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Jurgen Klinsmann

US Soccer should have hired Joachim Löw, not Jurgen Klinsmann

Joachim Low-jurgen-klinsmann

I’m not surprised that the United States lost to Jamaica in the Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday night. If you’ve been watching the tournament, you probably weren’t surprised either.

Jamaica is a solid team. Thanks to a new coach, the best part of two months together this summer thanks to a Copa America invite, and a clearly defined tactical setup, the Reggae Boyz know exactly who they are.

They badly wanted to beat the US – and thanks to a couple moments of brilliance and a whole lot of committed, grind-it-out defense, they did. Deserved it, too. It’s one thing to know who you are, but Jamaica believes in who they are too.

But boy, the statistics don’t flatter the US. This marks the first time since 1968 that the US has lost to Caribbean opposition on home soil, the first time they’ve ever lost to a CONCACAF opponent that isn’t Mexico in the Gold Cup, and the first failure to reach the final of the continental tournament since 2003.

This loss wasn’t a one-off. The US, playing at home, was put under considerable pressure and often outplayed by the likes of Haiti, Honduras, and Panama.

Jurgen Klinsmann could never settle on a lineup, a formation, or a style. His devotion to the center-back pairing of John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado was either severely perplexing or constantly enraging, depending on your perspective – especially considering that Matt Besler has been frozen out of the team since he hit back at Klinsmann’s condescending comments about US players lacking fitness in January.

Besler’s ouster from the US setup isn’t an original story. Landon Donovan and Benny Feilhaber can relate.

But even without the Sporting Kansas City men, and with two young, overmatched defenders – and even Timmy Chandler for god’s sake – the US’ play and departure from this tournament was shocking.

Klinsmann will take the blame. He should too, for any number of reasons. But the question going forward is, why hasn’t Klinsmann been able to improve the US? Or Bayern Munich, for that matter?

Klinsmann’s entire coaching legacy was based around the Germany revolution primarily orchestrated by his assistant Joachim Löw – who now, with a World Cup win to his name, is universally regarded as one of the most talented managers in soccer.

Klinsmann’s true genius with Germany wasn’t the smashing attacking football is reign produced, or the influx of youthful exuberance that revitalized the entire countries football scene for a decade and more to come. It was acknowledging that he didn’t know best.

When Klinsmann got the job, he had no previous managerial experience. So he tapped Löw to be his right hand, saying, “I haven’t spent 10 or 15 years on the bench. So I want to have a coach at my side who has.”

Smart move. It helped that Low is also one of the kindest managers in the game, extremely loyal, and generally extremely well-liked by his players. That was back when Klinsmann wasn’t a savant – when he knew better than anyone else that he had very little idea what he was doing.

After that ’06 World Cup, of course, Klinsmann resigned and Löw was promoted. Since then, Germany has thrived and Klinsmann has flopped.

His next job, at Bayern Munich, was a near-comical failure. The players, notably Low’s Germany captain Phillip Lahm revolted over Klinsmann’s methods – but according to Bayern executive chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, he was actually fired because he wouldn’t part with his assistant Martin Vazquez.

Unsurprisingly, Vazquez was also in the eye of the storm when Klinsmann came under the only type of fire that can equate the fire he’s facing now – after the first Hexagonal game in the spring of 2013.

Klinsmann’s tenure as US manager hasn’t been an abject failure, but from what he’s promised, to what he’s paid, he has been. There’s no progress. No real plan. Not from a man who turned to Alan Gordon and route one with his team needing a goal to force extra time against the 76th ranked team in the world.

It’s simple. Klinsmann’s results have been worse than Bob Bradley’s, and worse than Bruce Arena’s too. The soccer backs that up: You saw it against Jamaica, and you saw it all tournament. This team has little idea how it wants to play, and the result of that confusion is too many crosses, too many long-balls, and too many unforced turnovers.

The only thing Klinsmann has really done better than his predecessors is win friendlies in Europe – and that counts for absolutely nothing.

Klinsmann sold Löw’s work and Löw’s vision when he got hired by the US. Four years in with the Americans, he doesn’t seem capable of replicating that work on his own.

Klinsmann’s own staff as US coach has been volatile. Arena brought Bradley through, and Bradley had the excellent Jesse Marsch, while Klinsmann doesn’t even have Vazquez anymore. He fired him before the World Cup.

Independent of Löw, there is nothing in Klinsmann’s record that suggests he is the kind of coach that has earned the unprecedented power, money, and, considering that this humiliating result won’t get him fired, confidence from his boss, that he has at US Soccer.

Sunil Gulati’s infatuation with Klinsmann is almost ten years old. If he does not act, and the US fails to get to the Confederations Cup, he’ll have to face the music too.

The US national team is a very good job and it will attract strong candidates. There’s zero reason to be afraid of a post-Jurgen world. It can’t get much worse than what we just saw. The Klinsmann Revolution has been threatening to turn into the Klinsmann Regression for quite some time.

So either hire Joachim Löw as the new assistant coach, or show Klinsmann the door. US Soccer is better than this.

 

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Andy in Angeles

    August 1, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Abe Asher,

    Your position on Klinsmann seems excessively apocalyptic and naive.

    The USMNT head coaching job is not an attractive international job for foreign managers.

    Familiarity with the US player and the US soccer world seems to be a prerequisite. Klinsmann has lived here and been involved in the US soccer scene since 1998. In the interim he led Germany to a third place finish in the World Cup something few managers of any description have done.

    Few if any of the other big name foreign managers can match Klinsmann’s familiarity with the US.

    This is not surprising. Most foreign managers are interested in a club gig, which is where the money and the glory are, not in leading a national team for little financial reward or glory.

    Foreign national team managers abroad mostly fall into the following rough categories:
    • Mercenaries usually short term big money guys ( Hiddink, Bora)
    • Old guys doing their last retirement gig as a patriotic service ( Del Bosque,)
    • Unknown, inexpensive new guys looking to make a name ( too many to name)
    • Fired club gigs waiting on their next club gig ( Anyone who managers Wales, etc., )

    You think JK is paid too much? Klinsmann’s salary is 2.5 million. Here is what some EPL managers made last season.

    Mourinho £8.37
    Van Gaal £7
    Wenger £6.6
    Pelligrini £5.5
    Rodgers £3.25
    Koeman £2
    Allardyce £2
    Pochettino £3
    Carver £800K
    Monk £500K
    Hughes £900K
    Martínez £1.5
    Pardew £800K
    Poyet £500K
    Pulis £1.5
    Lambert £2

    Klinsmann would be somewhere in the lower half of that list. In fact, Capello was making about 11 million Euros for the Russia job, though he may have been fired by this writing. In comparative terms, Klinsmann’s 2.5 US million is not that impressive.

    So if money is not the issue then why take the job? To lead the US to more success? What would that be the World Cup semis? I think you will find few people outside the US are as optimistic about the strength of the US player pool as Klinsmann is.

    • Bergkamp_10

      August 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      The issue here is whether or not Klinsmann is paid more or is doing a great service for US soccer, he is working hard, no question. But I haven’t seen any kind of improvement in the era of Bob Bradley. Perhaps I would need some enlightenment as to what Klinsmann has done “positively” to take US soccer forward?

      • Andy in Angeles

        August 4, 2015 at 3:00 pm

        Dennis,

        What would you call an improvement?

        In the first part of his tenure Klinsmann the US to the same stage of teh World Cup as Bradley did. At the very worst it could be considered even.

        Since then Klinsmann has been re building the team . The Gold Cup wasn’t to great but it is just another stage.

        • Smokey Bacon

          August 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm

          If you can call going backwards a stage, then it’s a stage.

  2. Brn442

    July 24, 2015 at 2:00 am

    The biggest concern many had when Klinsmann was his relative lack of tactical acumen. His inability to settle on a starting 11 did not help.

    Abe is right, whilst Kilinsmann bought energy and enthusiasm to the German program, Low was the brains of the operation.

    That being said, it’s just one match. Credit to Jamaica. Firing the German now would be pointless. The U.S.has to focus on getting a good start to WC qualifying and winning that one off match to the Confederation Cup. The pain of losing can be a good thing. There is hardly a better motivator.

  3. robina

    July 23, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    AFTER the ’06 World Cup, German thrived? No, they thrived STARTING with the ’06 world cup. 2014 happened because of everything thats been happening since the campaign for 2006. I get you might not like JK’s style, but please don’t dare disregard what he built. It’s so irresponsible.

    • Abe Asher

      July 24, 2015 at 12:45 am

      Absolutely, but my point is that work from 2004-2006 was much more Low’s than Klinsmann’s.

  4. Smokey Bacon

    July 23, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Spot on about Klinsmann. U.S. soccer basically overpaid for a “name” with a razor thin managerial resume.

    • Andy in Angeles

      August 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      “Razor thin resume”?

      Klinsmann led his team to third place in the World Cup. Many, including his successor, credit him with setting in place the basis of a program that revived the program eventually leading to a Championship..

      You can argue about exactly how much credit he deserves for all of this but even so it is still more than most managers in the game have achieved.

  5. Tom Moore

    July 23, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Jurgen Klinsmann: the only coach in the history of sports who must win every match his team plays to avoid the pitchfork and torch crowd.

  6. Flyvanescence

    July 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    More BS from Abe Asher, served over easy. You’re so predictable dude. And so pathetic. Get some new material.

    Worst writer on this site since the guy (Arjun Naranjun?) with the Bayern-loving, English-hating articles a couple of years ago. Actually maybe worse.

    • jtm371

      July 23, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      It is because JK does not think the mls is the best place for the US player to ply their trade. He must be evil since he is not a mls sycophant.

  7. Lawrence Dockery

    July 23, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Dude in what universe would Low leave perennial contender Germany for the US? Maybe in 2018 since Germany has finally won another Word Cup and Klinsmann may be out as manager but still around as Technical Director.

    • Realest Realist

      July 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      This hit piece from Abe has nothing to do with Löw. It’s just another excuse for him to air out his grudge against JK. Nothing more.

      The scenario you described is basically the only one I can think of re: USSF actually hiring Löw. Even then, the Fed might have ushered Klinsmann out of the US setup altogether by then. I’d bet dollars to donuts that whoever replaces him will be more of a Yes man and a lapdog than Klinsmann ever was.

  8. Realest Realist

    July 23, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    “The US national team is a very good job and it will attract strong candidates.”

    Yeah, I’m sure the likes of Lippi, Hiddink, Ancelotti, Bielsa, etc etc would trample over each other to land a position within an organization whose entire power structure is just one subpoena away from being engulfed in flames. Sounds exactly like the kind of stability that they would want in a job.

    Really, it’s almost admirable, the lengths to which you’re willing to broadcast your personal vendetta against Klinsmann on a global platform. I saw the headline of this post and knew instantly who wrote it without having to click on it first. These hit pieces (conveniently published after defeats, in almost every instance) are almost a parody of themselves at this point.

    • Realest Realist

      July 23, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      Conversely, Joachim Löw’s success owes a huge amount of thanks to the patience that the DFB has shown to him since 2006. A string of runner-up and 3rd place finishes in major tournaments eventually led to a World Cup victory in 2014.

      It seems prudent for the USSF (or whatever is left of it after the dust settles on the scandal) to take the same approach with Klinsmann, regardless of this result — or even the result of the upcoming Confed Cup playoff. If the reactionary types had their way, we’d have a revolving door of managers (a la Mexico), all of whom get the heave-ho after every defeat.

      Yeah… let’s not go that route with our managers here.

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