Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

US soccer coach fiasco

Bruce Arena is officially out as coach of the US Men's National Soccer team. Apparently the reports that he had quit were unfounded when just days ago the US Soccer Federation (read: Sunil Gulati) chose not renew Arena's contract. Great, that satisfies the need for a fresh approach to finally come to the team (potentially the whole youth development through National team too?....probably not.)

Arena had some talented players come through and they miraculously performed in his first World Cup. Everything we desperately failed at in Germany this year worked perfectly against Portugal in 2002. From McBride's air prowess to midfielders crashing into the box to latch onto loose balls from a lax defense (O'Brien), we dominated Portugal and still barely won 3-2 when they finally figured out they could treat us as more than a youth team. No wonder everything we tried against the Czech Republic was carbon copy. Now I'm not pointing out blame here to just Arena, but I am calling for some type of strategy contingency plan to have been enacted in Germany. If the air attack doesn't work, let Reyna try to dribble around everyone like Diego Maradona in 1986 to win games by himself? Arena had no clue so Reyna tried to lead like a true captain and had no one to help (and not enough Maradona talent). What's more is that in 2002 we came from nowhere (dead last in 1998) and were the Cinderella of the tournament, even if every other country on the planet seemed to think us the ugly stepsister. Then 4 years went by and we, for the first time, became the point of video training sessions for our opponents. Our team personified "vanilla" in every bland sense of the word this past month. Ok, maybe I'm being too harsh because I saw some good footwork from Dempsey and Convey. Should they ever get out of the US soccer leagues, bless them! They need more pressure and experience to see what will actually work on the world stage. They started to come together, especially when Beasley provided 2 power surges, unfortunately each in different games. However, his "goal" against Italy probably would have been saved by Buffon should he had vision of the shot and although he showed great go-to-goal vision and speed in setting up our only goal when Dempsey blasted though...sad news is that in replay Clint was offside. Yet I still profess that those movements by DaMarcus were the stuff of European football experience. He didn't do much else in the tournament, strangely, and is still to shoulder blame with everyone else but one man does not provide a win unless his name is Diego M. (sorry Claudio).

Ok, that was an unexpected diatribe, but those are my post-post Cup thoughts that just needed to be communicated. One more thing, and the reason I began this post is that should we hire Klinsmann as the next coach (it's looking imminent, dang it), I see nothing more than added fitness to the team and comparable failure to the Arena tenure.

Yes, I'm saying Klinsmann should NOT be hired as our next head coach.

Here's why: He took on a talented and untapped yet downtrodden German team in 2004 when they couldn't get out of the group stage in the European Championship. Not acceptable, Germans said. Ok, bring in someone new, the German Football Association responded. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

After getting to the final in World Cup 2002 they didn't seem to do much for 4 years. Some will say they had an easy time getting to the 2002 final with Paraguay, the US and South Korea the second round, quarterfinals and semifinalists, respectively. The final two were hard fought games. More than any other team, South Korea was intense and explosive. I'm still amazed we tied them in our group (thanks again, Brad Friedel, for saving that penalty!).

Now this year Germany won the bronze in their own country with such players as Klose (5 goals in 2002 and this year), Schweinsteiger (2 goals and 2 assists this year), Ballack (very unimpressive and overrated, however), Lehmann (incredibly consistent and a brick wall) and another goal scorer in Podolski. No US player can even come close to any of these men, except Ballack at his worst might be considerable to Reyna and they looked similar this year...I'm just saying...although Michael did have one assist to Reyna's zero.

Anyway, my main point is that Jurgen took over a good team. He whipped them into shape with some California fitness guru (maybe a tae-bo expert? just kidding) and inspired them to some insane levels of optimism and emotion, yet unseen in a German since they won the Cup in 1990 (and those were West Germans, not the depressed Easterns). Some of these "untangibles" could help the US, but we need more. Tonloads more.

Happy thoughts and passion only go so far, but with the dismal level of play in CONCACAF, Klinsmann would probably help us qualify for S. Africa anyway. Still, we would be destined to similar failure barring every US player tomorrow transporting to another country to play their club ball. Klinsmann won with talent, but he's a former striker who had a penchant for diving. We need a coach who knows the world game (and not this pure rubbish about knowing the "American soccer scene" living in CA, being a Galaxy (yes, the MLS Galaxy) correspondant and playing under an assumed name in over-30 US rec. leagues helps you do that). And we need a proven leader who has experience. Jurgen got lucky this year. He would not with the US.

My vote is for Gus Hiddink. Look what he did with South Korea. Barely unknown as a soccer power (a la the US the same year) and he led them to the semifinals in 2002. Unlike the US, they almost delivered in 2006 as well, but Gus had already left them. He has coached in Holland and is the most talked about coach for positions across the world, in my opinion. He's not the chic choice because he doesn't resemble being a former player (not sure myself if he's played before) but that's the great thing about him--he's first a coach, not a former player in his midlife crisis glory years looking for more fame and success. He brings tactic and true coaching experience. He's wisely turned down the England job and could enjoy rebuilding a system like the US', much like Mike Holmgren did with the Seahawks in coming to Seattle.

Think about it. Do we need a man who ran into success this year with a completely different team because he lives in California. No! We need to make an educated choice here and Hiddink is that choice.


posted by El Jefe @ 11:54 AM  0 comments


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