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Klinsmann sees “unbelievable opportunity” for USMNT in Copa America Centenario

Photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports
Photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

The dream of playing in the Confederations Cup is officially over, but Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. Men’s National Team still have a major international tournament to look forward to this World Cup cycle.

It was announced on Oct. 23 that the highly-anticipated Copa America Centenario would officially be held in the U.S. in the summer of 2016. The decision came after months of controversy and uncertainty, as the tournament’s future remained up in the air following the FIFA scandal.

With all of that in the past, Klinsmann and the U.S. can now seriously start thinking about next summer’s Copa America, a competition that could serve as a bit of redemption following disappointing Gold Cup and CONCACAF Cup performances.

“Copa America Centenario 2016 in the United States is huge. It’s almost like a World Cup,” said Klinsmann. “The Copa America is similar to the European Championship, so it’s kind of just one step below the World Cup and having that hosted in the United States with big teams like Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and our neighbors Mexico along with other CONCACAF nations joining in a 16-team tournament next summer is an unbelievable opportunity.

“For us, it’s a wonderful way to kind of test the players out, to see where we are at that point in time. Obviously, the big picture is always the World Cup 2018 in Russia, but a Copa America is something special so there will be packed stadiums, a lot of fans from all over the place and many exciting games to watch. So we are thrilled to host Copa America.”

The U.S. has participated in the quadrennial Copa America, which currently features the 10 South American countries plus two guest nations, just three times before. The Americans were eliminated in the group stage in 1993 and 2007 while finishing in fourth place in 1995.

What do you think of Klinsmann’s comments? How important will the 2016 Copa America be for the USMNT given that it won’t play in the Confederations Cup? Worried that the Americans might tank in the tournament on home soil?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Lest we all forget the US has played well in the Copa America before. In 1995 we finished FOURTH. yes, fourth place!! We beat Argentina 3-0 in the group Stage along with Chile, but lost to Bolivia 1-0 on a Marco Etchevarrria goal. We Beat Mexico in the quarters on penalty kicks. In the Semi’s we lost to Brazil 1-0. In the Third Place match, we were hammered by Columbia 4-1 with goals from Carlos Valderamma, Fredy Rincon, Luis Quiñónez and Faustino Asprilla, father of Dairon Asprilla of the Portland Timbers. This was a year before the start of the MLS and around 10 years after the demise of the old NASL. Most of the US Mens soccer team was from the 94 WC team which beat Columbia 2-1 on the own goal by Escobar. in the group stage.
    The tournament was notable for the US as we won our group over Argentina on goal differential, and was the first time ever (and since then) we won two games in our group, and advanced to the semis through penalty kicks (pk wins are not officially a win). If it were it would be the obly time the US would have 3 wins in a major FIFA tournament in US soccer history

    If we do not finish better than fourth place then you can say that the last 20 years as a football nation we have regressed.

    We can also say that should we not make it to the semi’s, Klinsmann is toast.

  2. I have never thought Jurgen was a good choice for National Team coach. And nothing that has happened since his appointment has caused me to change my mind.
    The most striking things about Jurgen is that he talks a lot and that what he says bears little or no relation to what he does. But as annoying as those habits are they are not what concerns me about his approach to coaching.
    What is missing in Jurgen’s tenure is any sort of systematic effort towards realistic goals. Some coaches arrive with a strong preference of a style of play. Others start with attempts to craft a style that fits the players that are available. In either case, the successful coaches find a combination of style and players that works. To get there they go through a more or less orderly process of trying out players and styles. At any point along the way, an observer can pretty much describe the “depth chart” for the team and the style they are trying to install. None of this is obvious in the US team even after five years of Jurgen, which is after all, an eternity for soccer coaches. His player selection often seem random and his approach to the game constantly changes. He has yet to settle on much about the team.
    Some believe that the problem lies within the player pool.. Perhaps that’s true, but my belief is that Jurgen has not thought thru any sort of progression for the team. Rather than trying to identify relatively seasoned players who could move into the team more or less right away, he is constantly drawn to players who are still just hot prospects (think Julian Green) and who under the best circumstances would not play regularly for the national team for several years. And he continues to give playing time evening meaningless games to players that certainly will be too old for the 2018 cup. Since I follow one MLS team I don’t feel comfortable touting specific players but I suspect that there are more than a few MLS players who should be considered seriously for the national team and who could play now and then thru the 2018 WC. Most of us see Hamid as one such player. Perry Kitchen might well be another. I suspect there others that Jurgen has ignored.

  3. wah wah wah. We didn’t make the Confederations Cup. To quote Roger Davies: “It’s the Europa League of international football.” I realize the coach has leadership issues. But let’s be honest about where US Soccer currently sits.

    Dempsey, who is supposed to be our talisman, was a no-show for USMNT the last few months. Bradley hasn’t been sharp. Altidore is in one of his lows right now. Jermaine Jonesgives his all, but at his age this style of play may not be sustainable. Howard isn’t the THo of the past, and Landon is only a fond memory.

    We are at an inflection point right now. We need the next Landon. Without him, what would US Soccer have achieved since 2001? We need to get younger and more dynamic in midfield and hope Michael Bradley finds his best form again. We need our young center backs to get more professional experience. And, weneed Fabian Johnson and Jurgen to repair their fractured relationship. We need Bill Hamid to turn into the next great American goalie. Guzan is very good, but unless he gets to where he was a year ago, the next goalie is needed. We may need a new coach, but all indications are that is not going to happen any time soon, so I’ll hold my opinions on that one. And, replacing JK will only be a bandaid until we find ways to become younger and deeper and have a break out player like Landon emerge. If we cannot find the latter, oh boy, probably doesn’t matter much who is coaching. We will be a Top 20 to 35 ranked team for a long time.

  4. “test the players out”???

    NO NO NO NO NO. That is a slap in the face to the tournament.

    Copa America is an opportunity to put your best starting XI on the field based on PREVIOUS player assessments from camps and friendlies and try to WIN.

    • I don’t get it. Everyone wants him to try new players, me included for that matter. But these guys haven’t experienced the speed of the international game – and there IS a difference. So how do you suggest he finds out who can handle it and who can’t ? Camps? You all act like it is simple and we can just throw any of our top 50 players in there and they’ll do fine.

      Maybe it is derogatory but clearly he believes it – many of our promising players haven’t experienced the top level of soccer yet.

    • I’m sorry, it is a test. He has been bringing in new players for the past year and a half and some have taken hold (Zardes, Garza, Yedlin, Brooks) and some have not (Alvarado etc). Almost ALL looked bad for an extended period in the beginning because there is a HUGE difference in speed of play and technical ability.

      You want to win this tournament (not likely) or show well (hopefully), but you also want to be in the point of transitioning players who will be 30+ away from your starting team (which will have growing pains). Again, Cameron is 30yrs old and will be 33 during the next World Cup, FB will be 30 and Besler will be 31. Only Jozy and Zardes from the last starting line up will be under 30. Is is better to transition now and through next year and get your lumps than 2017/18.

    • The only ‘test’ we should be talking about is how long US Soccer Federation keeps a coach that continues to ‘test’ his players.
      I am tired of this ‘test’! Results have been consistent, and grade has been an F! Time to move JK out.

  5. Piling on the negativity some more, when does it ever become about playing to win rather than “testing”.

    Everything is a freaking test with him. Stop “testing” – field the strongest lineup you have, build a formation around those player strengths, and let’s go.

  6. Since the USA can’t seem to earn much else lately, at least they get a free pass with an invitation to a tournament. I say a draw (seen as a moral victory by JK) and 2 losses (With JK saying his players stink, because he had the perfect formation, and nothing is his fault).

  7. A great opportunity for JK to play bunker ball, put guys in positions they’ve never played before and then throw them under the bus and then talk down to the USMNT’s fanbase. Can’t wait!

  8. I’m super excited to be in this prestigious tournament as well, but I am not satisfied with JK’s comments either. This is an opportunity for the players to show what they can do, sure, but JK has to show us something also. I don’t want to see a mishmash, no-identity team, that plays conservative without any coherent plan to counter-attack. I know our players aren’t the best, but please don’t crush their spirits, or work them raw into the ground. I don’t want to see them lose heart and argue with each other the majority of the game.

    I only fell in love with the national team in 2006, but I’ve never seen us play as confused and apathetic as we have over the last 7-10 games.

    I actually still have some faith in JK, and his vision for US soccer and our USMNT, but sadly I’m not seeing his vision in our play or player selection. And I’m disappointed he doesn’t take any blame for the bad times, and takes all the credit for the good ones.

    What type of person takes a job over a known group of players and blames them or the refs?

    “I thought I was going to be able to make this team better, but actually they suck more than I thought, and the refs have something against them too, and Bedoya played the 6 and lost us the game, and LD doesn’t fit into the WC 23 in any way, not like Davis or Green or Mix or Wondo.”

    The hyperbolic quote could keep going. Please just take some ownership, coach. We don’t like our leaders passing the buck. If you admitted your mistakes, we’d at least know you were aware of your flaws, and we’d be quicker to forgive you and give you more of a leash.

    That said, he knows he has all the leash in the world, and thinks our soccer minds are too novice to understand his brilliance.

  9. I can’t wait to see the games. Obviously it;s a great opportunity and going to be a great spectacle. However, the only way the US does anything worthwhile is if they get rid of this clown NOW…

    • The USMNT does not have the talent in this generation to do anything but defend and maybe get an opportune goal against teams of this quality – I don’t care who is the coach. If we open up, we get torn apart. I support the coach no matter what. I did the same with BB, Arena, JK. The issue is SO MANY people on this board think that the US is more talented than it is.

      I’ve said it before and I will say it again, we have depth in mediocrity not quality. We have many more so-so filler players that we did 20 or 10 years ago, which is a good result of MLS. However, we have fewer high quality players than we did before. Our best midfielder is MB (I actually like him), but he is not as good as Claudio Reyna or O’Brian were. Our attacking winger/ withdrawn forwards now (with the exception of FB) are not as good as DMB, LD, CD etc. were in their prime and our forward paring Ernie Stewart,McBride etc were better.

      Jozy’s generation has been a disappointment. He is only 25, Zardes is 24, Garza is 24 and Shea is 25. Mixx and AJo (both 25 were developed abroad). Slightly older players: MB is 28, OG is 27, Bedoya and Besler are 28 and Cameron is 30. but that is really it (in terms of developed in the US). JK found Besler and Cameron and recruited AJo. (Mixx had be lobbying for USMNT inclusion and was part of the U20 and U23 set ups). They have all had a bad year (or been injured) with the exception of Cameron. However, he is 30 and you do not want a 33 year starting center back in ’18. You do not want to start 30+ yr olds in World Cup outside goalkeepers. From the 11 mentioned, only 6 will be under 30 at the next world cup, and 2 were introduced this year (Zardes, Garza). JK was slammed for persisting with Shea Jozy is truly established (maybe Zardes, Garza and AJo now)

      Yeah, it is annoying when JK puts in players that don’t work out again and again, but you need to blood players. He did say that he would be testing young players, but some of the guys who want him to play Wood and Morris slammed him for playing them in initially (especially when they did not look good initially). I have a lot of hope for the 18-23 group (e.g Hyndman, Miazga, Yedlin, Brooks, Alvarado, Wood etc just to name a few). HOWEVER, you must blood players now before things matter (sorry, that is the World Cup and World Cup qualifying – that is his directive). What JK is doing with young players or playing players out of positions is not unique in world soccer. CBs play RB/LB or CDM all the time. CDM play wings or box to box even attacking midfield sometimes. Forwards play wings or CAM sometimes.

  10. I think I detected a little glimmer of possible optimism in one of these posts. This has got to stop. The US team is terrible, the coach is the worst ever, and our soccer future is hopeless. There, I think I summarized the gist of the posters here. Let’s commit hara kiri before we have to face such national embarrassment.

    • Tell it to your boy Jk not the posters! Your just mad because people have finally begun to see through this fake coach that is your man crush. Yes the great Jurgen Klinssman. Maybe if he gave better results instead of stupid sunshine speeches everybody wouldn’t be so down about things.

      • Or they never posted here in the first place? I would be careful not to assume that message boards, twitter, mlssoccer, espn, other media, represent the feelings of the general well-informed population. Well-informed, meaning, we read all of the above and more.

        Anyways I’m still here and I support the coach for the moment. I think he knows much more than us. It is not unconditional love though and it’s cool to criticize him when he makes mistakes, which he has, and praise him when he strikes gold, which he has. Someday it will be time to change, but my personal opinion is that the problems – if one wants to call them that (most American fans still expect too much) – with American soccer run much deeper than this coach, or any previous coach, and for some time probably future coaches. These coaches have all done fairly well considering there are no real top players in our team.

      • I’m not pro-JK, I’m pro realism. If you cannot recognize how over the top pessimistic these posts are, you are as delusional as they are. By the way of thinking of so many here, Bruce Arena should be fired by the Galaxy. After all, what’s more important for them than the MLS championship and they failed miserably this year, despite adding a number of good players.Never mind that Arena won 3 out of the previous 4 championships, losing this year is all that’s important for posters here. I have written that I don’t care one way or another if JK is fired. What I have tried to point out is that won’t solve the problems that the US has. People who think we can become world beaters if only we get a good coach (who, they never specify) are living in fantasy land.

  11. Sad. I just finally finished watching the U17s get knocked out of their WC by Chile. Great individual players on the US team, but they showed barely an ounce of passion and fight when the chips were down (in other words, the whole game). I think JK is wielding his magic wand and instilling passionless soccer in all national teams at all age levels. Jermaine Jones seems to be the only player not listening to his message.

  12. I’m getting to the point where I cringe every time I hear a Klinsmann quote – like nails on a chalk board.

    Screeeeeeeeccchhhh…unbelievable opportunity…scraaaaaaaaattcch…one step below the World Cup…screeeeeeeeeech…test the players out….

  13. What Klinsmann really meant to say, “I think in 4 games we can play 4 different iterations of lineups that my sons random number generator program from college spits out.”

  14. This is an incredibly important tournament.

    If we do well that is. Otherwise, the only thing that matters is WC2018 and European friendlies.

  15. Nothing to lose by playing this tournament. His stock can’t fall much lower and getting out of a group with 3 CONMEBOL teams should be considered a success…. and I’m sure he’ll let us know that much repeatedly in due time.

  16. Let’s do the what JK says, what it really means:

    “Copa America Centenario 2016 is huge, it’s just below the World Cup” – JK
    “Yeah, we could have played in the actual tournament that is prep for the WC if I hadn’t blown both the Gold Cup and then the CONCACAF cup” – What it means

    “Similar to the European Championship, just one step below the World Cup” – JK
    “Once again, I better put importance in this because there are no other meaningful competition because we didn’t qualify for any of them, better play this up” – What it means

    “It’s a wonderful way to test out our players and see where they are” – JK
    “So I can test more people at left back, play more people at CDM, and we can bring in more speedy people and run them into the ground during training” – What it means

    “With big teams like Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay” – JK
    “Who we will sit back against and defend for our lives and hope to get a set piece to get a result, if we don’t, we spin the Wheel of Blame and decide who to throw under the bus” – What it means

    Klinsmann is reaching Ali Curtis levels of corporate speak.

    • Klinsman’s opinions aside… I don’t think there is much doubt that the Copa America IS a much bigger, more prestigious tournament than the Confederations Cup.

      • prestige isn’t the issue. Playing in the Confed Cup allows the teams to play in the stadiums where the WC will be played, and scout the hotels/training grounds that they can use as base camp during the actual WC. It’s a massive edge.

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