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Klinsmann unfazed by tough Gold Cup group, planning to bring strongest team possible

Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT 33

photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports 


The U.S. Men’s National Team will need to be sharp from the get-go this summer, and Jurgen Klinsmann is entirely fine with that.

The groups and schedule for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup were announced on Thursday, and the U.S. learned its fate lies in a relatively tough Group A that also includes Panama, Haiti and either Honduras or French Guyana.

With potentially two out of the three opponents being among the top dogs in CONCACAF, the Americans will have their work cut out for them in their quest to successfully defend their Gold Cup title. Yes, the U.S. will play its three group games at home, but it’s not as if Klinsmann’s side has been firing on all cylinders since the start of the new World Cup cycle.

“Right away it puts you on your toes and you have to start the competition focused, concentrated and determined from the first game on,” U.S. head coach Klinsmann said in Philadelphia on Thursday. “Having Panama in there — that you played the final against in the last Gold Cup — and most likely Honduras is very strong teams, and Haiti, we have a close look at them. It’s good, it’s good, because there’s no time to waste at all.”

Especially not with the way the group is set up. The U.S. opens the tournament with a tricky match against 2013 finalists Panama in Frisco, Texas, on July 7, and will likely close its group stage campaign against the talented Hondurans in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 13. Sandwiched in between those games is a meeting with Haiti in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on July 10, which is the only one the U.S. should be heavily favored to win.

The Americans will not be able to afford any slip-ups if they wish to advance from the group and into the knockout rounds in a favorable position, and that is why Klinsmann is planning on bringing his best collection of talent. The U.S. manager has been bringing younger and more unproven players into the fold since the the start of the new cycle, but only the cream of the crop will play this summer as the Americans try lock up a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup by claiming another Gold Cup trophy.

“When you play a Gold Cup, you want to have your best team possible, no matter what,” said Klinsmann. “Yes, you want to win the Gold Cup in order to qualify for the Confed Cup, but we try to develop a national team program that is catching up more and more with the big teams in the world. In order to catch up with the big teams in the world you need to have your best players all the time in camp, if possible.

“For us it’s a little bit challenging with the players being on different calendars. MLS is just starting right now. Meanwhile, the Europeans and the Mexican-based players are going very strong and are in a rhythm. In the summer time it will be a little bit different. The European players have vacation time usually in June right before the Gold Cup. We’ll figure out how we put the puzzle together, but we have our strongest team possible.”

For the U.S. there is a golden chance to assure it will be the CONCACAF representative in Russia in two years’ time. As the winners of the 2013 Gold Cup, the Americans need only to hoist that trophy again this summer to lock up a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup and avoid a play-in game in October.

The chance is there for the U.S., but successfully navigating through a challenging group and surviving the knockout rounds is the only way for Klinsmann’s side to reap the benefits.

“If you play a Confederations Cup a year prior to the World Cup, it’s huge, it just prepares the players so much better for what they can expect, or how it could look like,” said Klinsmann. “A lot of questions are answered that they have going into a totally different country with other cultures and languages and all that stuff. It would be a tremendous plus to play the Confederations Cup.”


  1. Klinsmann is lucky that USMNT isn’t in short supply of really good players. However, he’s got to do better with managing the rotation per match since the current squad tends to play fast and hard in the first 45+ minutes but fizzle out in the second half, both offensively and defensively.

    In addition, USMNT has yet to prove that it can go toe to toe with some of the best in CONCACAF: Costa Rica, Mexico, etc. In my mind, USMNT may have great difficulty beating these squads once they bring in their superstars who are currently playing for European teams.

    But hey, soccer is a pretty unpredictable sport so who knows.

  2. We need to remember that Bradley wasn’t fired merely because he failed to win the Gold Cup; it was how bad the team looked in that tournament generally. In the group stage, they lost to Panama and beat Guadalupe 1-0. In the semis and finals, Adu miraculously played like he was at the U-20 WC and helped them squeak by Panama and go up 2-0 on Mexico in the finals, but then the magic ran out and the wheels came totally off (of course, the Cherundolo injury didn’t help). The only game that tournament in which the US looked reasonably good was the QF win over Jamaica.

    There’s no shame in losing a close, hard-fought game to Mexico (or Costa Rica for that matter) in the final. I wouldn’t fire Klinsmann for that. If the team looks as generally inept as they did in 2011, that’s a different story.

    • To some extent, both Bradley and Arena were fired because each felt a friendship/loyalty/closeness to players who were not as good as they once were. That ability to form and keep those kinds of connections is a wonderful trait in a person. It might be a bit of a liability in a coach who must sever ties with players when better ones come along.

      Of course, it is never easy to judge the point when an ascending talent is now better than the one on the team and jettisoning players before it is time can have a chilling effect on other players and fans. JK does not seem to suffer much from personal loyalties, and does sometimes seem to be a bit too eager to throw aside a proven player for one who looks like he might be the next great thing.

      I do not know the right balance a successful coach must have between exhibiting loyalty to players so that he can get that in return versus the cold rejection necessary to improve the team. Loyalty does tend to be rewarded with teams that will dig deep to offer their best, too much loyalty risks keeping players when others would be better.

      In people, I prefer those who are loyal to their friends.

    • He won’t get fired since he has 110% support of Gulati. But he should at least be questioned on this: if he’s not capable of winning the Concacaf Gold cup after being at the helm this long how does he expect to keep his promise of taking us to the simi-finals in Russia 2018. If you can’t dominate your own backyard how to you plan to come close within reach of conquering the world in 2018?

      • Good points– a few comments.

        I think he has shown he is capable of winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup (we are the holders, you know….), though I do agree this will be a very important benchmark… perhaps much more so than we thought it would be 8-12 months ago.

        Second, the notion of “dominating in our own backyard” is sometimes overstated as far as the Gold Cup. Attendance data very clearly shows Mexico hold the effective “home field advantage” in the Gold Cup. In fact, there is an argument to be made that we are not even second. Here is one evaluation of the historical #’s (see Exhibits 3 & 5, in particular).

      • Be interesting to see if we can jack up everybody in the Gold Cup like we did last time. I think we can, personally; we really haven’t seen anything like a USMNT “A” team on the field for quite some time and most of our big guns were in dismal form after the World Cup.

        The fascinating thing here is that Altidore, Bradley, JJ, and Mix are now in MLS…they’re acclimated to the US time clock and should be – if healthy – in midseason form by then. There’s also a passel of quality MLS guys to choose from this time around…and credit where credit is due, MLS’s talent pool for domestic players is just WAY deeper than it was four years ago. There’s 20+ players that Klinsmann could call up from MLS alone that would make a decent team, supplement them with the Euro guys and the USMNT roster looks quite formidable. Add our Bundesliga cats to this group and it looks pretty durn good, players 1-23.

        I think we’ll be fine. Klinsmann’s got a bunch of bullets in the gun, if he decides to put together a team with the sole purpose of stomping CONCACAF teams. People are getting bent out of shape because we’ve seen “B” and “C” teams go up against European and South American teams – on different continents. He was throwing a bunch of young guys into the deep end and seeing if they sank or swum; this is very different.

      • This may shock you.. but I agree.

        If anything, I think the biggest challenge for Klinsmann may genuinely be figuring out who his “A” team really is, particularly the formation and starting XI. I think we’ll learn a lot about this in the March-June friendlies. The time for experimentation is winding down, and it’s time to take what we’ve learned and and focus on identification of the ideal”first group” for the Gold Cup and beyond.

        So many intriguing questions…. many of which originate at the back. Does anybody in the back line have a spot locked down? (Jones perhaps…. if he is indeed deployed as a defender) What to do with F. Johnson, who went from surefire starter to forgotten man, but now appears to be returning to form. Yedlin? Garza? The logjam at CB?

        Gonna be a very interesting few months in the buildup, for sure. Really hope we can stay healthy(ish) and learn as much as possible.

  3. Very interested by the standard Klinsmann will be hled to if things do not go the USA’s way. Especially following the firing of Bradley. Also wondering about World Cup Veterans who have fallen by the way said. Yedlin doesnt dress, Green doesnt dress for a relegation team, Besler/Zusi have fallen so far form wise, Jones will not be playing CB, Johnson hardly plays. Of course these things can change, but if they don’t will we see Klinsmann stick to his favourites or choose players in form?

  4. Tough group? Really? How about this group: Germany, Portugal, & Ghana. No matter how you wanna spin it we got out of this group last year. We shouldn’t have to worry about getting out of this years GC group.

  5. If these games were on the road, they could be tough, not in U.S. I was at the last Panama game and Los Canaleros offered zero offensively. A young squad perhaps, but it would be a major upset for them to steal a draw. They did beat El Tri twice last time, but I need to see more from this squad. Haiti? Get outta here, Yanks win by 4-5 goals. Los Catrachos could still a point, but there is no reason the Yanks don’t win this group. The knockouts with CR and El Tri would be interesting. If they can’t at least make the final, JK should be on the hot seat.

    • They get a softie cause they will come right from Copa America and CONCACAF don’t want any surprises that could trumple a US-MX final.

    • Just luck of the draw nothing else. The opposite has happened in the past. In the sub-17 and sub-20 qualifiers this year the U.S. ended up in the way easier of the two groups in both. It’s just the luck of the draw nothing sinister behind it.

  6. “tough Group A that also includes Panama, Haiti and either Honduras or French Guyana”

    It is the OR that is important, Panama, Haiti, and French Guyana is not th egroup of death….

    • he won’t be, because A) his boss at the time pursued him three times for the job as the top choice, b) his boss at the time is still his boss and C) see A&B

      also, the fans who like to feel better about themselves by the virtue of having a USMNT coach who was a world class player once-upon-a-time (as opposed to tangible evidence from the field) won’t be pushing for an ouster like they did with Bradley because of a litany of excuses that will be unveiled upon a failure to perform: too many new faces in the team, players hadn’t adapted to a new system, players need to perform as the coach asks them to do and play with desire, grit, hustle, moxie, fortitude, coach doesn’t have the world class talent to work with that is needed to win, a tough group, Mexico is tougher than ever, CONCACAF tougher than ever, solar flares, lunar eclipse…

      • Sure sure. There will also be guys like you who will call for his ouster even if they win it all but didn’t play with enough style or labored a little to score. All evidence pointing to progress in a transition that isn’t complete and the result itself will be ignored because favorite players in the old guard weren’t called into the team or because player #23 didn’t deserve it to be there.

      • This. At some point we’ll realize that Klinsmann is a mediocre coach with a big ego, and that we had better coaches in Arena and Bradley.

      • Of course, if winning is all that matters – JK had a better winning percentage than both and became the leader in wins for a Nats head coach quicker than BB and Arena. To say nothing of how many “firsts” we’ve already watched.

        People continue to hate JK for reasons other than managing. That’s a personal issue, not a national team coach issue.

      • ARENA

        130 USMNT games

        • US winning % 57.69
        • Career Overall 52.72


        80 USMNT games

        • US winning % 53.75
        • Career Overall 49.48


        61 USMNT games

        • US winning % 55.74
        • Career Overall 56.83

        Interpret these numbers as you wish.

    • hopefully we win and don’t have to listen to these quick logic statements.

      it would take a lot more that a loss in the final to talk USSF out of Jurgen’s contract! keep in mind that USSF were recruiting Jurgen years ago. Bob, all respect to him!, was an interim coach who achieved his way into a full time job but as soon as we started to stagnate and Jurgen was willing they made the move and gave him a very generous contract & title. USSF is completely on board with his long term plan and I really don’t see any coach close to his level in the US yet. Bringing in a international coach after Jurgen would be interesting but I doubt that the direction USSF wants to go without a year or two of planning.

      • Beto and Diego ….ever hear of a guy named Bruce Arena

        He would have a better long term plan in his sleep than this phony we have in there now. Looks like you two and Gulati are the only 3 that do not get what a phony he is

        If you do not think Arena would have a better long term plan I feel sorry for you.

        By the way………….TELL ME WHAT JKs LONG TERM PLAN IS.

      • Why do you think Bruce would have a better long term plan than anyone else? How did that long term plan work out for him in his second World Cup?

        Arena is a very good manager but he would have the same problem that BB and JK had/have, the player pool.

        Arena, BB and JK all have very a similar winning percentage for their USMNT managing careers.

        There is a reason for that.

      • I am talking about a long term plan for developing players in THIS country, not some fictious, hypothetical place that JK lives in

        He is also the TECHNICAL DIRECTOR

        1) Please tell me you don’t think JK would have a better plan than Arena. I have spent a lot of time around this man and I will tell you he would have a much better plan than JK
        hahahaha Donovan…where rich kids like me can pay to play on nice fields against kids my own age? hahahahaha

      • Nobody doubts Arena is a great coach. He is also completely irrelevant. Unless given your apparent special knowledge of the guy, you happen to know he is interested in coming back…. ?

        As for JK’s development project, there is plenty of information written on this…. dozens of pieces by full-time professional journos. Go have a google…. I’m not wasting an hour doing your research for you,

      • You don’t want to waste your time because you know that he has NO PLAN for developing players.
        I read all of your posts and you are very naive about soccer

      • Cabanas

        So because the Bruce is your buddy suddenly that qualifies him to be Technical Director for the US?
        The USSF have a voting body of about 15 voters. The majority of those people had to agree to fire Arena the last time and I think a lot of them are still there. Oh, and apparently a lot of them are still quite strongly behind JK:

        Why would they re- hire the guy whose original vision they rejected by hiring JK in the first place?

        If they thought so much of him before they would have kicked him upstairs to Technical Director and made BB the senior team manager.

        And as other’s have pointed out. JK’s plan, such as it is, is out there . Just get off your ass and look it up.

      • I did look up the Board of Directors and it shows you know nothing.
        I counted 17 people including Gulati who knows less about soccer than you.
        He controls the entire board so if you think that there is a knowledgable group of people making vital decisions about the future of this game in this country you are wrong.
        The JK hire was all plotted by Gulati.
        Btw on the Board of Directors is Donna Shalala who was on Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Health and president of U of Miami during some of their most embarassing moments as a FOOTBALL program. Now there is a real soccer voice!! Secondly, there is a kind elderly lady on the board who I actually know and like but knows NOTHING about the game and it is utterly shocking that she makes value decisions regarding the game in this country. So now you get off your a++ and list for me 10 initiatives that your boy Klinsi has brought to the table as TECHNICAL DIRECTOR. Good luck with this one soccer mom

      • Cabanas

        So because the Bruce is your buddy suddenly that qualifies him to be Technical Director for the US?
        The USSF have a voting body of about 15 voters. The majority of those people had to agree to fire Arena the last time and I think a lot of them are still there. Oh, and apparently a lot of them are still quite strongly behind JK:

        Why would they re- hire the guy whose original vision they rejected by hiring JK in the first place?

        If they thought so much of him before they would have kicked him upstairs to Technical Director and made BB the senior team manager.

        And as other’s have pointed out. JK’s plan, such as it is, is out there . Just get off your a++ and look it up.

      • oh boy you really told me by this tough guy statement “get off youra++ and look it up”
        First off Arena is not my buddy
        Secondly, I call you out to tell me about the PLAYER DEVELOPMENT project JK has….c’mon mr. know it all…list them for me or shut up

      • Like I said, get off your posterior and read JK’s latest interviews over the last couple of weeks on your computer.

        You can eat while you do that for a few hours..

      • When it comes to Bruce Arena fans tend to remember 2002 WC, which was a success, but tend to forget his 2006 WC, which was a disaster. In 2006, the USMNT finishing last in their group and scored only twice in three games. No disrespect to Arena for what he has accomplished, but I don’t think that he is the future coach.

      • Nor would Arena want the job. He has total control over the best club team in North America. He lives in a nice climate near his granchildren. He gets paid a lot. Some guys don’t want the headache, and Arena has nothing left to prove.

      • JKs long term plan is vague generalities about sports and culture and then you roll the ball out and let the players try to figure it out.

        It didnt work at Bayern, so I am sure it will work in the US because we have so much more talent than Bayern…

    • I am so glad we all have such a positive outlook for this tournament. How about we let it play out and make our judgement afterwards. Do you really dislike him that much that you hope we lose a tournament just so that he will be fired. Go Team!!!!! Oh no I only root for the team if I like the coach? I agree that you would have some ammunition if they fail to win especially if they bring their best players. You would have ammunition if he uses this tournament to blood new players instead of securing a Confederations Cup spot. Actually even if they lose they get to have a playoff for a spot because they won the last Gold Cup 2013(BTW who coached that team). If there are Klinsi apologists who have “endless excuses” then there are detractors who will have a reason to dislike him no matter what the results are. “Yes we got out of the group of death but if Landon was there we would have beaten Belgium”, “Yes we got out of the group of death but we are not playing the beautiful game.” “Yes we got out of the group of death but have only won 1 out of 7(meaningless game) since the world cup” actually as I look back we didn’t even get out of the group of death the other teams let us through.

      As for the CONCACAF it is the same that it always has been…the third weakest region in WC qualification. Mexico might have the best talent but as a team they are lacking. Costa Rica has talent, great coaching and for that they are the team on the rise in the CONCACAF and a team to watch as we go forward.

      For now I am going to root for our team and not against our coach.

      • Just to correct 2 things ours was not the not the group of death the one Costa Rica was in was. Secondly, Pinto has left Costa Rica and the ex-player Wanchope is now the coach so who knows how he will handle the situation. Pinto is now with Honduras and attempting to do the same with them that he did for Costa Rica.

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