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Arena: Klinsmann call-ups had ‘no consistency’

Jurgen Klinsmann is back in U.S. Men’s National Team news once again, this time due to criticism of his call-ups by current coach Bruce Arena.

Arena was critical of Klinsmann’s call-up strategies, or lack thereof, during the German’s time in charge of the USMNT, claiming that his predecessor cast too wide of a net and didn’t have enough consistency in his call-ups, reports While Klinsmann’s selection was a frequent point of criticism during his tenure, Arena’s comments speak to how his selection methodology differs and why he believes it will ultimately be more successful.

“One of the things that was confusing as I came in and evaluated the rosters was there was just too many players called in for whatever reason from everywhere and no consistency,” Arena said.

“A player like (FC Ingolstadt midfielder Alfredo) Morales is obviously a solid player. Is he as good as the other four or five players in that position? Who knows, but playing in the national team program once every two years is not the best thing either.”

Klinsmann was certainly known for giving lesser-known players a shot, with hit or miss results. While the regular addition of some players such as Bobby Wood and John Brooks have panned out well, Klinsmann also had his share of misses.

Arena has, in counter to this perceived inconsistency, narrowed the player pool he uses for selections in an effort to earn players more regular time. He’s also targeted players that he believe Klinsmann overlooked in his desire to experiment, such as Chicago Fire midfielder Dax McCarty, fullback Jorge Villafana, and others. He believes that this will help focus his group’s efforts and win at a time when winning is crucial.

“If you look at what I’ve done over the last four games, there have been some new faces,” Arena said. “[Sebastian] Lletget is an example, he got hurt unfortunately. There have been other players. However, we’re not at a time where we can just start bringing in players and giving them auditions. We have to win games.”


  1. He was very consistent calling in abroad players especially ones from Germany. I’m sure the squads he called in for the qualifiers and the Copa America were nearly identical. He also tried a lot of different players and young players. Calling in Morris as a college player and Ibarra who wasn’t even in the MLS took guts. So, even if he’s responding to a question, it was an ill conceived answer.

    • Calling in Ibarra probably wasn’t one of Klinsmann’s brightest moments, or calling in Rogers on the basis of some pick-up games, or JK’s infatuation with Shea or Greene: only Morris really panned out. JK liked speed and often over-looked lack of skill to get it. I am not sure how any of those choices really demonstrated JK’s coaching smarts.

  2. this was odd. as others have said, it sounds like maybe bruce was asked a specific question, and he felt like he just had to say something?

    whatever. if he’s looking for something to criticize klinsmann for, i’m sure we can help him out. this just seemed random.

  3. Reality is setting in on the player pool and expecting Arena to pull a rabbit out of his hat is not happening. The Fielhabers, Kljestan, Nguyen, Wondo, and eventually McCarty be out of the picture. I really see this as a non-story considering the lineups Arena has run out recently. One thing I could take from this is Arena is looking for cohesion but he is trending the same direction as JK with the exception of dropping day of lineups and players playing out of position.

    However, the recent friendly running out the three in the back without your two most athletic and best on the ball CB’s was a head scratcher?

    On the flip side it is becoming apparent Arena appreciates players who can retain the ball and move the ball versus the athletic hustle guys.

    The player pool is the widest and deepest it has ever been and the number of talented players will continue to grow exponentially in the next ten years. With the number of ambitious players willing to take a chance and test themselves in Europe. Although, I expect an increase of off the radar kids to start to show up in MLS academies

    • The youth soccer boom of the 90’s are now the parents of young soccer players and those kids are the reason there is an ever-expanding pool of talented players for the USMNT. That means that more and more very good players will never see time on the full USMNT.

      The US is approaching a critical mass of players so that the National team coach can pick players to play the style he wants, not just pick the best 11 and try to fit them into some pattern based on their talents.

      It the US ever has a Messi or Ronaldo, a successful coach will shape the team to exploit that talent, but with a few talented and 25 to 50 mostly equivalent players the coach’s vision of soccer will matter more than the players’ talent in determining the team’s style of play.

      I think Arena was faulting JK for thrashing around going from one shiny object to another with no consistent underlying structure as evidenced in the often strange call-ups and changing tactical formations JK seemed so fond of.

  4. I don’t think Arena stated his case very well, and I imagine he was answering a question rather than trying to make a point to criticize his predecessor. That said, I’d rather he focus on getting the team ready for Thursday.

  5. I get some of the criticism for JK’s squad selections…Leaving players like Feilhaber out or including Wondo….but his biggest criticism was how he deployed players and/or his tactical approach to games. “Challenging players by playing them out of position”.
    Arena on the other hand is basically calling in the same players as JK, but fielding them in their more natural positions…Acosta at CM instead of LB…and giving them more direction of what he expects out of them.

    What I’ve yet to see from Arena that JK actually did is attempting to the integration of our younger players. I get the fact that we can’t experiment too much in WCQ right now because of our point standing….but the Gold Cup squad would have been a great opportunity to call in some of the fringe players in Europe as their clubs would have had to release them (Horvath, Gooch, Green, Rubin, Stanko, Perez, Akale, Canouse). Instead we got an MLS squad full of disappointing & aging players (Bedoya, Pontius, Zusi, McCarty, Wondo, etc…).

    The January Camp is where he should be calling in these types of MLS players…players that we all know aren’t good enough to really contribute outside of CONCACAF; while the Gold Cup should be used test and evaluate many of the European fringe players.

    • I hear what you’re saying but with the Gold Cup taking place in July instead of June, he was caught between picking young players and risking those same young players losing out on preseason

      We all have seen how difficult it is for our guys to get into the line up…is GC worth sacrificing club playing time? It may not be for a player that needs to be in preseason bc of manager changes….

    • Leaving players like Feilhaber out

      Something Bradley did before him, Klinsmann did after, and Arena continued the trend after one call-up. It would appear there’s a theme there.

      • Benny generally has been more effective as a sub than a starter for the MNT. He could be the perfect change of pace. I’m not saying he can do for us what Cesc Fabregas does for Chelsea, coming into a match and having an immediate impact.

        What I hope is that Arena recognizes that Bradley hasn’t been the same player since injury his ankle in the warmup before the Sept. 2013 WCQ at Costa Rica and maybe his time as a regular starter needs to end.

      • Actually, it was Bradley who gave Feilhaber his chances and Benny scored a great goal against Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup final in Chicago. However, Benny underperfomed in the next few years and fell off the radar until his performance the last couple years in MLS.

  6. Call-ups? Weren’t those fairly consistent? Klinsmann, just like Arena, had “his guys.” Line-ups on the other hand…

    • Actually, most of the people do. THIS JUST IN!!!! A lot of people don’t consider an “MLS lifer” to be an insult. Especially referring to the only coach who took us to WC quarters in the last 60+ years

      • Rob’s opinions win out over Arena’s because Rob wasn’t ever a coach in MLS

  7. Every time this man talks it sounds like it’s the 1990’s, but I remain confident he was the right man for the one reason we hired him: Qualify for Russia.

    Outside of that singular goal, this man is a step backwards for the program.

    • Having followed the US team since 1990 and the Galaxy since its inception, I think Arena is the best ever US coach. However, given the record of the Galaxy in his last few seasons, I fear he has lost some of his touch in that time and I don’t see him as necessarily an improvement.

  8. Odd timing for him to bring this up, especially after a piss poor performance with basically the same team other than villafana. Lletget is a bad example since he played all of how many minutes until he got hurt, and what has dax done except sit on the bench.

    • Plus the fact that Lletget had played only about one and a half seasons in MLS before Klinsmann got the axe and it was only after Arena moved him to center mid toward the end of the 2016 season, that he filled a national team need. Given how little he has played internationally, it’s too soon to conclude whether he is good enough to be a regular call up anyway. While Arena could make some decent arguments on this issue, his examples don’t exactly back up his arguments. In fact, they are lousy examples.

  9. So, JK cast the net too wide, and simultaneously didn’t give enough players a shot (or at least the players that BA likes)? I have a ton of respect for Arena but don’t get that criticism.

    • He cast his net wide but didn’t give a lot of players time to integrate into the squad. His mention of Morales is a perfect example.

    • I can. The only way Arena doesn’t take us to the World Cup is if we don’t qualify. And if he does take us there, he’ll be replaced going into the next cycle regardless of how well we do.

      • The only way he doesn’t take us to the World Cup is if we don’t qualify. ??????? WHAT? What other way could he not get the USMNT to the WC via a means other than not qualifying … disqualification?

      • @nc jeff

        i believe paul was saying that the only reason arena would be fired is if we didn’t qualify; therefore, to hope for his firing would be to hope that we don’t qualify.

  10. Except the criticism of Klinsmann since the 2015 Gold Cup was his lack of giving players a chance with NT.


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