Three things the 2015 Gold Cup taught us about Jurgen Klinsmann and his USMNT


Friends, it’s over. It’s safe to come out from your hiding pla…wait, I lied, the American soccer universe is currently a raging inferno. No one is safe.

On Saturday, Jurgen Klinsmann’s US national team fell to Panama, 1-1 after extra time and 3-2 on penalties, in the third-place game of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. It was a fitting end to the Americans’ tournament, in which they looked less “revolutionized” than they looked like the team we sent to the 1998 World Cup in France.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

The 2015 Gold Cup team was constructed and performed much more poorly than the 2011 Gold Cup team for which Bob Bradley was fired, and Klinsmann was subsequently hired. Here’s three things we learned about Klinsmann and the USMNT during their failed run during this month’s Gold Cup.

1. The standard of CONCACAF is steadily improving, but the USMNT might not be

Way back on July 6, I wrote these words about how the rest of CONCACAF has steadily improved over the last two, four and even 10 years. I pointed to Costa Rica’s run to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer and Panama’s double-defeat of Mexico at the 2013 Gold Cup as just two examples of the rising tide in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

This Gold Cup further enforced my belief that teams not named the US and Mexico — Jamaica, this year’s finalists, as well as Trinidad and Tobago and Panama — are quickly catching up to the “big two” of the region.

This was the USMNT’s chance to show that while everyone else was improving, they were, too. Instead, they laid egg after egg after egg and finished fourth — their second-worst showing ever (2000).

Ahead of the start of World Cup qualifying, the USMNT not only finished, but routinely looked, the fourth- or fifth-best team in CONCACAF. Klinsmann took over a CONCACAF power, and they are currently anything but that.

[ FULL RECAP: USMNT falls to Panama in penalty kicks, finishes 4th at Gold Cup ]

2. Klinsmann preaches “learning” and “improving,” but refuses to do any of it himself

It’s Klinsmann’s way or the highway — silly things like logic, precedent or results be damned. We’ve known that since, well, basically the beginning of time. What we didn’t expect, however — or, at least I didn’t — was for Klinsmann’s insistence on doing things his way to routinely cost the USMNT not just games, but tournaments (the entirety of the 2014 World Cup comes to mind).

Example: Young defense struggles mightily throughout the group stage and shows lots of signs of bad things to come, but Klinsmann refuses to call up a Matt Besler — who’s playing extremely well for Sporting Kansas City, by the way — when given the chance to make six roster changes before the knockout rounds. Instead, it’s ride-or-die with John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado (both 22 years old). Spoiler alert: they died, and now Klinsmann should be answering the kind of questions he so often sidesteps with ease.

For instance, “Why would you, after failing so miserably during the Gold Cup, say you’re going to roll with a largely unchanged roster for the one-game playoff in October to determine CONCACAF’s representative at the 2017 Confederations Cup?” You probably think I made that up, because it’s so stubborn, right? Wrong.

We know that Klinsmann is virtually untouchable in terms of his employment, but is too much to ask for Klinsmann to hold his hands up and say, “I need to be better, too, not just the players?” Klinsmann acknowledging that he, just like his players, had a poor tournament isn’t asking for the world.

[ PREVIEW: Mexico, Jamaica to do battle in Gold Cup final | Officiating errors impacted Panama in SF ]

3. Clint Dempsey is still “the guy,” but he needs help

Ol’ Deuce, despite his paper-tearing ways, remains as reliable as ever as the USMNT’s talisman. In fact, Klinsmann’s decision to remove the captaincy from over Dempsey’s head was 100 percent the right decision. Not only did Dempsey say so himself, but he looked like the Dempsey that USMNT fans have come to expect — and the team to rely upon — throughout the entire tournament. In truth, Dempsey is perhaps the only player for which that can be said.

source: Getty Images
Clint Dempsey, USMNT — 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Seven goals in six games is unquestionably an impressive haul for Dempsey, but one can’t help by wonder if it could have been more had he forged a successful forwards’ partnership with someone — anyone. It wasn’t working with Jozy Altidore during the group stage, and though the 6-0 victory over Cuba might indicate otherwise, it didn’t happen with Aron Johannsson during the knockout rounds, either.

The USMNT was out-shot by a total of 93 to 62 during the Gold Cup. By five CONCACAF teams. Not Germany, or Brazil, or Argentina, or Spain. Honduras, Haiti (21 to 6!!!), Panama (twice), Cuba and Jamaica.

Gyasi Zardes looked promising during stretches, but he’s still a 23-year-old with less than three years of professional experience. Johannsson showed better than he has at any other point of his international career, but he’s wildly inconsistent at best, and maybe too similar to Dempsey for the two to ever really work well together.

USMNT reportedly opens contract talks with Gregg Berhalter; Good or bad idea?


Gregg Berhalter may be sticking around the United States men’s national team program, giving the USMNT coaching continuity as it moves from 2022 World Cup Round of 16 member to 2026 World Cup co-host.

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle says that Berhalter is beginning contract discussions with the United States Soccer Federation but also interested in taking a job in Europe with his profile having risen alongside the USMNT at the World Cup.

Berhalter’s current contract ends at the end of the calendar year, and the Yanks have scheduled a domestic camp in January and friendlies against Serbia and Colombia.

[ MORE: USMNT transfer rumors for Musah, Dest ]

Berhalter has done some good things for the program, most notably winning the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup with two different groups. He also straightened out the defending, for the most part, and got out of the World Cup group.

Berhalter successfully recruited Sergino Dest and Yunus Musah, two of the program’s stars at the World Cup. He also convinced Malik Tillman, Gaga Slonina, and Jesus Ferreira that the U.S. was the right place for their national team futures.

He also, subjectively, was slow if not downright stubborn in acquiesing to certain points-of-view that made the team better. From Tyler Adams as a right back at the outset of his tenure to saying Tim Ream didn’t fit how he wanted to play about a month before the World Cup… then playing him every minute of the tournament.

But for the most part when lessons were learned, they stayed learned.

Should Gregg Berhalter continue as USMNT boss?

Let’s start here, because it’s necessary: It’s clear that Berhalter cared about his players and the project, whether you like the way he operated or not. This wasn’t a half-assed operation, but one with passion.

So does he still have that passion? Only he can answer that, and if he’d like to get more matchdays in his life then maybe he does want to go back to the club game.

And frankly, that’s fine either way, because his four years with the program were neither amazing nor pitiful. They can be described as anything from a slight disappointment to a minor success, depending on your perspective and expectations.

If you believe that picking up the pieces from the absolute travesty that was failing to qualify for the World Cup from the richest nation and one of the two most talented nations amongst CONCACAF men’s programs was really hard, then you think Berhalter getting the men to the 2022 World Cup and surviving the group with a young group was a solid step in the right direction and a minor success.

If you believe that the American soccer climate is such that you should always make the World Cup out of one of the world’s lesser confederations and that the Yanks progressed as the second team of a group in which they were the second-ranked team according to FIFA and Elo Ratings, well, you can have a different standard.

The Yanks will never again fail to qualify for the World Cup given the expanded field, but hosts have historically had a drastically-improved chance to reach the semifinals. THe federation would have to be confident that picking the best squad regardless of how it reflects on his previous selections — let alone a Best XI — is going to happen under a given coach.

Berhalter’s 49 and is far from the worst or best boss in USMNT history. Whoever’s in the job four years from now will have a chance to go down as either one. Choose wisely, fed. And Gregg! Who knows how far his star could rise with a solid run in Europe, and history says there will be the chance to reconnect with the USMNT job.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Premier League table, 2022-23 season


If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

We’re at the 2022 World Cup break, and the final few rounds of Premier League fixtures caused so many shocks.

Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United are locked in a battle for the top four, while Liverpool have improved and will be back in the Champions League scrap and Chelsea are struggling.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Who are the early-season candidates for relegation?

Newly promoted Nottingham Forest moved off the bottom of the table with a win before the break, with Wolves and Southampton currently occupying the other two relegation places.

Leicester have picked up a few big wins, while West Ham, Everton and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom-three after a topsy-turvy start.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.

Premier League table – Matchweek 16

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England vs France: How to watch live, stream link, team news


Match 59 of the 2022 World Cup features a pair of European heavyweights duking it out for a place in the semifinals when England faces France on Saturday.

Didier Deschamps’ France is bidding to become a back-to-back World Cup winner, but Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are tournament-hardened and have shown their explosive nature three times this tournament.


France beat Poland 3-1 in its Round of 16 match while England overcame a dodgy start to pound Senegal 3-0.

Neither team can say its faced a test like this in the tournament, and this could be a fantastic fight in Qatar.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for England vs France.

How to watch England vs France live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Saturday, December 1
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

England will look to Harry Kane, though the question remains who will flank the Tottenham center forward. Marcus Rashford’s been very good but Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden got the starting spots against Senegal and it paid off for Southgate.

Kylian Mbappe has been borderline unstoppable and will test Harry Maguire, John Stones, and friends and Antoine Griezmann pulls the strings in behind and Aurelien Tchouameni continues to strengthen his reputation in the center of the pitch.

England quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Pickford

France quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Raphael Varane, Antoine Griezmann

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Croatia vs Brazil: How to watch live, stream link, team news


World Cup-savvy Croatia stands in the way of stylish Brazil’s pursuit of a sixth World Cup crown, and the pair promise a complex match-up on Friday in Al Rayyan.

Match 58 of the 2022 World Cup kicks off the quarterfinals as Neymar leads Tite’s star-studded CONMEBOL powers into a match against the 2018 runners-up.


Croatia got past Japan in penalties and will now dream of the two wins that could set it back in the final where France could again be waiting for a juicy rematch.

Croatia needed penalties to get past Japan in the Round of 16, while Brazil pasted South Korea 4-1.  Croatia has never beaten Brazil in four meetings, losing at the 2006 and 2014 World Cups.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Croatia vs Brazil.

How to watch Croatia vs Brazil live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Friday, December 9
Stadium: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic was fantastic in penalties versus Japan to get here, but Luka Modric continues to do the things that get Croatia out of trouble and puts the opponents into heaps of it. Josko Gvardiola has arguably been the defender of the tournament, and the 20-year-old looks to test his mettle again against the Selecao.

Pick a Brazil player who’s failed to impress and you’ve achieved a mighty feat. Neymar’s been fantastic when healthy while RIcharlison is in serious pursuit of the Golden Boot. Alisson Becker flexed his muscles once or twice versus South Korea and figures to be busier as the competition continues to heat up in Qatar.

Croatia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 12
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Zlatko Dalic
Key players: Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric, Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol

Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

Follow @NicholasMendola