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The SBI Show: Episode 112 (Talking Klinsmann’s latest comments, Americans Abroad, and more)

JurgenKlinsmannUSMNTBosnia1 (ISIPhotos)


Jurgen Klinsmann is known to be a big motivator, and he’s also known to speak his mind, so perhaps it should have come as no surprise when he turned heads with recent comments about a lack of belief being what is keeping Americans from finding more success in Europe.

Episode 112 of The SBI Show takes a closer look at those comments, and what might have been the motivating factors behind Klinsmann’s comments.

Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also discuss a brutal weekend for Americans Abroad, as well as the latest news on the MLS landscape. We also answer your questions in the latest SBI Show Q&A.

Give Episode 112 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump:

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What did you think of the show? Agree with our take on Klinsmann’s comments? Worried about the squad he will trot out against Ukraine?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. anyone else have to constantly reload the page because the show just stops playing? i’m 10 minutes in and have had to do it twice.

  2. Klinnsman is pissed because he miscalculated how MLS and Garber would respond to his constant dissing of MLS; MLS went out and bought players to bring the USMNT to MLS. How could MLS and Garber sit idly by while the coach of the USMNT dumped on their league? They couldn’t, that would be bad business, so they have done what they have done in large part to respond to Klinnsman’s constant flow of negativity to MLS

    frankly, if Klinnsman wanted all these guys to be in Europe instead of MLS his approach here has backfired and has instead resulted in these players playing in MLS, not the opposite.

    • I agree with some of your point that bashing the MLS doesn’t help his cause….but you seem to be avoiding the fact that if US players leave top European leagues…the competition they face diminishes.

      You really think his plan had anything to do with players moving to the MLS? If so, how?

      • come on, my vision is not so myopic as not to see that…not avoiding any facts.

        and no, I don’t think his plan had considered this possible response from MLS in a World Cup year nor considered this result, my point.

    • Mr. bum,

      “they have done what they have done in large part to respond to Klinnsman’s constant flow of negativity to MLS “

      That implies they might not have done the moves if JK constantly praised MLS.

      I guess that means Clint and Mikey have JK to thank, in part, for their new found financial security.

      That’s a lot of money “to respond to his constant dissing of MLS”.

      And somewhat ironic considering JK has constantly championed a much higher level of regular involvement by MLS players than BB did.

      A strong USMNT is a positive for MLS but if Garber and MLS have a slightly different vision of how the USMNT gets better than JK does I doubt they care.

      Garber used to work in the NFL the ultimate “ It’s just business” league..

      • I do think it’s ironic but not because of why you do

        re. It’s just business…I totally agree.

        “but if Garber and MLS have a slightly different vision of how the USMNT gets better than JK does I doubt they care.”…disagree, they very much understand the significance of being heavily involved with the USMNT and want in badly

      • Mr bum,

        When I say I doubt they care I should explain that I doubt MLS care what JK thinks.

        It would not surprise me if MLS would prefer to have JK under their control.

        National team managers typically have a give and take situation with their home FA’s but I doubt JK or any credible manager would stay in the job under those conditions.

      • thanks for clarification GW.

        I think MLS would like a working relationship of mutual benefit (build the league and so the USMNT) and so does Klinnsman (build the USMNT and so the league) so maybe their idea of what is mutually beneficial may differ?

        anyway, can still see the management team around the MLS table discussing their brand and perceived threats and determining to take many actions

    • You don’t know what you’re talking about beachbum. Klinsmann has been supportive of MLS not negative and his approach did not backfire. Yes, he wants his players playing in Europe against the best, but it’s not his fault Seattle and Toronto offered Dempsey and Bradley big money that that they could not turn down.

      • I didn’t say he was unsupportive El Cap. I said his constant dissing backfired. I disagree MLS would have thrown all that money at these guys without that dissed environment Coach constantly throws down re. MLS.

        who doesn’t know?

      • No, what the hell are you talking about? How is saying the truth VERY negative? JK has said many times that MLS has improved, but it’s not not up to par with the top leagues in Europe which is the truth and not negative at all.

  3. here’s what Arsene Wenger has said about the US players:

    “The Americans have shown they are a resilient bunch. Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said:
    “They always try to play football to speed up the game and pass the ball well,
    And they have the mental strength that the Americans have when they are down, capable to come back from 2-0 down to 2-2 in a World Cup. That’s not easy. They have good mental qualities.”

  4. I think the microphone sounds better, but Ives still seems to fade in and out a little bit. As far as us feeling jealous, Garrett can take his nice weather in Phoenix, but I’ll take the climate in Colorado any day. And what an incredible ski season we’ve had this year so far. Tell me about the ski season in phoenix, Garrett 😉

  5. Meh, this isn’t travel league. These are men – American men. Everyone knows that this sterotype has been out there since forever. Now your coach has just remined you of it on the eve of a big tounament. He’s set the stage with the challenge. It’s up to our lads to put on their big boy pants (regardless of where they play) and meet the challenge headon and start the beginning of the end of that nonesense, or complain about the hurtful words.

      • Well we don’t have be boisterous about it – which we normally are not so, yeah I see what SAF meant. Still doesn’t mean that JK was off on his points though.

  6. I have been reading a lot about the reasons why Dempsey and Bradley transferred to the MLS and I have noticed that many feel that they left for only the money. While that is a huge carrot for sure, I think that they were also staring at the real possibility of fighting for very few playing minutes with their respective teams; which concerned and worried them of losing their form and touch. As you know, touch comes with routine game time minutes. so, with that very real concern, AND a few months before the BIG Dance, they figured that they would have a very high chance of playing in most games to get (and maintain) their game fitness and touch. Also, I feel that they have learned how to prepare themselves and train hard already-be professional etc. Also, They also may have guessed that this is their last swan song for the USMNT; eventhough Bradley is only 26. the next WC, he will be 30-31 or so. Will he still be able to paly at the high level that he knows is necessary? Who knows? So, Bradley opted for the time now to get is BIG paycheck, maintain his game fitness and touch for the WC.

    • Not to mention a hankerin’ for peanut butter and shoo-fly pie! I love Italian food, and even good English pub grub, but after a few years abroad, “coming home” has some positive intangibles as well!

  7. Ives, I hear what you’re saying with your article. However, I think there is a lot to Klinsmann saying that our players lack the belief to accomplish great things. Who could forget Landon Donovan, draped with an American flag, crying on camera…after an Algeria match…group stage…in a game we were favored to win easily. We were emotionally spent after that match, and the players seemed satisfied with getting out of the group.

    Fair enough. I get that no one expects the Americans to win the World Cup. But if the players don’t believe they can, we never will. Ever.

    • I remember Michael Ballack sitting in the ESPN studio discussing the up-coming knock-out stages of the last European Championships. Ballack said,…”I can’t wait for the Germany Spain match.” Mind you,….that match-up was only going to happen in the final. Point is, Ballack was sitting there assuming that Germany and Spain had already won out and would meet in the final. Problem was that Germany lost.

      Ballack gave us a great view into the German psyche,….arrogant, overconfidence,….not to mention a heavy dose of stupidity. Not sure i want the USMNT to adopt those qualities.

      • That’s one way to look at this. It’s a tightrope walk, isn’t it? Sometimes you are confident and sometimes you are arrogant.

        Everyone can adopt tose abilities. If there was a grid-iron WC would it be arrogant, overconfident and stupid to EXPECT the US team to be in the final?

      • Kosh,

        “If there was a grid-iron WC would it be arrogant, overconfident and stupid to EXPECT the US team to be in the final?” — No,….because no one else in the world plays American Football. Canada maybe. Germany is not the only country in the world which has adopted soccer as its national past-time and excels at it. For example,….Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Holland,…England (just kidding!..they invented the game but don’t excel at it,….if you are English you already know that.). So your analogy is weak.

        I understand where you are coming from on the confidence point,….there is a fine line. The Ballack story may give you a little insig into Klinsman’s sense of how things work in football.

      • Agreed BrianK and the NFL arguement was a bit too extreme but THAT is how the BIG nations think. We can call it arrogance but that is the kind of attuitude that gets you to the top. Why? Because all of your competition – like you listed – have the skills and capabilities so in the end it’s the add-ons that will get you over the top. Belief is one of those and it is huge we see it at the top level of every sport. It’s the theme in every sport movie.

        Heck Miracle on Ice (the movie and real life)…which I hopes plays out again in 2018 by the way. 😉

      • But I do want the USMNT to have a mentality of “We can beat them, we just have to play our game” not more leaning towards the “We just need play our best ball” like it is now.

      • If we don’t adopt another mentality, we can just staying in a position of not competing against other top countries.

        Germans are confident because they always compete at the top level…which USMNT sadly does not.

      • Ya, they lost but Germany still got third. It’s not like he was totally off the mark… It was neither overconfident or stupid. Germany gets to the Semis its what they do. It was crazy arrogant though.

    • some context Gabe since your post lacks it

      -first time the US ever won the last group stage game? vs. Algeria
      -first time in 60+ years the US won their group? vs. Algeria
      -Opposing coach stating his team would be representing all of Islam? vs. Algeria
      -stoppage time goal scored by LD that took US from elimination to winning the group? vs. Algeria

      and LD shouldn’t wear the flag after that? it reveals his belief and commitment and pride, not lack of belief or any other spin doctor BS

      • Gabe is right though that the players were emotionally spent after the game and that hurt them against Ghana.

      • Gabe is right and you are wrong beachbun. Even the man himself (JK) said in the ESPN broadcast that the team was emotionally spent after the Algeria game.

  8. I am a huge supporter of Klinsman but I agree that he was wrong to paint American players with such a broad brush. Beyond the points you made in your piece on I would offer another thought.

    Klinsman has always projected himself as a visionary, a facilitator of change, someone who is willing to go against the grain so to speak. What I find interesting is that Klinsman, along with many on this board, seem to be focusing on the downside/negatives of the Dempsey-to-Seattle and Bradley-to-Toronto moves.

    I would have thought that a visionary or someone with a more positive outlook would see the possibilities that such transfers will create:

    1. It is good for the American player psyche to know that they can command top dollar in the world soccer marketplace. Doesn’t anyone think that such moves will boost American players confidence and at the same time put huge pressure,….positive competitive pressure that is, on the players that receive those contracts. Dempsey and Bradley have a lot to live up to for themselves and other American players who aspire to command such contracts in the future. I am thinking it will bring the best out in these two players.

    2. Built into Klinsman’s comments is the assumption that European leagues will always be better than other markets, like MLS. What he is not acknowledging is that the Dempsey and Bradley moves are accelerating MLS’s development and that in short time, it is possible that MLS will surpass many of the European leagues, if it has not already. Look at Italy,…for example. Traditionally one of the great leagues in the world, Serie A has fallen on hard times. Italy’s economy is struggling and several great clubs are quietly living off past glory bargain hunting because the wallet is empty,….think AC Milan. That is not to say that MLS is better than Serie A right now,…but rather it is possible that MLS may,…in the not so distant future, eclipse Serie A because of a number of factors,….macro economic, infrastructure, perception, etc. Another more glaring example,…If you had asked a Scottish soccer fan 20 years ago to envision the SPL being on skid row today,….do you think they would have looked at you as if you were some crazy American? The point is,…in a market driven environment, nothing is static,….there is change and it wrong to assume that things will not change. Furthermore,…change has to start at some point,….and maybe the Dempsey/Bradley moves are the beginning of that change. Klinsman, in this case, is focusing on the near-term and negatives of these moves.

    3. Maybe American players are getting tired of being branded ‘sub-par’ because they are American. It was laughable how the Clint Dempsey transfer (Fulham, Liverpool, Tottenham) saga dragged out after the season Clint had in 2011/2012. What do you think an EPL club would have payed for an English player who had scored 23 goals from midfield? €30MM? Instead, the clubs were squabbling over €6-9MM for Clint. There was clearly prejudice at work. Andy Carroll,….£35MM? Are you serious? A quick story from John Harkes’ time at Sheffield Wednesday. Harkes had an excellent season at Wednesady in ’93/’94,….playing multiple positions and demonstrating a superhuman work rate. They reach the FA Cup Final,….and when the line-ups were announced Harkes was starting,….as he had been for most of the season and in critical games. The first thing the announcer says to his color man when he sees the line-up,…”are you surprised the American is starting?” So maybe it is time for American soccer to be bold and confident and change the paradigm! Forget the old world and their prejudices and simply leave them behind. We can build beautiful stadia, pay high wages and put fannies in the seats and move on. Maybe Klinsman is wrong but right,…maybe American players should show confidence in themselves and not worry that they are not playing in Europe and develop the game in North America. Isn’t that what Landon Donovan has said all along? Maybe is 5-10 years,…many of the worlds best players will be flocking to MLS.

    Disappointed with Klinsi’s comments on this front.

    • I don’t think anyone, including Klinsmann, is saying that MLS won’t be very strong one day, and that it’s not a good investment to grow the league. All of his comments still stand. Should our young players remain in a weaker league until then? No. As an MLS fan, you may want as many good players here as possible but he is concerned primarily with our national team. Considering this, can you not see why he is concerned?

      Everyone here is looking forward to a strong domestic league. We have come far, but we have a looooong way to go. You can’t just sign some big time players and have it magically happen.

      • Napoleon once said to his generals/engineers that he needed trees along the Champs Élysées to provide shade for his marching soldiers. A general responded by saying that would take years to plant and grow the trees,….to which Napoleon responded,…”Yes,…that is why we must start today!”

  9. I think it’s as simple as you say Ives, and am not sure why you have to take it further. Klinsmann, along with most rational USMNT fans, are concerned that Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey are setting the wrong example for the younger guys, especially now that their job is to REALLY sell the MLS every time they are interviewed. They made their decision, fine, whatever, some people love it, some hate it, but Klinsmann wants to ensure that the talented younger generation does not now feel like staying in MLS is always the best thing for their development. He was clearly speaking to them, and not Bradley or Dempsey. That do obvious when you read his comments. What is the problem?

    • The problem is painting the entire player pool with a broad brush. If he wanted to make a statement driven by Dempsey-Brdaley, he should have had the guts to point them out specifically, not paint the entire player pool with a broad brush. It was a misstep on his part in my opinion. He’s still a good coach, and has still done a good job, but for me, on that one, he got it wrong. Folks are more than welcome to disagree, but it’s just funny when I hear people “disagree” then make statements that aren’t at all what I took issue with. I agreed with a lot of the things he said, as would most, but he lost his way when he threw the “American players lack belief” thing. Can’t paint a group of players with a broad brush like that.

      • I see what you are saying Ives, but I have to disagree with you on this one, as I see where JK is coming from. Stars in Brazil, Argentina and now even from Africa and some Estern European countries go for big bucks and with that the image and perception that they are top players and find themselves in big squads palying the big games. American players, even our very best, don’t have that kind of pull and it’s easy to summize that with that comes some amount of doubt. It’s a perception thing and I am not saying it’s right – it’s a sterotype and I can see how someone who comes from a BIG soccer nation can see American players – with all of their ability and drive but not being part of big squads – as having a lack of belief (doubt) in their ability.

        I see where you are coming from and you have more of an understanding of the mindset of the American player but I also see where JK is coming from and find his reiteration of that general impression, that image, of the Aremtican player justified and on point. It’s unfair and in most cases untrue but this is how the rest of the world sees the American player right now. heck there are American fans who see their own players that way as well. This is not to say JK believes in that, it’s just that he’s saying what the majority of us believe to be true (not saying that it is).

        Now as JK also said, you go out there and do your thing and prove the doubters wrong than that perception tends to waine and our giys will be given the fair shots they deserve – then you’ll see our guys as regulars on Teusday and Wednesday nights.

        I have no beef with the statement and don’t think it’s out of place. It’s a challenge – prove ’em wrong, which is something Americans are most adept at doing.

      • You’re portraying Klinsmann’s comments as him saying that’s the perception in Europe. He said it as HIS opinion. If he’d said “the perception in Europe is Americans lack belief” that would have been MUCH different than what he actually he said. He said it speaking as it was HIS view that Americans lack belief, which is a strange thing to say for the coach of the U.S. national team. I get that people want to turn his comments into some zen maneuvering to movitate players, but I frankly think that’s a serious stretch and weak attempt at rationalizing what was an overboard generalization.

        It’s not a HUGE thing, not the end of the world, just think he got it wrong this time. The folks getting all worked up about it as if he can do no wrong are a bit much. Want to disagree? That’s cool. Just don’t come with the mock outrage or talk of it being some “attack” on Klinsmann because I thought he got it wrong. Not referring to you BTW, just speaking in general based on some of the responses.

      • The thing is, Ives, is that Klinsmann has always been super-critical of his teams. He also questioned the German team ahead of the 2006 world cup, saying that they had the talent, but didn’t have the hunger necessary to go out and win a tournament like the World Cup. It’s the same thing here with the United States team.

        It seems you are interpreting the “generalization-ness” of his comments too strongly. While the comment could have been directed, and is certainly most applicable to, Dempsey and Bradley, I think it applies to more players than it doesn’t. Tim Howard is pretty content at Everton, but couldn’t harm himself to make a push at a better club. Omar Gonzales and Matt Besler could really benefit from international football experience, but they stay in MLS. I understand there are contracts in place, but it would be nice to hear about them at least undergoing a trial somewhere in Europe during the offseason. Klinsmann is thinking, these guys are good where they are now, but how can they challenge themselves if they get content? Not too many counter-examples come to my mind – maybe Agudelo, who has really started to apply himself at FCU and has a certain swagger. Stuart Holden certainly has the heart of a lion and all the belief in the world.

        I don’t think we want Klinsmann to be as specific as you wish him to be. Calling people out is the sure way to divide a locker room, especially when you are dealing with veteran players and locker room leaders. We are 6 months away and you don’t want to raise more questions than answers.

        I could instead take real issue with your claim that the Americans have a lack of talent. That simply isn’t true. Why are we ranked 13th in the FIFA rankings? Because of a lack of talent?

      • Using the FIFA rankings to support your argument isn’t exactly a great move. The FIFA rankings are a joke.

        We’ll agree to disagree.

      • It’s just a metric. Whether it’s a joke or not, I can use the ELO rankings (in which we’re also 13th), or the success we’ve had over Italy, Germany and Bosnia, and they still support my argument. FIFA has their opinion too, and I agree that it’s difficult to respect their opinions. But your site still enjoys reporting on the rankings, doesn’t it?

      • It’s a conversation starter. And as I’ve said many a time, the USA is more than the sum of its parts. Back to the original point, USA does have some talent, there’s no denying that, but I disagree that the key thing that holds American players back from Champions League success is their own lack of self belief. You can go ahead and think that.

      • Thanks for your replies, Ives. I look forward to learning a little bit more about where you’re coming from. I think, at the very least, you have stimulated a great deal of worthwhile discussion.

      • Ives, these aren’t children…not sure why you feel you need to stick-up for them.

        Klinsmann seems to be trying to challenge the US mentality about soccer. If the mentality doesn’t change, we are not getting the most out of our players and competitive level.

      • It’s not about “sticking up for” anybody. It’s about believing Klinsmann missed the mark with his comments. You can agree, or disagree, but it’s really that simple.

  10. I’m not sure that I would trust the public story that athletes give during press conferences and interviews about their reasons for joining new teams, especially while trying to convince the national team coach that they should be going to Brazil. A whole host of variables matter in making decisions about joining lesser teams, and I think that Klinsmann’s narrowing in on a lack of belief as being one of those variables is accurate, although not the only variable that matters. Everyone lacks belief to a degree Ives, and to say that Bradley doesn’t lack any belief is silly. Did he believe he could one day join Real Madrid? Not likely. Most players that believe that they could make it onto an even better team in Europe would stick around in Europe and work towards that goal. Bradley, at 26, still in his prime, is letting down the national team because MLS isn’t going to improve his skills and Champions League quality players and players on World Cup winning teams strive towards self improvement.

    • “Bradley, at 26, still in his prime, is letting down the national team because MLS isn’t going to improve his skills and Champions League quality players and players on World Cup winning teams strive towards self improvement.” —– Wow! Letting the USMNT down by signing a lucrative contract?

      Again,…folks are focussing on the perceived downside. How about this,…Bradley signed a record level deal for a USMNT player. He will have to deliver the goods and justify his cost/value. There will be pressure on him to improve and to lead his team on and off the field. Same goes for Dempsey. Furthermore, this will spur other USMNT players to work hard and aspire to this level of commitment from a club like TFC.

      Given how Clint’s situation played out,…I just don’t understand people’s position on this. Dempsey, time and again, proved his worth at Fulham,…but DESPITE his on-field performances he started almost every season as an outsider trying to break into the team. I am not so sure this was justified,…and was rooted in prejudice against American players. And the Tottenham situation was interesting,…not so sure Clint got a fair shake with AVB. So what is Dempsey to do? Keep putting up with the prejudice?

      • “””Letting the USMNT down by signing a lucrative contract?”””

        Mikey’s contract ain’t that lucrative, about the same as at Roma, 800,000 netto per year for 6 years. Or, as it was reported in the Italian press, about a total sum of 6.5 million brutto over 6 years (not 6.5 million per year as reported by the Manti T-eo Fantasy Network, ESPN).

        Furthermore, Mikey was sold for around 10 million USD. Players sold for that amount don’t make 6.5 million per year, FACT.

        Fanboyz are too much on this blog omg.

      • Can you see the bigger picture?

        Any US player that moves from a Europe top league to the MLS will lose the ability to compete at their highest ability.

        It’s not about ‘lucrative’…that’s a sell-out position that doesn’t improve the USMNT ability to compete.

      • Chad,

        Easy for you to say. Ks are the reality and TFC dropped big money on Bradley,…and for good reason. Sorry,…but your “sell-out position” is comment bullsh$t.


        Well someone is right and someone is wrong about the facts. I understand it to be $6.5MM per year. That is a lucrative contract. Pretty sure that was confirmed by a number of sources, including Ives.

      • Brian K, then what do you call it? You seem to be worried about USMNT players personal life instead of the competitive level of the team and players.

        I guess ‘BS’ is actually addressing the real issues instead of coddling the players.

      • Mr. K,

        “Given how Clint’s situation played out,…I just don’t understand people’s position on this. Dempsey, time and again, proved his worth at Fulham,…but DESPITE his on-field performances he started almost every season as an outsider trying to break into the team. I am not so sure this was justified,…and was rooted in prejudice against American players.”

        That is a somewhat dramatic exaggeration. If he was so poorly treated at Fulham he seems to have an awful lot of love for the place given where he went on loan.

        Clint spent 6 seasons at Fulham. There are 38 league games
        Throw out the first season as a learning experience.

        The next 5 seasons Clint averaged, per season, 43 appearances across all competitions and averaged 11.8 goals.

        In the league he averaged 34 appearances and 9.8 goals

        If you compare Clint’s average season numbers with similar figures for non American guys like Dembele, Murphy, and Hangeland, all important Fulham regulars you will find the rate of appearances is similar.
        None of us can say what Clint’s various managers were thinking. If, at the beginning of the season they were thinking everyone has to prove themselves all over again, I have no problem with that.

        The numbers suggest to me that if Clint did indeed “start every season as an outsider trying to break into the team” it sure did not take him very long.

        The numbers suggest he was a season long ever present.

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