By Sam Doku, PhD
Jürgen Klinsmann was undoubtedly a brilliant forward at the apogee of his stellar soccer career with the German national team, Bayern Munich, and Tottenham Hotspurs, among others. Klinsmann could sniff an opportunity to hit the back of the net yards away, and when he got the ball, he made no mistake about it. However, could the same thing be said about his ability as a coach to sniff talents yards away from him?
That is the question on the minds of many soccer prognosticators at the moment. Watching the Ghana and Canada exhibition match at RFK on Wednesday, the second half when Ghana’s Coach, Avram Grant brought on substitutes who could dance on the ball and create chances for their team mates, culminated in the Black Stars entertaining the entire stadium to vindicate the poetic beauty of game.
That is what the game of soccer is all about. Players step on to the field not only to win ball games but also to entertain and please. Sadly, however, the entertainment and euphoric aspect of the game has been lost on Klinsmann.
As a result, in his reign as coach of the U.S. men’s national soccer team, he has unabashedly refused to invite fleet-footed players and pure dribblers into his squad who abound plentiful here in the U.S. and rather prefers hard-running European-born players who only opt to play for the U.S. after being ignored by the countries of the birth.
The result is that Klinsmann has not been able to discover reliable talents to play their hearts out for him to the extent that old guard, DeMarcus Beasley has to be recalled from retirement from national team duties to play for the U.S.
The style of the U.S. play hasn’t changed under Klinsmann and that’s a sad spectacle for a team that reached the quarterfinals in South Korea and Japan in 2002. The question then is, What have the likes of Freddy Adu, Sacha Kjiestan, and Jose Torres done to Klinsmann that has infuriated him so much that he has refused to invite them to play for the U.S.?
Having lost to Mexico on October 10 in the contest to represent the CONCACAF region in the Confederations Cup and having suffered another defeat against Costa Rica, Klinsmann cannot take for granted the qualification of the U.S. to participate in the 2018 World Cup.
The United States needs Freddy, Sacha, and Jose to beef up the efforts of the experienced players on the team such as Michael Bradley, Jozie Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Geoff Cameron.
Indeed, Klinsmann must get rid of the notion that playing in Europe makes a player better qualified to play internationally. That’s an antiquated conception. Genius is genius wherever he plies his stock-in-trade.