Top Stories

Gonzalez praises Arena’s preparation, criticizes Klinsmann

Photo by Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports

Omar Gonzalez admitted that he was one of several U.S. Men’s National Team players surprised to hear Bruce Arena wanted to revert back to a three-at-the-back system against Mexico. After being battered by El Tri while playing a similar formation back in the fall, there was an obvious hesitation towards giving it another go at the Azteca.

In the end, the switch worked, and Gonzalez was quick to point out that it was Arena’s preparation that made it so.

Gonzalez says the USMNT worked on the formation throughout the extended training camp leading up to the Mexico match, a 1-1 draw at the Azteca. It was temporarily used in the team’s friendly over Venezuela as well, but the foundation was laid repeatedly during extensive drilling and practice since day one of USMNT training.

According to the defender, it’s a far cry than the preparation levels under previous head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. According to the Pachuca defender, Arena’s presence has been a steady one thanks to how straight-forward he is with both his lineups and tactics.

“I was relieved that I knew that early, for sure,” Gonzalez said, according to Goal USA. “I’ve had three weeks to prepare for this game. It’s just a different environment, and a different mentality you can take when you know three weeks out when you’re going to play, how you’re going to prepare.

“Sometimes with Jurgen you wouldn’t know until the day of the game,” Gonzalez added. “It’s just stressful, so with Bruce here taking that kind of approach here, it’s been helping out a lot.”

Gonzalez was deployed as one of the three centerbacks, joining Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream in the center of the defense. Gonzalez and Ream were two of seven changes to the starting XI, giving the USMNT a vastly different look than the group that took the field against Trinidad & Tobago.

The former LA Galaxy defender says it was all by design, and that the group has been preparing for Sunday’s match throughout the two weeks. There was nothing thrown together hastily. Rather, it was all deliberate, and Gonzalez says Arena is the one to thank.

“Going into the last game (in November) it was a maybe that we were going to use a 3-5-2,” Gonzalez said. “We didn’t know until a couple of days before the game and then it was just thrown out there. Now we had two weeks to really prepare. One team was preparing to play against Trinidad in a 4-4-2, and the other team was preparing in a 3-5-2. We’ve been playing this now for a few weeks and so that’s the reason there was a lot better understanding tonight, and the reason it worked for us tonight.

“You saw how things can turn out when you don’t really prepare that properly and you’re confused and you don’t know who’s going to start,” Gonzalez added. “Things can turn out bad, like losing at home.”


  1. Interesting article in today’s (6/13) LA Times. According to the story, X’s and O’s are just letters in the alphabet to Bruce Arena. They say that tactics have never been his strong suit. What he excels at, according to the article, is team building. Howard is quoted as saying that in the past there were guys who were just passengers. Now everybody is committed to the team. So, one could conclude that Arena is a better rah rah guy than Klinsmann and tactics aren’t that important.

  2. I have to take anything Gonzalez says with a grain of salt. OG was not a JK favorite….and had been left out of the squad multiple times for other CB options (Birnbaum, Miazga). Rightly so IMO considering some of the performances he put together under JK.

    Just saying OG is getting a fresh start with the team because his old coach is now in charge, and seems to sucking up to Arena a bit.

  3. I ran into Zardes at a shopping mall in Kansas City about 6 hours or so before a Gold Cup game. We talked very briefly. He had no idea if he was starting or not (He ended up starting). I do think there is something to letting players know in advance they are going to play so they can prepare mentally.

    • What was he doing in a shopping mall only 6 hours before a game? You would think that only 6 hours before the game the team would either be together in the hotel or at the stadium with the coach going over plans/tactics. I know that in major league baseball, and they play a lot of games, players will often show up at the park at midday for a night game. If true, this report from Zardes is more damning than what Omar said, IMO.

      • He was behind me on an escalator at a large shopping center in downtown KC. He was with an older woman and a young child. We talked about a pullback assist he had to Dempsey the previous game and then I asked if he was in the 11 and he said he ‘hoped so’. The park is not even really that close. I’m guessing on the time of day I saw him. I think the game was at 6pm and this was probably late morning at the earliest. I don’t get up super early to shop with my girlfriend when traveling.

  4. Klinsmann did some good things and some bad things… The best soccer is being played in the UK, Spain, Germany and Italy. Our best players SHOULD be playing there and we SHOULD be trying to improve our domestic league.

  5. Hypocritical, as I just posted a message on the other page saying JK doesn’t get that good of a game out of it, tie with good chances at winning……but I think Omar G needs to quit looking back. JK is done. He isn’t Bruce Arena, and he isn’t coming back like BA. JK did a lot of great things. We need remember those and move on.

    I can sit here and take it personally, we all can, he repeatedly said US soccer fans don’t know anything, or I can move on and not be bitter. Going to try and do the latter. Join me Omar, we can both focus on you getting those corner kick headers in the goal.

    • The reason Arena is the coach is because of the egregious errors of Brooks vs. Mexico and CR and Omar had vs. CR. OG didn’t exactly distinguish himself in the CR game and gave up a cross that led to the first goal because he was slow to cover because of lack of hustle. People who live in glass houses should be careful about throwing stones.

      • The reason BA is coach is because JK had utterly lost the team by the time they rolled into Costa Rica.

  6. Look at the stats. Worst Mex team in decades. Only one win in quails in the Hex there last cycle. A typical JK friendly win after 6 or 7 subs made and being dominated. Yeah….that matters….to the ignorant insecure clueless mob it does. That 0-0 tie we were outshot 19-1, no quality chances….15 corners to 2….and were never in the match. What BA just did on two days rest, turning over the team, organizing it was miles ahead of snake oil salesman. Look at the stats for last nights game, the actual real chances, shots, corners. The kind of gameplay a we expect from a seasoned Euro coach.
    We truly don’t get it here….especially the people who have followed since 2010 or so. Really no idea, but that is why JK was able to take ad of them so easy.

    • Agreed, this draw is completely different. Last night we kept Mexico very quiet. Sure, they had the lions share of possession, but where was the danger? They played knock around then eventually tried to get into the box and were repelled time and time again. It is no coincidence 3 of their 4 “chances” came from outside the 18.
      Our attacks, while few and far between, were effective. We actually had better scoring opps and forced how many corners? The game plan defensively worked like a charm. With more effective play from Wood, Pulisic and Arriola we could have walked away with 3 points. Last night was a great game from the US.

    • You complain about ignorance of people who haven’t followed the team for long. I’ve followed since 1990. Does that count? One thing is being overlooked. Because this round of qualifiers came when it did, it has meant that the players have been together longer since only MLS is in season right now. Back in November, MLS was in the playoffs with still 8 teams involved and all other leagues were in season. Typically, a national team player will play on a weekend, catch a plane and fly to the national team site, get a couple of days practice, then they play in CONCACAF on Friday followed by a Tuesday, then they go back to their club teams. They don’t have the time for the preparation that Arena did this time with the national time when he had most of the players for close to two weeks with time for the friendly with Venezuela. A better comparison is to look at how much preparation did Klinsmann give the US for the Centenario since he had plenty of time with the team then. Or, you can compare the preparation Arena gave the team in March vs. Klinsmann in November. Otherwise, you are comparing apples with oranges.

  7. 2012-2013 winning record it part: Altidore was juggernaut in Holland, Donovan playing more important role, Mix & Corona showing strong promise, Torres actually playing some games with Tigers, Bradley brought Serie A level to the USNT, Beasley still had youth & speed, & Jones took more unofficial leadership role.

  8. If I remember correctly, Klinsmann is 1-0-1 all time at Estadio Azteca. Only coach in our history to have a winning record there. You can say all you want about him but he did get results in Mexico.

    • Also the only US coach to lose to Mexico in Columbus, our DosACero fortress. I would have traded 1000 friendly losses at Azteca for one WCQ win in CBus.

  9. Klinsmann, did too many experiments with players playing out their position like: Jones, Johnson, Donovan, Beasley etc…the experiment failed & Klinsmann continue with the same experiment again. Klinsmann in 2014 & after: brought USNT that can’t hold the ball, boring to watch, negative result & USNT losting it’s place as “Giant of CONCACAF”. & Donovan issue was poorly handed by Klinsmann.

    • The problem is and always has been that JK was a salesman, politician, manipulator who catered to the young, ignorant, self loathing and Eurosnobs. He used the same tactics an despot would use to rise to power. Play to the mob, the desperate, inexperienced, smile, and make promises that never could be kept, while promoting some fantastical skill set he never had. I dare anyone to find a quote from any socker person in Germany who says he is skilled. You won’t. Even players who like him say he was motivator….nothing more. Yet the ignorant bought into a guy who did nothing to improve the Germany youth system or help create it….incredible lie and manipulation….and who let Jurgi Loew coach his team. Verified by multiple players.
      The slow destruction of team and mentality was sad to watch.
      There is a reason advertisers, religions, dictators, politicians go after the youth, self loathing and ignorant. Easy to manipulate and take ad of. He didi that. Never before has a guy so unskilled and incapable as coach, communicator, implementor and manager gotten as much mileage as he has.
      He knew how to pick his spots.
      The little ones still don’t understand. Very sad.

      • Klinsmann was primary at fault but more like secondary. I blame Gulati for USNT’s failures.

      • How long have you been playing and watching soccer to say Klinsmann is unskilled? If you watched, you will remember some great goals he has scored. e.g., the goal against Bolivia in ’94 where he flicks the ball on the turn and volleys it, another one against Atalanta in the Serie A where he does a flying scissor kick and scores.

        Unskilled ? You see anyone in US Soccer history scoring such goals ???

        It’s obvious you have no soccer knowledge that you have to rely on someone’s quote without seeing the images yourself. Seems like many “journalists” who never played the game… but they are experts?

      • Helium — surely you realize that he is referring to his skill as a coach, not a player, don’t you?

      • This is hilariously extreme. JK may be underwhelming, but his record is more or less the same as every guy who came before him. We’re better off with Bruce, but your post reaches way, way too far to discredit him.

Leave a Comment