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U.S. Men's National Team

Howard clarifies dual-nationals comments as Jones responds to 'dangerous' discussion

Photo by Mark J. Reiblas/USA Today Sports

Photo by Mark J. Reiblas/USA Today Sports

Less than a day after making controversial comments regarding the commitment of dual-nationals on the U.S. Men’s National Team, Tim Howard has attempted to clarify his comments.

In an interview with USA Today on Tuesday, Howard was highly critical of former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s policy on recruiting dual-national players, saying that during his reign, the team struggled to “truly believe in the shirt” and that the team “lost that a little bit over the last couple of years”.

The comments were reminiscent of now-retired U.S. Women’s National Team star Abby Wambach’s heavily criticized comments earlier in 2016, but Howard states that his intention was never to question the place of dual-nationals in the USMNT set-up, but rather those who don’t play with their full heart, fully American or otherwise, as he addressed the controversy while speaking to ESPN FC.

“Some of them are [dual nationals], but I think others are players who have their roots here in America too,” said Howard. “It’s not exclusive to them because some of our dual nationals have been brilliant. Jermaine Jones has been a rock for our national team. He’s been one of the heartbeats. Fabian Johnson has been brilliant for us. So, no, that wasn’t aimed at any one person in particular.”

One of the players Howard referenced, Jones, who is a German-American dual-national, chimed in with his own thoughts on Howard’s comments to ESPN FC as well.

“It’s dangerous stuff where you have to be careful what you’re saying,” stated Jones. “With all the respect for Timmy, I feel it’s not if you’re half American or full-American. It’s more what you have in here [taps his chest]. If you go on the field and you give everything for this country, then of course sometimes there’s a situation where you’re not playing good. But it’s normal. That can happen to everybody, and that’s what you have to understand.”

“People, especially in this country, they always try to figure out what [are] the mistakes.” Jones┬ástated. “Now, where everything goes wrong and we lost the first two games, we say maybe the German-Americans are the problem. But when we played the World Cup, I scored. [John] Brooks scored, and it’s ‘oh, the German-Americans are American boys.’ We played two bad games, yes. That’s a fact. All the criticism that comes from outside, that’s good. That’s soccer. It has to be like that. But you have to see the bigger picture, and that’s the whole team. There’s not an American guy and a German-American. The whole team played bad, so that’s the fact. To put it on this guy or this guy, I think it’s not correct from nobody.”

58 comments
  • Rob

    Jones can’t complain when somebody questions his commitment to the US since he held out for Germany for as long as he could.

    Like

  • Beto

    Well said JJ. As a country we way to obsessed with finding scapegoats and letting our irrational fears run wild. We also like to categorize people too much.

    How about we judge players not by where they grew up, not by what league they play in, but by how much fight they bring to the team.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Imperative Voice

      He thinks some players aren’t giving their all. His brighter approach would have been to leave the dual national bit out, maybe or maybe not say anything to the press, if he did make it vague, “I am concerned some players don’t give their all,” and then tell the coach exactly who he is concerned about.

      I understand and in a political sense support anti-scapegoating, however, in a sports context, if there are players hurting the team, I want Howard telling the coach as opposed to toeing some rhetorical line about how “scapegoating is wrong.” I don’t think he’s looking for some fake cardboard cutout to blame, I think he has specific people in mind but probably realized as he was talking that it’s not “cricket” to call them out specifically.

      Like

      • Gary Page

        Somebody like Tim Howard who is such a veteran and team leader, instead of going to the press or even going to the coach, should first go to the individual player and to his face call him out. Howard should be going to the player he thinks is dogging it and challenge him to man up for this team. Then, if the player doesn’t respond, then you go to the coach. If the coach doesn’t do anything about it, then you go to the press. You don’t start with the press first, especially after the coach is gone. And what is the point about complaining now when you have a new coach? You should wait to see how he will handle it. Jones is far more sensible in this case.

        Like

      • Ronniet

        @TIV, yeah i completely agree that it wasn’t the smartest move to single out our dual nationals, only to circle the wagons to include everyone, but i’m not mad at Tim for saying “something”! We don’t know if he hasn’t been vocal with other players to their faces or not, anyone suggesting otherwise is doing alot of assuming, which is the easy thing to do.

        Multiple reports came out regarding a mutiny of sorts in that locker room, JK had lost the team, so maybe in an effort to keep that from happening again Tim felt the need to put it out there. Again, i’m not mad at him for doing so and maybe he could have not said it to the press considering the precarious nature surrounding the teams qualification, but he didn’t mention any names and maybe this lights a fire under everyone!

        None of us are in that locker room and TH’s leadership cannot be questioned, this is professional sport and with a qualification hanging in the balance i would expect every veteran on that team to do whats needed to get everyone on the same page. if feelings get hurt in the process so be it, but missing out on the WC would be a disaster!

        Like

  • antonnynoronha

    Howard should keep his mouth shut because
    his time at USMNT is running out and it will
    be embarrassing for him to get along with
    players who have been offended by his
    unnecessary comments

    Like

    • Ronniet

      I don’t think he cares, and he shouldn’t! This isn’t pick up soccer or little league soccer, this is the big leagues and if players feelings get hurt, well, they need to man up and get over it.

      People are focused on TH’s comments and not on what’s happening within that team, which is silly tbh. He has nothing to gain or lose by saying players are loafing, which several comments seem to suggest but i think this is a man that really cares about the team and their product on the field, which is what matters, not words!

      Like

      • Anthony

        He didn’t just say some players are loafing which I would have no problem with. It is fact that he scapesgoat the dual nationals. In the two games, I saw dual-citizens and born and bred Americans loaf.

        Like

  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    I agree with Jones, but I don’t think he contradicts Howard.

    I hope that everyone is with me in that if a guy is giving it his all, like Jones does, I am on board. No one is perfect, except me on this comment section, but effort and heart is my concern. And others concern.

    Do some really have what it takes in that department, like Lalas in ’94, I get the feeling some don’t. Guessing Howard agrees.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jus' sayin'

      The point is- the only thing that is important is whether or not you are bringing it. Trying to mind and or heart-read and judge what is inside a man’s heart based on background is frankly, complete bullshit. One of the beauties of sport is that it pares things down to their roots. Or in my mind- should. Results baby.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Panda

        Amen! In 1994, one of the most passionate and hardworking players on the U.S. team was Fernando Clavijo, a naturalized citizen from Uruguay.

        Like

  • The Imperative Voice

    Timmy has rightfully dialed back the strict us vs them rhetoric, because it’s not 100% true. However I do think he would not have said something in the first place if he didn’t feel that there was a set of dual national players who were getting used repeatedly but not playing with enough heart. While soccer at this level does require high technical and athletic ability, some of the quails are extremely rough and those first two games were as soft as I have ever seen us in meaningful games, I have never seen us quit like Costa Rica in a quali, and we seemed lost for ideas of how to reverse Honduras.

    He may have gone about it in the wrong and perhaps counterproductive manner, but Howard is trying to point at a problem and to me hinting that some of the primary proponents are dual nationals. If he thought the problem was MLS players he would have said that. But the nature of domestic soccer is generally play hard whistle to whistle. There might be some exceptions but let’s be real, a player like Eddie Johnson sticks out because of our general soccer culture.

    I am concerned we have a real problem with effort and toughness and grinding out results that needs to be addressed, and that Howard backpedaling out of this undercuts addressing it. Yes, it’s not Jones. I don’t think anyone thought it was. But in March we have to run out 11 starters and some subs for games that count, the foreign contingent will not be here for friendlies, and we need to pinpoint who needs to be here and who is holding us back.

    Like

    • Gary Page

      Although we lost to Mexico, it wasn’t due to lack of effort, but one blown assignment. We were a little lackluster in the first half, but greatly outplayed them in the second half. Their winning goal was really against the run of play. Sometimes fans get caught up in emotion, too, and see things that aren’t there. For example, people are under the impression that in our Gold Cup loss to Jamaica we were outplayed when, by every metric instead of goals, the reverse was true. Soccer is one of those games where a strange bounce or one small mistake can result in the better team losing. Also, let’s not forget an important part of Jones’ remarks. Some days you are just “on” and some days you just don’t have it. Players could be carrying or suffer slight injuries during a game that aren’t apparent that may make a crucial difference at a critical time. What may seem like lack of effort could be something physical. That’s why you need to judge over time.

      Like

      • Ronniet

        so what does it say that in alot of games that the US has played in under JK they came out lethargic or not ready to play?? To me it was more about the constant lineup changes, tactical changes and roster inadequacies. There didn’t seem to be any fluidity on the field because of people playing out of position or ina different role from where they are accustomed. JK thought that approach made the team better and more rounded, some will agree with that, others will not, but some of the performances on the field suggested otherwise.

        if a player is carrying an injury or is not full strength, then he need not be in the game, much less be a starter. That is letting the team down from jump street. JK made that mistake in the WC bringing an injured ArJo, so when Jozy went down we had to rely on an already injured player that couldn’t even finish the tourney. Some of JK’s other roster additions in Rio hurt the teamtoo, and we know who those players were.

        JK built that culture, it makes no sense to bash TH because he was man enough to point out something that no one else would and one that had seemingly affected the whole groups performances.

        Like

  • TheFrenchOne

    This was an odd move by Howard. It doesn’t make sense to make the statements he made, knowing that about half of his teammates will be offended or feel targeted, and about the same ratio of USMNT fans. Wouldn’t it have been more effective for him to approach the players he feels are not giving 100% and, as a veteran, talk to them man-to-man? That would have been way more effective.

    In addition, now when Bruce makes his roster selection for the next WCQ games, if he seems Howard equal with Guzan or another player, does he bring in the guy who has alienated a number of teammates, or does he start Guzan who, to my knowledge, has not weighed in publicly on this issue?

    So not a smart move for his continued involvement in the USMNT, and even if you respect him for speaking his mind, making these statements in public is not nearly as effective as talking one-on-one.

    Like

    • Chase

      Hopefully Bruce just goes with the better keeper, which is Howard.

      Also, although he could have worded things better, I think he is just trying to set the kind of attitude that says “you’re gonna have to fight with everything you have if you wanna be on this team.” I don’t think his clarification the next day took anything away from that either. It’s not necessary to read into his every word and assume you know everything about the situation. We have wayyyy to many armchair quarterbacks that overanalyze, get offended easily, and think they know better than the pros when they don’t (not accusing you specifically of that, btw).

      Like

  • danny

    Jermaine has the heart of a lion and he always leave’s it all on the field. Until he retires, he deserves a spot on the team. I wish the US produced players like him.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Byrdman

        To say he doesn’t have attacker’s touch is accurate. To make it sound like he is an oaf, is unfair. That heart of a lion is what causes him to rise up against the best competition. Typically, I am sure there are exceptions, but the bigger the game the better he plays.

        Liked by 1 person

  • wsmithers

    The problem with generalizing about the dual-nationals is that it always seems to come out as us-vs-them. Even if you say that “some” of them aren’t passionate about playing for the US, you’re still drawing that distinction between the US-born and dual-nationals.

    I think what is meant most of the time – and what Howard meant, but didn’t say very well – is simply that is that we want players in a US shirt who are all-in for the US, and not playing for the US as a business decision.

    Liked by 2 people

  • recoveredamishman

    Howard is either not very bright or he’s a major-league jerk. If I had to guess, Howard wanted to disrespect Klinsman and ended up dissing his teammates instead, aka he’s not very bright. Respect to Jones for standing up to that b.s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andy in Atlanta

      Howard is extremely intelligent.. I think his comments were directed at JK for his constant search of players in the Bundesliga instead of giving homegrown MLS players a chance to shine in camp… I know Howard was taking shots at guys like Chandler who is about as American as a bidet.

      Like

      • DB

        I don’t think that comment is necessarily fair to Chandler, just that his personality doesn’t come off as “into it” like JJ or Brooks. Hell, look how laid-back FabJo is. No one questions him, but last I checked he asked out of the CONCACAF Cup in crunch time.

        That aside, I think you’re right in that Howard was directing these comments more at JK’s no stone unturned policy towards anyone with dual-nationality, all the while you have players like Lletget shining in MLS, just waiting for a call.

        Like

      • recoveredamishman

        Right, this may be, but why not go to Chandler or other players he thinks are sandbagging and call them out directly instead of making broad statements that make him sound like a prejudiced jerk? Because that’s what his original statement did. And it seems pretty obvious to anyone who thinks about this that Jones got it right… nobody questions Michael Bradley’s commitment when he has a bad game and nobody should question Chandlers commitment when he has a bad game either. If a guy takes a vacation during qualifying or turns down call-ups, call THAT guy out, not everyone who is a dual citizen.

        Liked by 1 person

      • johnnyrazor

        Shining? Lletget from August of 2015 to July 31st of 2016 he had one goal and 3 assists and that was in over 20 games most of which he started or played at least 20 minutes. He had 5 assists in 7 games at the end of this season when he moved inside, but compared to Lee Nguyen, Sacha, and Benny his assists numbers are not shining either.

        There were very few MLS guys that weren’t at least called in during the JK era that were consistently playing well in MLS, Villafana had two good years, Hedges certainly looked steady enough to get another call, but he did have several injuries, everyone else JK had looks at. JK was terrible with tactical and strategic parts of the game, but the belief that there were these uncalled difference makers is just false. Last fall people were crying for Villafana to play LB so FJ could play in midfield, even after he’d been benched for his club, just playing his first match in months this week. There were a lot of calls for Agudelo over Wondo, Juan has never scored more than 7 goals in one MLS season, Wondo has had 11 or more in seven straight seasons, Jozy in all three complete seasons he’s played has never scored less than 9.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anthony

        “Howard is extremely intelligent.” I like Tim Howard. I agree he made a bonehead comment without thinking it through. Otherwise, he would have made a better statement that conveyed a clearer massage that he would not have to backpaddle.

        However, Tim Howard is NOT extremely intelligent. He has NEVER showed me anything to show that he is extremely intelligent. He is a jock. Want another example, look at the conclusions he drew about Brad Freidel with limited evidence. He is what he is, and extremely intelligent is not one of them.

        Like

    • Ronniet

      @johnnyrazor – but yet JK was inclined to give looks to players from europe that weren’t playing week in and week out(Morales, Green, Gooch) or in the first division of their league(Stanko, Picault, etc). It’s no secret JK favored our euro players over the mls contigent, it was bush league, but it was what it was. Every international manager is entitled to their way of doing things, sadly enough JK’s propensity for players across the water didn’t move the needle and may have been his undoing! MLS is a unique league and the USNT is a unique situation and i think Jurgen lost sight of that correlation and the fabric from which team USA’s success has come.

      Now, before any says i’m discounting the contributions our euro players have made to the USMNT, let me assure you i haven’t. Several of them have been outstanding and major contributors, but all the same JK was far more reliant on them and more prone to give them leeway when they were not playing well, at all, or injured!

      Like

      • johnnyrazor

        Arena used 11 MLS players in each of his two WCs, Klinnsmann used 10, Bradley brought 4 MLS players to the WC.

        In 2002 European based players like Hejduk, Keller, Lewis, Stewart, and Joe-Max Moore all saw limited minutes for their clubs in the season leading up to the WC. John O’Brien played just 30 more matches in the Eredivise after the WC, but received 12 more caps from Bruce Arena including 11 in 2005-06 when he made just 6 club appearances.

        Klinsmann wanted his players to play at the highest level possible, which for most national team caliber players isn’t MLS. However, he called MLS players at virtually the same rate as Arena and an even higher rate than Bradley. He probably can’t come up with a strategy to get out of a wet paper bag, other than to say “express yourself”, but that he didn’t rate MLS players as highly as other managers isn’t true.

        Like

  • Andy in Atlanta

    I think we are all very aware that the comments were made towards guys like Timmy Chandler… Not Jermaine Jones who plays like a lion 90% of the time.

    Like

    • Old School

      Howard’s lack of character and integrity has led to this speculation and criticism. Had he been a man and stated the examples or sources I wouldn’t have lost respect for him.

      Instead he comes off like a skirt.

      Like

    • Anthony

      That is not what came out. I was able to make assumptions, but I shouldn’t have to since there were also US raised players who played like garbage (Omar Gonzalez).

      Like

  • JOHNrh

    It sounds to me that Howard is being disparaging to the sons of American military personnel.

    Like

    • Andy in Atlanta

      Cheap pop.. you mean the American Military personnel that for the most part did not raise any of these guys?

      Like

  • Tim

    There are plenty of American born/raised players who don’t give their all for their national team. It’s about more than just where you grew up. I hope that’s what Tim was getting at, and as much as I’ve read about him in the past leads me to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    If it’s not what he meant, however, then bad on him.

    Like

  • two cents / lowercase letters guy

    The roman empire hired soldiers when it needed bigger armies. trouble was, it found that the hired soldiers just weren’t as good, yeah? i guess it’s because their hearts just weren’t into the fighting, they were just in it for the paychecks, yeah? and i think this is the gist of what howard is saying. so the perception imo has been that these dual nationals are kinda like hired soccer mercenaries and people are just wondering where their hearts are. the dual nationals as a group are going to have to prove themselves, no doubt about that. people are going to wonder if they’re all in, as they say, or just in it for the paycheck, that’s for sure.

    Like

    • Old School

      Rome was the greatest empire for their time, yeah? US Soccer isn’t even in the top 20, yeah?

      The US soccer program hasn’t been near the greatest in anything related to soccer, and with an obvious shallow pool for talent Klinsmann was looking for it across the globe. Something his predecessor did, and didn’t receive criticism for, and something successor criticized but appears to be doing the same thing.

      This isn’t fighting and dying for your country. It’s a soccer game, and the objective is to win. Any manager at the national team post that isn’t aiming for that objective or has himself/you believing they can do anything of note with MLS-based players that are “homegrown” is selling snake oil.

      Like

    • Anthony

      I see what you are getting at, but your historical reference is off. Roman armies were paid and funded by the generals and soldiers got to keep their spoils of war. They would often impregnate and bring their non-Roman wives. Rome fell from as much mismanagement. It stood for about 1000 years (approx 500 BC to 476 AD). Too big to manage, too many incompetent emperors (which started with Julius and Augustus).

      Like

    • Super Nintendo Chalmers

      If Germany thinks it is okay to recruit dual nationals like Podolski and Klose, why are people dismissing it when we do it?

      Like

  • Dr. Offside

    Under Jurgen, the national team often seemed to be going through the motions. The work rate that was one of the team’s strongest points under Bradley and Arena was not there.
    Jurgen spent an inordinate amount of time courting players from outside MLS, including players whose immediate value to the team was questionable. In part, I think, this reflected Jurgen’s naive view that out there somewhere was a superstar who could transform the team. But in part it also reflected a lack of respect for MLS and for players developed in America. Regardless of Jurgen’s motivation, he ended up trying to coax players to play for the US. Julian Green can serve as the poster child for this practice, but he is not the only case.
    Are these two things related? Did the national play without any heart because too many players thought they were doing the US and Jurgen a favor by showing up?

    Like

  • NJ Guy No Longer Stuck in DC

    I think Howard is providing a good window into the team and Klinsmann. I took it as there was a lack of accountability by certain players and Klinsmann; essentially different levels of accountability. Players who see each other every day quickly get to figure it out. Somehow someone who is not performing gets many chances but not others. And if you read Howard’s original comments, he said Arena will bring belief in the shirt. In seriously looking back at Klinsmann’s tenure, do you think he believed in the shirt? He belittled Amercian soccer, American players, their desire work ethic, etc. and when they did well overseas he couldn’t even acknowledge that without a backhanded compliment like that’s unusual for an American.

    Like

    • Anthony

      All Klinsmann said was that he wanted regular players for the USMNT playing at the highest levels they could and ideally Champions League. He said MLS is not the highest level (which it isn’t). I don’t know how old you are, but I have been following the National team since 89/88 from the days of Desmond Armstrong and Paul Caligiuri. I don’t know about Bora and Sampson, but I distinctly remember Arena and Bradley saying the same thing. Brian McBride on ESPNFC even admitted so. He did, however, say, Klinsmann shouldn’t be so public and repetitive about it (know your audience).

      You want the players who have Champions League talent in a top 5 league to be playing at that level so they could get the most out of their talent and (more importantly) play at that level at the highest international level instead of bunkering. Klinsmann also had a higher percentage of MLS players on his team than either Arena or Bradley (look it up). He also looked at over a 100 players. If there is anything to attack Klinsmann on, it would be (1) changing line ups, (2) giving some players chances not other — all coaches have favorites, (3) tactical naivete.

      All you can say for this comment is (1) Klinsmann had lost the locker room — which happens, (2) Howard again made a broad, ignorant jump with little information — Brad Friedel situation.

      Like

      • NJ Guy No Longer Stuck in DC

        Old enough so that I’d completed my college career by the years you’re talking about and watching the national team for years before that. I take this as insight on how he lost the locker room, just like you said.

        Like

  • Recoveredamishman

    I hope this isn’t a pattern developing in us soccer wherein old warhorses like Howard, Wambach and Donovan, some of the most entitled and protected players in the history of US soccer, start worrying about their places and deal with it by pointing their fingers at the easiest targets, dual nationals who have chosen to play for the USNats. If they want to see who is causing division, they should look in the mirror.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Flagermunsen

    I’d like to know how Howard’s comments help the team qualify? If they can’t help’ zip it. If they help, keep saying it. If I’m competing with the USA for one of these slots, I’d be loving Howard’s comments. So again, how is this helpful?

    Like

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