SmorgasBorg: Sporting News expose says more about US players than Jurgen Klinsmann
The mob is circling US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann after the Sporting News piece about internal strife that ran on Tuesday.
But the exposé may have more to say about the USMNT players and the state of the US international pool than about Klinsmann and his methods.
Maybe the US boss was right all along: Some US players, even at the highest levels, might very well need kick in the backside and someone to tell them they "haven't done s---," as Klinsmann famously uttered to The Wall Street Journal about the most accomplished US player abroad, Clint Dempsey.
Just maybe there are a group of players in the US pool that aren't ready for the big time, who can't swim if thrown off the deep end and can't deal with being outside their comfort zone.
Because in the end, what serious soccer professional would try to publicly undermine their coach and their team in that fashion? And the timing is more than curious: just before two critical qualifiers that will set the tone for the rest of the Hexagonal campaign.
But let's get to the crux of the article.
We find out that Carlos Bocanegra's exclusion from the starting lineup vs. Honduras broke his heart and apparently a few of his teammates'. But if we're analyzing it objectively, the move probably came a few games too late. I've been among those pointing out some subpar displays by the US captain in the lead-up to the Hexagonal. The armband should not guarantee a spot in the lineup.
The US-born contingent can't assimilate a small group of German-Americans into the locker room? Aren't all of these players part of multi-cultural, multi-lingual, international locker rooms with their club teams? Why can't the players figure this out on their own?
You don't understand how to play and what the tactics are? No one finds it hard to believe that there isn't a basic tactical framework given to the players in the lead-up to a match? Can it be that maybe Klinsmann doesn't feel the urge to engage in tactical handholding or halftime tactical adjustments?
Shouldn't the players have enough quality to figure things out in that basic framework and use the talents that have made them the best at their position in the first place? Plus, the core of this group has been fairly established for 18 months now — it's not their first rodeo together.
In every workplace across America, employees don't agree with the higher-ups and sometimes question their decisions. It's a normal part of the workplace dynamic. But there are professional ways to address workplace issues. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who considers the method chosen by the 11 players who spoke to the Sporting News to be one of them. Approach Klinsmann to his face or put your name on the statements.
Whatever their ultimate intentions, the 11 whistleblowers undermined their country and they made World Cup qualifying, which impacts millions in the US soccer community, more about themselves and their discontent. Do they really think the USSF will get rid of Klinsmann midway through the qualifying process? Do they think they can actually force his ouster? Not happening.
So as we sit here ahead of a very delicate match-up against Costa Rica, it's easy to join the mob and gang up on Klinsmann. He's not American-born and that, coupled with the fact that he's publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the status quo, has upset US soccer's American establishment.
But let's not ever lose sight of where Klinsmann has played, the coaches he has played for and what he's won. He's seen it all. And he should at least get the benefit of the doubt to see out this qualifying cycle without having his legs cut from underneath him.
As someone commented to me yesterday: That story about Klinsmann could be any soccer coach out there. But in the end, the Sporting News article might actually help Klinsmann to weed out those players who clearly haven't gotten with the program: taking the USA to Brazil 2014.