U.S. Soccer: Jurgen Klinsmann and 6 Candidates to Replace Under-Fire Bob Bradley
It is more apparent now than it ever has been. Bob Bradley must be sacked as manager of the United States.
Enough is enough. Bradley seems content to let the United States be second best while the likes of rivals Mexico and other CONCACAF teams get stronger. Right now, Americans should be asking themselves a very worrying question: Will we even qualify for the 2014 World Cup?
Qualifying for the Americans begins next summer with the expectation of making it to CONCACAF's final round. But with Mexico currently the top team in the confederation and only three guaranteed spots in the World Cup, coupled with the rise of teams like Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica, a couple of slip ups from the Americans could mean not making the World Cup at all in 2014.
If they fail to finish top three and finish fourth, they would have to play fifth-place CONMEBOL (South America). No guarantee of a win there. I say all this assuming that Bradley is manager.
The guy seriously seems to not even care at this point. It's really frustrating when he thinks that the best option for the U.S. is to have a guy like Sacha Kljestan in the starting lineup for most of the Gold Cup, when there is clearly no attention paid to training the defense.
The defense becomes even more of a problem when America gets a lead. Instead of continuing to pressure, Bradley pulls off the gas and calls for a more defensive game. On more than one occasion, twice recently, in tournament finals with 2-0 first half leads, we have seen this backfire.
Here, I list several names that should be considered for the job of manager of the U.S. National Team.
Note: Obviously Americans will be interviewed, so I name two on this list, but I do not see them as serious candidates.
7. Jason Kreis (Nationality: American)
I have Kreis on this list mainly because his role in leading Real Salt Lake to the CONCACAF Champions League Final earned him praise nationwide. Several times, I heard whispers that maybe he would be the successor to Bradley.
Do I want this to happen? No. Will it happen? Only if the USSF wants to have a full uprising on its hands.
Kreis is a good coach for MLS, but that is it. He is very young and I do not see him as a national team boss. Not to mention that the selection should come from Europe.
I think he should be interviewed, as clearly Americans would be interviewed, but that's it.
6. Carlo Ancelotti (Nationality: Italian)
No, Carlo Ancelotti has never been a national team coach, but they all have to start sometime.
Ancelotti should at least be interviewed in my opinion. He is a brilliant tactician whose possession style game at AC Milan brought the team two UEFA Champions League successes and three finals in a five-season span from 2003-2007.
Again, defense was a big part of Ancelotti's game wherever he managed, especially at Milan where he had one of the greatest center backs of all time in Paolo Maldini along with fellow legend Cafu and stars like Rui Costa, Alessandro Nesta, etc.
Ancelotti's success continued at Chelsea, where during the 2009-10 season, the Blues won the domestic double in England by winning the Premier League and the FA Cup. Again, a star-studded and well organized defense complimented a well formed attack.
A great tactician, Ancelotti would be a surprise chance, but not a bad one either.
5. Bruce Arena (Nationality: American)
Arena is a member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame and for good reason. Arena was fantastic as manager of the United States, particularly during the run to the 2002 World Cup.
It was with his firing in 2006 that we unfortunately saw the beginning of the Bradley Era.
If any American is likely to get the job, it's Arena. He has done a good job managing the likes of David Beckham and Landon Donovan, who initially clashed at Los Angeles Galaxy, and has turned the Galaxy into an elite team in MLS.
I do not like the idea of an American getting the job, but if any were to, I'd pick Arena.
4. Marcello Lippi (Nationality: Italian)
I love the Italian game. Maybe it has something to do with being a diehard AC Milan fan, but I love the defensive style of Serie A and Italians in general.
Marcello Lippi had a good defense in 2006.
So good was the Azurri's back line that they were crowned World Cup champions in Germany that year, with Lippi being named later as the national team manager of the year.
Lippi has found amazing success with both Juventus and Italy. Unfortunately, he made a mistake with his extremely old squad that he brought to South Africa in 2009 and 2010, particularly in 2010. Besides that, Lippi has done well on the international front and has the defensive mind that the United States need.
Lippi could be a top three candidate for the job should it open up.
3. Marco Van Basten (Nationality: Dutch)
One of the greatest players of all time, the Dutchman had a solid four-year run at the helm of the Oranje, leading them to the World Cup Round of 16 in 2006 and the quarterfinals of Euro 2008.
This picture shows the typical Van Basten. He is strict and brings discipline into his team. He was not afraid to make the big decisions like dropping players who had been regulars for the Netherlands under Dick Advocaat such as Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Roy Makaay, and Edgar Davids and removed Mark Van Bommel from the XI, demoting him to the bench. Even when the public wanted one last farewell game for legend Dennis Bergkamp, who wanted one last game, Van Basten said no.
His refusal to give in to the public and make the popular decisions actually helped the Netherlands. The same could be done with the United States. Regulars need to be dropped if this team is going to get better and Van Basten is not afraid to drop regular players.
Van Basten is a name that has come up a few times in discussion in the past year, especially a little bit around the time of the Bradley contract uncertainty. I would have him as a third or fourth choice of these managers.
2. Guus Hiddink (Nationality: Dutch)
Well loved and a winner everywhere he has been, Hiddink is one of the most admired managers in the game today.
He is well seasoned on the international level, having been the boss of the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Russia and currently Turkey.
His international successes are plentiful. At the reigns of the Oranje, he was able to keep an at-times unstable group in line with his impatience for internal conflict. The club mastered his 4-4-2 formation and reached the semifinals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
His next job on the international level was South Korea, where he successfully built a team with great chemistry. His South Korean side was phenomenal in the Group Stage in the surprise group which saw them win twice over Poland and Portugal and draw the United States.
South Korea and the United States both made the knockout rounds, where they could have met in the semifinals but, after the handball incident in the quarterfinals between USA and Germany, the hosts fell to the Germans. But seriously, South Korea, a team that had gone winless in five straight World Cups, made the semifinals! Well done Guus!
With Australia, he led the Socceroos to the Last 16 of the 2006 World Cup, where the boys down under lost to eventual champions Italy only on a very controversial penalty awarded to Fabio Grosso in the 90th minute. Once again, Hiddink did an extraordinary job in the World Cup.
He then led Russia into UEFA Euro 2008, where they made an incredible run to the semifinals. Euro 2008 was another success for Hiddink and a coming out party of Andrei Arshavin onto the world stage.
He is presently with Turkey, but who is to say the United States could not get him to make the move. He could do incredible things with the Americans. He has taken teams with far less to great heights. It would be incredible to have Hiddink at the helm.
1. Jurgen Klinsmann (Nationality: German)
Sunil Gulati is haunted right now by the decision to stick with Bradley and not convince Klinsmann to join the team.
Jurgen Klinsmann, a German footballing legend who won the World Cup as a player with West Germany, took the 2006 German World Cup squad all the way to the semifinals where they lost in extra time to champions Italy.
How did Germany get to the semifinals? Youth, discipline and defense.
Lets go in reverse order...
Defense: We all know that has been the major weakness of the United States in past tournaments. Look no farther than this past Gold Cup, but defense killed them against Ghana in the World Cup and Brazil in the Confederations Cup.
Discipline: I mean, we all saw how Bradley lost control of the team on Saturday night. When he made the strange decision of putting Jonathan Bornstein in for Steve Cherundolo instead of Jonathan Spector, a natural right back, that made him decide to move Eric Lichaj to the right, deploy Bornstein on the left, and he had Bocanegra playing farther out wide, leaving a gap between him and Clarence Goodson.
The defensive chemistry, not very strong to start, was thrown off completely. Bornstein was getting burned on the left side and it was like a game of Jenga and the defense was the tower that crumbles down.
Youth: Germany's key in 2006 was youth. Bastian Schweinsteiger (21), Phillip Lahm (22), Lukas Podolski (21), and Per Mertersaker (21) were four crucial starters for Klinsmann's squad and were players he brought in to revitalize the team which was seen as a group of elderly players after Euro 2004. With those four and great performances from substitute David Odonkor (22), Germany played extremely well and were unlucky to get eliminated in the semifinals.
This is the man the American public have been calling for. This is the man who reportedly was very close to taking the job in 2010.
This is the man who should be leading the United States of America National Team into the future and into the 2014 FIFA World Cup.