Chaos in Camp Klinsmann?

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Brian Straus of the Sporting News went and dropped a bomb on the United States soccer community with a story that reveals growing discontent among the player with Jurgen Klinsmann and the direction of the program.

The key takeaways, which Straus helpfully highlighted in his piece:

  • Klinsmann and chief assistant Martin Vasquez either lack the tactical acumen and game-day chops to successfully lead the team or fail to communicate their wishes effectively.
  • Too much time and too many resources are spent on initiatives that don’t translate to the field.
  • Constant lineup changes and building resentment over the perceived importance and attitude of the German-born players are harming team chemistry.

    So yeah, that’s… not good. Although I do think that if you’ve been paying attention, this piece shouldn’t comes as a huge surprise. The bubbles have been popping up for a few months now.

    To me, there are really two separate issues at work here: 1) Klinsmann’s inability — perceived or otherwise — to coach the team and 2) growing division within the squad itself.

    I actually think the second one is more concerning. The first issue — not being ready for individual games and/or not being given a game plan — is a problem because the U.S. needs to win and it needs to win now (or Friday, more specifically). But that’s the type of thing that can pretty easily be rectified pretty simply in a number of different ways.

    The second one, however, is a much bigger, systemic problem. I tackled the issue of building community on a diverse team, and one of the major takeaways was that once resentment seeps in, it’s incredibly hard to eliminate. Divisions on the national team aren’t going to go away with a simple coaching change if it does get to that point. (Mr. Arena, you listening?) It will take months and perhaps years of hard work to undo that damage. If Klinsmann’s goal is to build a strong national team for the future, this doesn’t seem like the best way to go about accomplishing that task.

    Of course, take this all with a grain of salt. Straus, for all the impressive reporting he did, remains an outsider. He has plenty of sources, but he doesn’t have all the sources. The sky is falling, but the end is not nigh. Not quite yet anyway. Let’s talk again around midnight on Friday.

    Anyhow, enough of me. Go read Straus’ excellent piece.