Top Stories

SBI Thursday Rewind: Donovan bashes Klinsmann; USMNT set for influx of youth; and more

Landon Donovan


If Landon Donovan’s chances of returning to the U.S. Men’s National Team were small after coach Jurgen Klinsmann cut him from the 23-man World Cup squad, they were even smaller by Thursday morning. Speaking to reporters at Los Angeles Galaxy training, Donovan all but said Klinsmann was the reason the USMNT failed to improve on their 2010 World Cup result, insisting that the players “were not set up to succeed.” He also took aim at how Klinsmann used Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey and called the knockout stage loss a missed opportunity to grow the sport.

Meanwhile, Klinsmann appeared ready to look ahead to 2018 by Thursday. Speaking to reporters, Klinsmann said veterans from this cycle won’t be called up for upcoming friendlies. Instead, young and new players will be brought in to be evaluated in the tough USMNT environment while the vets can stay with their clubs.

And Matt Besler, who played a starring role in the USMNT’s defense in Brazil, has reportedly attracted interest from clubs overseas, with a decision on a possible move coming in the next week and a half.

Here is a rundown of all the stories featured on SBI today:

Donovan: Tactical plan to blame for U.S. World Cup loss

Klinsmann planning on going with USMNT youth movement in coming months

MLS Ticker: Besler attracting ‘enormous interest’ overseas; Castillo suspended; and more

Midday Ticker: Kroos set to sign for Real Madrid; Liverpool want increased bid for Suarez; and more

Chivas USA tops San Jose for second straight win

Cropper signs new 1-year deal with Southampton

Holden to remain with Bolton while continuing rehab



    • I’m not sure that is what the article really said… and I’m not sure I buy into a theory that predicts Iraq will become a world soccer power…

  1. Reality check….USMNT , in quality of play, is closer to that of Australia than to Germany or Belgium. The Socceroos were fit and and had a “never say die” attitude–like the USA. Like Australia, the USA will very likely qualify for the 2018—but again, like in Brazil, the talent differential between USA and top Euro and SA sides will be obvious.
    It was exciting to watch the USA in their successful Brazil run, but at the same time plain as day that we are a second tier soccer nation—and that is unlikely to change by 2018.

    • And there you have it, until the best American athletes turn to soccer the US will have enormous difficulty reaching elite status. Right now the overwhelming majority of the best young athletes drop soccer for football, baseball, basketball and hockey. MLB MVP Andrew McCutchen was a youth soccer player. Tremendously gifted athlete. But like most others he dropped soccer, in his case for baseball.

      There does seem to be an increase in the number of youth soccer players. And maybe with bigger numbers a few more will stick with it. But I don’t believe that at this point elite athletes are turning in large numbers to soccer. More importantly, I don’t think parents of elite athletes are encouraging their kids to stick with soccer. If the trend is in favor of soccer it is very slow and will take decades to have any huge impact.

      Obviously with the lack of big money professional leagues the lure of other sports is not nearly as large with female soccer players. And the American women’s teams have always done very well and should continue to be elite.

      • Like Tony Kornheiser said the other day – USA soccer is the equivalent of a basketball “mid-major” They’ll take down the big guns once in a while, but won’t consistently compete with them for a long time

      • I think you’ve answered your own question, but the key really is understanding that the absolutely longest “lag” in the process will be in the performance of the senior men’s national team at the World Cup. Other countries have an enormous head start on us, and we can’t make that up overnight. Probably, this will take a couple of generations of players (Project 40, for example was, established in 1996 with a goal of turning out a generation of domestically developed talent good enough to win the World Cup withn 40 years. Probably the most realistic view)

        The important thing to recognize is soccer *doesn’t* really compete for the elite athletes as much as has been represented. The body type of a Lebron James or Randy Moss really isn’t conducive to soccer. What is important making sure the 5’7″ kid who has superior athletic talent does not “miss out” on soccer because he was chasing a basketball dream that was never going to happen.

        Achieving this is all about sustaining exposure– Remember that kids in this country are still exposed to soccer as an organized sport at an early age in large numbers. For whatever reason, this has not translated to a sustained interest, with kids “switching off” to other sports as they enter their teens.

        Why does this happen? Historically, it really isn’t that compicated– soccer efffectively dropped off these kids’ radar because we had nothing to give them. No domestic professional league meant no games to take them to. Bare bones TV presence (WC only, really) meant no awareness, no chance to experience the excitement of the EPL on a Saturday morning (when there is no baseball, NFL, hockey, anything…). No media coverage meant no stars, no rivalries, nothing that kids were getting by the boatload from other sports in magazines, etc.

        This has all changed dramatically over the course of a decade. When will we see results? Probably another generation before in finally trickles down to the bottom line — if you regard that as the USMNT’s performance at the WC. But you will see progress much sooner if you relax the targets a bit. Watch the U-17s and you see it. Look at the dominance we have shown in CONCACAF and you see it. Maybe we will see a little hint at the Olympics. Maybe too soon. But it’s happening, and it can’t be reversed. Once you accept that, you’ll see how good the situation really is.

  2. While the overall performance of the USMNT was commendable in 2014, there were some issues with player selection and tactical approach for this WC squad. Not having a clear backup for Jozy (Boyd or even EJ) or a backup for Dempsey as a withdrawn striker or Attacking Mid. left a lot to be desired. Boyd, EJ, or Donovan would have at least allowed the team to keep to the same script after Jozy was injured.
    Not sure if Diskerud & Chandler picked up injuries or not…Same for Johannsson. Considering Diskerud & Chandler never appeared it would explain a lot. Considering Davis’s performance he’s the clearest example of a wasted roster spot.
    IMO if Portugal game had gone differently. If we had won that match, than players could have been rested against Germany (Bradley, Jones, F. Johnson, Dempsey). If rested than perhaps the game against Belgium would have been different. A rested team could have potentially had the energy to retain possession….
    Hopefully JK learns from the mistakes made….And come 2018 the Team/players are more polished, experienced, and able to take it to the opponents.

  3. My dark horses let me down, USA and Mexico. Mexico just got unlucky and they could of gone all the way to the final, and their coach made bad choices with the subs.
    As for USA, kilnsi could of done history and I lost confidence in kilnsi. How can kilnsi , who played top soccer and has German blood, the no mercy blood, can’t make any subs or right moves.
    I said it a thousand times, don’t park the bus, if you do, you need a perfect counter attack and kilnsi didn’t even have a counter attack.
    Why not risk green, johansson and diskerud against Belgium. There was nothing to loose in extra time but kilnsi could of won the game with attacking subs towards the end.
    If you have Howard having the game of his life, and a pretty good defense, why not give your goalkeeper and defense some bright light and life, by helping out Dempsey with green and johansson and diskerud with Bradley.
    Simple as that.
    I also said this before, kilnsi is more of an office guy, he should take over gulatis job but he’s an average coach and “good enough for USA”
    I would like bielsa, mourinho, even ex coach of Mexico Aguirre. USA will never suffer in the goal keeper position or backline, but we need a coach to develop a number 10 and 9 and some wings.
    If kilnsi fails by 2018 he will not be able to live in the US.
    USA has copa America in chile right, copa oro and hopefully they go to confederations cup.
    As for MLS, hire some nfl and nba people to make some MLS commercials to recruit all those rookie fans.

    • I basically agree with you. But not only is Klinnsman getting a pass, he and the team are being PRAISED. Been a weird few days for me seeing all the reaction.

      Anyway, just wanted to add something to what you said. I don’t think we intentionally parked the bus (rewatch the first half against Belgium, where I liked our mentality). The problem was who we had PLAYING. Both Zusi and Bedoya seriously lack quality, and are woeful going forward. That lineup with those two on the flanks killed any chance of springing quality counters or much of anything. I can’t believe people actually think this team is better than prior teams when we haven’t had such a piss poor midfield in ages.

      The Altidore injury played a role (with Klinnsman’s decision to not replace him with a forward) — as well as, let’s be honest — Landon Donovan’s absence. Zusi was AWFUL in every game — he simply lacks quality. But very few want to bring this up since it invariable links back to a certain player’s conspicuous absence. Because, you know, In Klinnsman we trust!

      Our soccer media is embarrassing.

      • He is not getting a pass. Plenty of criticism for the tactics out there in the media. ESPN, Sports Illustrated, NY Times, USA Today, countless blogs. Not sure what you mean.

      • “Tactics” is such an overused term. People seem to think coaches have some ability to play their players by remote control. In my experience, the ones that try to do that are the ones that stifle their players the most – Japan and Russia were probably the most tactically regimented systems in the WC this year, both tried to pass their way into the net, and wound up with zip to show for it. Both teams, you saw a bunch of players afraid to take chances and show individual creativity.

        Soccer is called the “player’s game” for a reason. Ultimately it’s the players making decisions and doing what they do out there…as a manager, you can make the lineup card, you can put in your three subs, you can assign marks for set pieces and assign some general tactical responsibilities – as in, outside backs, you have full license to get forwards, I want this guy man-marked in THIS situation and THAT situation, I want YOU playing higher up the pitch and YOU need to stay tucked in, or playing wider, etc, etc…but if you give guys too many instructions and they have too much to worry about, you’re back to having guys thinking too much and trying to avoid making mistakes, instead of going out and just playing. You can also practice set pieces…and oh, yeah, here’s where Klinsi really seems to shine, because we’ve had plays on in the past at appropriate times that turned my head around. We damn near tied up Belgium with that pass-through-the-wall trick that sprung Dempsey; Dempsey’s touch through was just a half-step too heavy and Coirtois stuffed it.

        Klinsmann’s big gift is man-management and empowerment, giving them license to “express” themselves, and by definition, if you’re doing that, you’re not overcontrolling your players, you’re just picking your lineup and saying: “hey guys, go do what you do.”

        Our “tactics”, such as they were, took a big hit because of Klinsmann’s one big roster mistake – not taking a backup target striker. He took Wondo instead, and sent Terrance Boyd home. We can argue the wisdom of that move all day long (and many will), but ultimately, Wondo got what you want a pure poacher and finisher to get – an open look at goal with just a couple minutes left in the clock.

        Wondo got his look. He just didn’t bury the shot. If he had, USA would have advanced, and Klinsmann would have been judged a genius…and Donovan and everybody else with an axe to grind would have had to have shut their mouth for another week about Klinsmann’s poor “tactics”. Such is the life of a soccer manager.

        WE DIDN’T HAVE THE PLAYERS. We simply don’t have the quality in the final third – and, honestly, the middle third – this time around to advance further than we did. That we got as far as we did with the fourth-most-talented roster in our group, actually, is impressive.

        We weren’t nearly as talented as Belgium. They had the third highest-paid roster at the World Cup, actually.

        We weren’t nearly as talented as Germany. Nobody sane would argue this.

        We weren’t as talented as Portugal. We didn’t have a player remotely equivalent to CR7.

        We weren’t even as talented as Ghana. I like our defenders better, though theirs were serious athletes. But in terms of attacking talent, Ghana’s was arguably the best in the tournament. Those guys were crazy talented at striker and midfielder.

        But Klinsmann’s “tactics” were poor? How?

        Far as I can tell, he failed to bring a backup at one spot – and it bit him. Other than that, he was pretty much pulling golden horseshoes out of his butt all tournament.

      • Good post quozzel, I am not necessarily agreeing that they were poor, only pointing out that JK has not gotten a “pass” from the media.

      • I don’t mind Zusi being there and playing. It was Brad Davis that was the obvious mistake. His one half when he started against Portugal was a disaster, and necessitated an early sub. We needed Donovan. It is absolutely unacceptable that Klinsmann couldn’t make peace with Donovan. By all accounts he is a great teammate and has zero track record of being a problem for coaches. We all know what his weaknesses are but they are not anything that was enough not to include him.

  4. I have a problem with headlines like this. Donovan said Klinsmann’s tactics were a mistake. This is no different than what the talking heads, like Lalas, would say on ESPN. Yet Donovan is now being accused of slamming and bashing Klinsmann. Jeez, European players in such a situation would be saying something like “Klinsmann blew it because he didn’t have me on the squad to put in the winning goal against Belgium.” This is one of the things about the news media I dislike the most–exaggerated headlines in order to create controversy and readership. Let the words speak for themselves and leave out the editorial content from the headline. Proper would have been something like Donovan Says Klinsmann Used Wrong Tactics.

    • It isn’t a problem at all, if LD is fine with being a pundit from here out when it comes to the USMNT.

      • Klinsmann has thrown out more than his fair share of criticism of the US players. If you can’t take it don’t dish is out. Donovan’s criticisms should not be an excuse for keeping him out of any squads, but we know he will never see another one. Shame that the USA’s biggest contributor of all time won’t get the send off he deserves. Klinsmann is going for youth over the next year so he can continue his egomaniacal ways and be in the spotlight with Sunil’s glowing admiration. He couldn’t even wait a few weeks to let us continue to praise our players effort before he announces we won’t be seeing the veterans for a while. Howard, Jones, Besler got too much of the spotlight over their fantastic play I guess. Especially Howard so we’ll be seeing Hamid and Johnson for a while.

Leave a Comment