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EDGAR ZUNIGA - Tuesday, September 28, 2010
With summer finally gone, the World Cup hangover has finally lifted and we are left with a buzzing echo in the back of our minds that won't go away for a long time. For fans of the US National Team, it is a mix of the cacophony of those damned vuvuzelas, the release of a million roars at a last-minute goal and the collective groan that came with what many feel was an all too early exit from the World Cup.

Despite having at his disposal what many argue is the greatest generation of American soccer players ever, the general consensus is that Bob Bradley mismanaged the team to another disappointing finish.

It might seem harsh to lay so much blame on Bob, but the US really did have a great opportunity to make it to the semifinals without having to face any of the traditional powers along the way.

It might seem harsh because Bob did what was expected of him, ensuring that the team remained competitive with Mexico (which is undergoing a period of transition) and being at the helm during a time when the US played well against some of the strongest teams in the world.

But that is not enough.

For US Soccer, the aim should not be to remain competitive in CONCACAF, it should be world domination!

Say what you want about Bob, but he is not a world-class coach. He might have a win logged over Vicente del Bosque, but that Confederations Cup semifinals victory over Spain was more a display of American grit and determination than Bob's brilliant managerial exploits. And, let's not forget that del Bosque now has a World Cup trophy on his resume.

While many pundits might not consider Jurgen Klinsmann on the same level as some of FIFA's finest, others feel he is just what US Soccer needs. Besides leading host Germany to the semifinals of World Cup 2006, he has a grasp of the European game and has spent enough time in the US to understand all the intricacies that come with managing stateside.

He has often been very complimentary about US Soccer and expressed his support for American athletes and their intelligence and desire to learn to play the game at a higher level. The guy even lives in Southern California, close to the National Training Center in Los Angeles.

So, when the time came to choose a new coach and direction for the national team, it was a bit of a letdown to see that US Soccer would stay the course and stick with Bob.

Just like in 2006, US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati pursued Klinsmann for the job. However, the result was the same with Bob being the default second choice (third perhaps?).

Was there anyone else besides Bob? What happened?

In an interview with former MLS player Sasha Victorine that was posted on the Kansas City Wizards website, Klinsmann admitted that it all came down to issues over control of the national team, which would extend beyond the technical staff and probably to a restructuring of the US Soccer Federation and player development programs.

US Soccer meandered in an endless desert of mismanagement and mediocrity for decades before a major purge in the late '80s. Since then, US Soccer has done its best to run a tight ship, build a working relationship with Major League Soccer and raise the profile of the sport across the American landscape.

For those reasons alone, one can understand why Gulati has been hesitant to let Klinsmann take free reign of the destiny of US Soccer.

Moreover, detractors of Klinsmann will point out his spotty run with Bayern Munich, where Klinsmann was given total control and brought in sports psychologists, yoga instructors, placed statues of Buddha around the club's training facility and experimented with the team's style of play.

Although he led Bayern to the quarterfinals of the DFB Cup and Champions League, it wasn't enough for a club accustomed to elite status with elite results. Klinsmann became the target of criticism from the media and was subsequently dropped by the club.

Some also question his work ethic and feel he lacks the will to work through difficult situations and might bail on US Soccer, leaving things in a big mess.

When taking all this into consideration, it makes sense why US Soccer chose to stick with Bob. They already know what to expect from him. With Bob at the helm, they already know the US is assured of qualification to World Cup 2014, they are confident that Bob will keep the US competitive with Mexico and they know Bob will work well with MLS and not overlook MLS talent when choosing his teams.

Best of all, Bob won't make any ludicrous demands or attempt a coup of the US Soccer Federation.

If this was a discussion about cars, you could compare Bob to the trusty Ford Focus with automatic transmission, which gets you from point A to point B without wasting much fuel but doesn't have what it takes to run on the track with the faster European models. Klinsmann is more of a slightly-used, manual-transmission BMW 5-Series that you can't take home unless you give the dealer the deed to your house and half of your paycheck.

From Gulati's point of view, the focus is on getting to the World Cup and hoping for a good draw and hopefully the knock-out round.

Going with Klinsmann would have been a huge investment that borders on a gamble and would have shaken up things too much for the suits at US Soccer. With the US now a sure thing in the World Cup, Klinsmann would be expected to take the team to at least the quarterfinals or beyond.

What if after all that, Klinsmann's plans fall apart thanks to mistakes on the field or the US gets lumped in a Group of Death and fails miserably? What then?

Sure, the same could happen with Bob in charge, but at least there aren't any crazy expectations. So, when the US barely defeats a CONCACAF minnow we can all sing our songs and chant our chants and then explode in jubilation when the team flies low under the radar and upsets some foolish team in the World Cup.

Just like 2010.
Fernando Sanchez
Wednesday November 10, 2010 6:52 pm
@Joe Bailey.....Joe....What are you talking about when you said that our buts we whoop by Poland...? Are you aware that the referee disallowed a goal ? A Landon Donovan goal....! And a USA player were expel !!!.
Joe bailey
Wednesday October 6, 2010 12:24 pm
I agree with what Lorenzo had to say.

I like Klinsi, but 3rd place in GERMANY? Come on now. And if he "has spent enough time in the US to understand all the intricacies that come with managing stateside", why would he need to make all these demands to a better job than Bradley if the consensus is that he's a better coach. Why would he need to make all these demands that he knows he's not going to get?

A lot of the Bradley bashing has much to do with how the team did in Japan-Korea 2002. Remember, we got to the 2nd round after getting our butts handed to us by Poland, ONLY because South Korea beat Portugal. We went in and beat Mexico which wasn't all that surprising. We flamed out in 2006, came back to Earth, and realized that the best we could do next time around was get to the next round. So in 2010 despite blatant attempts by the refs in TWO games to thwart us by disallowing legitimate goals, we not only got into the next round, we won our group! We narrowly lost to Ghana, the same team that beat us 4 years ago. Considering the clubs the Ghanians play for compared to the teams our guys play for, I'm not sure we can say we're better than they are.

I'm happy with Bob.
mike
Thursday September 30, 2010 2:46 pm
the USA doesn't have the player talent to compete much higher than the place they are right now, look at the teams that finished ahead of us at the WC and look at the talent and depth they have.
Lorenzo
Thursday September 30, 2010 10:36 am
Sunil is Pure Evil,

Low has a better winning percentage than Klinsmann does he not? Did he take them to the Euro finals losing to Spain?

People question Bradley fine, wishing for a coach with different/more experience, fine.

But don't try to sell Klinsmann and a proven and successful coach. Resume doesn't bode well, especially for the over achieving you expect him to do with our B+ players.

If Klinsmann could make us quarter-finalists, if he was that good, he should have taken that germany team in his home country and won the whole thing, or taken Bayern and overachieved and won the whole thing and captured some kind of cup or a semi-finals in Champ League. You are trying to tell me Jurgen and get a lot out of his team but he never has gone beyond what is expected... ever.

Americans love attacking soccer win or lose??? No, attacking and winning they'll love but attacking and losing they will hate, and just not care when we try to explain "sure Mexico is in Confed Cup but we lost to them 4-3, and we had 3 really good goals and we really had some other chances as well"
Joe
Thursday September 30, 2010 3:55 am
Teams that were disappointed with their S. Africa 2010 performance include every team eliminated at the group stage with the possible exception of New Zealand. Mexico, England and Portugal probably could not have been too pleased with their second round exits, while Brazil and Argentina also underachieved with their losses in the quarterfinals.

So, out of every nation in the world, I count 12 countries that could be at least satisfied with their results of the last World Cup cycle. Given that, Gulati was in much better position to negotiate than he was after 2006.

Also, if Bradley and the U.S. have mastered CONCACAF qualifying, it will allow their staff a bit more time to focus on developing some of the young prospects on the USMNT radar with a focus on USA 2022.

On a side note, I like the depth of the U.S. midfield right now.
GTR
Wednesday September 29, 2010 11:50 pm
Brilliant analysis. I wish i had someone picking stocks as well. coming out of the WC I did not know where I stood w/ Bob vs. Jurgen. Edger - thank you for laying it out very clear and making a great argument. You're right.... qualification and knockout stage is what we need to be thinking about. Bob will get us there. Jurgen, as much of a great captain as he would be, i am not sure if he would be the best pick to see us through the next four years...

Man, I hope you keep this up....get us through 2014!

thank you

G
Sunil is Pure Evil
Wednesday September 29, 2010 9:28 pm
Dont give me that line of how Loew was the real coach of 2006. I believe if Jurgen had still been the coach, as do most rational people do that they wouldve had the same if not better results under klissnman. Bayern is a totally different apple all together... Van Gaal was almost sacked at midseason last year, and Hittzeld was sacked after Winning the Bundesliga. The results at that club, are totally unrealistic. Bayern Muncih simply cant compete for the champions league year in and year out like it use too in the 80, 90s, early 00s. Every coach who takes the job is doomed. Also if you remember history, German football was at the LOWEST point in its history when Klinssman took over the job. The 2002 German team was seen as a fluke, and the Euro 2004 team is regarded as one of if not the worst German team of all time, and didnt even MAKE IT OUT OF THE GROUP STAGE AT EURO 2004. Many Germans where hoping to just make it out of the World cup group stage an not be an embarrassment in front of the world in 2006, and Jurgen brought life back to the national team. I believe had this world cup been in Germany instead of 2010, Jurgen as coach probably wouldve won with thtse players, but he greatly overachieved with very average players in 2006, Podloski, Odonkor, Neuville, Borowski, Marcell Jansen all had signifgant roles at that world cup and no one would call them world class,, even Klose has never been able to succeed at Bayern, so I believe you are greatly underestimating Klinssman and his coaching of Die Mannschaft.
Nady
Wednesday September 29, 2010 7:35 pm
USSF and Gulati blew it once again. Klinsmann was the perfect fit for US soccer. He lives in So. Cal., speaks perfect English, and is right down from the training center. Sure other foreign coaches may be better tecticians, but Klinsmann knows the US system. He plays an attacking, offensive minded style, which Americans love, win or lose. One reason I hear over and over again from sports fans here is that soccer is too low scoring. 90 minutes of running around and it ends 0-0. Well with Klinsmann, you wouldn't have seen much of that. That alone would have grown the sport. Not to mention his charisma, which would have given the team high media profie. You have to look at the big picture of growing the sport, besides just the narrow win or lose. Though I think in that regard we would have also improved. I think Klinsmann could have taken US soccer to the next level. Now we are stuck with boring Bob for 4 years. Ugh! Fire Sunil and fire CEO Dan Flynn!
I hate Sunil
Wednesday September 29, 2010 9:53 am
This world cup cycle is a bust. Without a legit coach and without the hope of new tactics and strategy is just amazing. Why would they settle on Bradley, it makes no sense. Why wouldnt they consider other European coaches besides Klinssman??? I mean a David Moyes, Roy Hodgson, Martin O'Neil, Frank Rijaard what is the deal. It probably is expecting too much of USSoceer to know who they are though. With no hex, and the strong possibility of not playing the home and home with Mexico which was the highlight of the qualifying campaign, and no Copa America, what do we have to look forward to besides meaningless friendlies??? The Mexico WCQs really hurt the rivalry. And who says its even a gurantee we qualify with Costa rica, Honduras, Canada, Jamaica, and TnT on the rise??? Its going to be a long four years.
Lorenzo
Wednesday September 29, 2010 8:21 am
Also, I do think Bradley had a good team at his disposal... but better than the 2002 team? Other than the midfield the 2010 team was weak. I would take Donovan-McBride '02 over Altidore-Findley '10. Friedel was better than Howard as well. Plus in-prime Reyna-O'Brien middle would have been nice in '10 too.

Also, how is the Spain game now no credit to Bradley? Why did Switzerland, the only other team to beat Spain in about a 60 game span, claim to have looked at the USA's approach to the game for a plan?
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