can count on, that Jurgen could have hired a much better #2. If that’s the case one has to hope the team simply gels with time as younger and/or injured players solidify their spots and some of the older players move into support roles. If the locker room is divided and there isn’t belief in the coaching staff’s tactical chops it’s doubtful the snow globe experience in the Rockies was anything but a flash of unmaintainable cohesion that’ll be the high water mark in a failed qualifying campaign. However if things come together the US could again see the round of 16 in the WC with a legitimate shot at the final 8.

    After all before going 3-8 in the worst season of Alabama football in the past 60+ years even Mike ‘not ready to lead’ Dubose managed an SEC Championship worthy of any Brazil or German team! We just don’t know, but I’ve seen it too many times where there’s smoke there is fire, some leaders are equipped to deal with such situations and build a stronger organization going forward. I hope for US Soccer’s sake that’s the case.

  4. davidaztlan - Jul 28, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Why Steve Davis would utilize quotes from Kyle Martino, whose thin and underachieving soccer resume is meager at best, is an embarrassment to the NBC sports legacy………………………………….If Mr. Davis is hiding under Mr Martino”s skirt in order to take cheap pot shots at Jurgen Klinsmann I suggest he not quote from an undeserving pretty boy who himself has been panned as an unqualified commentator/analyst and FIRED by the Fox soccer network due to his incompetence! Mr. Davis your criticism of Klinsmann is unwarranted………….Klinsmann now has achieved the longest winning streak in the history of the United States Soccer Federation……..
    What’s his biggest offense Mr Davis? He, Klinsmann, has opened wide the door to US Soccer pool to talented players who do not fit the previously held concept of soccer (East Coast centric biased status quo players) Martino’s claim to fame is a Gatorade award from a high school in a small exclusive Connecticut town, while at U of Virginia the team was mediocre at best (prior to his arrival they won a many National championships, and post his graduation they competed for a title). He played minimally with MLS, the National Team a few looks and he failed to make the cut in Europe..
    So Mr. Davis….your source is wrong and thoroughly unqualified, hypocritically you criticize Klinsmann for puting his #2. man at the helm well you based your article utilizing your NO. 2 man Martino’s biased and unqualified statements.

    And worst, you seem to be interested in utilizing anonymous and unqualified information which is highly unprofessional!

    This calls in to question your credentials as a “soccer writer”. And anyways Mr Davis what are your credentials?

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