US soccer press does a disservice with softball questions to Jurgen Klinsmann

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After a demoralizing loss to Mexico in a game where the US Men’s National Team put in a very underwhelming performance on the same day that the US U23 team were defeated 0-2 to Honduras in Olympic qualifying, the defeated Jurgen Klinsmann went into the post-match press conference at the Rose Bowl to face the media.

Coupled with the recent Gold Cup semi-final exit at the hands of Jamaica, you would expect the assembled US soccer media to ask Klinsmann penetrating questions especially given his position as both technical director and head coach for the USA.

Instead, what the US soccer press asked were softball questions.

Here are word for word the first four soft questions posed to him in the press conference Saturday night:

Question 1: Jurgen, two tough losses for US Soccer today including the U23’s loss to Honduras. What does this mean for US Soccer?

Question 2: Substitutions of DeAndre Yedlin and Bobby Wood really paid off for you. Talk about what they brought to the team.

Question 3: There must be a lot you’re happy about tonight, though, the way your team came back twice and played really well in a big important match.

Question 4: You look at Mexico’s first goal and third goal. Is there a level of technical skill that they have that the US doesn’t that no matter of organization or tactics or effect can make up for?

These are embarrassing.

Not only are they softball questions, but two of them are framed with so many positives (questions 2 and 3) that even veterans of PR spin would nod their head in approval at their mastery.

Now contrast these questions with the feelings of fans of the US Men’s National Team.

Notice the disparity.

Is it any wonder that Klinsmann’s feet aren’t being held to the fire when the majority of the US soccer press are too nice, not wanting to engage in confrontation and, most importantly, doing a disservice to soccer fans by being so passive?

If this was any other country in the world, Klinsmann would have been grilled in the press conference. Whether you support Klinsmann or not, the US soccer media should be asking challenging questions about the job that he’s doing as technical director and head coach. But they’re not, and ultimately they’re falling down on their jobs, just as Klinsmann and his players have done so in losses to Jamaica, Panama and now Mexico.

Arguably, the US is now the third or fourth best team in CONCACAF based on recent performances. Given the circumstances, reporters should be asking Klinsmann tougher questions to get a better understanding of why many of his players are regressing.

Not surprisingly, the first tough question that was asked by the media to Klinsmann was the next one. This time, it was by reporter Gustavo Mendoza of FOX Sports Radio, who was covering the game from a Mexico angle:

Question 5: A few ex-players said you should go if you lose this game. Others say that you should continue. What do you have to say to tell those guys especially when we saw this great game, but unfortunately the US lost it. What do you say to those ex-players?

By asking the question, it forced Klinsmann out of his comfort zone. He uttered a brief nervous laughter before sharing his opinion.

The next question was from Ives Galarcep when he asked Klinsmann to tell soccer fans why progress is or isn’t being made, which resulted in Klinsmann blaming the refereeing in the Gold Cup as the reason why the team had to play this CONCACAF Cup game in the first place.

By asking challenging questions, Klinsmann is more likely to share valuable insight. Likewise, softball questions generate vanilla answers.

For a man that is paid an annual salary of $2.5 million, four times higher than his predecessor Bob Bradley, the US soccer press needs to be asking tougher questions about the lack of progress within Klinsmann’s program. While as head coach, he can only do the best with the players he has at his disposal, do we have any greater sense of what his vision is for the US soccer program as a whole to give us the confidence to believe that things will improve?

If the US soccer press continues to give Klinsmann a “free pass,” do we have any confidence that Klinsmann and his coaching staff are working as hard as possible and finding all of the solutions necessary to improve US Soccer? Or do we have a feeling that by the media going easy on Klinsmann that he and his staff can take their feet off the gas and cruise along with very little to no accountability until World Cup 2018 when his contract expires? This isn’t a “Klinsmann only” question. It’s a bigger issue that should be raised with the US Soccer Federation officials.

Soccer fans in the US deserve better and want more answers. Unfortunately, given the current climate, they’re likely to be incredibly disappointed.

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16 Comments

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