Getty Images

Klinsmann: USMNT could have made semifinals in Russia

3 Comments

In an alternate universe, the U.S. Men’s National Team not only qualifies for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but advances to the semifinals.

This is the universe that’s occupied by former USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann. In a pair of interviews with Yahoo Sports and Sports Illustrated that were posted this week, Klinsmann stated he could see the U.S. making a semifinal in either Russia or the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

[READ: Wilshere disappointed to not be selected for World Cup]

“I realistically saw a group growing into the World Cup 2018 that could go into a semifinal,” Klinsmann said.

Klinsmann added later in the interview, “It was so valuable to play Copa America because it gave the players a sense of where they were, that they can beat South American opponents, good teams like Paraguay, Ecuador,” he said. “I think it was really huge for that group of players.”

Obviously this is bonkers on so many levels. The U.S. were on a downward spiral following the 2014 World Cup and the horrendous defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica back to back to open up the Hex were the last straw.

Due to the “lost generation” of players, Klinsmann and his successor Bruce Arena had to over rely on aging stars like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley as well as young players like Christian Pulisic, who at the time was just 18-years old and was too young to put the hopes and dreams of a nation on his shoulders.

It’s easy for Klinsmann to go on a redemption tour a month out of the World Cup and claim what could have been, and perhaps it’s not necessarily his fault that the likes of Bobby Wood, Brek Shea, Gyasi Zardes, Matt Hedges and many others never developed into top-level players like Dempsey and Bradley. But while it’s likely the U.S. would have qualified, the World Cup squad would have to look a lot younger than the qualifying squad – Arena admitted as much last year.

And it’s unlikely such a young squad could have made a run to the semifinals.

Klinsmann to be World Cup TV pundit

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Some will say he should be coaching the U.S. national team in Russia this summer, but Jurgen Klinsmann will instead be a pundit on the 2018 World Cup for the BBC in England.

The BBC announced on Tuesday that Klinsmann will be alongside the likes of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Alan Shearer, Pablo Zabaleta and Rio Ferdinand to give his analysis on the tournament, one he may way feel he should be at as a coach had things worked out differently 18 months ago.

Klinsmann, 53, was fired by the U.S. men’s national team after losing the opening two games of the final round of CONCACAF qualifying against Mexico and Costa Rica.

By now we all know, of course, that Klinsmann’s successor, Bruce Arena, wasn’t able to salvage a slow start to the Hexagonal round of qualifying as the USMNT lost at Trinidad & Tobago in their final qualifier to not make the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Klinsmann has largely been a bystander since the USA’s World Cup debacle, appearing here and there at coaching seminars or spotted watching his son Jonathan, a goalkeeper with Hertha Berlin and the U.S. youth teams, play.

The German legend was in charge of the USMNT for five years from 2011-16 and led the Stars and Stripes to the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Klinsmann’s insight into not only the teams at the tournament but also what happened with the USMNT will be intriguing, especially as he could be more relaxed on the subject of the U.S. considering he will be talking to a UK audience.

This will also be a great chance for Klinsmann to put himself back in the shop window as the managerial merry-go-round swings into overdrive following a World Cup tournament…

Still, there will be a nagging feeling among most USMNT fans that had Klinsmann not been fired back in November 2016 and trusted to get the U.S. back on track, they’d be cheering on their team this summer at the World Cup instead of twiddling their thumbs and being somewhat of a World Cup third wheel.

Klinsmann: ‘I’m sure I’ll come back’ to coaching

Getty Images
1 Comment

Jurgen Klinsmann hinted that he could return to full-time coaching after the 2018 World Cup.

Klinsmann appears to be enjoying life as a full-time soccer dad after his dismissal from U.S. Soccer in November 2016, having taken home a portion of a $6.2 million buyout from U.S. Soccer for he and his staff. Speaking to Socrates Magazine in Germany, Klinsmann gave his thoughts on the Bundesliga, the German National Team, and whether he’d be back in the hot seat one day.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

“I’m sure I’ll come back,” Klinsmann said. “Right now I’m having a nice break, I enjoy it. I do not know when I’ll take on a coaching job again. I’m looking forward to the World Cup in Russia and then I’ll be back in action.”

Klinsmann has been linked with a number of jobs over the past few years, even before he was fired as U.S. Men’s National Team coach, including with Everton, Sunderland, and Club Tijuana in Liga MX. But instead, Klinsmann has remained in the stands, cheering on his son Jonathan at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup along with the rest of the U.S. parents in their section.

Following the disastrous start of World Cup qualifying and the fact that Klinsmann never took the U.S. to the level he promised, it is hard to see where he will go next, unless it’s a lower level, with lower expectations. Based on his work with the USMNT and Bayern Munich, he has shown that he struggles tactically and is mainly a man-motivator, which is just one part of the coaching package.

The 53-year-old former German coach and player also had a bit of a warning to the Bundesliga, after a particularly tough season in Europe. Three Bundesliga teams (Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig) made the UEFA Champions League, but both Dortmund and Leipzig finished third in their groups, dropping down to the Europa League. FC Koln, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin all failed to advance to the knockout stages in the Europa League as well.

“The recent development at the European level is not a good sign, it is important that everyone is aware that success is lacking,” Klinsmann said. “Recently, you have lost too much ground.

“It’s a very critical moment. There is a certain amount of satisfaction after winning the World Cup in Brazil and the Bundesliga clubs having done very well in the Champions League.”

Geoff Cameron, Bruce Arena with dueling USMNT comments

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
1 Comment

While Stoke City was sorting out who’d be coming to town on transfer Deadline Day, one of its players was on the offensive regarding the most infamous night in his national team’s history.

[ MORE: JPW grades every PL club ]

Geoff Cameron spared no blushes in a feature piece by the New York Time’s Marc Stein that was released Wednesday and details his career and the United States men’s national team’s dismissal from World Cup qualifying with the accomplished 32-year-old on the bench.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that, if Jurgen Klinsmann was still our head coach, we would have qualified for the World Cup. … I’m convinced if they would have kept Jurgen and not done such a drastic change, I think we would have qualified. I know we would have qualified. Instead we’ve gone backward.”

(Me, too, Geoff. Me, too, but that’s also because a coach and players would have to almost purposely screw up the Hex to miss out. Bruce Arena sure played his part).

Cameron said Arena told him before the United States’ last two matches of the Hex that he would not be starting the matches because of fitness concerns. Cameron was perplexed; He had just played 90 minutes for Stoke in the Premier League.

“But I would have more respect for a coach to say: ‘You know what, Geoff? I don’t fancy you today. I think this is a better lineup.’ I’d say: ‘O.K., no problem, you told me the truth.’ But if you tell me I’m not fit enough, that’s like an insult to me as a professional.”

Stein, being the fine reporter that he is, got Arena’s response to Cameron’s shots. Arena continued to display that he is not good at the quotes and stuff.

“Could Geoff have been in the starting lineup that day? Yes. But the problem with Geoff throughout 2017, at club and national-team level, was inconsistency and some injuries. … Geoff started five games starting in November 2016 through October 2017. Our record was 1-3-1 — that plays a role. I don’t think 2017 was that impressive of a performance for the player. When the stars and the moon and the sun are aligned properly, Geoff is a very good player. They don’t all align properly all the time.”

That’s a striking bit of ego, even for Arena. The “stars and moon and sun” line is a stunning bit of disrespect for a 55-times capped player with 163 Premier League matches under his belt.

More importantly, it’s wrong. The Yanks won two (Honduras home and T&T), drew two (Honduras and Mexico away), and lost to Costa Rica. That’s one loss in five. And going with the 1-3-1 when Arena’s entire career has been spent in a league that puts losses second seems worse (though we may be reading too far into it).

Report: Jurgen Klinsmann interested in Australia national team job

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Well, Jurgen Klinsmann might be coaching at the World Cup next summer as it turns out.

[ MORE: Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea all win in Saturday’s PL action ]

Fox Sports Australia is reporting that the former U.S. Men’s National team manager is very intrigued by the Australia national team job, and that he reached out to a close friend to help get him the position with the Socceroos.

Klinsmann has been out of his coaching since he was fired by U.S. Soccer in Nov. 2016 during the USMNT’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifying run. Additionally, the ex-German international previously managed the German national team and club giants Bayern Munich.

Despite the 53-year-old’s interest in the job, the biggest potential hold up in him being granted the position is his salary. The Fox Sports report states that Australia has “put aside about $1.5 million per annum,” although Klinsmann was making about $3.3 million annually when employed by U.S. Soccer.

Another line that reads very interesting from the report is the following:

“The German is understood to be very keen to lead the Socceroos given Australia has a very similar sports landscape to the US where the game isn’t the No. 1 sport in terms of popularity for TV ratings among other mediums,” reads the Fox Sports Australia article.

Former Australia manager Ange Postecoglou stepped down from his position with the Socceroos just last week, which came as a shock to many following their triumph over Honduras in a World Cup qualifying playoff.

On Friday, Australia was paired with France, Peru and Denmark in Group C for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.