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Redemption For Jurgen Klinsmann: USA Head Coach’s Controversial Decisions Proven Correct

usa3 600x355 Redemption For Jurgen Klinsmann: USA Head Coachs Controversial Decisions Proven Correct

Jurgen Klinsmann has been derided by critics on both sides of the Atlantic as being incapable of taking a tactical approach to the way he sets up and manages his teams. In 2011, Phillip Lahm who played for Klinsmann — both with Germany and Bayern Munich — said the following about the one-time German national team great:

“We practically only practiced fitness under Klinsmann. There was very little technical instruction and the players had to get together independently before the game to discuss how we wanted to play. All the players knew after about eight weeks that it was not going to work out with Klinsmann. The remainder of that campaign was nothing but limiting the damage.”

No question exists that Klinsmann has put a tremendous emphasis on fitness throughout his management career. A feeling before the tournament was that the United States would have an advantage in terms of coping with the heat and travel because of Klinsmann’s approach. But many question the approach on the pitch that would be taken by the manager. How organized would the United States be? How would the unorthodox squad selection that included the selection of several players with minimal big game international experience play out? Would the side regret Landon Donovan being left at home?

All of these questions were answered decisively in Klinsmann’s favor. As the above screen grab demonstrates, the United States was very well organized against Germany when playing without the ball. In fact, they were this well structured throughout the tournament. The team marked in packs and players covered space well when others pushed into other positions. The fluidity of the United States defense has not gotten enough credit and was a marked difference from what we saw in qualifying from largely the same group of players.

Klinsmann’s squad selection has been justified as well. With the exception of youngster Julian Green, every single controversial selection of the manager has played a key role in getting the United States out of the “Group of Death.” John Brooks, a selection that was panned by many, scored the winning goal against Ghana. DeAndre Yedlin, perhaps the most surprising selection of all, was directly responsible for the goal that gave the United States a 2-1 lead over Portugal late on. Brad Davis held play up well today and did very well defending. Omar Gonzalez, who was written off weeks ago as surplus to requirements by many critics, was inserted into the team against Germany and had a brilliant match.

Many felt Jermaine Jones should not be an automatic starter on this side and he was maligned as an overly reckless player. Jones has responded by turning in the best overall Group Stage by an American player arguably since the stellar play of John O’Brien in 2002.

Finally, on the issue of Landon Donovan, despite the injury to Jozy Altidore, the fine high-energy play of those selected renders Donovan useless. It is nearly impossible to see where Donovan would play in this team and how his skill set would enhance the squad.

In the end, Klinsmann got every decision right. In a group this tight, he had zero margin for error, and thankfully for the USA he’s already surpassed the expectations of most pundits. Tuesday’s game against Belgium will be the next chapter in Klinsmann’s story.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC. View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

6 Responses to Redemption For Jurgen Klinsmann: USA Head Coach’s Controversial Decisions Proven Correct

  1. Remy says:

    But if we had Landon Donovan on the team, we would have won all 3 matches! .

  2. EDub says:

    Surprisingly, I now feel that Lando would be a good replacement for Bradley.

  3. Paul says:

    I think we all would agree that Landon could have started on the left side of midfield against Germany. Brad Davis looked decidedly limited before switching to the other side of the midfield. Davis was not able to use his skill, his ability to cross, enough to impact the game. His lack of pace did not create the “energy” necessary to counter Germany and break a decidedly slow Germany central defense.

  4. Alex Gago says:

    JK has made several tactical mistakes that have caused the USMNT the ability to qualify with a win rather than qualified by points to advance to the second stage.

    Not substituting Bradley at the 75 minutes with Bradley clearly ran out of steam with fresh player and starting Cameron in Portugal caused the USMNT the win against Portugal.

    I would much rather have enter into the second round with a decisive win v Portugal than by points.

    JK has done some remarkable tactical subs but he miss the Portugal substitutions and starting line-up where he change against Germany.

  5. Snout Snoutsen says:

    One thing he got wrong… why not try for the draw in the last 15 minutes of the Germany game and use the 3rd substitution for an attacker? Isn’t Wondolowski on the roster for just that situation… down a goal with 15 minutes to go? Or Johannsson? Ghana was looking the better team in the second half of the Ghana/Portugal game and the US are lucky that Ronaldo got Portugal’s second goal. In the meantime, the US should have tried harder to control their own destiny by adding to the attack. At that point losing 0-1, 0-2 or even 0-3 wasn’t going to matter if Ghana had won 2-1. Only a 1-1 draw would have saved us.

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