CommentaryUnited States

Klinsmann & USMNT: Concerns, But Cautiously Optimistic

August 10, 2011 — by Simon

Klinsmann & Vasquez: Back together again

My concern with Klinsmann is exactly the one lots of commentators have already cited–he’s not really a tactician, and it was Jogi Löw who did all that heavy lifting with the German National Team. And Martin Vasquez, who went from being an assistant at MLS’s Chivas club to being Klinsmann’s assistant at Bayern (and came back for a short tenure as Chivas’s head coach), isn’t really a tactician either–but he seems to impress folks since he got the Youth Development Director position with Real Salt Lake post-Chivas. I like Dooley as a possible assistant.  He would seem to bridge some of the American/German dynamics. And Tab Ramos is still in my eyes the best player ever to wear the shield (sorry to the Claudio Reyna and Landon Donovan fans), and I think he has high potential as a coach.  This might be an audition for him with the u20s or 23s since he’s the interim there. I think it would make sense to have Claudio as the new technical director to be on the staff in some capacity. But having a big-time tactician on board is key. To make a cross-sport analogy, Phil Jackson was always the big picture, motivation, keeping the team in balance guy, while he let Tex Winters install and run the offense in the Triangle. I think that’s the dynamic (at least that’s the word coming out of Germany after the hire, and also previously during the multiple Gulati-Klinsmann flirtations). So the question for me becomes: is there a dynamic tactician somewhere in the ranks of USMNT youth squads, or MLS, or elsewhere. Sadly this person will probably have to come from his old German contacts.

In terms of who I would like to see him bring in–there’s Peter Nowak.  Now this might be my Chicago Fire bias, but he’s a former international for Poland, and has worked in both MLS and the US youth systems. I realize that as a former Bradley assistant he might be fraught with baggage, but I think he might add some “bite” that complements Klinsmann. Other guys I think would be interesting as assistants are Dom Kinnear and Franky Yallop, who I got to watch and talk to when I was coaching in Nor-Cal when they were with the Quakes (or Dynamos now).

I tell you who I DON’T want to see in the assistant positions Sigi Schmid or Rongren. I’ve never been impressed with Schmid at any of the levels he’s coached at–UCLA, Galaxy, etc. And Rongren made some COLOSSAL mistakes in my opinion in terms of who brought in to camp and did/didn’t develop in his time with the U-20’s. [Editor’s note: read the sad (for US Soccer) Subotic saga.]

I’m cautiously optomistic on Klinsmann generally. I don’t think he’ll be the savior that some think he will be, in part because of the need to change soccer culture vis-a-vis player development, which will be a long time coming.

Finally, on a player selection note, I’d like to see him bring in (Stanford Bias Warning!) Chad Marshall. He had a good run with the U23’s on the back line, played well as a center back for the Columbus Crew last year, and was in the WC2010 camp, so hopefully he can get a longer look.