So with the recent firing of United States Mens National Team head coach and technical director I thought I might share my thoughts on the matter. Firstly I’d like to say that I am not the most jingoistic of people and thus I am not an avid follower of the US team as I am not a fan of the USSF at an institutional level. However, I am a passionate fan of football the game itself so that is the place from which I will be coming from. Furthermore I do wish to see the US footballing standards improve and become competitive on the global stage.
Lets first begin by establishing that Klinsmann for years has been known to not be the most tactical of coaches and that has been his Achilles heel. Having a penchant for playing players out of their preferred positions at club level, Klinsmann desired to play an attractive attacking style without the sum of the parts to perform such a style. From all intents and purposes he had appeared to lose the locker room and in a sport like football that can largely make or break a team. Those things being said I still don’t fault Klinsmann for the job he was essentially given which was to transform the US football system from the ground up while simultaneously transitioning the old 2002 guard and establishing a new identity and direction. In this way I felt he was successful. Would another manager be capable of opening up opportunities for American players to trial and train abroad as well as bring in much needed talent with dual citizenship? I don’t believe so. What Klinsmann and many American sportswriters failed to grasp is that America for better or worse is in need of a serious reforming of how it goes about player development. In the past this was mitigated by the best American players simply using connections to travel to Europe and abroad in search of top flight training and footballing opportunities. This has not changed and in large part is not on Klinsmann but the USSF. Klinsmann often lamented the lack of passion of drive expressed in the American suburbanite footballers who seemed content on simply getting to the top leagues or rather coming back to play domestically in lieu of a more challenging opportunity.
And now for the state of US football in general. I find it appalling that nothing has really changed on the player development side. Essentially if a player is lucky enough to gain a EU passport their best bet would be to leave the US to train elsewhere. The American youth system is large but ridiculously poor quality. Some will lay the excuses down of the lack of quality training down to disinterest caused by being the current 5th popular sport in the American sports paradigm but that is simply not good enough in my book. When you have a country with as many registered players as we do that simply is not a viable excuse for mediocrity. Furthermore the US system like most American sports is pay to play which means that it essentially can price itself out of the market. Just in my area to play legitimate football against good competition as far as American standards are concerned it would cost around $2400 a year plus travel expenses. Multiply that by 5 and that is roughly $12000 just in team fees plus the travel expenses and occasional camps during a lifetime of youth football. Not many people have that kind of money to spend on a recreational activity that won’t potentially pay dividends in the future. So until clubs are able to reap the benefits of investing in players development like in the European model I do not foresee the US cultivating talent it is capable of.