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Klinsmann jumps back into MLS debate with Facebook post

Jul 5, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT

Turkey v United States Getty Images

Major League Soccer isn’t mentioned in Jurgen Klinsmann’s latest Facebook update, but the quality and culture around the United States’ domestic competition is the subtext of his post. Citing the U.S.’s finish in Brazil 2014 as a benchmark, the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach said the team needs to “add the work load,” going on to imply the current level of competition his players face needs to improve. The “tempo” and “rhythm” of the national team can’t move forward unless those qualities can be matched at club level.

Klinsmann also alluded to “off the field” factors, like understanding how to utilize recovery time, but his underlying point is a familiar one, one which strikes a more relevant note in light of Matt Besler’s potential move. While Major League Soccer is an improving league, it still doesn’t match the standard of Europe’s top competitions, something Klinsmann sees as an obstacle as the national team tries to move forward.

From Klinsmann’s Facebook post, dated July 3:

We get benchmarked at the World Cup and there is definitely stuff we have to improve and get better in. It’s many things off the field and many things on the field. Playing at that kind of a tempo, at that kind of a rhythm every four days – this has to become the norm. So our job as coaches is how can we make it clear that in order to get further and further we need to add the work load, we need to add the competition level, we need to make them understand what recovery time means, what their life off the field plays a role in many things you can achieve in your career.

It’s a common theme with Klinsmann: A soccer career is a lifestyle. It isn’t just defined by matches and the time you give your club in training. It extends to your off field preparation, your choices of how to rest and eat, or even the personal sacrifices you have to make to play against better competition. Being a professional athlete is a huge and well-compensated sacrifice, but if that’s what it takes in the soccer world to track down the world’s best, it’s a sacrifice players have to make.

At least, it’s one some players have to make right now. Players like Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard? Years of regular play in the English Premier League have built a foundation of experience. They’re capable of raising their level to match their opponents. As we also saw with Jermaine JonesBundesliga and Champions League experience meant the awe-factor of the World Cup was more muted. If those types of players move to MLS, there’s enough experience to draw on at the international level.

source: Getty ImagesBut what about a player like Matt Besler (right), who hasn’t put in that time at the higher levels? Or Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, or perhaps more importantly, DeAndre Yedlin? Even Michael Bradley, who for all his European experience, never played regularly for a Champions or Europa League qualifier during his stops in Germany or Italy. If Klinsmann’s hypothesis is correct, perhaps Bradley’s return to MLS from Roma was a little premature at 26 years old?

Or maybe he’s an exception that shouldn’t obscure the rule: Major League Soccer may be a building ground, but it’s not a finishing school. While the likes to Yedlin, Luis Gil, Diego Fagundez, and Darlington Nagbe have had this platform to flash their potentials, MLS’s ceiling may prevent them from helping their national team improve. Staying at home, they may develop into the talented but limited products that have led the U.S. to where it is now.

More from Klinsmann:

We have to continue to communicate that, to show them and especially start to implement that with our Under-17, Under-18, Under-20, Under-21, which will be the future Olympic team because that’s the next Generation that’s going to break in. The more we get that message to those kids, the more we will benefit a couple of years from now. When you go out in the Round of 16, clearly it gives you the message you have a lot of work still ahead of you.

Telling people to get to Europe isn’t the only solution, though. Eventually, you want Major League Soccer to be able to rival that experience. Maybe players capable of playing for the truly elite clubs will always leave (MLS may never have a Real Madrid), but unless that’s the choice, you’d like to think players can achieve a higher potential at home.

Obviously, progress is being made. Players like Brad Davis, Chris Wondolowski, and Kyle Beckerman are limited, but thanks to MLS’s drastic improvement, they’ve turned into players who can serve a purpose at the highest level. Talents like Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans, and Clarence Goodson played valuable roles in qualifying. The improvement in Major League Soccer is having a huge impact for the U.S. national team.

But 2014 wasn’t the tournament where MLS broke through. With Besler standing out next to Beckerman and Zusi’s contributions, it was the tournament where it helped. As Klinsmann implies, the domestic league has some steps to take if it’s going to define its national team. The break through hasn’t happened, yet.

  1. cdkeli - Jul 6, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    If the sport is ever to progress in this country then people here need to start paying attention to those like Klinsmann that have played, coached, and achieved at the highest level.

  2. braxtonrob - Jul 6, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    If JK is such a bona-fide genius, then why did Germany dump him?

    Plus, most of the players from that team hate him.

    The guy is just another stellar former player, that didn’t translate to coaching.
    As for all you band-wagoners that think big athletes translates to greatness –
    1. How tall is Pele?
    2. How tall is Diego Maradona?
    3. What is Lionel Messi’s nickname?

    Get a clue.

    • txbearmeat - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      Germany WANTED “Klinsy” back! And having tall strikers and CBs and GKs are extremely helpful. Yes, there are great players who aren’t tall… but in general having Height/Weight/Speed in ADDITION to skill in extremely helpful to dominating your opponent. All those athletes are going into football and basketball (and some baseball) in America.

      Get your facts straight before you spout off.

      • braxtonrob - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:35 PM

        You mean they “wanted” him back; get YOUR facts straight. Try reading Lahm’s book while you’re at it.

        P.s. 1990 was TWENTY-FOUR years ago. Size don’t mean spit.

    • khoale1511 - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:13 AM

      braxtonrob, it’s true that athleticism might not make a great footballer, but it is a very important attribute in ANY sports. Those players you mentioned – they are geniuses. And while Pele isn’t tall, he used to be the most athletically perfect striker in the world. Messi had to go through a lot of training because he used to be a weak kid.

      About Klinsmann, I think that you’re also another bandwagoner – and a hater too – who hadn’t realized how much he contributed to the US team with his choice of players and tactics. You guys lost not because of him or anyone, but because they played their best football they could and it wasn’t enough.

      As for Lahm’s comment, I won’t comment on whatever he said. But Klinsmann is the one of the people who laid the foundation of the Germany team as we see it right now, without a doubt. Just saying it so that you know the difference between him and you.

      • braxtonrob - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        @khoale, No offense, but I’ve been following the USMNT since before you were born. You WISH that was our best football. Hell, all anyone had to do was watch our leadup games and they’d know we played horribly.

        Also, since when did you have to be tall to be “athletic”? Absurd.
        Note: re: JK – up until two months ago, I had been one of his biggest supporters; fact.

        Note II: JK has NOTHING to do with Germany’s rise; they’re ALWAYS good.

      • khoale1511 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        braxtonrob, again you need to do some research here. Germany had their ass kicked badly in EURO 2004 and the DFB started a reform in which Klinsmann was the one who formed their attacking style. Before that, they were a more defensive team under Voeller based on players such as Ballack, Kahn or Frings. If you knew US team that long, you should have known them too – they kicked US’s ass in the quarterfinal of 2002 WC after all.

        also, you are the one who kept asking about how tall a player is. Yes, height is not essential to be athletic, but it’s important unless you have excellent technical skills to compensate for your lack of height. And you will need some extra height to win aerial fights and strength contests if you lack skills. TBH I didn’t think the US could make it far with Ghana and Portugal in the same group – but Klinsmann and the players did the job well.

        so put away that baseball bat and watch some soccer please. and learn history too. You said like you’re a lot older than me but you aren’t acting like one.

      • braxtonrob - Jul 7, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        @khoale, You have your opinion; I disagree with it. To not give Low credit for what will likely be a trip to the 2014 WC Final is narrow-minded of you (at best), and juvenile (at worst).

        Also, your citations all over the place; I didn’t think the 2002 Quarterfinal was an “a~~kicking” as you put it, but then again I don’t expect someone who thinks the US’s 2014 WC performance was good to know the difference between a well-coached team and poorly coached one.
        (Don’t get me wrong, I thought JK’s roster selection was stellar, save some of those final cuts.)

        I’m not going to discuss height anymore. The fact that some of you find it particularly relevant just makes me sad.

        Lastly don’t call me juvenile. If (some of) your generation can’t have a debate without throwing a tantrum, I (highly) recommend you join the service and see how far that behavior gets you there.

    • khoale1511 - Jul 8, 2014 at 7:45 AM

      @braxtonrob, I never said that Loew didn’t deserve any credit. I said that Klinsmann laid the foundation of Germany’s current playstyle, but it’s Loew who’s been developing it and the players to another level. stop changing my words.

      I think most people would agree with me that Klinsmann did a good job in bringing the US team this far – or okay at least. Every team the USA has faced is better than them in some or most aspects, but you won 1, drew 2 in 90 mins and lost to only the best team of those – Germany. I think you just have so high expectations for this team that you’d naturally attack the coach when your team lost. the US players in this tournament are decent, but they are nowhere near world-class. and only Howard has been in top form among players in Europe.

      Finally, I don’t really care if you disagree with my opinion, but I think it’s you who needs to change your attitude. just take a look around and see for yourself who’s making more sense. and being old (assumably) doesn’t give you the right to look down on others.

      • braxtonrob - Jul 8, 2014 at 6:40 PM

        If you feel “looked down on”, your inferring it.
        If you can’t handle your opinions being attacked without becoming petulant about it, and insist on (falsely) taking it personal, then I have no recommendation for you, (other than ‘grow up’).

        Aside from that difference, I think we’re debating the team’s performance from two different vantage points.
        You’re satisfied with results, and I am insistent on actually playing a smart effective game.
        You had luck on your side (I believe), and the solution to my dissatisfaction is far more complex, but obvious nonetheless.

    • khoale1511 - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:22 AM

      lol you’re changing my words again. I never said I felt “looked down on”, that’s what I saw on your comment against others with different opinions from you. It’s nothing personal, I don’t know you at all. I just feel funny that there’s an American who actually expected that much on their national team while the MLS is still a place for past-prime superstars to make easy money.

      besides, I’m not American so I don’t care how good or bad your team is, I’m just making the point from the view of a neutral fan. I’m gonna give you the solution to your dissatisfaction: don’t expect too much. Climb up gradually and listen to what a soccer expert such as Klinsmann said. If you think you can do better than him, go ahead. I’ll wait.

    • markburst - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      JK has successfully changed the attitude of the team. We are no longer in awe of anyone and I think our boys know that they can play with anyone. Now it is a matter of translating confidence to more creative play and bringing players who think and play faster.

    • Bill Gardner - Aug 29, 2014 at 6:17 PM

      Klinsmann scored more World Cup goals than all three of those midgets, Pele never played in Europe and Messi cannot play without the protection of a ref….. Maradona well he was pure class..

  3. txbearmeat - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    Hey – do you smell that Braxtonbob? Smells like….troll!

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed – but every single post you’ve made has a negative rating (and it’s not close in any of them). Perhaps you aren’t as much of a genius as you think you are. Maybe some self-examination is in order…

    • braxtonrob - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      In proper context, “troll” is a verb, not a noun (as you’re using it). You’re a moron. Congratulations.

      Get over yourself, I’m entitled to my opinion. And, if ONE other person agrees with me (as they often do), I’ll continue to share my politically-incorrect thoughts on this site.

      • reformed2012 - Jul 7, 2014 at 6:18 PM

        Then I should share my politically-incorrect thoughts on this site too.

        Right wing anti-soccer nut jobs like you are the reason why this sport is not moving forward.

        The system needs a major overhaul. Progressive reform is the key to success. Maintaining the status quo will doom the USMNT to perpetual failure.

      • braxtonrob - Jul 7, 2014 at 6:45 PM

        @reformed, Lol, I ASSURE you, “the reason this sport is not moving forward (in the US” has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with ME. (<- that HAS to get some thumbs up, lol).

        (Note: I'm not right-wing, per se, and I'm the farthest thing from "anti-soccer" as are the rest of us here. However, I might be a "nut job", but that's between me and my as-yet to be hired psychologist.)

        Seriously though, I agree the system needs more work than others, but I prioritize the USMNT head coach above that.
        You should be happy! You're GETTING the "progressive reform" you so desire. In fact, two months ago, I was as happy as you.
        But now, … I'm recovering from one of the most embarrassing lost opportunities in USMNT history.
        Delude yourself in to thinking we played well if you like, or blame the players if that's your preference. I think it's painfully and ironically obvious that JK, despite his ability to assemble a fairly potent roster, is to blame. I'd settle for at least one admission from him that SOMETHING (of the plethora of things that went wrong) was HIS fault; not holding my breath on that one though.

  4. paxonst - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    I love the conversation that Klinsmann’s comments has sparked. It just shows that there is an audience that is passionante about the game. Alexi Lalas had it right when he said that Klinsmann has not done anything more than what Bob Bradley or Bruce Arena had done by reaching the round of 16. Klinsmann knows he doesn’t have the depth to go beyond the round of 16 at this point. Portugal has always been a paper tiger. Ghana has great individual players, but African teams are too undisciplined. The U.S. will win a world cup before an African team will. You can take that to the bank! The USMNT lacks pure athletes. Yedlin was a breath of fresh air. As is Julian Green. Look a Belgium. Their #1 striker, Benteke, didn’t even play due to injury, but they have two dangerous strikers right behind him. The drop off from our starters to our bench is too great to advance to the quarter finals. Yes, playing in Europe, not sitting the bench in Europe, would help guys like Beesler, Gonzalez, Zusi, and Yedlin. Our domestic league is improving, but the pressure to win in Europe is greater because of the threat of relagation. This goes all the way down to the fourth division.

  5. chiniquy - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    “your choices of how to rest and eat, or even the personal sacrifices”

    That is the key for any footballer. What you do off the pitch in terms of your lifestyle (going to bars, drugs taking, eating chemically saturated foods) will play a major part in how you perform on the pitch.

    Not only will these things affect your body but it will also affect your mental attitude.

    I don’t believe that those who play in the American ” soccer” league are behaving any different than those who play for the NFL, or the NBA.

    They eat junk food and drink alcohol during the off season. To be a ‘good’ footballer you have to eliminate these thing completely.

  6. vdstrading - Aug 11, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    JK just likes to hear himself talk and pontificate. For all his talk about how the US needs to play a more attacking style, a more creative game…he packed it in more than Arena or Bradley ever did against Germany and Belgium. Quite frankly, the Belgium game was a complete embarrassment, and if not for Tim Howard, the opponents would have had 4 or 5 on the board. And, even with Jozy hurt, we could have still had a credible chance in that game if a veteran like Donovan is on the field there…someone who has been thru the wars. Not Graham Zusi, Chris Wondolowski, etc. JK is a petty individual, letting his disdain for LD’s personality get in the way of bringing the best squad to Brazil. Great coaches adjust to maximize the performance of the team’s players…it’s JK’s way or the highway, which is probably why he’s had limited success as a coach in every stop.

  7. - Aug 19, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    Very disappointed with Besler for not trying himself out in europe..He’s taking his starting spot for granted and I hope some other CB steals his spot.

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