Kick Off: Klinsmann and the nasty cultural divide
Getty Images

Kick Off: Is Klinsmann's type of "nastiness" un-American?

It may seem like a tempest in a teapot, but the debate over US manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s comments about being “nastier” continues to rage.

One pundit argued that the remarks after the 4-1 loss to Brazil exposed a lack of cultural understanding on Klinsmann’s part. “We are not a nation of floppers and cheap-shot artists. … if you’re going to represent the US, realize what it means to represent our country.”

Another commentator claims “the idea that the Americans need to play in a brutish manner in order to win is both distasteful and wrong.

This point of view was ostensibly reinforced by Landon Donovan’s comments after the match — “That’s not really in our character as Americans. … We try to play the game fair” — though it’s unclear whether he valued the Americans’ character or not.

Few would argue with Jermaine Jones’s hard-nosed character, and the current debate helps explain why Klinsmann keeps him in the lineup.

And another observer points to Jones to refute the notion that US players are naïve. The writer doesn’t like that notion at all: “Naivete is a bad excuse when things don’t go well.

A comment by Klinsmann of a very different kind went largely unnoticed: That the US will play Mexico in August and then travel to Russia for a friendly later in the year. Neither match had been announced or confirmed previously.

Before that, though, is a friendly with Canada on Sunday in Toronto (7 pm ET, NBC Sports Network). It’s the final warm-up match for both sides before World Cup qualifying.

The USA-Canada rivalry has been heating up in recent years, but it actually goes back half a century.

One of Canada’s stars, Julian de Guzman, is trying to up the pressure on their biggest group rivals: Honduras. “They are the favorites. Cuba, Canada, and Panama are contending for the other spot.” (SPANISH)

Hard to know who is favorite to get US midfielder Michael Bradley. He’s basically up for auction by his club, Chievo, and a few very big clubs are reportedly bidding.

There is one MLS match this weekend: New England vs. Chicago, Saturday at 7:30 pm ET (watch on MLS Live). The Fire got some good news about striker Chris Rolfe, who returned to training, but he’s probably not ready for match action yet.

D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario was all action in May — four goals, three assists — and was duly named MLS Player of the Month on Thursday.

Reportedly, D.C. United have several possible investors lined up, but owner Will Chang confirmed that he will stay invested in the club. “I love this team, I’m not getting out and I will continue to own a significant part of this team,” he told The Washington Post.

That might be big news for United fans, but there is huge news out for Seattle Sounders fans: Midfielder Steve Zakuani is reportedly “50-50” to play in reserve match on Friday.

The Houston Dynamo probably could’ve used a speedy winger like Zakuani in their 2-1 friendly loss to Valencia.

The MLS rumor mill kicked into overdrive when news got out that Brazilian Ronaldinho’s contract with Flamengo was terminated. Question one blogger has is: Could he hack it in MLS?

MLS could also be an eventual destination for Honduran international goalkeeper José Mendoza, if this report is correct.

Champions League winners Chelsea FC are destined for the US this summer, including taking part in the MLS All-Star Game on July 25. To get in the mood, Frank Lampard & Co. tried their hand at some of America’s sports.

Irish forward Robbie Keane has returned to Europe for the Euro Championship. According to this “analysis,” if he plays poorly, it’s MLS’ fault. “Does life in the MLS provide adequate preparation for a tournament of this stature?”

Finally, Eric Hassli is getting married in Las Vegas this week, which seems to bode well for the Vancouver Whitecaps. "A happy Eric is a great-playing Eric," said Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon. "And a great-playing Eric helps the Vancouver Whitecaps." Musts

ExtraTime Radio: Taylor Twellman on Klinsmann

Wynalda surprised by Cal FC's upset at Portland

Gringo Report: US-Mexico rivalry focus of new documentary

Get the The Kick Off delivered to you!

Enter your email address below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.