Top Stories

Klinsmann still focused on having USMNT play more proactive style

Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT 58

photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports


It has been nearly four years since Jurgen Klinsmann took over the U.S. Men’s National Team, but his goal for the Americans remains largely the same.

Since taking over as head coach in July 2011, Klinsmann said time and again that he wants to help the U.S. play a more proactive style. That has been seen at times during Klinsmann’s tenure, but so, too, has has the familiar reactive approach that previous coaches employed.

Klinsmann knows that there is work to be done if the U.S. is to stand toe-to-toe with the stronger nations in the world on a more consistent basis, but he has been encouraged by how things have developed under his tutelage these past four years.

“We’re not sitting back on our heels,” Klinsmann told in a recent Q&A. “We’re trying to play with the big teams. We moved the whole game a little farther up the field. We pressure high now. Step by step, we’re learning how to play out of the back. All these elements are part of a more proactive style.

“But we’re still in the phase of piecing it together. It’s likely to take years.”

Klinsmann’s current deal runs through the 2018 World Cup, and he has already stated that the U.S. team’s goal for the tournament in Russia is to reach the semifinals. The Americans have not accomplished that feat in the modern day – they did back in the first World Cup in 1930 when there were only 13 teams in the competition – but Klinsmann believes his side has what it takes, so long as the Americans learn how to become a “tournament team” and continue to build on the skills they have developed so far.

“The formation doesn’t matter; it’s how you connect every piece together on the pitch, and this is a learning process,” said Klinsmann. “We need to teach everyone to be connected, all the way from the goalkeeper and his defensive line, up to the strikers. There’s a collective movement that you see with teams like Germany and Spain – with the big teams.

“You notice how close and compact they are when they have to defend and how fast they open up when it’s time to attack. You try to teach these elements. These are the things you need to teach to players no matter what system you use.”

In recent months, Klinsmann has trotted out different lineups while giving looks to younger and more inexperienced players like Stanford forward Jordan Morris and Minnesota United winger Miguel Ibarra. Some of that experimentation has come at the expense of friendly results, but Klinsmann is not too bothered by that because he sees this part of the cycle as a “development period.”

Klinsmann is currently gearing the U.S. up for its CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense. Winning that tournament would lock up a berth to the 2017 Confederations Cup, which would serve as a dry run to the World Cup and provide invaluable experience a year before things kick off in Russia.

Klinsmann witnessed at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that the U.S. struggled to keep its tempo as the competition progressed and the opponents got more challenging. He wants to avoid a repeat performance in three years’ time, and is working right now to ensure that the Americans can make a deep run.

“You need to get stronger every game you play, so your curve goes upward and you’re not running out of gas after the group,” Klinsmann told “This is a huge learning curve. It’s technical, tactical and mental. You have to show them what’s it’s all about. You need to be on top of everything not just for six weeks, but for eight weeks, so we’ve started this process already for 2018.

“We will educate and explain to fans, the media and the players – everybody will know that we’re setting a very high goal.”


What do you think of Klinsmann’s comments? Agree that the current U.S. team plays a more proactive style? Still think the U.S. looks like it did before Klinsmann? Think reaching the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup is a realistic goal?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Ian, I am a coach. As a player I am a defensive midfielder who can find open space near the penalty area and curl a shot in the corner. I have been requested by all-star coaches to work with teams. There are no secrets why Germany and especially Brazil have had the success at the World Cup. There are no secrets how Dortmund, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Juventus or Columbus Crew all play compact and relentlessly pursue the penalty area by all means. Any team playing a compact style, regardless of standings, is soccer I like to see. MLS teams are beginning to do it. If all MLS teams, or a majority who continue to play this compact style, it will be less and less important for yanks to go play abroad. There are slight variations to compact play: it can be more vertical or horizontal. Brazil plays a more horizontal version with width. Germany plays more vertical. A fan may not be able to recognize things players and coaches can, but then again, you scratch your head at Klinsy and just wonder. I watch primarily Serie A, but look forward to watching MLS teams like Columbus Crew and others step it up and play compact like nearly every Serie A team does. MLS teams playing compact are fun to watch. When anyone watches MLS games look how often they get numbers forward IN the penalty area. It’s exciting to watch whoever is doing it.

    • mikeg,

      When people talk about playing compact I usually think of the late 80’s, early 90’s MIlan teams under Sacchi and later Capello.

      For those who care just about results those teams won more than a few trophies and I believe Capello had an unbeaten season in there somewhere.

      Without getting into the tactical jargon , if you watched them closely, at their best, wherever the ball was, offensively or defensively, more often than not they seemed to outnumber the opponents, which was what I always thought was the point of playing “compact”.

      And I’m sure JK is well aware of those teams.

  2. Bob and Bruce played compact defense and counter soccer on the wings aka empty bucket. This is a system that limits the offense going forward. This style or system is good if a team is down a player or a team that does not play a playmaker #10 role. Bob and Bruce were too stubborn with the system that ultimately led to there departure. I measure Klinnsman by the US second round world cup match with Belgium. That game exposed the weaknesses of Klinnsman and the USMNT. That Belgium game was ugly US soccer. Oh yeah you can still see Bruce all mighty and the empty bucket still employed by the LA Galaxy today. Give me Greg Berhalter and his compact playing Columbus Crew any day. Some of you still do not have it figured out do to being stuck in the past. Klinnsman is heading in the right direction with compact or connected movement or whatever philosophical way Klinnsy wants to phrase it. It’s one thing to talk….another to walk the walk. No more BS ing the soccer community in the US Klinnsy.

    • Thanks for a great comment, perhaps the best in this thread — because it captures perfectly the difference between a fan’s perspective and a coach’s perspective. You obviously are a soccer connoisseur. You prefer Barcelona to Preston North End, Manchester City to Burnley and so on. As a fan, that’s your privilege and right. You want to see attractive, pretty soccer and you deserve it.
      Coaches, however, are paid to win soccer games. What you didn’t mention is that Bruce and Bob’s teams, despite their not pretty tactics, won a lot of soccer games, perhaps more than the quality of their players merited. Nearly all coaches promise attractive soccer, but the successful ones recognize that you have to do whatever it takes to win. Jose Mourinho does not care whether the fans savor his tactics; he just wants the “W” at the end of the game. And so it should be. In fact, there is almost no evidence that pretty soccer wins more games than ugly soccer. Remember Spain in the last World Cup. And, finally, it seems to me, despite my fairly low opinion of Jurgen, that even he realized this and in key qualifiers his team played much the same way that Bob’s did — because that’s what gave them the best chance to win.

      • If you think that the only advantage to playing attractive soccer is aesthetic, than you’re a noob.

      • “Attractive” is in the eye of the beholder and is a function solely of aesthetics. If you mean attacking soccer or “total” soccer or the short passing game or whatever, then I think the evidence suggests that all such systems can be effective if you have the right players. It also suggests that many other, less “pretty” approaches can also be effective, again if they match the players you have and the competition you face.
        If one form or another of allegedly attractive soccer were the key to success, Spain would have won the World Cup and no one would bunker or play route one.

  3. it does not matter who the coach is until this country’s best athletes ie.. the NBAs the NFLs start playing soccer at a young age with real coaching this country will never be a soccer power.
    the problem is to get real coaching cost big money upwards of 2 3 thousand dollars a year, inner city kids cant afford that but there’s a patch of grass and a hoop around every corner basketball and football are bred in this countrysoccer is not.
    I don’t know how many times I have seen and obviously non athletic type kid who excels on the soccer field because he’s had great coaching($$$$)and the same kid is overweight out of shape and slow,give a truly athletic kid that only plays basketball the same coachingand the USA will rise in soccer.
    but this will never happen because the Coach that could give back to this country are only concerned about money charging $300 and more a head for littlesoccer clinics and whatnot it’s a shame, oh well,at least we still have basketball for now.

  4. Did anybody interpret what collective movement and compact play on offense and defense means? It is the solution and should be foundation of the USMNT for generations to come. This is true for MLS teams too. Getting numbers and penetrating the penalty area as well as defending the penalty area in numbers regardless of formation. Player selection and formations determine how efficient or not compact play will be. Some MLS teams are doing this. Columbus Crew played this way in there last game and got 3 goals attacking the penalty area with numbers. Columbus is a great example of what Klinnsman is talking about in this article. The resident brain trust here did not pick up on it. Klinnsman, if he gets compact play and collective movement a part of the USMNT, then HE improved as a coach.

    • Seriously! What coach anywhere in the world at any level does not want his team to stay compact on defense and to get forward in numbers when possible?

      Jurgen is a pleasant, chatty guy, probably fun to have at a barbecue, but he doesn’t know any more about soccer tactics or team development than his two predecessors or, for that matter, any of the current MLS coaches. And the reason for that is that soccer tactics are really not that complicated. The trick is to match your players with the tactics and get them to execute them properly.

      Bob’s and Bruce’s teams were great at staying compact. They didn’t usually get forward in numbers but it wasn’t that they were trying. It was because they struggled to maintain possession against good teams — much like the current crop of US players.

      Jurgen is probably no worse than the average national team coach and, like I said, a cute guy, but please let’s stop acting like he has the secrets to soccer success in his back pocket.

  5. If the USA could win games by listening to JK rant, we would be number 1. The fact is the talk does not match the results. Wail until he announces the Gold Cup roster. Im guessing 90-95% the same as the WC roster.

    You need to get stronger every game you play, so your curve goes upward and you’re not running out of gas after the group,

    The US never had fitness problems before JK Many think he trains them too hard and burns them out

  6. Klinsmann’s doing exactly what he was hired to do; make people uncomfortable. American players can run all day but are mentally weak. They absolutely need somebody that challenge them to move to the next level.

    • Rob, I see Klinsmann’s “coach speak” works wonders on you. Most of the things he says can easily be classified as abstract non-sense. What the US needs is:

      1. Better players that are more gifted in the technical/skill side of soccer. This is something Klinsmann can’t help with.

      2. Needs a coach that does a great job of getting the most of the players he has, and puts them in tactical positions to win. Basically a good “game-planner”. This is something that Klinsmann can help with but has struggled with at times.

      The USMNT coach is supposed to be a coach, not a motivational speaker. I know that motivation and mentality is definitely a part of the job, but JK seems to focus on that way too much. Just like he focuses too much on fitness (a USMNT strength), instead of what we desperately need to focus on, which is technical ability. Lets not forget that there have been rumblings from US players in the past complaining that JK and his staff focus too much on fitness and that they hardly do any work with the ball.

      • I see you avoided my main point and, do you really think the national team coach can do something about the players technical abilities in the very short time he spends with them? I don’t know what to say about that.

      • How did I avoid your point? I am pretty sure I addressed it (mentality). How did you miss that?

        Let me make it easier for you. What you said in your sentence above are pretty much Klinsmann quotes: “make players uncomfortable”, “challenge their mentality”, “push them to the highest level”. You didn’t come up with this on your own. That’s why I said that JK’s coach speak works wonders on you. He wasn’t hired to “make people uncomfortable” as you say. He was hired to improve the national team and win games, same as every other coach.

        He can improve how the National Team plays together. The more work they do in training (limited of time or not) with the ball the better they will mesh together and move the ball around better. This would be much better than what seems to be JK’s approach which is “ok lets go run some laps and get in really great shape”. If YOU don’t understand that then I don’t know what to tell you.

      • So, if they practice passing during camp we’d be able to make more than three passes in a row against Belgium and Germany? Got you. That’s some pretty compelling coach speak …… For 12 year olds. Unfortunately, if they haven’t learn it in the last twenty years they won’t learn it in two weeks of camp. It just doesn’t happen like that.
        Klinsmann is not a good coach but you can’t ignore the lack of talent he has to work with. The best coach in the world won’t make this bunch any more skilled nor will he suddenly turn this team into a world contender in two weeks. Changing the mentality of present and future players and fans it’s the best we can hope for. People have this ignorant notion that just wanting a World Cup more than others should be enough. It’s not. You have to start from the basics.

      • +1, it’s like checkers, the coach moves the pieces but doesn’t dictate the pieces abilities. he has to come up with a strategy to simultaneously use all of their unique talents to win. now imagine one team has all the pieces and the other has 7 pawn, 2 rooks and a bishop…… how well can he do, really?

      • UBGreat, you are half-right in that the US players do not have the finesse YET which the top soccer players have. However, to say that this is Herr Klinsi’s fault is not a valid point IMO. He played and coached in Deutschland which values this type of soccer very highly. So, he knows how important this factor is in coaching a team to success!! But he also knows that physical strength and endurance are also very important which past great German teams have had in spades.

  7. Even though it’s damn near impossible with the pool we have, at least Klinsmann is trying to implement the right ideas. I was sick of the NCAA long ball tactics and the only-the-result-matters approach of previous coaches. For those of us that were actually watching soccer during the Coach Bob years, the difference has been a breath of fresh air. Under Klinsmann, often times we’re actually able to string more than two passes together. I’m not just referring the fact that he had the best record in USNT history or made it out of the group of death (and a Wondo away from the quarterfinals), for me the most impressive period was the 2013 Gold Cup. Despite having a B team and playing in an unusually strong CONCACAF, we played the most attractive soccer I’ve ever seen us play.

      • I think, I recall some Donovan guy having a hand in 12 of the 20 goals scored. However that can’t be because we wasn’t even good enough to go to Brazil.

      • Someone who had recently taken a sabbatical and then showed up to camp two months before the World Cup with a beer gut and then publicly made comments about not being able to train hard every practice even though our manager places a huge emphasis on fitness. And clearly felt entitled to a place on the team because of what he had done in the past (his afterwards made it quite obvious), as opposed to other players who were a lot hungrier.

        Anyway, Klinsmann should be evaluated by the results and quality of soccer we played, not whether or not he chose our favorite player.

      • So who would you rather have had in front of the net vs. Belgium when that ball landed in stoppage time…..Wondo or Landon?

      • bruh, i’ve never seen you make an unintelligent remark…. until now. lol

        not saying it was the easiest moment like a basketball free throw but it was still a “mildy contested layup on a fast break” haha.

        tbh he should have taken “AH” touch knowing how open he was, passed to a shwetty dempsey, waiting for the tap tap taparoo (are you too good for you home?!?!)

        I will perhaps agree that the volley he attempted is “harder than we remember” but my point is he easily had a better option (captain america right next to him).

        btw i’ve watched that repaly so many times it’s kinda sad so i’d rather not watch it again. i could probably draw a flip book from memory to perfection…

      • How do you know Landon we have made it there?

        Klinsmann only wanted really motivated players. Donovan wasn’t there 100% mentally.

      • Because he wasn’t all there during the Gold Cup when he won MVP? Donovan was a top 5 player on the team after coming back. Howard and Bradley, two of the most respected guys on the team, noticed it. I take their word over yours anyday.

      • The sabbatical was before the Gold Cup.

        Klinsmann has the best job in the World. When the team plays well it’s because of him but if they play poorly its because he doesn’t have the players.

  8. Never wanted Klinsmann for Coach.
    He should have Sunil’s job, overseeing development of the big picture rather than trying to win tournaments with the existing talent pool.

      • There are plenty of better candidates. I could name a bunch right now. The issue is that I have no idea (and nobody on this site does either) if they are someone that would take or would have taken the job. That’s something only Sunil Gulati can know or find out. So no point in naming all of them.

  9. I don’t want to say this, but klins is going to fail in the gold cup and might not even make it to 2018 Russia.
    He is not bad coach, it’s just that klins is trying to do too much, from coaching to setting up the soccer pyramid in the US.
    He also knows MLS sucks for now and NASL and USL are at the same level, which doesn’t help the national team. Only if garber, klins, and gulati would sit and drink some German beer together.

    • “Only if garber, klins, and gulati would sit and drink some German beer together.”

      What would that accomplish? MLS and US Soccer have very different objectives and time frames.

  10. Blah blah blah. We’re going to do what we can with the talent we have. Attack weak teams, bunker and pray against strong ones.

    • Agreed, ithink by 2018 we will have some of our younger and more skillful players mixed in nicely with some of our already young established players. We do have some talent coming up that can play the way he says he wants to.

      • Oh please. I’ve been hearing about this new wave of young players forever. This is who we are. We play better against the crappy teams and sit back and pray for luck against the better teams. No coach is changing that.

      • I can’t recall when we have had so many 18, 19, 20 and 21 year old playing with the likes of Fulham, atlectico Madrid, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham. This is the perfect age for their development. I know some arnt playing regular mins but still training with first team.

      • OK give the USA 7 or 8 mediocre players and I’ll take that. 1 world class player s worthless.

      • Cyclo,

        If by “This is who we are” you mean accepting that the US will always be a LALAS -esque team. ( strong defense, score on the counter and set pieces, rely on exceptional goal keeping, run all day kind of team) then that is who you always will be.

        BB refined that style and took it about as far as he could but it wasn’t enough for the USMNT fans who in large part hated him for being bunker Bob.

        If you were one of them then you got what you wanted a move towards implementing a new style of play.

        The trouble is that sort of fundamental shift in team identity takes a while to effect since the player pool still reflects the sort of player who is suitable for BB’s style. And most US fans seem to think the new guy should have waved a magic wand and turned Lee Nguyen into Lee Messi, Mikey Bradley into Stevie Gerrard, Eric Lichaj into Dani Alves and so on.

        It doesn’t work that way.

        JK is suited for the transition because he is largely unimpressed by whatever negativity the US fans and media can dish up. He’s seen far worse.

        And, like his German national team he is unafraid to do whatever it takes to win when he feels he has to.

        BB’s teams were less likely to lose a game they should not have lost but JK’s teams are more likely to win a game they should not have won.

        JK, who is very much more secure in his position than Bob was, is a bigger risk taker as a USMNT manager.

        To me that is the difference.

      • “BB’s teams were less likely to lose a game they should not have lost but JK’s teams are more likely to win a game they should not have won.”

        +1, well put.

  11. Rabble, rabble, rabble. I’m not a Klinsmann hater by any stretch, but at some point, these need to stop being talking points and start becoming actions.

  12. I haven’t seen anything close to resembling a fluid, “proactive” style from the USMNT under JK. I think part of the problem is that since the World Cup it has been non-stop experimentation with the roster. Never the same starting lineup twice. Obviously lineup tinkering is necessary to some extent, but unlike other national teams, the US has very little consistency in the players called in to camps or the positions in which they’re played. Watch this team play and it’s obvious that they lack the cohesiveness and familiarity between players that other national teams possess. It’s time for JK to pick our best 11 and actually let them play together. We’ll see if he can get it together before the Gold Cup.

    • Than you obviously didn’t watch the 2013 Gold Cup. Or you just can’t recognize the difference.

      And by the way, all of the top national teams “experiment” just as much, if not more, than the USNT.

      • Yeah we got to see what it looked to have the best US player ever against a bunch of Concacaf amateurs.

      • Those “amateurs” were a lot better than the sides Arena’s and Bradley’s teams faced, (usually with an A squad, by the way, whereas Klinsmann’s was a B team), and we NEVER played like that in any of those Gold Cups or CONCACAF qualifying campaigns. Under previous managers the most we could do was efficiently grind out results against those Caribbean minnows but during the 2013 Gold Cup we did it in style. I’ve never seen us play like that.

      • Yes Donovan had a very good tournament. However you take him out of the team I doubt we even win it, much less do it with style.

      • The argument is whether or not Klinsmann had us playing quality soccer, and that in the 2013 Gold Cup we played better soccer than any of us can remember. What does Donovan have to do with it? And anyway, Donovan was in his prime under Arena and Bradley yet we never played like we did in that tournament.

    • The top national teams have a best 20 or 30. We have a hard time with 11. In part this is why JK always looks shaky, because he can’t manage to fill the starting lineup with reliable players. But we’ve always had this problem. Every one of our coaches the past 24 years has looked shaky against the best teams. He and everyone should accept and enjoy our now stable slightly-above-averageness. We’re not good enough to get to a semifinal yet. But we do always make it exciting and that is, for me, what sports is about, win or lose.

      • you seem to fail to realize that the US has a unique problem in geographical location. european NTs have most of their best players playing for top clubs in their countries league or top clubs in europe (still relatively close). even the S america teams have a similar structure with their good players playing in brazil or argentina etc. since some US players play 8 hours away in europe and some play here or mexico, it becomes hard to have a solid consistent best 11 that plays almost every match. so he can’t “fill the starting lineup” because some of the players play elsewhere and don’t get released for non-fifa dates etc.

  13. Jurgen talks a much bigger game than his results warrant. His tenure as US coach is pretty much no better or worse than his predecessors. His best skill is pushing his success window so far down the line that his job security is pretty safe for the next three years.

    • You do realize that last cycle he had the best record of any coach in US history right? Not to mention the most difficult World Cup opposition we ever had (much, much more difficult than 2002).

      • You do realize that Portugal of 2002 was one of a few teams favored to win the WC, picked beforehand by a host of pundits.

        Luis Figo, Pinto & Rui Costa: the “Golden Generation”…, maybe that rings a bell?

        Comparing the two WCs is a futile exercise. But if we are, then I’d say Arena’s squad took down a very talented Mexico before coming within one missed handball of tying, and then, dispatching Michael Ballack and the German national team. After their victory, Ballack even admitted that the US had outplayed Germany.

        I think Klinsmann’s account for his 2014 quarterfinal against Belgium was poor.

        See what I mean? Apples & oranges.

      • he wasn’t’ comparing the WCs, rather the “cycles” which is the whole 4 year period between and including the following WC…..

      • Let the man speak for himself. You his lawyer–or are you the same guy posting under different names?

        He did mention “World Cup opposition”, so I’d invite him to respond to my post.

      • Germany is better than that Portugal team was. That Germany team that just won the World Cup is possibly one of the greatest national teams of all time. Portugal, in contrast, hadn’t made a World Cup in decades. They were incredibly inexperienced at the international level, despite having a lot of talent, and couldn’t make it out of the group stage. Sure, they were one of the favorites, but Germany and Spain were the only two teams that were ever going to win this world cup.

        Belgium is much better than that Mexico team was. It has a roster full of world class players playing for some of the best teams in the world (Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea, etc.). Mexico did not.

        Portugal is much better than that South Korea team was. It has several world class players, the Koreans only had home field advantage (and later, help from the refs).

        Ghana is better than that Polish team was, for sure.

        And yeah, we almost beat that ’02 Germany team, but they only made it to the final because they had the easiest route to the final any team had in World Cup history. Their performances at the Euro 2000 and 2004 was much more indicative of their quality at the time.

        Also, despite having a much rougher CONCACAF (it is much better now than it was during the 90’s), Klinsmann had the best record for a cycle in USNT history.

        I do agree that it’s not easy to compare the World Cups, they are apples and oranges, but to say that he was the same or worse than his predecessors is just inaccurate.

      • Couldn’t agree…..less.

        “but Germany and Spain were the only two teams that were ever going to win this world cup.”

        Well, no. Brazil won.

        Forget all the armchair analysis. Just look at brackets results. Truth of the matter is, the USMNT progressed to the quarters in ’02.

        Belgium is very talented, no question.
        Nobody realistically picked the US to advance past them. But the US was embarrassingly outplayed in every metric short of Howard’s save %. The scoreline greatly belied how lopsided that game was.

        So going by bracket results–admittedly apples and oranges–to date, the Arena’s WC US of ’02 has outperformed the WC US under Klinsmann’s tenure.

      • Sure, in ’02 we made it one game farther, but we faced easier opposition. Apples and oranges.

        We didn’t have a single player on our team that could have made it into Belgium’s 18 that day but almost won the game and played very well. There’s something wrong if you don’t think we played well this World Cup.

        But more importantly, you can’t just look at the World Cup in isolation. Klinsmann had the best winning percentage of any manager in USNT history (despite having the roughest schedule of any), we won our first game at the Azteca, we had our longest winning streak, we played some of the best quality soccer we ever played, and we had a very good World Cup. To say that he did worse than his predecessors is ignorant. You can maybe argue that the ’02 run was more impressive, but also there was Arena’s absolute trainwreck in ’06.

      • Bruce, Bob and Jurgen all have about a 54-55% winning rate, and all 3 took the team to at least the Round of 16, but Bruce went to Quarters. So basically like I said, he’s equivalent but no better than his predecessors. Its not a controversial statement, its just reality.

      • Klinsmann had the best winning percentage of any manager in USNT history (despite having the roughest schedule of any), we won our first game at the Azteca, we had our longest winning streak, we played some of the best quality soccer we ever played, and we had a very good World Cup. All despite having a team in between generations. How is that “worse than his predecessors?” What did you expect him to do, make the semi finals?

      • exactly, not to mention, if they all had 54-55% win percentage then being that the competition was the stiffest in 2014, JK is, at worst, equal to past coaches; if not slightly better.

        Funny, and the other guy from a little farther up this thread, if you truly believe that JK was worse than BB or BA at the WC then you’re essentially saying that had BB or BA been the coach from fall 2010 thru the 2014 WC he would have called in a group of players that would have performed better against Ghana, Portugal, Germany and Belgium. How do you think BB or BA would have gone about doing this? would they have still gotten key players to commit? would he have called up better players? whom?

        i could really care less about the general topic, but it just is hilarious to see someone taking the stance you two have taken. JK is easily equal to BB/BA if not better. perhaps JK isn’t the end-all-be-all of coaches for the US; perhaps he’s just going to be looked back upon as the coach that jumpstarted the US soccer “revolution”- leaving the team to a new coach at some point to really take the US to the next level; who knows. but JK scheduled better opponents and was still able to set a US win record. He then faced tougher opponents in the following WC and managed to get the same result (Ro16). by sheer logic he can’t be worse than the other two….


  14. I was saying just the other day that it was about time for another lesson from the soccer meister. As usual, hard to argue with some of his pearls of wisdom — stay compact on defense, spread out on offense, establish links between all parts of the team, continue to play well throughout a tournament. But others, I would argue, are just plain wrong. First, competing with the best teams (going toe to toe) does not mean playing the way they do and it does not necessarily mean playing an attacking style. If either of those notions were true, we would have to classify Jose Mourinho as one of the dumbest coaches in soccer history. Second, pressing high and playing from the back are perfectly acceptable approaches to the game, but they are not necessarily signs that you are playing great soccer or that you are going to win. It all depends on the players you have and the teams you are playing. If pressing high were a guarantee of success, Borussia Dortmund would have won the German title every year.
    Successful soccer tactics are a function of your players and the competitive situation. The only good ones are the ones that help you win.
    And, if you look carefully, the number of national teams that press high and so on can be counted on one hand — perhaps because most national teams are effectively all-star teams and can’t manage complicated tactics.

    • The way I choose to interpret JK’s remarks is that the U.S. has to improve on its ability to press high and play out of the back b/c there will be matches that require that approach. The U.S. has long relied on the defend, counter, rely on set pieces approach, but it needs to learn different styles to use against different opponents. The U.S.’s over reliance on a defensive style explains why historically it has struggled to put away minnows that it should have obliterated.

      • You are very generous to read Jurgen’s remarks that way.

        Under Arena and Bradley, the US has used tactics that fit the available players and, it has to be said, with considerable success. I am not sure which minnows you are referring to, but the US has generally won the games it was supposed to win. Soccer being what it is, the superior team cannot always run up the score on an inferior opponent.

        Far be it from me to quarrel with learning new tactics, but playing differently, especially playing attacking soccer, requires better players than the US has generally possessed. I hope such players appear, but I don’t see the current pool as being vastly superior to the pools available for the last two World Cups.

        Finally, you have to consider the tactics used by other national teams. It is true that a few — Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil and perhaps a few others — have played “attacking” soccer in the past, but nearly every other national team plays a style much more like the US’s. In fact, some, Greece being the best (worst?) example, make the US look like an attacking powerhouse. And that is for a good reason — the object of the exercise is to win the game, score more goals than the opposition — not to win style points.

  15. If I ever talk to the media about a soccer team I am coaching, I will be honest.
    “I will play attractive, attacking soccer” may or may not be spoken by me, it will depend on my team and opponent.

    JK is sooo condescending. Step by step the Americans are learning.

    He is annoying the heck out of me. I will quit whining now because of my name and the US will keep progressing with or without him. And since it includes “with him” and the US has already committed to him, he will be here.

    • He is condescending, but let’s be honest, we aren’t necessarily known for our tactical or technical nuances. We do need to adjust the way we coach kids in the youth ranks, and the approach we take to the game.

    • I’d love to see a press conference where an American coach announces “We’re gonna defend with eleven men, we’re gonna counter with our fast guys, and maybe hope for a couple of good set pieces”

      Then drops the mic and pop-locks his way off stage

      • Bob Bradley never said that persay but that was definitely his crappy technique. BB believe the US to be a “David” where JK believes/wants the US to be the “Goliath”

      • @Davis JK might say that but on the field that not what I see. At the World Cup outside of the Portugal game in what game did we not play the same crappy style BB had before. We barely attacked in any of those games.

      • I think that’s a fair point, although the way we played in the World Cup was at least partially attributable to the injuries we picked up in that first game. We clearly came fast out of the gate against Ghana and got that early goal, but once Altidore went down and Dempsey took at hit to the face, we couldn’t regain the momentum and go back and forth with them (and, of course, the Ghanians were pissed after the goal and really pushed hard for the equalizer). And the effects of those injuries lingered into and through the Germany and Belgium games. It’s not an excuse, but I think our playing style was as much an issue of lack of depth in key places as it was about anything else.

      • Th injury excuse is old.

        Davies, Onyewu, Holden, and Jones were all out for the 2010 world cup. 4 of the top 6 players of the time (Dempsey and Donovan being the other 2) were gone. Excuse me if I don’t believe losing one foward is detrimental to a world cup. Ugh.

  16. Say what you will about JK — and I know that you all will — but he has set his sights high and has a vision for the MNT. Whether he’s the guy to achieve that vision or to implement the necessary changes is an entirely different question, of course, but he has preached the same message from day one. And no, I’m not saying he’s miles ahead of former MNT coaches, or that he’s some sort of genius, but it’s hard not to respect his persistence. The Gold Cup will be a significant test, but he has basically promised a revolution by 2018, if not before. It could get interesting if qualifying games for WC18 don’t show significant progress.

    • Vision and execution are two different things. While it’s true that JK does have remarkable vision on how he wants to see the USMNT progress, his execution via formations, tactics, strategies and player selection, have fallen far short on what he needs to accomplish his goals. Some, maybe, are beyond his control, but some, unfortunately, are beyond his capability.

      • So which other coach would you recommend?

        Pep Guardiola? A mercenary like Sven Goran Erikkson? Or a mastermind like Sigi Schmid?

      • While it’s somewhat premature to select a coach, not having the wherewithal to get the information you would need need to make a good decision, you can look at what kind of attributes that would be needed.

        The ability to read and evaluate the soccer abilities and potential of current and future players.
        A lack of bias when it comes to evaluation/selection
        A familiarity with the US Soccer system, including evaluations of academy and up and coming lower division players as well as college players and an ongoing evaluation of eligible player in the MLS and abroad

        Be an excellent tactician, who can evaluate weaknesses and strengths of opponents as well as his own team. The ability to change tactics as needed.

        Superior game management skills.

        A strategy going forward on what type of soccer the team plays based on the strengths and it’s abilities of its current players. The ability of not only to develop a style, but to develop based on what is being produced by the US soccer system.

        The ability to assist players to develop not only their technical abilities, but their technical acumen as well, to assist players in reading and identifying successful strategies and tactics and to make adjustments as well.

        Select assistant coaches that are actually better than you in some respects. The ability to develop proper and successful diet and training techniques and programs to avoid player breakdowns and injuries.

        The ability to have each player develop skills for the out-of-position times he may be required to play. The ability to fully utilize mulch-positional players in tournaments.

        The ability and discipline to chose and develop a core of excellent players and build from that core and introduce players as needed that are familiar with the teams strategies and tactics.

        The ability and discipline to select players based on form, playing time, experience and ability regardless of which league or country he plays his soccer in.

        While it is easy to say that all good soccer coached have (or should have) these abilities and that it’s too “generic”. You would be surprised on how many coaches/National team managers are selected based on their availability and cost rather than their abilities.

      • OK, thanks for sharing your criteria, but who fits these criteria? Who would you have chosen last summer (or now) instead of Klinsmann? Realistic answers please.

      • JK has very big goals, and a very big vision, and utter self-confidence in his ability to pull it off.

        One thing I’ve noticed is, he doesn’t seem to look for “perfect” soccer players. He looks for edgy guys, guys who are unique in some regard and have some massive physical or technical edge. Then he is completely unafraid to just throw them in the deep end and see if they can sink or swim…and he’ll give them the games and experience they need if he likes them. Gyasi Zardes is raw but anybody with eyes could tell you he’s as PHYSICALLY talented, anyhow, as a Didier Drogba, he’s just nowhere near as polished. Jordan Morris is even rawer but you can’t teach that incredible pace he’s got. He obviously wants wingers and wingbacks with blazing pace as well which is why he brought both DeMarcus Beasley and Brek Shea off the scrap heap and re-invented them as left backs, and brought in Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, and Deandre Yedlin in and mostly uses them variously as wingers and right backs. He wants rangy, athletic CB’s who can dribble and distribute out of the back which is why he’s put a bunch into developing guys like John Brooks and now Venturo Alvarado. He’s put a premium on creative playmakers at midfielder and he really likes those guys that play center mid and are used to touching the ball the most on their club teams, and if he had the players to do it he’d probably play 5 guys in the midfield who played CM for their clubs and basically spend all game interchanging and exchanging positions exactly like Germany does.

        And he gets them games. No national team in the world plays as many games, or as many long-distance games, as the USMNT does. He’ll play anybody, anywhere, anytime.

        And as he established with Landon Donovan – he is completely unafraid even to drop star players. Complain all you want, re-hash that all you want…but a Very Big Message got sent there, and nobody on the team missed it. You do it Jurgen’s way…or he drops you.

        I personally think we’ll do just fine in the Gold Cup. We paid him to have a plan…and it very much appears he’s got one, and it includes integrating the senior team, the U-23’s, and the U-20’s. He wants the Confederations Cup. He wants the Olympics. He wants a good showing at the U-20 World Cup. He’s talked frequently and at length about all that…and I think he’ll get most or all of it.

        We wanted an unconventional guy with vision who would scour the globe and look under every rock for talent…can anybody argue he hasn’t given us exactly that?

        Jurgen doesn’t want 11-15 guys who know each other very well. He wants a pool of 35+ hungry, hungry guys from every corner of the globe who get after it because they know in their bones there’s a golden opportunity to make a mark but also know that their places are not secure…and that’s exactly what we have now. When it’s Gold Cup selection time, do you think even Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, or Brad Guzan are 100% certain their phones are going to ring? And they’re the closest things to lead-pipe locks there are on this squad. I can’t even imagine how much uncertainty and competition there’s going to be going into Russia in 2018. Because Jurgen will drop anybody…and he is not unafraid to hold onto an aging vet he still likes (Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Brad Davis) or play a 19-year-old he likes and nobody else has even heard of (Yedlin, Brooks, Green, and most recently, Jordan Morris.)

        And with all these guys, the message has been the same: be unafraid. Get after it. Go forth, be proactive. Make something happen. And for the most part, they have.

        The Gold Cup team we bring this summer is going to be one of the most athletic, most motivated squads we’ve ever seen wearing USMNT kits. I think they’ll basically exterminate the lesser squads in their path and even the CONCACAF big dogs like Mexico and Costa Rica are likely going to be taken aback by the speed and intensity these guys are playing at.

        Just my opinion, but I think the state of the USMNT is rather better than people generally get right now. I think the US is at LEAST even-money to win the Gold Cup and somebody’s going to have to do something pretty spectacular to stop us. When Jurgen wanted to bring the pain two years ago, bring it he did…it was the most one-sided Gold Cup I’ve ever seen from start to finish, and he’s got a much bigger, more athletic pool now than he did two years ago.

      • Bruh. Your posts are too long! This is the last time I will read one of your long posts! Hah.

        Anyways, everything you wrote above is all good and dandy, but its all MACRO stuff. The macro stuff is definitely JK’s strength. By macro I mean, all that grand vision stuff you mentioned above.

        Where he sucks is the MICRO stuff, specifically selecting a squad and getting them ready tactically and technically (game-plan) for a game. That’s what we all complain about. That’s why Jogi Low was so important for him in Germany. Who is our USMNT version of Jogi Low? I don’t see anybody, and we definitely need one as long as JK is the man in charge.

        Last thing, JK doesn’t “throw people in the deep end”, he throws them “in the cold water”. Haha.

      • I know, sorry. Ended up being way longer than I intended. I’m a writer so when I roll…it, well, rolls.

        I’m not super-big on tactics. You’ve gotta have ’em…but as they say, God is on the side of the big battalions. Amateurs talk about strategy. Generals talk about logistics. Tactics get a whole lot easier when you’ve got the ponies.

        Anyhow, I think our squad’s a lot more loaded than most realize. It’s actually very talented, IMHO. It could certainly stand some more technicality in the midfield – we’re sorta picking between hard-running box-to-box types and technicians who are weak defensively, right now – and we could use some wingers like Darlington Nagbe to pop up or get eligible and give us guys who can both pass AND run at you, but we’ve got some impressive, if raw, pieces and a lot more depth than most credit. I like our forwards. I like our defender pool.

        And these guys one and all know that JK will drop them – not if they make a mistake (he doesn’t really seem to punish those), but if they don’t buy in.

        Mostly it just needs experience and attitude. If we can just get some cohesion and technicality out of our mids…this is a going to be an incredibly nasty team to play. Probably Top-10-in-the-world good, at that point. But they’re more than good enough right now to run most of CONCACAF flat over.

      • +1 (and a bonus point for each paragraph). 🙂

        I’m not quite as optimistic as you about the Gold Cup, mostly because I think Costa Rica could well build off of their World Cup performance, and Honduras will remain dangerous in a tournament where every game matters. However, I agree with your overall impression. I’m actually pretty excited about the possibilities for this cycle. There are still a lot of young guys who have to step up, but if most of them continue to improve, we could have a deep, athletic, and reasonably talented side by 2018.

      • Checked the draw for Gold Cup. The bad news is we draw both Honduras and Panama in Group A. Honduras, though, is NOT playing well…they had to win a playoff against some island nation whose name I can’t even remember offhand just to qualify for the Gold Cup. ‘Duras has some problems right now.

        The good news is that if we win the group – which we should – we will likely get either Costa Rica OR Mexico in a likely final. Costa Rica and Mexico highlight Groups B and C…whose group winners are both in the bottom half of the bracket and would therefore see one another in a likely semifinal. Our own Round-of-8/Semifinal matches are likely to be walkovers since Jamaica, El Salvador, and Guatamala are the only half-decent teams in Groups B and C.

        So we definitely drew as big a “group of death” as the Gold Cup will ever offer…but if we win it, and Costa Rica and Mexico win what look like as easy of groups as anybody can get in the Gold Cup, we’ve got a relatively easy stroll into the final…against one of them.

      • It is interesting how everyone seems to be underestimating the danger Mexico poses.

        They are , on paper, the most talented team likely to show up for the Gold Cup.

Leave a Comment