German boss Joachim Löw weighs in on Soccer in the U.S.A.

4 Comments

For whatever reason, we love to hear what the big voices in the game say about soccer in our part of the world.

Never mind that guys like Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho or even the clownish Sepp Blatter cannot possible know much about soccer in our part of the world. After all, why should they? They’ve got more than enough on their soccer plate without paying attention to what most of the world still sees as an outlier in the game. Well, maybe not Ferguson anymore … but you get the point.

Still, it’s part of the American soccer condition. We are constantly on the lookout for affirmation or validation. That spirited quarterfinal dash at World Cup 2002, easily U.S. Soccer’s high-water mark on the men’s side, only goes so far.

(MORE: Everyone take a breath; the US soccer team has been here before)

So when guys like Joachim Löw, manager of a ridiculously talented German side, one that will be among the favorites for World Cup 2014, speak on soccer here, fans and members of the fourth estate lean in.

Here’s what Löw said about the game here in a bigger, historical and cultural context:

Soccer here in the USA is still somewhat lagging behind what it is in Germany, not necessarily in terms of quality but in terms of tradition. Soccer in Germany is enjoying much higher status than over here, where the other sports, the famous ‘Big Four,’ are ruling the roost.”

He also talked about Klinsmann’s novel managerial approaches. Here, the current German boss does have a unique perspective worth hearing. Remember, all this novelty was not well received as Klinsmann sought to wrest Germany from too many of its former (and quite stodgy) ways. Löw was his top assistant in building that fashionable, younger Germany side that finished as such high-fliers, third place as hosts at World Cup 2006.

What Klinsmann will do, what he has done, is introduce new ideas and fresh approaches to the game. He’s been privileged to train under a whole array of coaches, and he was coach himself with Germany national team and Bayern Munich. So he has accumulated immense wealth of experience and knowhow. Couple this with the courage he has to effect change, and I think he will introduce a whole lot of new things that will do a load of good for the future of US soccer.”

Löw did get one part wrong, saying that Klinsmann’s final objective at U.S. boss was to “qualify for the 2014 World Cup.”

On that account, the current German coach could not be more incorrect. Steve Sampson, Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley all qualified U.S. teams for the World Cup. If we’re being honest, the “getting there” isn’t such a fancy trick out of this CONCACAF region.

Klinsmann was hired to move the United States off its sticking point, which has been second-round elimination at the last two World Cups. It was especially painful three summers ago in South Africa, where there was such a feeling of “opportunity lost.”

A lot of managers could get the United States to Brazil, and perhaps a few could successfully navigate the opening round.

Klinsmann needs to drive the bus a little further. Not that Löw needs to concern himself too much over that.

(MORE on USMNT: Talking about “venerable” old RFK)

(MORE on USMNT: Notes on the preliminary Gold Cup roster)

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Leave a comment

Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
Leave a comment

West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

Leave a comment

In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.