U.S. Men's National Team

Klinsmann speaks out on Porter, the U.S. U-23s, Gomez and more

Klinsmann (Reuters Pictures)



Caleb Porter's failure to guide the United States Under-23 men's national team to an Olympic berth led some to speculate whether he has a future in U.S. Soccer.

Not Jurgen Klinsmann.

During a media conference call, the U.S. senior national team coach emphatically stated that Porter's place within U.S. Soccer is secure. Just what his role going forward will be or how he will be integrated into the program is still up for discussion, but Klinsmann said that he met with Porter in Chicago Tuesday to look back on the futile Olympic qualifying effort and look ahead to the future.

"The way things went in those qualifying games, it raised a lot of questions from a media perspective but also internally within U.S. Soccer," Klinsmann said. "We had a long meeting with Caleb and discussed the whole experience. Obviously it's a huge dispapointment for all of us not having our Olympic team going to London this summer.

"The goal is to keep Caleb connected to us, becasue we really think that he has a lot of upside. I think he learned a tremendous amount during the last four months."  

Porter, who returned to his duties as head coach at the University of Akron immediately after the failed qualifying campaign, took plenty of flack for not getting the favored U.S. U-23 side out of the group stage, let alone to a qualfying berth, but that does not appear to affect his standing as an asset for Klinsmann.

"We believe that Caleb is a very talented coach, and we chose him for a reason, because he has a huge future ahead of him. Rather sooner than later he'll jump into the professional field and becomes a pro coach. We hope that we find ways now going forward even if it's not with the Olympic team that we find roles for him to improve, to grow, to mature in his coaching career.

"That could be being part of our camps with the senior team. That could be being part of our workshops that we have on a regular basis with all the coaches involved in all age levels. That could be being part of the different youth teams of their coaching staffs. It could be sending him to Europe to learn at European clubs, their models, their way of doing it, talking to coaches overseas.

"We are not going to London. He knows he was in charge of that process. There were many mistakes being done, but not all of the mistakes were done by Caleb Porter. Bottom line is we want to keep him connected to us. We want to keep him involved with what we're doing in the future."

As for the notion that Porter did not succeed with the U-23s because he had no prior professional coaching experience and came from the college ranks, Klinsmann dismissed that wholeheartedly.

"From a working perspective, from a challenge perspective Caleb was very well prepared for that qualifying process. He was extremely organized, he understood the value of all the opponents. Did his scouting, homework. I think he did a very god job. It was absolutely the right decision to make him Olympic team coach.

"Based on the results and the outcome of it, now you can argue that maybe a profesional coach would have worked out better. The reasons why it didn't work out is not because he was a college coach and not a professional coach. That is definitely not the case."


For the U-23 players who missed out on the chance to go to London, the not only missed out on the Olympics but also a chance to further their development while being tested against some of their most talented counterparts from around the world.

That problem is compounded by the fact that not all U-23 players are currently receiving substantial first-team playing time at their clubs, meaning that getting this group of players — especially those based in MLS — to reach their maximum potential becomes a bit of a more difficult exercise.

"That is definitely a concern," Klinsmann said. "We want to make sure that especially a younger group of players get as much exposure as possible coming through their developemntal stage. An 18-19-20-year-old is not at the same level often yet as an experienced player and proven player, but we've got to make sure they get the chance to break through, they get the chance to get their minutes in.

"You see other examples in different leagues. In the Mexican league I think they have a rule that younger players get implemented in their first-team games. You see the systems in other leagues like in Germany, all the first-division teams have their reserve teams playing in a third- or fourth-division league, which is also a professional league, to get their feet wet and get their playing time and get competition week-in and week-out. It's definitely a topic that we need to dig deeper into."

Productive players like U-23-eligible forwards Terrence Boyd and Andrew Wooten, for example, are a product of the German reserve teams. 

In MLS, young players like Juan Agudelo have struggled to receive consistent playing time despite their promise and potential. Klinsmann's message for those players with the system the way it is: Work harder.

"It is a big concern," Klinsmann said. "We need to find a way to get our 18-23 year-olds more playing time, but they have to fight their way through the system and fight their way into the team.

"My response to Agudelo was, 'You have to train harder and force the coach to make you play. It's something you have to work for.' We understand you should play more, but you have to build your case. You have to do more than whoever is in front of you. The coach will play the best players that give him the chance to win the game."


With Olympic qualification in the rear-view mirror, it remains to be seen how some of the younger players fit into Klinsmann's senior team plans going forward. 

Players like Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Brek Shea and Agudelo were singled out by Klinsmann as he touched on the topic.

"How far along are those players involved in the Olympic qualifying campaign?" Klinsmann said. "How mature are they really for the senior team level? You look at these players and say, 'OK, they couldn't get the job done, so where are they in the bigger picture going into our May/June camp?'

"The process for these players is getting even tougher, it's getting even more difficult. They do not have the jumping board of the Olympics. If you play in the Olympics, this is a huge shwocase. This is where the whole world is watching and evaluating you. They're missing out on that. They don't have the opportunity to gain such valuable experience in a big competition, so they have to prove it somewhere else, so where else can they prove it? They have to prove it on their club teams. 

"The expectations now that they perform on the highest level for the club team are even higher. Agudelo (once healthy) has to break into the starting XI, and he has to play week-in and week-out with the Red Bulls. Brek Shea has to prove with FC Dallas week-in, week-out he's one of their best players in order to get a chance to become part of the senior national team. There are many lessons you take from the process of the Olympic team and the lessons are a bit tougher than if they would have qualified." 


The most in-form American player right now hasn't been to a national team camp since August, 2010. If Herculez Gomez can continue his scoring streak, that could very well change next month.

Klinsmann delved into the Santos Laguna striker's run of form — he has scored in seven straight games, tallying nine goals in that time — saying that Gomez is very much on his radar.

"I've seen quite a few games of his over the last 6-7 months," Klinsmann said. "I know Herculez. I know his qualities. He's constantly being watched. Hopefully he continues that goal-scoring period, and the more he scores … the bigger his chances to get a call. It's as simple as that.

"Herculez is on the radar screen, but he's always been on the radar screen. Hopefully he can keep making his case stronger and stronger over the next couple of weeks."


The senior national team will congregate in a little more than a month ahead of friendlies against Scotland, Brazil and Canada that will lead into the start of 2014 World Cup qualifying. After eight months of friendlies during his tenure as head coach, Klinsmann is undoubtedly looking forward to getting into matches that truly matter.

"Friendlies are nice to play and nice to have, but it's not the real thing," Klinsmann said. "The real thing is qualifying and going to Brazil 2014."

Klinsmann divulged that he will be calling in a 23-man roster with 20 field players and three goalkeepers and that he'll also be compiling what he called a "standby" list of players who "know if something happens in the camp, I'm there within a day."

As for the size of the roster, Klinsmann does not plan on expanding to include any more than the 23.

"I don't want to go with more numbers, because it reduces the quality of training sessions," Klinsmann said.

  • Jim Morrison

    The team is getting better? Can I borrow your rose colored glasses, Senor Clueless?

    Arena got the team to a quarter final. Keep drinking the Kool Aid, dude.


  • Eurosnob

    I agree, particularly from the player development prospective. That’s why Klinsmann is emphasizing the need for these young players to break into the first team with the club. If Agudelo starts getting regular minutes with Red Bulls it would be more beneficial for his development as a player than getting a couple weeks in London and then rotting on the bench for his club.


  • CVS

    Can somebody explain to me why Gomez keeps bouncing from team to team in Mexico despite demonstrating his goal scoring abilities wherever he plays?

    I’ll admit, with exception of some weekend box scores and YA reports, I don’t closely follow his league. But from the outside looking in, one would think his stock would be way up with the rate he scores. However,it seems like there is only a tepid interest in him.


  • Casey

    Yes but apparently you don’t understand what I am saying. The US started the near exact starting eleven all three games not two. So please take reading comprehension 101 before you start going off on something you don’t understand.


  • Juan from L.A.

    “That could be being part of our camps with the senior team. That could be being part of our workshops that we have on a regular basis with all the coaches involved in all age levels. That could be being part of the different youth teams of their coaching staffs. It could be sending him to Europe to learn at European clubs, their models, their way of doing it, talking to coaches overseas.—THAT’S KEY RIGHT THERE AND HOPEFULLY WHAT SHOULD HAD HAPPEN IS SLOWLY BRING HIM UP AS AN ASSISTANT TO THE PROFESSIONAL SOCCER REALM. HE WAS NOT READY. WHAT PISSES ME OFF IS THE CONTINUED ‘ALL IS OK’ AND NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR REYNA, HIMSELF OR SUNIL.


  • Juan from L.A.

    “That is definitely a concern,” Klinsmann said. “We want to make sure that especially a younger group of players get as much exposure as possible coming through their developemntal stage. An 18-19-20-year-old is not at the same level often yet as an experienced player and proven player, but we’ve got to make sure they get the chance to break through, they get the chance to get their minutes in.You see other examples in different leagues. In the Mexican league I think they have a rule that younger players get implemented in their first-team games. You see the systems in other leagues like in Germany, all the first-division teams have their reserve teams playing in a third- or fourth-division league, which is also a professional league, to get their feet wet and get their playing time and get competition week-in and week-out. It’s definitely a topic that we need to dig deeper into.”—THANK YOU KLINSI, AND YES THAT’S AN ISSUE AFTER MEXICO FAIL TO QUALIFY TO TWO WORLD TOURNAMENTS THEY IMPLEMENTED THE 20/11 AND LATER 22/11 RULE. THAT WORKED THE MEXICAN OLYMPIC TEAM THAT JUST WON HAVE FIRST TEAM PLAYERS AND BENCH PLAYERS WHO ARE PLAYING REGULARLY IN THEIR CLUBS, MEANWHILE WE HAVE OUR TALENTED PLAYER IN AGUDELO SITTING ON THE BENCH OF A CLUB WHICH STARTS 10 OF 11 FOREIGNERS. MLS NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THEIR EXPOSURE THROUGH ANY US NT IS GOOD AND BENEFITS THEM AND VICE-VERSA. ALSO, MLS AND THE US FED NEED TO BE OPEN TO PLAY IN BETTER TOURNAMENTS SUCH AS COPA SUDAMERICANA, LIBERTADORES OR COPA AMERICA.


  • Juan from L.A.

    Are you serious guy? Watching college soccer with unlimited subs, time outs, a clock timer, playing 3-4 months off a year, other shenanigans that only college soccer would have is better than MLS…God that’s what’s wrong with this country and this sport…college soccer is amateur


  • hogatroge

    True, if you want to argue semantics.

    Back to Edwin’s point. Attractive soccer without results isn’t going to get the US anywhere.


  • chris

    Are you serious? Playing 10 reserve league games a year is better? Until MLS has viable options for young players to develop you cant complain about players going to college


  • Jim Morrison

    Boy did you nail it with the last sentence! Talk about a group not really having a plan.

    You are someone obviously in the know and we need to hear more from you bc people are SO NAIVE about what really is going on.


  • marco

    Quiet, don’t attack facts with personal name calling. Fact, the USA and Mexico played the same starting 11’s for the first two games.
    Opinion, Mexico was more fit. I won’t comment on your reading skills.


  • Salgado

    Agree totally with Chris… The 4-4-3 is a disaster for US teams at all age groups. We always play our best with two forwards and four midfielders. Please give up the stranded forward and overrun midfield we constantly witness with the 4-4-3. Why make it even harder for our teams to win.

    At the same time, I have to say we’ve never had a coach with Klinsmann’s insights into the big picture and all the tiny puzzle pieces needed to create a winning soccer culture. Let’s be realistic, Klinsmann is tasked with totally overhauling a historically bad soccer system from the bottom up. It will take time and some patience. Compared to the soccer elite, we are decades behind. At least we now have a coach that knows from personal experience what all the key buttons are that need to be pushed to build winners.


  • pd

    Ditto that, but MLS also needs promotion and relegation. Until then, MLS teams need sister clubs in other leagues where players can train and play in reserves and vice-versa


  • pd

    I believe one of the two previous clubs he played with before now essentially ran out of money and fire-saled the entire roster…


  • Louis Z

    I think the fitness issue popped its ugly head way early in the Canada game. Any professional player should be able to play at least the first 45 minutes of a second game after 48 hours. our players were not up to par.


  • SuperChivo

    Brother, why do you have to insult Bradley to champion Klinsmann? By all accounts he left the program in good shape and hardly brought descredit on us during his time at the helm.
    I doubt Klinsmann will be the Messiah that so many expect and I think the best that we can hope is to do slightly better than last cycle, which would be a success. I would be delighted if Klinsmann can put in a good shift like Bradley did and pass it on to the next man.


  • Louis Z

    You missed D. Willimas, he already starts for the NATS and Friedel is retired.


  • Alf

    I agree! Why would you put a coach into that post to gain experience? He should already have it thus USSF (JK or SG) should be held accountable for this huge mistake.


  • GW

    You ain’t bursting any bubbles.Loew is a fine manager; he did not suddenly become one after a year or two with JK. You may have noticed he is still Germany’s manager and isn’t going anywhere.

    Loew needed a chance to show what he could do and a good situation. JK in his first job, needed someone to handle the details.

    They were a perfect match.

    JK gave Loew a chance to shine. “Grooming”? That is just a load of BS.


  • Alf

    Player selections, substitutions and tactics were useless. Arena would have qualified with 20 D1 college players for sure! It’s not players pro vs college it’s managerial experience at the international level. Caleb Porter took the best group of players we’ve ever had at this level and selected the wrong ones and mis-managed the rest.


  • GW

    Since Lichaj has yet to play for JK how can you say that?

    And in case you did not notice, Dolo is now doing quite well at Hannover.

    The two best US fullbacks right now are Dolo and Chandler. They are the only American full time long term starting fullbacks playing at just about the highest level.

    Chandler is not only a better back than Lichaj he is a better soccer player period.

    I find it interesting that some think Lichaj had a good Gold Cup. I was okay with him until he pulled that choke job in the final.
    That is when I realized I had been overrating him. I hope he can get an extended run with Villa because he needs the practice and the US may need him to push the others, Spector, Morales and Williams, all of whom I expect to be pushing for fullback slots.


  • john

    The substitution policy in college soccer is probably a better thing than people think. The increased substiutions forces the best players to develop technical skills instead of simply using superior athleticism. Four years may hinder development, but college soccer certainly has its merits and shouldn’t be criticised just because its unique. Barcalona didn’t get as good as they are by doing the same things everybody else is doing.


  • Alf

    The 4-3-3 is not the USMNT best way forward. The 4-4-2 has always been best for us. Although, I like that 4-4-3 if we could get the refs to let us use it!


  • GW

    Tactics do not lose you games, players do that.

    If you play a 4-3-3 and you find yourself being overrun in the midfield your “wingers” are supposed to drop back and help out in midfield. Soccer is a game of adjustments performed on the fly by players who have half a brain. The 4-3-3 did not lose the game for the US. Their inexperience in playing togetherwhich affects their ability to adjust, did them in.


  • GW

    JK had nothing to do with making theswe players who they are. If anything, his positive , aggressive, attitude has made them more effective than they might have otherwise been.

    He has not said all is OK . If you could read, you would see that he just said the Under 23 guys screwing up just made their chances to contribute to the senior Team for the World cup that much slimmer.

    The difference between JK and you is he is not panicky.


  • CB

    GW is right. Know one, including the people on here can grasp that. There is no one to blame but the players. With that squad it didn’t matter who the coach was. The US though they would qualify no problem and were taught a lesson.

    You could argue that some of they players didnt have the experience but the same could be said for ES and Canada.

    Theres one thing in soccer that can’t be taught and thats heart. That squad lacked it.


  • skyman

    I disagree. We still, well, suck at the game. It’s very difficult to win at world football. Why not develop a beautiful style, while we can?
    I say this now, but in reality I’m as violently competitive as the next American.


  • Brian

    Well he lit it up at Puebla, which is considered a small club, and moved to Pachuca which is one of the bigger and better clubs in Mexico. He didn’t do as hot there. He caught fire a little bit towards the end, but nowhere near his form now or his form with Puebla pre-World Cup. Pachuca literally said that everyone was on the transfer list. Estudiantes Tecos signed him, and he did pretty well, but they were cash strapped and had to sell him.


  • Brian

    I feel like it would have the opposite effect. Players will rely more on their speed and athleticism because they know if they can always get a quick rest if they need it.


  • biff

    The Klinsmann quote cited above by “Juan from LA” also caught my attention. I agree that Porter should have had the experience Klinsmann was mentioning in that quote before being named head coach of the Olympic team. It was a mistake of massive proportions, which, I think, reading between the lines, Klinsmann basically admits in some of this other comments. I would bet a lot of money, say two dollars, that if Klinsmann had it to do over again, Porter would not be Olympic team coach and no way will such a mistake will never be made again.

    Klinsmann clearly admits how damaging it is to the younger players not to have the opportunity to play in London. Klinsmann’s statement that Porter will be coaching pro ball at some point in my mind was not so much a prediction, but a gentle way of letting Porter know that he is not going to touch another US national team unless he leaves college soccer for the pros.

    I don’t understand the other comments made by others putting all the blame on the players for the Olympic ouster. Actually, it’s ridiculous. Coaches are not created equally. There are good coaches and bad coaches and the good coaches are usually more successful than the bad ones. And I think had Klinsmann been the coach, or maybe even Bob Bradley, then the boys would be playing in London this summer–along with Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan (breaks my heart they won’t have the chance). I’m not saying Porter is a bad coach. On the contrary, but, man, he was totally inexperienced internationally and the team paid heavy, heavy price for it.


  • JJ

    Everyone needs to get off of Porter and Klinsmann’s back. The US is in a rebuilding stage that will take between 4-8 years to completely change. Just look Germany before Klinsmann. He totally transformed the system by implamenting attacking football to the young players. Our problem is with the youth players it is not gonna be fixed over night. And if Porter does not pick up the experiance now, then when is he gonna get it. I have full faith in both of them and am excited to see what comes in the future.


  • Salgado

    to Louis Z. and GW… LOL, yeah, maybe the refs won’t notice our 12th player. Let’s try it!

    The bottom line is our players at all age groups do not play the 4-3-3 formation well, and never have. As a coach, you use formations that best suit the capabilities of your players. Ditch it before we self inflict any more damage! Not qualifying against international minnows on our home turf is totally unacceptable.


  • whoop-whoop

    Exactly! It drives me crazy the expectation of instant results. It does not exist. This is not a video game where you plug a name, change a formation and suddenly our team is world class. Hard work, sacrifice, over coming failure and adversity over the long term. THAT is where success stems from. The second things get rough- people fold up like cheap cowards. 3 weeks ago Porter was a super genius, now he is completely over. What a joke!

    Our former system had reached its peak. In order to go to the next level, we HAD to make major changes and sacrifice the short term for the sake of a better long term. Please folks, show some fortitude and a little patience.


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