I would think that Jurgen Klinsmann was still learning where the pencils and paper clips were around U.S. Soccer offices as Major League Soccer wound down last year, having taken the high-profile appointment in late summer. I know he saw some matches, mostly out in Los Angeles near his longtime home.
But I’m sure he’ll make more personal scouting missions to monitor his “kids” this year. Like the one he made into Texas for this one, where two of his prominent young players started in the FC Dallas-New York Red Bulls contest. Brek Shea and Juan Agudelo, who make up some undetermined portion of the future U.S. national team attack, were among their teams’ starting 11s.
Zach Loyd and George John were at the grounds, too. At this point, Loyd is further ahead than John, but both are idling somewhere on the periphery of the player pool.
A few members of the Chattering Class got their turn with Klinsmann before Sunday’s contest, and I asked him about his trips this year. First, I asked how often he’ll take advantage of these live scouting opportunities:
“Oh, I don’t know. I kind of improvise there. Obviously I want to see different teams and different places. Many places I will send my assistant coaches to. We try and really keep a close line of communication with the teams, with the coaches. Obviously the players see that we’re there only in Europe but we also watch our players here at home. And on top of that, we have our coaching staff together that goes all the way down to the Under-15s that is constantly on the road and we feed into each other. So, it’s fun. We really enjoy it. If you look at development of the game here over the last 10 years, it’s really a fairy tale. It’s amazing, the MLS story itself plus also now to get into the academy situation. It’s just great to see for somebody who loves soccer.”
So what, exactly, can he see live that he doesn’t get to see on video?
“Live you see always a lot, lot more. With all due respect to TV and they do a great job, but you see players’ and their body language, behavior when the ball is not around. You see their movements off the ball when the ball is not around. You see how disciplined they are in what they’re doing and you see the whole team shape, which explains to you clearly how they fulfill their roles within that team. You don’t get those things on TV unfortunately. You get a lot out of TV, but if you are in the stadium and you have the whole field in front of you, then it’s a different story.”