United States: Poison Pen Fires Jurgen Klinsmann and Team to World Cup Success
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Napoleon Bonaparte had a wonderful turn of phrase for describing the power of the press: "Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”
It avoids the now overused phrase coined by English playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton that the pen is mightier than the sword, but both men recognised the power of the written word.
Jurgen Klinsmann will never have the same standing in world history and culture, but the United States coach refused to be a victim of the written word during his team's most recent World Cup Qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico.
Three days before the game against Costa Rica, The Sporting Press produced an article in which a number of unnamed USMNT railed against the methods employed by the former Germany international.
The players talked of a lack of communication and tactical acumen from Klinsmann and his assistant Martin Vasquez, while they also detailed disharmony in the squad.
Klinsmann, 48, shrugged off the criticism in his pre-match press conference claiming the report just showed that people cared about the USMNT (via goal.com).
"I think people should be able to say how they feel and what they believe. I think it's a great sign that all the debate is going on in soccer now in this country. It shows you that people care" Jurgen Klinsmann
However, some United States players were less circumspect about the article with midfielder Michael Bradley insisting the criticism of the German was "shameful" and "embarrassing" (yahoo.com).
But even the heavy snowfall at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Denver could not disguise the resilience and dogged spirit of a team fighting hard for a place at the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil, and for the coach too.
The USMNT were expected to defeat Costa Rica, but the trip to the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City was always going to be a different prospect.
Disharmony in the camp would not have prompted the performance Klinsmann's team displayed on Tuesday.
The United States maintained the momentum and fighting spirit from Friday's draw and transplanted into the Mexican capital to excellent effect.
If Klinsmann is not communicating a game plan to his team, it didn't show in the 0-0 draw in Mexico where the home team have only been beaten once by USMNT, again under the German.
If USMNT are in disarray and disharmony, why did Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez look so solid in central defence? In fact, why did so many players shine in the goalless draw?
Klinsmann has too much class to hit back at the unnamed players in last week's article, but you can imagine a copy posted in the locker room ahead of both matches.
Whoever the disgruntled protagonists were in the USMNT squad, they might just have ensured Klinsmann stays exactly where he is.
And, more importantly, that he keeps faith with emerging players and proper professionals who are willing to fight for the USMNT cause.
There is no room for anonymity in this United States squad.
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