An old friend always says, “know thyself”, and that statement couldn’t be more true when it comes to the current state of the USMNT. Brian Straus’s article earlier this week raised a lot of eyebrows, but for those that have followed Jurgen Klinsmann’s managerial career, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. During Klinsmann’s tenure with Germany, Bayern Munich, and now the United States, he has been quick to add bells and whistles to the mix: newest technology for tracking fitness, motivational speakers, nutritionists, but yet his tactics and game management have frequently been questioned. Klinsmann has spoken about playing a better brand of soccer. That is, more free-flowing, improving players’ comfort level on the ball. His words sound great, if it were working. And though results have been positive, the games have mostly been dire to watch.
This brings us back to “know thyself”. While Klinsmann has been quick to build a “new” USMNT, he needs to remember what has made the team successful in the past. His two best results, wins away to Mexico and Italy, didn’t showcase the Klisnmann style, but followed the same formula that national team supporters have come to expect: great goalkeeping, an organized back four, a compact midfield that can open up wide to be dangerous on the counterattack, the ability to finish created chance, and lastly, a highly motivated team working together, playing with their heart on their sleeve.
Against Costa Rica Klinsmann has another opportunity to show his worth as the manager of the United States, but he isn’t the only one that will be analyzed. In a week where anonymous quotes have stolen the headlines, the spotlight will also be squarely on the players – as it should be. A week filled with controversy, along with missing key players, and a new captain named - it would be easy to make the case that the odds are against the United States. But isn’t that just the way we like it?
Jurgen, know thyUSMNT, and keep a defender on Bryan Ruiz.