Klinsmann discusses USA's Olympic qualifying disappointment

  JuergenKlinsmann (ISIPhotos.com)

U.S. Men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann was in Nashville for last night's Olympic Qualifying debacle and had plenty to say about it, about the U.S. team and the future of the players and head coach Caleb Porter.

Here are Klinsmann's comments from last night (and apologies for spelling mistakes, I'm about to fly out of Nashville and wanted to get this out):

“We all feel really sorry for the guys,” Klinsmann said. “They had it, it was all there already, and then comes this last-second moment. It’s brutal because they worked really hard and I think they played a tremendous game and turned it around after halftime. That’s the third game in five days and they showed a tremendous, tremendous performance.”

More Klinsmann quotes after the jump:

One bad performance and it can kill you in a qualifying stage.

Overall, the way Caleb developed the program in these just couple of months was outstanding. He’s done an outstanding job. How he put his thoughts and ideas into these guys. There’s a bright future ahead of him in his coaching career.

Overall, these players have tremendous potential. We can see and read them where they could be two, three, four years from now. We saw some players out there that can only get better.

Obviously you want to get results and you want to be in big competitions like the Olympics, but you can clearly see the way they played against Mexico that game, the way they played Cuba and tonight, that there’s a very good group. But, they were not consistent enough and they lost the game against Canada and it killed the situation.

It’s a learning experience. They need to handle a big disappointment at an early stage in their careers and it doesn’t kill them, it makes them stronger.

What you saw in terms of style of play, pace of the game, technical elements of the game. You saw that tonight, you saw it against Cuba, you saw it against Mexico, and it’s important for us to see that we’re on the right path in terms of style of play.

There will be players that help us in qualifying. There will be players fro that group that will help us, hopefully after a successful qualifying campaign, in Brazil. It’s the next generation. 

Sometimes the talent comes out when they’re 19 or 20, and some times it takes longer.

I was extremely pleased tonight to see Freddy Adu be all over the place, being a fighter, being an inspirer on the field, very creative. And it seems he’s maturing and we always thought he should be already be at whatever level he should be, but he’s 22 years old so give him the time to show his game, and tonight he showed a wonderful game. He will only improve. he will only get better. 

This won’t be the last setback they’ll have, not on the field or off the field.

  • beachbum

    on playing like Dempsey, that player is Joe Corona in my mind…very similar stuff to Clint


  • beachbum

    100% agree. it was a top concern–who was the dirty work player on the team? turned out, no one

    and losing on set piece after set piece with weak in the box defending? guys with skills like Omar Gonzalez are highly underrated and at least one such player was needed on this team


  • David

    It’s a good point, we should be beating these teams. But one thing I’d like to point out to you and other naysayers is to look at who else didn’t make it. Argentina is gone from the South America pool. And take a look at who didn’t qualify in Europe: Italy, Netherlands, Germany, France. You know who beat out Germany in the group stages? Iceland! A country of 300,000 people!

    My point is this happens to other good teams. It sucks, yes, I still feel awful about it. And there are some things to question Porter/the team about, sure. But if these other perennial powerhouses can improve from their loss, so can we.


  • Casey

    Disagree with you. The Germans know when to counter attack and when to take the game to another team.
    They don’t sit back against the likes of Canada or Belarus.


  • Judging Amy

    I disagree. The performances against the tWo toughest group opponents were in no way impressive. Barca loses games sure, but if they went out in the first round of Champions you can bet Pep would be getting criticism. Should be the same for Porter. Part of coaching is knowing how to manage bad circumstances and for the record even if the US gets through this group I still think we are talking about Porters coaching ability based on the fact that this team did not look impressive against inferior competition. For all the talk of tactical genius Porter seemed to adapt to game circumstances very poorly.

    That said Porter is now getting hated on as much as he was hyped pre-tourney and its probably a bit unfair.


  • marco

    I agree with everything, up until Robbie Rogers, including Johnson and Chandler as FBs.
    Dempsey and Donovan will play in front of them.


  • Judging Amy

    Based on hype Porter may be the future but based on actual ability its yet to be seen.


  • beachbum

    what are you disagreeing with? you just said what I was saying Casey, come on

    flexibility, being able to do what the situation dictates…like Germany and the counter, which they played for and executed tremendously in the last WC

    being a counterattacking team is part of that equation…who said anything about just sitting back

    your original post…disagree strongly. even your reply to me disagrees with it.


  • Call Up Lichaj

    Idiotic comment. Does Spain get its talented players from the ghetto. Maybe, but I have never read that. France fills its academies (and national teams) from the banlieues, and it is possibly the most underachieving team in the world. Don’t say this is about race, because that scumbag Ribery epitomizes the banlieues. Case in point: the rest of the French team “freezing out” Gourcuff at WC 2010 because of his wealthy background; or, more generally, the childish behavior the whole team displayed throughout WC 2010.

    Nothing is wrong with our athletes. Soccer is, at best, the sixth-most popular sport in this country; our professional league is a joke (but getting better); and players therefore don’t “make it” in Europe until they’re much older. But go ahead and force this to be a socio-economic issue.


  • FustalFranklin

    And it’s the coaches job to select the right players and prepare them for the competition.


    1. The roster had one centerback and one stopper middy that play the position consistently… and – big surprise – we had defensive problems… Connecting the dots is obvious here and proper player selection was a BIG Issue

    2. Adu should play in the center – not on the wing… he’s much more productive and creative at center. This is a perfect example of taking talent and not using it wisely in formation

    3. What’s the best way to milk a 1-goal lead? Make it a two goal lead… The minute we went into stall ball mode it became a battle of attrition… could we outlast El Sal ceding possession via stall and hoof before they punch one in.

    The answer to # 3 was NO.

    Which brings me to # 4…

    4. You NEVER play not-to-lose when up by 1 and with a tie meaning tournament elimination for you team… You attack and score again…

    5. God I hope that at least worked on corners and set-piece coverage in practice and it was simply the players that didn’t execute… But it really doesn’t matter either way… The defensive execution, particularly on corners was simply one word: atrocious.

    All this means one thing: Porter should be out. I don’t even think its arguable.

    I hope this isn’t his last top tier job but he clearly wasn’t ready for this at this time.


  • Casey

    I never said we shouldn’t be only a counter attacking team.
    We used to counter attack against Grenada and T&T under Milutinović, Sampson, Arena, Bradley. Klinsmann is trying to change the bunker against the weaker sides tactic. It will take time and people are already reading the riot act when qualification hasn’t started and most of this U-23 team won’t be starting for the Full national team.

    And I quote: “Germany counter attacks brilliantly, so does Italy.”
    They do that against better teams or teams at their level. Not against the likes of Canada or Belarus. We bunkered in the Gold Cup against Canada mind you.

    In simple terms for you, he wants to break us out of the counter only system which we have employed forever. He wants us to build out of the back instead of the dump and chase. I never said we were going to dictate the pace against good teams like Barcelona does. I am not arrogant and trying to pick and choose what I say.


  • Kojo

    For all you apologists out there. Caleb Porter did a HORRIBLE CRAPPY Job. There are so many things wrong from Caleb who felt comfortable with his player selection. No worries on the defensive line I have players who are interchangeable. The lack of rotating players between games to keep them fresh physically and mentally just proves that he lied he wasn’t comfortable with his squad. The poor time management, team substitutions, having your goalie nursing an injury and then having to waste a substitution on him in the final game. Whose running the show the players or the coach. Very very unprofessional. Lack of movement off the ball was another concern throughout the tournament, speed of play was to slow to take advantage of the USA’s superior talent, endless crossing and not enough creativity in the final third when you have creative players such as Adu, Diskerud and Corona. They were not used to their full effect. This is the coach’s fault pure and simple. Remember we lost to a very young Canadian team that some players are not even tied to a club at present. So lets stop apologizing and start demanding better. Let’s this be a tipping point. We’re just not going to take this crap and we’re not going to accept substandard coaching and on field performance. Remember this was U-23 vs U-23. How can anyone accept what just transpired in the last 5 days beggars belief.


  • Spank

    I’m already over this loss. I was super pissed last night and this morning, I didn’t even want to talk to my wife but now i feel good. Yes we didn’t qualify but oh well. It’s just the olympics. The best u-23 teams weren’t even going to be there. Considering that the best players couldn’t even be released for qualifying. So yes it sucks but at least we were able to see who has what it takes and who doesn’t. Full speed ahead towards WCQ.


  • Steve-)

    interesting thoughts and theories, except the part about the equalizing bobble. That is precisely why we are not moving on.


  • BrianK

    What is so odd about this is,…even if the team had managed to qualify for London, how many players would have featured at the games when you consider age eligible players who were not playing last night and the overage players:

    Hoffenheim middie (?) – Morales?

    …then Howard (!), Dempsey, Donovan, Ream. Possibly nine players! Strange that there is such a disconnect between the team that qualifies and the team that competes in the games. Also,…having seen Hamid and Johnson have nightmare tournaments,…I couldn’t help but think of NYRB’s rookie GK Meara.

    Bottom line though,…we weren’t good enough. Should Caleb Porter have been expected to manage/coach around such horrific goalkeeping?


  • Eurosnob

    Pancho, nobody is saying that this team is as good as Barca, but you don’t need to have world’s top talent to adopt their principles. I recommend that you watch how a small team from Bilbao gave royal spanking to ManUtd in the Europa league. Their coach Bielsa uses many of the same principles that Guardiola does and had them play positive, intelligent soccer rather than sitting back against a superior opponent. They destroyed ManUtd, a team with much bigger budget. If you watched this U23 team in their game against Mexico, they played the right way, dominated possession and controlled the game, adopting the same principles that the world’s top team use. My point is not that this U23 team is as good as Barca, but it played very attractive soccer and scored 11 goals in 4 games (including the friendly game against a talented Mexican team).


  • Eurosnob

    I don’t know how long it would take, but if we play negative style soccer, we won’t be one of the contenders even in 200 years.


  • Eurosnob

    But they also scored 9 goals in 3 games, which is 3 goals per game scoring average. Goalkeeping blunders and defensive mistakes can be corrected – these are young players and they will improve defensively.


  • Brain Guy

    No, but it may be argued that the US’s fate should never have come down to a GK error.

    That said, I also thought of Meara. He already seems more composed and confident than Hamid.


  • dgoshilla

    I couldn’t disagree more. The strategy from the Canada game to the El Salvador game didn’t change. We played over our midfield in both matches. This lead to very little possession, it stretched the field and it left our midfield behind on defense and left our defense outnumbered on counter attacks. These are all devastating strategies when you’re playing against what appeared to be a quicker team. Our strengths were our skill on the ball, our overlapping runs, our size advantage. We needed to shrink the field, control the ball, move the ball through the midfield around the 18 and force El Salvador to foul around the box and draw corner kicks. Bad coaching, bad tactics.


  • Modibo

    Hamid is the one who let in two goals – one very soft – in the first half after refusing a sub. Johnson should have stopped the last one but he also helped dig us out of the mess Hamid put us in. Leander Schaerlaekens was correct in placing Hamid’s performance below Johnson’s – Johnson would have stopped the first ES goal easily, instead of twirling around like a stoned Kewpie doll a la Hamid, and the second goal was also a likely stop with Johnson in goal.


  • Astorian

    I agree with your main point about subs, but you can’t count Hoilett as missing. He’s never played for you guys and hasn’t shown any indication that he wants to.


  • Sticky

    Oh, c’mon, tell us what you really think.

    Clearly you’ve never seen him play for the Fire. It was HAMID who let in two slack goals when he claimed he was healthy minutes before letting them in – take those away and it’s 3-1 US.

    Figure out where Hamid is from and tell him to go back there if you want to make that kind of childish argument.


  • Modibo

    Really? Soccer is easily the MOST popular sport among youth in the US, and has been for a long time.

    You may want to say that it’s the sixth most popular SPECTATOR sport, but I wonder where you’re ranking the others, considering the average attendance of MLS games recently surpassed those of the NHL and the numbers of US fans that turn out for summer friendlies by touring international sides is extremely healthy (and lucrative).

    So which sports do you place ahead of soccer, and why? And about the domestic league – how long have you been watching? And how often? What do you know about the teams or players?


  • CplDaniel

    We’re supposed to have all these great kids. The Future coming through the pipeline…And it scares the hell out of me just how pervasive these “One bad tournements” seem to be becoming the last few years.


  • PetedeLA

    Not to mention, if you can string 4 passes together on a consistent basis, you have no fr#cking business playing 4-3-3.

    Let’s get this straight. We lost to El Salvador and Canada!!!!!

    Aside from the crappy corners, I thought the offensive movement looked decent. Nevertheless, I don’t think we’re ready for 4-3-3. There are very good reasons why very few teams use it.


  • Four Cents

    What are the two games we lost that you speak of? I can only think of one. Canada.. Our record in the tournament was 1-1-1…


  • Mike

    Popular among youth? Come on. Thousands of American kids also do sports like karate and gymnastics. Would you rank those at the top of the American sporting hierarchy as well? The unfortunate fact is that most American kids stop playing soccer by age 11 or 12.

    MLS most definitely ranks behind the NFL, MLB, NBA, Nascar, and NHL in revenue AND national exposure. And the MLS has made tremendous progress in recent years, but it is still inferior to all quality European leagues. It is probably above the Scandinavian leagues at this point, maybe on the same tier as the Scottish league.

    I don’t know why I’m even responding to this.


  • Bellus Ludas

    The real mark of progress is displayed in the comments above. Our team isn’t going to London and we are PISSED. I am 47 and can easily remember a time when qualify for anything was a crap shoot…Caliguri hitting a ball into the sun…miracle.

    We have gotten better. If we don’t kick the crap out of the rest of CONCACAF we are not happy and with good reason. We have come a long, long way.

    This team showed verve we haven’t seen before…one more step as we CONTINUE forward.


  • gbs

    How in the world does klinsman say porter did an outstanding job. Outstanding! Klinsman is clueless. I will take Bradley any day over phoney theorist klinsman. Porter would be fired already in any other country but his boss told him he did an outstanding job.


  • John

    For how much longer will people say “the future is still bright?” It would be nice for US soccer to embrace the brightness instead of just pushing it off into the future.

    This failure was big anyway you look at it. I would maybe understand if we lost in the next round (maybe), but we lost to Canada and tied El Salvador. All the people who are ok with this, never expect the United States Men’s Team to be a successful soccer team. To be successful, the team needs to gain experience. How is the future “bright” when half of these u-23s will never be able to prove themselves again? How is the future “bright” when the chance for these youngsters to earn a look from a big club not there? We cannot keep pushing off these results and waiting for the future. U-17s, Gold Cup, this, hell even the World Cup were all bad. I want to believe in the USMNT, i really do (i know i sound pessimistic) but I don’t see anyone stepping up to do so. And it kills me to see people excuse the players, coaches, and whoever else is involved when they clearly should be blamed.


  • Jozy Wales

    Porter was the reason a much more talented team lost to Canada and was tied by an inferior El Salvador. You must be no hallucinogens. Are you referring to unnecessarily playing his top players against a very weak Cuba, knowing the US would have to play 3 games in 5 days, so that the Canadians which were very inferior in talent but was well rested embarrassed the US . We had not lost to a Canadian team in approximately 20 years. Or maybe it was playing the man who usually wins the most valuable player award for the opponent when he plays Ike Opara. Or was it his sharp ,accurate assessment that Bill Hamid was not injured and could continue. Had Hamid been replaced I assume any decent goalie even Johnson would not have failed to stop the two shots that turned into 2 quick goals. Porter beside having very poor strategic skills as a coach also showed poor judgment in picking the team. Porter proves college soccer coaches moving up to coach national sides is like having an average high school basketball coach coaching an NBA team


  • Jozy Wales

    Porter is the future of what? You think this incompetent fool who makes Bob Bradley look like Sir Alex x 10 will be our national team coach ?


  • MemphisRogues

    This is the article that made me decde Ives is like all the rest. http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/usa/story/us-soccer-must-accept-realities-mistakes-for-recent-olympic-qualifying-disaster-032712. If you follow Ives, he hyped this U23 team. If you follow Ives, every USMNT player is about to be recruited by club x in Europe. If you follow Ives, he knows as much about tv shows and soft drinks as he does soccer tactics. Point to one article on this webpage that discusses shape, flow, balance, and tactical adjustments rather than individual performances and blame game. I was willing to look past everything until Ives tried to get headlines with this lame article. Ives loved Klinsi being hired as coach. Google the archives. Google Ives’ predictions for U-20WC and U-23 OLYmpics. See his expertise vs his “gamesmanship” as a reporter trying to grab headlines. He’s become Jamie Trecker Jr. Good luck, Ives. Keep on trying. Those pop up ads rule.


  • Jomma

    “the way Caleb developed the program in these just couple of months was outstanding”. What Jorgen is a tool that’s all.


  • beachbum

    no need for simple terms for me. I get it, and I’m not arrogant.

    The quote you took from my post is spot on…you are still reeling around

    and for sure I disagree with your original post, and continue to disagree with your analysis



  • The Imperative Voice

    I think Adu did OK and would not even put him on my offensive culprits list. He was more productive in actual terms than Shea. However, I think if people watched the games closely they should have seen the same limitations to his game that hinder him as a senior player. There are many players with better tools and more senior upside.

    Yup, forbidden 442, but I think that’s what we execute well with our personnel. We tried 451 in Germany 06 and that was awful. We’ve wandered into this 433 with mixed results lately.

    I am also a little concerned about the development situation because, as Yanks Abroad noted, the U20s have been poor for 2 cycles now (arguably producing this bunch in turn), and it basically looks like in the absence of Gatt and Morales we lacked a really well-developed defense. I mean, starting a kid plucked from a reality show? A bunch of MLS mediocrities in the back? And then leaving Gyau and Boyd off in favor of people with minimal senior futures. I don’t get the thought processes.


  • The Imperative Voice

    The problem is that this is “his level.” Camp Cupcake seniors/Gold Cup/U23. I’ll grant he is fairly quick but the deal is at the senior level you better be a skills god, a speedster, a tall dude, or something exceptional to stand out.

    And I still believe that over 3 games the team would have been superior with Gyau instead of someone. A fast wing would have forced oppositions to honor us defensively and worn down their wingers.


  • The Imperative Voice

    I’m also a little concerned about the nexus between indifference to losing, and being impressed with the wrong players. Not only is he OK with this, he’s determined from it he likes Adu. I’m sorry but the wrong lessons all around. From the people who actually got used I felt Boyd and Corona were the ones who looked useful at the next level.


  • The Imperative Voice

    You could add in WE LOST THIS AT HOME. It blows my mind we couldn’t even manage this on home soil, much less the coaching errors that could have been made in a road tournament.

    Next time US soccer hosts a youth tournament like the venues need to be chosen to secure crowds who will create a packed stand and involved atmosphere. This was a joke.


  • James the Geiger

    The 2nd goal was only Hamid’s fault, and not the fault of the 4 guys standing around with their thumbs up their arses?



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