10 Reasons to Be Optimistic About Jurgen Klinsmann's Team USA
The Klinsmann Era has begun.
Excitement abounded when the announcement was made concerning the American's new head coach. Now, after nearly a year at helm the attention has turned to World Cup qualifying and the future of the team.
After some disappointing results the once bright outlook many fans had began to fade. But there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the USMNT moving forward.
Landon Donovan and company continue to showcase their abilities on the pitch each match out. New faces have emerged on the scene and casual fans are beginning to know their names. Attendance and ratings continually go up showing that the country is getting behind the team.
The march to the 2014 World Cup is on and the US is starting to reveal themselves to be more than just a novelty on the world stage. Work is still to be done, but the improvements are noticeable and exciting.
Here are 10 reasons we should still be optimistic about Klinsmann's work.
One of the world's finest keepers protects the net for the US. It is a blessing to have Howard keeping the US in many matches by saving the backside of the defense on numerous occasions.
We need to look no further than the February shutout of Italy.
Not only was it the first victory for the USMNT team, but Howard was under pressure throughout the match. Italy had 19 shots, seven on goal and zero hit the back of the net.
Without Howard it is likely the US would look very poor on the pitch. He is a leader who is vital to the success of the USMNT.
Klinsmann Hasn't Had the Job for a Full Year
Impatience is a chronic problem in America.
The fans want instant success. It was, and is, a pipe dream.
With change comes time to adjust to said change. Klinsmann had to evaluate the squad from top-to-bottom and subsequently make changes to the team. We have seen various roster and formation shifts in the past year.
It was unrealistic to expect Klinsmann to take the reigns and immediately make the US a powerhouse. The pieces were not there. And some still are not.
It has taken some time but Klinsmann has begun to change the mindset of the team. That is what is important. You can see it when they take the pitch, the bar has been elevated from within the clubhouse.
This goes along with the previous slide.
We know he has not been on the job long, but he has time. The US should not be in danger of missing the World Cup. That is not to say they can take anyone lightly either, but it affords Klinsmann time to experiment with the team.
Formations, roster moves, etc. are all important to find who fits where and what works best. There is nothing pressing for the United States to rush the process.
And for the new young guns he is bringing in it gives them time to develop with the senior squad and find ways to contribute.
It is the perfect situation for a new coach. No pressure to immediately find the solutions. There is time to identify problems, experiential and, ultimately, make the team a threat on a global stage. A long awaited goal could be realized under Klinsmann.
Fixing the Youth System
The effects of this will not be seen for a while, but it is important to the success of US Soccer that Klinsmann put an emphasis on building from the ground up.
Until Klinsmann signed on to coach the USMNT the youth system was a joke. He made no bones about wanting to fix it. This may be the biggest contribution, long term, from Klinsmann.
Where would our other national sports be without bringing up the youth into them? The processes may not be as formal as with soccer, but the plans are the same. Bringing kids up with soccer will change the future of US Soccer and how it is perceived.
We will reap the benefits long after Klinsmann is gone.
Playing More Quickly and Aggressively
Klinsmann is bringing a new attacking style to US Soccer.
The style of play is picking up in pace and touches, a part of the game the US has desperately lacked recently. And the need for it was highlighted in the 4-1 loss to Brazil where the US looked slow. But the experience against Brazil opened the eyes to what is needed.
Since that match they are 1-0-2. Not the greatest of results, but no losses and more touches.
In the relatively uneventful affair with Canada the US often times made quality midfield passes all over the pitch. While it never resulted in a score it was a new sight. As we see a quicker tempo from the USMNT will be more accustomed to playing that style. Hopefully with great results.
No more waiting for the USMNT. Klinsmann wants them to turn it up.
Klinsmann's optimistic outlook is refreshing. For those that follow the US Women's National Team know how it can be infectious.
USWNT head coach Pia Sundhage always has a sunny disposition and it beams throughout the roster. It creates a more relaxed and positive locker room. Takes the pressure off.
Obviously, there are differences in the pressures the two national teams face but the coach is the face of the team. A coach that has a personality like Klinsmann gives that optimism to its players. It radiates through the team.
With a relaxed team they can flip the switch when game time comes and be more focused and ready for the task at hand. Having that attitude, as a team, can pay dividends.
Wants US to “Get Nasty”
Following the 4-1 defeat to Brazil Klinsmann said the US needed to get "nastier."
He wants the US to have a chip on its shoulder when it plays. To not be pushovers. That is something the American bravado embraces. In all other sports we encourage players to have that edge. Klinsmann is trying to bring that to the USMNT. It is disappointing they did not already have it. It instills confidence.
As the team continues to move forward expect to see a new attitude. When they walk into a stadium, especially on US soil, they should have a certain swagger to them. It is a step in the right direction.
After his 2011-2012 Premier League season it is clear to see why he is a bright spot for the team.
Dempsey already has three goals this year which includes the lone goal in the win over Italy. He shows no sign of slowing down.
He is without question one of the best players on the team, and one of the best ever to don the crest. Now that he is hitting his prime and playing extraordinarily well it adds to the dangers of playing against the US.
Even though Klinsmann has been on the job nearly a year it was not until a few months ago in the Brazil match that Dempsey and Donovan played together under his reign. The more they can get time together under his system the better.
Dempsey is probably the first answer to the question of what makes you optimistic about the USMNT.
Positive Results in 2012
5-1-2 thus far in 2012. That is how the USMNT have started the year.
The draw to Guatemala was more shocking than the 4-1 loss to Brazil.
The most clear positive result is the 1-0 win over Italy. While it is most certainly an achievement for American soccer, it should also not be heralded as the best win ever. But getting the win over a team such as Italy gives the team confidence moving forward.
In the next five matches the USMNT plays Jamaica twice, Antigua & Barbuda, Guatemala and, first up, Mexico.
It is important to keep the good performances coming when they travel to Mexico City on August 15th. After several poor showings against Mexico in recent times the US needs to reassert themselves atop CONCACAF.
All in all, 2012 has been a fun time to be a fan of US Soccer.
Others Are Stepping Up
Having Howard, Dempsey and Donovan is fantastic but what is exciting about the Klinsmann regime is watching others step their game up.
Michael Bradley is playing the best football of his career under Klinsmann. No more talk about why he is on the team. Herculez Gomez has begun to come in to his own recently. And what about the young Fabian Johnson?
This is why fans should be optimistic. No longer is it a one or two man routine. Klinsmann is getting quality production from other players. And young players at that.
We are beginning to see the realization of some of the raw talent we always saw in these players. At long last.
Years of watching wasted potential weakened the hopes of many. But now things are starting to turn around and show that there is a lot of talent on the roster. Not just one or two of the players but numerous.
It is no coincidence that it is happening under the watchful eyes of Klinsmann.
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