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Klinsmann sees 2015 as a ‘learning curve’ for USMNT


The question of whether or not 2015 was a positive year for U.S. Soccer appears to have been answered by the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach.

Jurgen Klinsmann shared his thoughts on how U.S. Soccer fared as a whole this year, and while he says there were some definite “downs” to the year, there were also plenty of “ups.” Overall, though, Klinsmann saw 2015 as a “learning curve” for each and every level of the federation.

The U.S. Soccer technical director points to the historic road wins against Netherlands and Germany, as well as beating Peru — which finished third in this year’s Copa America — as being positives for the senior team.

He also saw the U.S. Under-20s performance at this year’s U-20 World Cup as a major success, but make no mistake: the losses and failures still weigh on his mind.

“Looking at 2015, obviously there have been some ups and downs no doubt about it,” Klinsmann said. “We wanted to win the Gold Cup and we didn’t end up winning it. We wanted to qualify for the Confederations Cup through the CONCACAF Cup final with Mexico at the Rose Bowl, and we lost that game in the 118th minute, so two disappointments to swallow. They were not easy to swallow and people got very critical, and rightfully so.”

Klinsmann said the U.S. U-17s performance at the U-17 World Cup in Chile was “disappointing,” but what must not be forgotten is the U.S. Women’s National Team, which won the Women’s World Cup over Japan in July.

Taking everything into account, though, Klismann saw the year of 2015 as a “learning curve” for not only U.S. Soccer but himself as well.

“For a coach it becomes very challenging to analyze every piece of it, what went right and what went wrong. From that point of view, 2015 was a good learning curve for us,” Klinsmann said. “We saw what went the right way and what went the wrong way. What’s important in looking at the bigger picture is to see if this team is maturing.

“Is it progressing? Are there enough younger players pushing into that pool that will hopefully also raise the quality of that pool? Are they challenging themselves in their club environments to play in the highest club possible that they can play at? So from the coaching perspective, it’s been an interesting year.”

An interesting year it was, especially during the summer as the USMNT struggled and failed to reach the CONCACAF Gold Cup final for the first time since 2003. The U.S. eventually finished fourth after Panama won the third-place game in penalties.

That experience, failing at the Gold Cup, is one that will stay with Klinsmann and the players as the team moves into the next year. World Cup qualifying takes center stage, so players, and even coaches, must learn to improve from their mistakes.

“The learning curve for 2015 was that you can never rest, you can never be sure, you can never take things lightly,” Klinsmann said. “The fact that we lost the semifinal to Jamaica in the Gold Cup – no matter how you can argue with the referee’s decisions – was an experience that the players need to go through. They need to be – and we coaches as well – critical about what we did, what mistakes did we make individually and as a whole team, and what led to the disappointment in not winning it.”

“This is a very important learning curve that the players also say ‘I have to admit and respect that I made a mistake on a particular goal or this incident on the field’ and we coaches say ‘maybe there we could have made a different substitution or done something different.’ This is important for a team to grow, but most importantly with negative results you learn about a team in terms of the chemistry, in terms of the camaraderie, in terms of who is there when things go wrong.”

Next year proves to be another jam-packed one for U.S. Soccer, especially with Copa America Centenario being hosted on U.S. soil. However, Klinsmann hopes that the U.S. U-23s can produce one of the biggest and best results of the year: reaching the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

After failing to automatically qualify during the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, a home-and-away series in March against Colombia’s U-23s is the only thing standing between the Americans and a trip to Brazil.

“Having our U-23’s qualify for the Olympics is huge because we want them badly to go to Rio in 2016. It’s crucial to them to have that experience and to challenge themselves with the top teams down there and to go through that learning curve,” Klinsmann said.

“If they are not making it, it simply will be a bummer because they need that learning curve. If they can make it to the Olympic tournament, it will make them mature faster in the process to become a Senior National Team player. Our support will be 1,000 percent with the Olympic team at the end of March, and I’m sure our fans will back them up.”

What do you think of Klinsmann’s comments? What are your thoughts on U.S. Soccer’s performance in 2015?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I care less about the USMNT winning than I do about them playing quality soccer. If they play well, the wins will eventually come steadily. Under Klinsmann, we have seen so-called progress leading to persistent losing AND the play is dismal. Under Klinsmann, quality players are now playing poorly as individuals and it is clear that as a group they lack a sense of how to effectively play together. Previous teams under previous coaches generally played to the level of their abilities. Not under JK; they are playing worse. Enough is enough with this guy. He is ruining/has ruined what was a decent and steadily improving USMNT, and is sending the entire program backward.

    • It’s a fair point, no doubt. If we had played a solid game against Jamaica and just didn’t get the bounces, that would be one thing. I think a lot of us sensed we were vulnerable based on how we played throughout the Gold Cup and before. Familiar players, but it didn’t look like the USMNT.

      • By every statistical measure but the score, the US outplayed Jamaica. A goal off of a throw in and a golazzo free kick off a never called penalty did us in and Jamaica rarely had any other threats while we peppered their goal and controlled possession.

      • Gary, we may have to agree to disagree here, but Jamaica has made itself into a defensive/counterattacking team, and they found themselves up 2-0 in the first half. What would any defensive team do in that situation? Continue playing to their strengths, obviously. So statistically, of course the U.S. is going to look better on paper. USMNT didn’t look better on my TV screen, though.

        The goal on Guzan’s handball, well, guess you could argue that either way. Not usually called but I suppose the Jamaicans alerted the linesman to watch for it, so is that smart or cheap on their parts?

  2. This is what I don’t get. JK has talked numerous times about how qualifying for this tournament or that tournament is so crucial because the players develop and mature through them, or in the case of the senior team how important they are for preparation for the World Cup. If tournaments are a key part of player development why is US Soccer and Klinsmann backtracking in this regard? In the US Soccer Development academy the players are totally controlled by US Soccer, prohibited from playing any other organized soccer. The majority or our youth players are playing zero tournaments as part of the academy. The only tournament (with a few exceptions of teams allowed in Disney or Dallas Cup) DA players will experience is qualifying for the playoffs for the Academy championship. The majority of the teams don’t qualify for the playoffs so players on those teams are not playing a single tournament. Compare this to the days prior to the Academy system in which top players were playing in probably 8 -10 tournaments a year. Is it a coincidence that we have seen unprecedented failures of our U17 – U23 to qualify for the WC and olympics (previous cycle) since the Academy began. Even in this last cycle a very good U17 team, one that won the Mexico Cup of Nations at the U15 level, showed a lack of composure and very disappointing play in this years WC. And of course the U23s are struggling and may yet again not qualify for the olympics, for only the second time in our history. Players that were U15s (youngest age then) when the Academy started in 2007 are now U23s. Maybe the reason the US often punched above its weight at international tournaments in the past is because our players were so seasoned when it came to tournament play. And now the Academy has been pushed down to the U14 – U12 levels. I find it stunning that everyone is just assuming the Academy system will improve things when there are alarm bells in terms of results ringing. In the end this is all ultimately about one tournament, the World Cup, and our top youth players will be playing in almost no tournaments from U12 on up.

    • Interesting point. I suspect that 8 to 10 tournaments per year is too much (each tourney involves travel, time off from training and the possibility of exhaustion causing injuries). But zero to 2 tourneys is probably not the right answer either.

      Also, despite the “best” regional players being on the Academy teams, the “best” national level players compete against each other rarely. I suspect the level of the Academy teams is much better than that of the best regional teams of 10 years ago, but I am not so sure the very best players have benefited from the Academies so much.

    • I don’t feel qualified to address your comments about the development academy. However, there is something you overlook when considering our youth development and youth teams. A lot more of our youth players from 15 on up have professional contracts and are not in the DA. It didn’t used to be that way as we rarely had more than a couple of youth players under 19 or even 20 with pro contracts. I think the DA has become rather superfluous for development of US youth players 15 and above because so many are going pro and training with professional teams.

  3. there was a great question about Brooks-Alvarado which he basically replied that he likes their potential but Besler-Cameron (re)earned their roles as the first choice CB’s and the others have to work to suppliant them as they work to defend (literally). I like how he is instilling competition at just about every position and giving a wide range of characters a shot on the team – there are a couple more I hope to see get debuts in January.

    to that note also interesting how he pointed out that most national teams run with a much smaller group of players every year – he quoted Germany using less than 25 players in 2015 – puts our clamoring for the MLS flavor of the week in perspective.

    overall bad year and I don’t like how much he reminds everyone of this friendly accomplishments – sorry while he has quite a resume of friendly upsets they kind of ring hollow next to official game failures.

    lets get back to 2013-14 status and make an impact at the Copa, WCQ and Olympic Qualifying followed by the main event in Brazil. I am still a bit concerned that we no longer have an absolute star like LD, young Dempsey or Jones or Roma’s Bradley and at least a few years before the next class really step in – managing us through these gap years will be a task.

  4. What did he have to work with an aging generation and a generation of nobody’s from the age of 23 to 27. He has a very good young group from the age of 18 to 22 coming through right now that will improve the team over the next 3 years. Rubin, Hyndman, zelalem, Brooks, yedlin, miazga, gyua, Green, Alvarado, wood all he needs is a left back and if Payne can play there they should be fine. There are others I didn’t name but only ones in the 23 to 27 range are nagbe and maybe Wooten. Be realistic people there is a generation gap that hurt them.

    • A while back I listed the players on the roster for the 2006 World Cup. That team was in a tough group and finished last in the group with only 1 point. Yet, I think that group of players was better than what Klinsmann had available in Brazil in 2014. Google it if you don’t believe me.

  5. Maybe coach klinsmann does know what he is doing…. Would this be so hard to believe?

    A winner pretty much everywhere he has been. It’s funny, but you watch the other JK, klopp, and you see a guy that has a lot of the same mannerisms and stylistic flare. And klopp has an American second.

    Let’s pretend for a couple minutes that our national team coach does no what the F he is doing, despite the fact, which mean nada to me, that some ex player wrote scathing comments about our guy. They were obviously comments from a company man, who was just trying to protect his brand.

    Coach klinsmann has his mandate, and it includes advancement from the group stages next summer. It also includes a minimum of four points from the next two qualifiers before we even get to the copa centennial.

    • He’s had two coaching jobs prior. First was German national team, and second was Bayern Munich. Given the quality of players he inherited in both situations, he should have won more than not. The better indicator, arguably, is how well against expectations his teams performed. The Germans exceeded expectations under him, though those expectations were historically and uncharacteristically low (and to some degree created by under-performances under Klinsmann in the run-up to the World Cup, though JK can’t be blamed for the 2004 Euros showing). Bayern Munich was arguably not quite a disaster, but remember he didn’t survive to the end of his first season.

      In those three coaching jobs including the current, he’s regularly been a lightning rod for criticism over tactics. With Germany, the line was he was too attack minded. When Germany started winning, that criticism faded. With BM, he was too inconsistent and too dependent on an assistant to be top tactician when that assistant wasn’t up to the job, either. Here, well, we all know the varying lines of criticism. In fairness, I should note the criticism was never universal, and to some degree managers will always face criticism. But I think its safe to say that JK brings questions of his understanding of tactics upon himself more so than most managers.

  6. He talks about chemistry but this is the jabroni who can’t play the same lineup more than twice in a row.

    Can’t believe people still listen to this steaming high pile of bull.

    • I just saw an article that with their game tomorrow, Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola will have gone 100 games without playing the same starting line up twice in a row. Guess Guardiola is a bad coach. Sir Alex Ferguson was also known for changing his line up constantly. Guardiola says he does it because players know they always have a chance to play, so it improves morale and harmony, plus it keeps players fresh and inspires competition within the team. But what does he know?

  7. It’s amazing how the only thing he doesnt comment on is how he is responsible for most of the failures listed. The only good part was the Women’s team and he had NOTHING to do with them

  8. Translation:

    Don’t expect anything great this year cause I’ll be doing random crap that may or may not have any impact in 2018 that is if we are playing in 2018.

  9. These comments, like just about all of JK’s comments, show why he is a great fit for technical director. He is the quintessential big-picture, long-term guy, preferring to focus on trends and adjustments. It does not mean, however, that he is a great fit to lead the senior national team, in terms of managing the roster or the games. It’s like asking Theo Epstein to manage the Cubs.

    • Brain, I don’t think he would be a good technical director either. We need a guy with vision and most importantly connected to the best American coaches. We will not move forward until our best coaches are coaching our best players. The good coaches in this country don’t want anything to do with JK.
      When is someone going to run against Sunil? He runs unopposed and our media never calls this to the public’s attention. What goes on at US Soccer is one of the biggest follies in American sports.
      Rumor has it that Sunil has eyes on Tab…BIG SIGH

  10. Why is no one asking what would player performances look like if Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore, etc were playing at high level in better leagues? If you are going to hammer JK for poor decisions you should be honest enough to give him credit where it is due. MLS is getting better but it still is not the best player development mechanism for our USNats and that fact makes JK’s job difficult at best.

    • I say this being a Dempsey fan. He made the move to Seattle at the right time. He challenged himself by gong to Spurs. Respect that he did that. He did well but I really do not think he would have been able to keep up staying in the rotation.

      I love Deuce but there was no way he was going to keep up at Tottenham. It was inevitable that he was going to the bench and his value would have gone down.

      His peak was his last season as Fulham. He made a deal with Seattle and that worked out for him.

      And you can argue that his talent did not take a hit. He had a fantastic World Cup.
      His age caught up to him.

      As far as Bradley – your point is valid. He would have struggled to find time at Roma and took easy way out in Toronto. His play has drastically taken a hit.

      Jozy – well…..we have tried everything haven’t we? Top leagues, low leagues……

  11. Learned how to lose Gold Cup?

    I am using a hard time figuring out what US soccer learned this year.

    I learned I don’t like JK and his condescending attitude.

  12. Yes, the learning curve resulted from players learning how to play out of position and how to play with Klinsmann’s lack of tactical and substition nous.


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