What can you say about Klinsman as a player? He won a World Cup in 1990, ‘96 Euros, was the first player to ever score at least three goals in three consecutive World Cups, and currently sits 6th all-time in World Cup goals scored…ever. He was heavily criticized for the poor results his German side managed leading up to the 2006 World Cup-and then Germany finished 3rd. The USSF has wanted Klinsman for years and now they have him. Prior to the Slovenia game, the US had scored just 2 goals under Klinsman in 6 games. So what do I think of him?
What’s not to like.
Billy Crystal is famously quoted as saying, “change is such hard work”. In this case, I tend to agree. What is easiest isn’t always what’s best. It takes patience to do what he’s doing. Klinsman is a competitor like everyone else and he wants to win more than anyone because that’s what he is-he is a winner. But he understands that development is a process, and he is doing a great job enjoying that process. He has always been upbeat after every loss-pointing out the positives. He sees the potential and no American coach up to this point has ever helped our national team players truly realize their full potential. He’s aggressive…progressive. He has put in a challenge to all future national team players-“It’s impossible for a national team player to stop for 2 ½ months and be on vacation. It’s just not working.” And then he brings in foreign based American players, challenging our current MLS national team prospects. 12 of the 30 U-23’s are German based. What he is demanding is simple-find a way to play at a higher level, consistently throughout the year. This is a change that some critics aren’t going to like-but I do. He’s thinking outside the box, he’s being different, and ultimately he will succeed in raising the bar for our national team (#34 World Ranked USA beats #27 World Ranked Slovenia 3-2 as I am writing this). And for that I will thank him.
The way that we play is certainly more appealing. Sure we had only scored two goals in 6 games, but the one difference is that we have created more chances in the last six games than I can ever remember. Now it’s a matter of fine-tuning those opportunities into actual goals. As a casual fan, you see the stat and scoff. As a fan that is intimately involved in soccer every day, you are excited. You are excited that the United States is being put in an environment to succeed at the highest levels and I hope his track record of silencing critics will continue in 2014.
American’s want results, and they want them yesterday. But change is hard work. It takes time. If the goal is to qualify for the World Cup and then succeed once we get there, does it really matter if we lose 1-0 to France in France in November of 2011?