Op-Ed: Klinsmann, Yes We Can?

And away we go!....

This is the 2nd contribution by Jared DuBois to The Shin Guardian

You can listen to Jared harangue MLS & US Soccer on the Best Soccer Show or pontificate on the glory coming for Los Angeles Galaxy this season in many other places and to anyone who will listen. Jared holds no political affiliation.

Meyers on Obama...

In a recent White House correspondent’s dinner Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Meyers delivered a joke I can’t seem to shake from my brain over the last week.  Meyers said, regarding the 2012 Republican Presidential nominees at the annual Presidential roast, “…it’s not a strong field, and who knows if they can beat you in 2012. But I’ll tell you who can definitely beat you Mr. President, 2008 Barack Obama.”

How quickly just three years goes by…

2008, just yesterday....

Three years ago, you were just as unlikely to hear the words “black” and “President” juxtaposed next to each other as you would “German” and “creativity.”  The world has since—however incredulously–embraced the possibility of giving a man, at least, a chance to live up to a self-imposed ideal that challenges us to believe in the best America has to offer.

The world has also watched, as a new wave of German footballing youth broke the shackles of formulaic systems, rooted in rigid robotic movement.

It’s a brave new world today.


And that’s both a benefit and a curse to new U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

In America we yearn for “The Ideal” like Snooki yearns for bronzer.  It’s what makes us who we are to the rest of the world.

So it comes as no shock to read a recent SI interview with the new US coach and hear him speak to our ideals as a soccer nation.

For years the fanboys of America’s least respected game have clamored on the underground blogs, message boards and social media circles for an American team that plays with a style we could be proud of.

One that stresses creative, open, attacking play.

One that we can toss in the face of our Eurosnob friends layered in gear from the Emirates as they mock Michael Bradley in the face of the latest freshly-baked waffle from Cesc Fabregas.

A style that doesn’t sound as ugly as it looks (“The Bucket”).

I’ve learned three things about Klinsi so far: he has a decent DSL connection, knows the Mos Eisley-like places where American soccer hangs out on the Internet, and he knows how to hit CTRL-C followed quickly CTRL-V.  Many things have changed in three years but I still own a PC.

"We go this way from here"

Klinsmann is saying everything we want to hear, and it sounds so simple doesn’t it?  Just change…

But rhetoric is easy.  And unfortunately for Mr. Klinsmann, I’ve been burnt once before…

I want a “change we can believe in”, I really do.  But if the last few years has taught me anything, it’s that it’s easy to appeal to a nation that eats up ideals like a fatty piece of bacon for breakfast.

We know it’s dangerous for us, but we can’t help ourselves.  We’ve watched for centuries as our nation has consistently done the things the rest of the world has told us we could not.

Then we spike the ball and do the Ickey Shuffle in the world’s end zone.  It’s just what we do. It’s what we’ve always done.

Bacon and touchdown dances.

Yet our touchdown dances have been few and far between as of late.

So the bitter bitter man that’s developed inside of me since 2008 looks at what Klinsmann is saying with far more guarded optimism than he probably deserves.

I’m jaded Jurgen.

I know it’s not your fault but like a dude that just got out of a shitty relationship, you’re catching me on the rebound.  I’ve fell for a guy that pulled at my heart strings and dared me to believe that he could make a difference in my life.  And has failed…

Three years.

That’s what Klinsmann has to make a difference.  It’s a criminally short amount time to install the vastly ambitious changes he has planned for our nation.

Sounds hauntingly familiar, doesn’t it?

If the last few years has shown us anything it’s that the rhetoric meets the road far more quickly than we would like and than is wholly fair in a world where 140-character Twitter streams have usurped the lengthy 15-second sound byte.

As unjust as it may seem, the 2014 World Cup is only three years away.  I can’t help but think I’ll be reflecting with nostalgia about how much I liked that 2011 Klinsmann.

What happened to him?

But still… I love bacon Jurgen… and I smell what you’re cooking up in the next room. In fact it smells so good I can almost taste it.

Let’s just say I’m going to lay in bed for a few more minutes and make sure it makes it out of the skillet before I bother getting dressed for breakfast.

46 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Izzy on 2011/08/09 at 12:11 AM

    So basically………………… Obama disappointed you?

    Well why didn’t ya just SAY that?!?!??!?!

    JK,( No, not Juergen Klinsmann ) This is a fine post.


  2. Posted by dude on 2011/08/09 at 12:33 AM

    This country, and its soccer program, are in a rebuilding cycle. That isn’t the cycle in which you win the World Cup or make a mockery of other nations in too much else, either. We’ve stayed to a very rigid way of thinking, and it has reached the end of its usefulness. It’s time for a change, if nothing else than in the direction of the conversation. When we no longer argue about whether Americans CAN play creative attacking soccer, but how we can do it and deliver game in and game out… well, that’s the day I’ll tip my hat to anyone who had the balls to strive for the much ridiculed “change” that we needed in 2006.


  3. Posted by Jared on 2011/08/09 at 5:09 AM

    Luckily for Klinsi he doesn’t have to deal with the Tea Party.

    Seriously though, Klinsi has certainly been talking the talk these past couple of weeks. He was able to walk the walk for Germany with a lot of help from Jogi Loew and they are still reaping the benefits of that partnership. As long as he brings a similar assistant to ground his ideas in reality I think we’ll be ok. It’s not like we won’t qualify for the World Cup no matter who the coach is so he’s got a lot of leeway.


    • American soccer’s Tea Party lives on Big Soccer!


    • Posted by Sgc on 2011/08/09 at 6:48 AM

      But the gulf between expectation and achievement is similar in the two cases:

      –namely, that’s it’s easy to forget that there are *opponents*, and they are not sitting idly by waiting for you to implement your agenda.


  4. Posted by Matt on 2011/08/09 at 5:57 AM

    So, Klinsman = Obama. Does that mean that Bob Bradley = George W. Bush?


    • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2011/08/09 at 9:37 AM

      touche. To Bob’s credit, he didn’t leave Klinsi with a program with no money left in the account and two major financial commitments to develop other countries soccer programs from the ground up.

      But staying on the soccer theme, I agree with most here that, following the Brazilian football theme, if you have the ball and score the ball, the other team cannot win. Sounds simple but some major defensive gaps have been covered with grat success that way.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/08/09 at 9:43 AM

      Put an “H” in front of that W and I think you’re right.


  5. Posted by Patrickod on 2011/08/09 at 6:00 AM

    I read the book – soccer and politics and soccer and religion – how soccer shaped the world, yada yada yada. Interesting, but I like it best when soccer is just soccer and politics are kept out of it (whether they are a part of it or not in fact) – it just instigates polarization of fans that have a common love of the game and frankly it takes the fun and enjoyment out of following soccer. In a nutshell, its too heavy when all I want is to see cool soccer stuff.


    • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2011/08/09 at 9:38 AM

      yeah because fans never become polarized and overly heated just talking about soccer ; < )


      • Posted by MJ on 2011/08/09 at 10:06 AM

        I think the point is, we already do get polarized and heated about things in soccer, so can we please limit political references to the incidental and not have them as thematic throughout the piece. With respect to the author, I found it heavy too, i.e., the political disappointment of the author was distracting from the substance. I do think a great point of comparison is raised and the opening observation had be nodding, but it stuck around too long IMO.

        That being said, kudos to the author for being knowledgeable on the sport and certainly a better soccer writer than I could be.


  6. Posted by SteveM11 on 2011/08/09 at 6:06 AM

    Count me in as someone who wants to believe. I want to see change. Even if it is this year’s U14s that someday are the real result, I am down with what Coach K is trying to do.

    Good article.


  7. Posted by Matt on 2011/08/09 at 6:32 AM

    While I can appreciate the writer’s imperative to find a vehicle for a viewpoint, the analogy isn’t great. But I get why it’s there. Still, the analogy is sort of indicative of the problem…that we, soccer fans and citizens, see things as “failure” or “success” with so little room in between. I find it beyond over-simplified to say that Bob Bradley, or Obama for that matter, failed.

    If Klinsman generates hope and interest, then he has at least in part done his job. Building enthusiasm is an accomplishment in its own right, whether in soccer or politics.


    • Posted by Sgc on 2011/08/09 at 7:06 AM

      I like the analogy, because I think there are a lot of dimensions on which it works. One is what you pointed out: how much are bad results indicative of ‘failure’ versus factors beyond the leader’s control?


      • Posted by obxfly on 2011/08/09 at 9:22 AM

        Good point. That leads us to the question of what is actually in Klinsman’s control? Of course the USMNT but how about his authority over youth? Also, he can only do so much with the players he has. Yes we have some very good ones but which ones besides Tim Howard can be considered top five in the world at their position?


  8. Probably much more enjoyable for all if we are able to escape the political trappings and just talk about the beautiful game.


  9. Posted by Gregorio on 2011/08/09 at 6:57 AM

    Matt has a good point, we are looking through a lens thats either black or white (Dichotomus thinking). The analogy of a bad relationship touches us all in some way but it sounds like it clouds your judgement of where we are at now. I post break-up wanted to date tgis hot bombshell girl, not because I really liked her but to show the ex what I got and what she missed. Bad thinking!
    Anyway now what does this have to do with soccer? The point is what do we want? 20 yrs ago I really wouldn’t care if I like the the Hot russian as long as I bang ger! But 20 yrs later I want a relationship thats fulfilling, get it now? (Yeah, I’m a bitter old fart!)
    No the point is what do we really want from Klinsi? Is he a rebound? or a step to a decent soccer team that fulfills usin a more realistic way?


  10. Posted by Gregorio on 2011/08/09 at 7:00 AM

    I must also add that rebound sex is better than no sex and helps us get over the disppointment and hurt!

    *** Disclaimer, Please excuse my diatribe,( I’m a mental health professional with no self-awareness loaded with up Coffee!)


  11. Posted by Jake C. on 2011/08/09 at 7:13 AM

    Rule #2, don’t bring politics into a discussion with friends. Just saying.


  12. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/09 at 7:22 AM

    if fifa proves one thing, it is that soccer and politics are interwoven.


  13. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/09 at 7:55 AM

    A lot of people are aware of some of the problems and issues surrounding football evolving to the next level in the US. Rather than excepting the status quo, I think it is a good thing that the US manager has come out on the record and highlighted these issues, especially in the honeymoon period where the media spotlight is on him. Not sure what is going to happen during this cycle, but at least he is trying to think of some creative solutions to said problems. If anything, at least it emphasizes the differences between US Youth Soccer and the programmes that are already in place in the best footballing nations… especially to Joe Public. He’s obviously trying to manage expectations, but also trying to make people look through a lens that’s called reality.


  14. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/09 at 8:22 AM

    if im coach klinsmann, id let it be known to joe public that his team is playing to qualify for the world cup, and once that goal is achieved, his team will then play to win the world cup. anything less than these goals are unacceptable and in truth would be doing a disservice to our country, our fans, and the profession of coaching itself. there is a famous quote that defines team sport. “winning isnt everything, its the only thing” succesful coaches live by this mantra.


    • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/08/09 at 8:51 AM

      Yes perhaps, but there are many ways to say it, and there are many ways to actually achieve it (it being winning). Jurgen, rather than resorting to that platitude which can reek of belligerence, has rather stated that winning for American soccer means carefully defining who we are as a soccer nation–just as all other great soccer nations have done. Naturally, this means discussing our youth and developmental systems.

      Everyone should know by now that our objective is to qualify for the world cup, and that every team that plays in any tournament is there to win despite the perceived obstacles. Anyone can say that, and usually when its stated its rather meaningless. Jurgen is telling the fanbase and the average american how we are going to get there. Roadmaps are important and I like where Jurgen has started and where I think he is going with this.


    • Posted by jb on 2011/08/09 at 9:26 AM

      I think this would be a mistake. Klinsmann is not going to turn back time twenty years and take the pitch for us as striker. We will be working for the most part with the same players who just played in this summer’s Gold Cup (see the roster for tomorrow’s friendly). Maybe Klinsi can tweak tactics/formations, and gradually introduce some young exciting players over the next couple of years and we could make a deeper run at Brazil ’14. It is highly unlikely we could become a World Cup title contender in three years.

      I’m excited by the Klinsman hire because he seems to be taking the long-term approach, has some insight into the challenges with US Youth Soccer, and seems to have some ideas on how to change things for the better. Like our excellent writer, I too will admit to being a little jaded, and am tempering my excitement. If nothing else, a normally almost meaningless friendly tomorrow got a whole lot more interesting.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/09 at 9:27 AM

      So, if Klinsmann comes out and says “we are going to win the 2014 World Cup”, you think it is a good thing? Would you honestly believe him?


      • Posted by CJ on 2011/08/09 at 9:38 AM

        I’d say, with a couple games a la vs. Spain in the Confed Cup, yes. That said, we’re miles from there right now. The World Cup depends on lucky breaks more than dominating talent. A cohesive team, with a strong sense of who they are can beat Brazil with a couple rabbit punches that knocks them off balance. BB and the USMNT showed the world repeatedly we have the ability to disrupt the best teams in the world for long periods of time, I’d like to see Klinsmann be able to make those moments last for 90 minutes.

        Is our soccer the best? No,

        Is our team the most talented? No.

        Do we have skills? Yes.

        Do we have key players? Yes.

        Do we have a strong “team”? Hell yea.

        Do we have potential to beat Ghana instead of flaming out? Yes.

        We can win a World Cup, sooner than most think.


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/08/09 at 11:32 AM

          Can I have some of the Kool-aid you’re drinking? We beat a few teams in a tournament that most of the heavyweights don’t take particularly serious. We then went into the World Cup and snuck out of the group. We didn’t show the world that we could disrupt the best teams repeatedly. We disrupted Spain for 90 minutes and Brazil for 45. This was after we had been smoked in the group stage of that tournament by Italy and Brazil.

          I’d rather Klinsi actually work on turning our team into one that doesn’t need to rely on a couple of rabbit punches but one that can actually play with the big boys rather than play like Wolves (no offense intended to Wolves fans) against Man Utd.

          We are at least 4 World Cups away from winning a World Cup and I’m being optimistic with that estimate. Take a look at the last few winners of the World Cup and tell me what they all have in common. I think you’ll notice that the teams were both talented and worked well together. We’re a long way from being talented enough to get into that group.


          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/08/09 at 4:59 PM

            I think that CJ meant something slightly different. As the stats geeks from other sports will tell you the WC is a “small sample size” A three game group stage and then single elimination for 16 teams.

            To get out of the group stage you probably need to go 2-1-0, 2-0-1, 1-0-2 but you don’t need to win all three.

            Once you get to the knockout, especially with shootouts, anything can happen including huge upsets (although we tend to discount the upset after the fact and rationalize why they should have won). One dodgy penalty, one hot goalkeeper, one deflection creates an own goal, one lucky bounce, one bad call from the linesman on offside, one golazo out of a 30 yard shot that is 1 in 500, etc.

            Very different if you played 38 games like the EPL or even two legs.


            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/09 at 5:57 PM

              So, can a stat geek tell me when the last time the World Cup was not won by one of major footballing powerhouses? Everything you say is fair, but it’s in theory, isn’t it? Fact of the matter is that most players who don’t play for the “Big 8” don’t play their club ball in a pressure cooker environment [where they’re expected to win almost every game] or at the very highest level. Makes a big difference in tournament football.

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/08/09 at 6:38 PM

              It very much is in theory. I would say the Confed Cup in 09 is the closest example. The US was probably the 4th or 5th best team in that 8 team tourney. The fact that the US beat Spain and was up 2-0 up on Brazil was more of a fluke than proof that they were a comparable team.

              In any given WC knockout match the underdog even going against a big time team has at least a 10% chance of winning if not more (look at the bookie odds).

              Yes playing Big 8 league helps (although I would say that its really big 4) but the leagues like the EPL aren’t really the domain of England as much as they are a melting pot. Its entirely possible that a non-powerhouse nation could have a majority of their players in Big 8 leagues.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/08/09 at 6:51 PM

              By Big 8, I was actually referring to the top National teams, rather than leagues… they possess the quality players who can handle the big occasions, rather than get stage fright.

  15. Posted by Frank on 2011/08/09 at 8:59 AM

    Hopefully Jurgen is a better leader and at least has a plan unlike Barrack – if not
    the USMT will be downgraded just like the US under Obama.


  16. Posted by johnapaz on 2011/08/09 at 9:21 AM

    “…our nation has consistently done the things the rest of the world has told us we could not.

    Then we spike the ball and do the Ickey Shuffle in the world’s end zone. It’s just what we do. It’s what we’ve always done.

    Bacon and touchdown dances.”

    Simply brilliant.

    My new motto: “Bacon and touchdown dances.” Live by, die by… lol


  17. Posted by kaya on 2011/08/09 at 4:49 PM

    You should’ve just used the Shepard-Fairey-Hope app for iphone and slap up your pic of Klinsi. I’m already not super amped about tomorrow… thanks for brightening my day!


  18. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/08/09 at 6:47 PM

    it really is hard for a team to be successful when half the fan base dont have faith and the other half are indifferent. if people dont think the usa can win the next world cup, then maybe they should go root for the dutch or something. generally the people that say the usa is 4 or 5 world cups away, these people tend to be fans of total football and barca and cryuff and all that stuff and there reason for believing what they do, is based in their support for their own favorite team.


  19. Awesome piece. Not political. Just uses a political comparison as a metaphor. If people can’t step back and see that, then our social discourse in this country will continue to be dysfunctional.

    Tomorrow breakfast for dinner, frying up the bacon. FBM guy, What beer goes with that?

    Have to post this video simply for the song…



  20. Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/08/09 at 7:24 PM

    Very insightfully clever piece. And I hate using the word “very”


  21. thank you for such good insights!


  22. […] Op-Ed: Klinsmann, Yes We Can? […]


  23. […] More from the Shin Guardian on what Klinsmann has ahead of him. […]


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  25. […] And optimism because of fan and, far more critically, player reaction after the game ended in a 1-1 draw, a reaction that suggested that the United States as a footballing nation can, and will, be better. “We’re not all world beaters,” Tim Howard suggested after the match. “But we can be better than what we are.” It was a game that captured the sentiment of Jared DuBois, co-host of the great American Soccer Show… […]


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