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USMNT: A squad Caught Between Identities



As the USMNT pushed for the tying goal against Jamaica and it became apparent that an equalizer just wasn’t in the cards, it brought question marks to the surface.  These are the types of questions Jurgen Klinsmann has thus far been able to avoid now 4 years into his tenure as US head coach.

Is he the right man for the job?  Is two World Cup cycles one too many for one head coach?  Finally, are his duties as both head coach and as the man in charge of player development in direct conflict?

When he took over as coach in 2011 he spoke about a complete restructuring of the US program from the ground up.

To date, that hasn’t really happened.  Moreover, did it ever really need to happen?

Under Klinsmann, the US has enjoyed some historic results albeit mostly in friendly matches that by definition mean very little.

He guided the US to the knockout round of the World Cup, but the US had already done that in both 2010 and 2002.

Has much actually changed?

The reality is no.

Despite the promise of an overhaul, the faces of US men’s soccer continue to be Dempsey, Howard, and Bradley.

Klinsmann has criticized MLS saying that players like Bradley and Dempsey would have a “difficult time maintaining their best form” in MLS (Carlisle, ESPN, 11/14/14).

However, the best of the squad remains MLS while trying to integrate young players into the squad.

This constant change and turnover makes it difficult to win consistently, and it caught up with Klinsmann at the Gold Cup.

The teams in best form at this Gold Cup had been Costa Rica, Jamaica and Panama; teams who do not routinely rotate squads and therefore, get to play a lot of matches together.

This was particularly true of the US backline against Jamaica who looked very confused on set-pieces, conceding two goals to Jamaica in that fashion.

So one wonders, how Klinsmann viewed this Gold Cup especially knowing he had at least a playoff for the Confederations Cup in hand no matter how his squad did thanks to its win of the 2013 Gold Cup.

But if that was the case, why not try to develop front line players instead of going with Bradley and Dempsey?

Klinsmann continues to be caught between development and winning and he is trying to do both and accomplishing neither.




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