U.S. Men's National Team: 10 Things Jurgen Klinsmann Must Do Going Forward
Well USMNT fans, the new era is upon us.
There were a lot of articles on the web last week analyzing Jurgen Klinsmann's coaching debut performance for the USMNT. Though there may be some differences, I'm sure there are plenty of things that we can agree Klinsmann did right/wrong versus Mexico.
But instead of assessing the past, I am suggesting things about the future in this piece. Here is a list of things Klinsmann must do if he wants to live up to our enormous expectations.
Use MLS as a Resource
One thing all USMNT fans noticed in the Mexico friendly was the significant number of MLS players taking the field. Jurgen Klinsmann stated right after his hiring that he followed the league and planned to use the stars effectively. Well, it sure looked like he was an MLS expert when the game-tying goal was a connection between MLS stars Juan Agudelo, Brek Shea, and Robbie Rogers.
If Klinsmann wants to be successful, he must constantly be looking for ripe homegrown talent who are already fan favorites to much of the country. Plus, most MLS stars get significantly more playing time for their club than those who experiment overseas in their careers.
With that in mind, MLS players are almost always in top form and more prepared for intense international competition. Only four MLSers were apart of the US’ World Cup roster last June, and I'm sure that number will spike by 2014.
Change Carlos Bocanegra as Captain
Let me first say that Carlos Bocanegra has been a great captain for the USMNT. However, with a new World Cup cycle coming up, it would be in the best interest of Klinsmann and the team to change the captain now to avoid any sticky situations in the future.
At 32, the odds that Bocanegra has three more years of international play in him are slim, meaning Klinsmann will likely have to appoint a new captain for the 2014 World Cup anyway.
And let’s be honest: It would be a lot easier to switch the title now than it would be in the middle of a qualifying campaign.
Start Well in Games
One of the main causes of fans’ concern in the Bob Bradley regime was his inability to start games off well. The US almost always came out flat in contests and was forced to fight back to salvage a draw. Although the often-late heroics were exciting to watch, it is really not a healthy way for a competitive team to be run.
In order to be successful, teams have to capitalize and finish opponents early, playing confidently and never falling behind. If Klinsmann wants to get on the fans’ good side and keep his hair in place, he should probably learn how to get his team ready from minute one.
Improve US Youth System
This was probably the main attractive trait of Klinsmann from US soccer president Sunil Gulati’s perspective. Bob Bradley wasn’t the only coach who lost his job in the past year, as Thomas Rongen was also axed a few months back for failing to reach the U20 World Cup with his US side.
The United States Soccer Federation wanted this coaching change to not only begin a new era of USMNT soccer, but US Youth Soccer as well. Certainly Klinsmann’s international influence and experience might attract some talented mixed-breed Americans who were deciding who to represent at the top level.
Of course, the most significant effects will come when Klinsmann can pick the right coaches to develop the load of US talent. If he can change the US youth systems, his job as USMNT coach will be a whole lot easier.
Don't Schedule Improperly
This is a something that, if changed, could really salvage some respect from foreign countries. Although the USSF has most of the authority when it comes to scheduling friendlies, Klinsmann should try and use all his respective power to prevent the US from playing in trap games.
I realize that friendlies are moneymakers and don't truly count, but you have to admit the pre-Gold Cup Spain disaster could have been avoided.
Keep Donovan Around as Long as Possible
Of course you can’t keep players forever, but Landon Donovan is certainly one he is going to want to keep for as long as he can. Simply put, LD is the face of the US National Team and might still be in Brazil 2014. He may not be the best player, but Donovan is still a household name and a hero to thousands of Americans (fans or not).
Klinsmann should try not to cut Landon Donovan until the rest of the country is ready to cut Landon Donovan.
Keep the No-Name Jerseys
Although some were not a big fan of the jersey changes, I was a supporter of the "no-name" segment of the switch. It tells the players to focus on the crest on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back.
Until the players solidify their positions in the system, no names on the back is something Klinsmann should definitely keep.
Play the 4-2-3-1 (For Now, at Least)
Although we were all expecting a much more attacking style of play last Wednesday, the 4-2-3-1 really did do wonders for the USMNT to start the game. It kept the defense compact and really prevented Mexico from getting anything up the middle.
This formation will be really useful against superior opponents. Klinsmann should keep this defensive shape until he finds a striker pair worthy of a 4-4-2 formation switch.
Express His Emotion
Hopefully I am not the only one who couldn’t help but feel rejoiced once Klinsmann was seen jumping up and down on the sideline after Rogers’ game-tying goal.
That type of emotion is something that we didn’t see often from Bob Bradley, leaving the fans a little detached from the head coach. With Bradley, you never really knew if the guy just won the lottery or had a sour lemon in his mouth, and that really left the fan thinking if he even wanted to be there.
With Klinsmann, I knew he wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
Be Good to the Media
It is a simple connection: Be good to the media and the media will be good to you.
Klinsmann started off his USMNT tenure on a good note and said all the things that needed to be said. Now, he just needs to keep that hybrid English accent on track to avoid any problems.