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Klinsmann opposes potential CONCACAF WCQ format change


CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani wants to change the World Cup qualifying format, but if it was up to Jurgen Klinsmann, he would maintain the status quo.

The U.S. Men’s National Team coach spoke to the press ahead of U.S. Men’s National Team’s friendly with New Zealand, and was asked about the potential reform to the qualifying system. Klinsmann stressed that strength of opposition is crucial and changing the format would be detrimental to that.

“Our lesson from Copa America is that if we want to get our program better we have to play with the best,” Klinsmann said according to “In youth soccer terms, you need to play up. If you have an 11-year-old super-talent, don’t play him with the 11-year-olds — play him with the 12-year-olds. So for us, it means if we want to get better we need to play with the best teams out there from South America and Europe.

“I’m not saying we need to join UEFA or we need to join CONMEBOL, but for us in general the topic is we need to get the best games in order to improve our players.”

Montagliani told the Associated Press in an interview on Sunday that “something needs to change” because the current format “doesn’t make sense.” The present system in CONCACAF finishes with the Hexagonal phase, with six teams out of 12 progressing from the fourth round.

European and South American countries start and finish qualification at the same time under their respective systems, even if the qualified teams have already been determined.

The USMNT resumes its World Cup qualifying campaign on Nov. 11 when it faces Mexico in Columbus.


  1. Nice job Jurgen, now we can see even more of the soccer mom/dad trying to play their star up a few age groups, when the only one they were impressing in their own age group was….the soccer mom/dad.

    Oh look they took our $2000, they must agree with us, Junior has what it takes!!!

    • How is that his fault? What about what he said was wrong. I was playing varsity soccer and lacrosse at 14 because I bigger and better than the other 14 and 13 year olds. Then that happens a lot with all-state athletes on high school teams.

      In terms of travel and select teams, where the talent is much better, that still happens. A guy at my high school played up a couple at our select team starting at 13 because he was SO MUCH better. He ended up being a regional All-America. 1 kid out our church was playing varsity in 8th grade, but he ended up a full All-American (in high school) then ended up playing for the defending national champions.

      You play for the best team where you can be a regular player. If that is up a year or two or goinog to a different team, then you do it.

      • This is a guy that admonishes players, of all ages, for seeking greater competition and higher levels in Europe over MLS. You know, much like Bob Bradley.

        Klinsmann has never advocated pay-for-play and in fact, has been an advocate of creating stronger developmental programs funded by USSF to help foster talent that may be financially disadvantaged. For all detractors of Klinsmann, this philosophical shift should be celebrated.

  2. Klinsmann’s point is completely unrelated to what Montaglians said. He’s basically saying that to get better we need to play more friendlies against South American and European teams. Not only is this another case of Klinks sidestepping an issue, it doesn’t address CONCACAF’s problem of having too many teams eliminated from competition too early in the qualifying processes.

  3. neither article really gets to his main quote that he would be opposed to seeing the hex (final round of qualifying) open up to more teams i.e. 8 or 10 team final group, basically more games vs. #7-10 concacaf does not help USSoccer. playing in more games vs. Mexico, Copa America’s or even friendlies vs. top European teams are the only games that are helpful for USSoccer

    i agree with that, but the final round should be opened up to at least 8 teams. the concacaf pres has a good point that too many teams are eliminated to quickly. I would like to see a different format for qualifying and a permanent year 2 tournament with the best of the two Americas.

    • I don’t agree that the late stages need to be changed. There are currently 4 rounds of qualifying before the Hex. Right now they are all just Home & Away knock out rounds so some teams are literally knocked out after 2 games. If we need to change anything, the first round of qualifying should be more of a round robin format so that the smaller countries can get in some more games. Other than that, the final rounds shouldn’t change.

  4. An overwhelming amount of people in the previous thread echoed exactly what Klinsmann said. That might be an SBI first so let’s remember the date.

    Never forget.

  5. Besides the fatigue and time-waste from flying down to South America, are there any other reasons for not trying to join CONMEBOL? Obviously, they may not want to take us, but it seems USMNT and El Tri could “simply” threaten to leave Concacaf if Montagliani keeps pushing his plan?

    There doesn’t seem to be a perfect solution, but I don’t know that continuing with the current format is a winning recipe for the USMNT to reach the next level. As JK and others have suggested, we need to bail out of one of the Gold Cups and get ourselves permanently invited to Copa America every 4 years.

    • Associations and qualification for the World Cup are based on continents. Because Australia is a separate continent, they were allowed to change from Oceana to Asia, but I don’t think FIFA would allow a country to start playing in another continent for qualification. CONMEBOL routinely invites a couple of CONCACAF teams to their Copa in order to make even groups and there’s no reason we couldn’t go there more often. In fact we made it to the semifinals in the late 90’s.


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