JURGEN'S HYPOCRISY
RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Tuesday, June 26, 2012
One of the most demoralizing effects on human beings is the acknowledgment that there is no hope. This word has the power to keep (nearly) everyone on earth going for another day.

The feeling of hope gives something to look forward to; it provides motivation for staying the course and seeing yourself through day after day of life in a mental journey to your eventual dream.

A lack of hope can have grave consequences for individual and group morale, and one only need to listen to the somber tone of President Jimmy Carter's Crisis of Confidence speech from 1979 to hear what the loss of hope can mean in the face of adversity. Some believe that there can be no future if there is no hope, because there will be no reason to maintain a civilized society without future goals to strive for.

The novel Children of Men by P.D. James shows a good fictional perspective of a world without hope, and it's easy to get caught in the words and accept them as a speculative truth, and perhaps what makes it so easy is the gut instinct that it is a real possibility that without hope, there is no future.

While there may be serious ramifications in the real world, there are also consequences in the sporting world for athletes who have no hope for something better than what they have. The mind of a top-tier athlete is a curious thing; when speaking with Herculez Gomez or Michael Bradley, or watching interviews with Thierry Henry or Wayne Rooney, there are certainly differences between them all and how they conduct themselves, but a common denominator is that there is an obvious, or in Gomez's case a slightly hidden, intimidating aura of competitiveness and the innate desire to succeed.

This is where hope comes into the equation for professional athletes, as the carrot to drive this desire to new heights, taking with it the athlete in question. When there is no hope for something better, does that desire diminish?

Think about it. If a player has accomplished all that he feels he can accomplish, what is left to keep him going? Jurgen Klinsmann and the US National Team enter the picture here, as we bake in the summer heat and begin to turn our eyes towards a particular "friendly" in the Azteca on August 15.

Klinsmann is famous in some circles, infamous in others for the heavy handed approach he took with Brad Guzan and his lack of playing time last year. The brusque suggestion that Guzan get more playing time led the former Chivas USA standout to end his relationship with Aston Villa this summer in order to find playing time elsewhere, in a search that is still ongoing.

Klinsmann seemed to take this approach seriously in some regards, ending the long drought of Gomez appearances with the National Team and giving a call to Michael Parkhurst, fresh off of winning the Danish League. Then Klinsmann seems to renege on this stance by giving caps to Terrence Boyd, who has never seen a minute of first team action, despite being 21-years old.

While Boyd sat in the Under-23 league in Germany, although now moving to Rapid Vienna in Austria should improve his hopes immensely, players like Sacha Kljestan do not get a call at all, unless there's an emergency such as what happened in Italy.

Despite the Kljestan frustrations, his position in the pool is deep and no one in front of him is struggling for playing time. They may not have won a league championship and made it to the Champions League (except in the case of Jermaine Jones), but they are starting players nonetheless, and there is no shame to losing out to them.

The Boyd situation is more bothersome on its face because there are players who are getting significant first team minutes, and more than that, they are producing at a high level. Given the short amount of time that Klinsmann has with his players, and the few opportunities he gets to call them together, there is an obvious limit to whom he can call in, and when he can call them in.

Gomez seemed to be a glaring omission for a very, very long time under both Klinsmann and Bob Bradley before him, but the omission was not so glaring when looking at Gomez's statistical trends. He performed remarkably well when there was little or no opportunity to call him up, and he would slump off on occasion when a National Team camp came around. Finally, earlier this year after a blazing streak of success with Estudiantes Tecos and Santos Laguna, the stars aligned and Klinsmann had a camp at the same time Gomez was performing well. Gomez got the call, and all was right in the world. Or not.

There are others besides Gomez who are not as lucky to get a call. Respect is paid to Chris Wondolowski who lights MLS on fire season after season, and opportunities have been given to Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo, but the same sign of respect needs to be given to other players who are performing as well.

Kenny Cooper has benefited greatly from playing alongside Thierry Henry, but there is no denying his scoring touch, as he finds himself second in MLS this season with 11 goals, behind Wondolowski. The curious case of Cooper has been going on for several years now, as the once promising National Team forward lit up MLS with FC Dallas as a 22-year old.

He was able to transition his club success to the National Team, appearing in 10 games and scoring four goals. The goals were not meaningless, either. One was the game winning goal in a World Cup Qualifier against Guatemala, one was a game winning goal in a Gold Cup quarterfinal against Panama, and a third was against Honduras in the Gold Cup semifinal.

A move to Germany saw him appear to be on the path to a quality career, and then an injury hit, and then - nothing. Cooper's well with the National Team appeared to run dry by the time he was only 25-years old, as he has not received a call since. Is the national team's forward pool so deep that it can afford to not call up productive young players? The answer is an obvious no, which begs the question, why won't Klinsmann give him a call?

A similar case is not yet ready to be made for Chris Pontius, Connor O'Brien or Andrew Wooten, but they have the makings of a similar plot. In the case of Cooper, he was clearly a case of a player driven by hope as he returned from Germany to MLS, and failed to make a big impact with the Portland Timbers. Despite his relatively low output, his skill was still there, and the prospect of something bigger and better looming ahead has drawn him back into the top tier of the MLS upon moving to New York.

He is making a strong impact with the Red Bulls, and it stands to reason that he has some impact left to make with the National Team as well. If Klinsmann is going to talk the talk, he needs to walk the walk as well. If he disparages a player for not getting playing time, he should not be calling up others in similar situations ahead of players who are stars on their teams, with stats to back their renown.

Hope is a driving force, and Klinsmann needs to foster that force among American players, to let them know that if they produce, they will get a chance to strive for an athlete's greatest honor: representing their country.
Mike E
Sunday July 8, 2012 10:48 pm
Let's see. Boyd is 18, and dangerous Whoever thinks he looked dreadful obviously thinks that Pele once wore a US jersey. As for Pontius, yes, he should be called in. But he shuoldn't replace Boyd, he should replace Wondolowski, who is unstoppable for SJ but misses from 1 yard against Panama.
steve
Sunday July 8, 2012 1:29 pm
whoever said adu is still the most talented should go take a long walk off a short pier. he is the most overpaid player in MLS and should be dropped from philly. get off the freddy train, he is in his 30's now and is no where the player he was when he dominating u17 tournaments at the age of 23
Hugh McDonough
Thursday July 5, 2012 2:17 pm
Will Adam Henley, Seb Hines , Whitebread (he should avoid injuries), Huzeler, Brooks,
wooten, Moreles, Kreissweter, Hoillet ever play for USA ? USA should stop giving away soft goals. Klinnsmann has a trick up his sleeve. USA should not be embarassed because USA lost 0-4 to Spain or USA lost 1-4 to Brazil.
USA will get the last laugh by doing well at World cup 2014 Brazil.

Get more Germamericans to strenghten USA team for future generations.
You can do it USA. Good Luck USA in terms of World Cup 2014
Joe Hamilton
Wednesday July 4, 2012 11:26 pm
@Josh; Lichaj played very well in the 9 games which included scoring a goal against Chelsea. He faced every top team in the Prem except Man City and did well. Who did Edgar Castillo face playing for Tijuana? Tim Ream played very well for Bolton and was their top defender. The team improved after joined them but were their record was already terrible. Norwich had a much lower goals against average when Zac Whitbread played. Several other prem teams are serious considering signing him. These 3 players should be on the USMNT .
josh
Monday July 2, 2012 7:21 pm
So.....Kenny Cooper and Wondo need more playing time? Who else besides Sacha, who is 4th-6th on the depth chart for his position, is not getting a fair shake? Don;t say Lichaj...he played 10 games for the worst team in the EPL over the last 2 months.

We need to find the future, and relying on older strikers aint going to cut it. Cooper probably doesnt have international quality. So let's find the guys that do.

Boyd was obviously included becaseu of his output for the U23's...which is the feeder for the Senior Team. All of those guys...Mix, Morales, Adu, Shea, Agudelo, Gatt and maybe even Kitchen are going to get their runs soon.

Splitting hairs over which MLS players didn't a call is beyond pointless.

See you in January.
4bc
Monday July 2, 2012 5:21 am
Good points have already been raised on lackluster Nat Team performances put forth by Klejstan, Wondolowski and others. Maybe one or two of these guys get a shot but I can’t see any one of them swaying our performance so much that we’d be willing to sit other guys already coalescing into our WC team. And don’t forget, most of the extra space on the camp roster is going to need to be budgeted toward our backline issues.

Klinsmann is building his team. We know he’s a fan of speed and fitness and he saw that in Boyd. Altidore and Gomez aren’t built for the role of speedy attackers who can wear down a defense. Davies or Agudelo were on track to be that option. There are a few MLS players who may fit that role but not sure any outclass Boyd who we cap-tie to boot. Nice to have him as an option.

And, BTW, enjoyed the good read. Folks who prefer bite-sized chunks may want to try ESPN. I don’t come here for that and you didn’t disappoint.
Patrick
Saturday June 30, 2012 3:12 pm
This is a lot of words to use to say that Kenny Cooper and Chris Wondolowski should get more USMNT playing time. I have no opinion on Wondo, but Kenny Cooper is not USMNT class. I have watched him with the team and he struggled every time. His first touch is bad, he is too slow, and we have at least 3 people who can do what he does better than he does.

And btw Mr. McCollum, Cooper has failed in Europe not once, but twice. He was with ManU as a teenager and failed, then MLS, then to Germany and failed. For some players, MLS is their ceiling. They can perform well in MLS but that is as good as they are ever going to be, and they can't hack it in Europe or on the international stage. Don't criticize JK for recognizing that and not wasting everyone's time.
Rick
Thursday June 28, 2012 4:56 pm
Eurofan had a good point. Let's take Klinsman for what he is. He will motivate, encourage attack and open European opportunities for US players. He is not the best tactically. He's not the most consistent with what he says... but he knows the game and what it takes at the highest level.

Team USA for the first time in its history, has enough talent that decisions are less obvious.

Team USA doesn't need to peak now. They just need to grind out results while becoming more dominant playing as a tight unit. (experiment with new players in friendly)

Main criticism of management... Not have a squad with wing options. They don't have to be in the starting 11, but you need them in the camp of 23 and as a selection option.
White Kix
Thursday June 28, 2012 10:43 am
I have been very upset about the Klinsman's hypocrisy as well. The Boyd situation is an obvious one. He has looked dreadful in his appearances with the nats. All we hear is how he scored 20 goals in the fourth division. We might as well call up the leading scorer of the PDL. Boyd's touch is awful. Against Scotland, he had multiple opportunities in the box, but his first touch ruined every one of them. When he came into the the Antigu game, he received the ball seven times, and only one of those did he NOT lose possesion.

The other hypocrisy of Klinsman that I can not stand, is all of his talk about having an attacking, possesion oriented style of play. My main gripe about Bradley was that he insisted on always having two holding midfielders (Even though in the World Cup we were outscored 1-4 when Feilhaber [the one attacking center midfielder on the squad] was on the bench, and outscored our oppents 4-1 when he was on the field). Now Klinsman plays 3 holding midfielders at a time (Bradley, Jones, Edu/Williams). We don't have the players on the field to unlock a defense. We just have more defenders, closer to the opponets goal so they can make a mess of any chance that might fall our way.
Dave
Wednesday June 27, 2012 2:44 pm
To be fair we fans do not know everything that is happening within the USSF. JK and his coaches/scouts I'm sure have a comprehensive list of players and a player grading system to help them evaluate where a player ranks within the pool. Said system should take into consideration 1) Strength of League, 2) Strength of Club, 3) Experience, as well as the player specifics...1) Player Position, 2) Player Versitility, 3) Skill, 4) Speed, 5) Age, 6) etc....
Fans, Writers, and Players all need to give a little time to this process....The work being put in now will provide dividends over the next 6 months....but will really provide growth over the years to come.
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A big question for U.S. fans heading into the World Cup is surely on Jozy Altidore and just what is plaguing the young striker at Sunderland.
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