My Worry is German Soccer
Everyone knows Germany is a consistent international power. They’re always a contender.
Gary Lineker* once said:
“Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.”
I think that would suit most people just fine.
But you know what, German soccer has historically been disgusting. They have always been robots with no individual or team flavor, just a dedication to stale ruthless efficiency.
That’s something I want no part of! And I will crucify Klinsi if this is what he implements.
Reason to be hopeful
Having said that, I don’t think it will be the case. For starters, he stood out on those German teams as someone with style and personality. As a kid, he was one of my favorite players. The “dive?” he took in the 1990 World Cup final which led to an Argentine being red-carded and all but securing his team’s victory, says something.
[If you can’t see the video, click here.]
And here’s some flavor, emotion, and personality that the incumbent American demographic usually reprimands:
In addition, his 2006 Germany showed signs of creativity, and the 2010 version even more so. Not to mention the youth national teams show flavor uncharacteristic of the older generations. The philosophy has changed, and rightly so. I can now watch the Germans without throwing up!
- Klinsmann, the player.
- Klinsmann the coach.
- The new German philosophy.
- The undeniable influence of the modern game (ahem … Barca … ahem).
I think – well I hope – Klinsi will try building something worth getting excited about.
* [Can’t believe I quoted an English player. That chasing the ball bit certainly fits their philosophy.]
Stale ruthless efficiency is a German trait, so wouldn’t expect different from their national team. At least they molded their team accordingly. While I wouldn’t say they’re Spain, Germany’s fast break precision was a joy to watch in 2010. If we could only be 50% of that by 2014 I’d be happy.
Gary Kleiban says
I’d be happy too!
Germany isn’t the same as it used to be. Klinsi was a part of the change. Its worth pointing out that the Germans have successfully integrated their immigrant population into their youth & National set up. Look at the Turkish players on the men’s and women’s teams. Traditional Germany would have nothing to do with them. If he can do the same for Mexican-Americans it would be awesome.
My son just got back from Germany and had a couple of games against German teams. They got smoked. In my son’s words, “they were better in every way” “they killed us with their passing”. Granted that these were mid level competitive teams on both sides, but the Germans were at a much higher level. I don’t know this, but the reform in the German youth system of the past decade is probably the reason. There is a lot of writing online from the English perspective on the German youth revolution after the German demolition of the English at the WC. We would do well to pay close attention. They have some very good ideas that could work here with one big difference, the we don’t have Bundesliga money to work with.
So the picture of USA-> Germany over time wouldn’t be too bad, but not everything we need. We could do a lot worse. So here is my recipe: take US Soccer, mix in some German reform. Then we need a pinch of Mexico, a dash of Spain, a sprinkle of Italian and season with Brazil to taste. Be careful to keep English and Scottish out of the dish because they have gotten stale.
If we want a model of a team to aspire toward I think Borussia Dortmund might be the place to look, we won’t have the ability to pull off Barça for 15-20 years (if ever).
Gary Kleiban says
Bill, excellent contribution as usual.
To be honest I think the Argentine got a red card for those ridiculous shorts he was wearing! Surprised the whole team did not get sent off for that!!!
Gary Kleiban says
Id rather be molded after Germany than England!
Gary Kleiban says
As we sit here and think about what our beloved USMNT is I would say this. I believe that some of our image has already been made. We simply need to add better technical skills and and improved football mentality to couple with our never give up, never say die, find a way to win attitude.
Uncle T says
Interesting exchanges (am new to this site) – one of the interesting distinctions I’ve observed over the years is the relative (compared to many southern Europeans and Centrl/South Americans, as well as Mexico) inability of US players to trap and control the ball. This single skill makes the short passing game work, whether it’s via one-touch or more. When you see the hard passes softly gathered by these non-US players, it gives additional time for their vision to catch the next move, either pass or dribble, rather than spending the time (up to asecond) and energy to just get the ball under control. I believe that this is a cultural thing, in that the early childhood playing elsewhere is either in a soccer school/team environment whether these skills are honed in very small groups, or on the streets. US streets tend to support basketball, some football, and a lot of baseball type playing, including in the primary schools. When we develop – or find – a group of players who can control the ball when receiving a pass, we’ll have a totally different core to build around.
Just a thought …
Gary Kleiban says
Welcome Uncle T!
Something for your consideration:
While solid technical ability is certainly required, at the highest levels the “passing game” is far more dependent on player “soccer iq” and the coach’s willingness and capacity to implement the necessary “set tactical work”.
The Barcelona model, for us, should represent an aspirational goal. It’s funny, really: I know so many Barcelona “fans” that don’t even understand what they do on the pitch; they think Barca’s play is “boring”. Let’s just work on developing a more general appreciation for movement on and off the ball and the use of extremely high technical level to play “simple”, instead of putting on dribbling exhibitions. Then, when we as a country have a mainstream understanding and appreciation for the higher arts, we can talk about pursuing that style for ourselves.
As for the German model, it is more accessible to us and therefore more realistic for us to adapt to, as a country. The comments above all make good points on this matter. People should not forget, however, that the German model is also evolving. Who remembers how Spain was playing up to about 10 years ago? That was not so long ago, really, and they were mechanical, uncreative, and unheralded, even as they “crapped” more talent than most other countries produced. And look how have turned it around, following a national “conversation” about the crisis and some key coaching changes.
My point, in summary: in the US, let’s see the big picture, and recognize how the “state of the art” is evolving, but let’s also be practical and set achievable goals for ourselves, at least unit we close the gap a bit more with the “state of the art”.
Good points. However, the big, big picture, of course, is that the next wave of world dominance will come from the country that figures out how to defend against the Barca possession-style.
I am so glad the boring Italian-style defending shut down the world’s fascination with the Brazilian break-dance goal scoring style that seemed to count for more than one point with the fans when they were extra fancy… I’m so glad that era is over. Soccer started looking like the NBA there for awhile.
As much as I love watching the possession game flow for 45 minutes a shot, I hope USMNT can be the first to figure out how to shut it down.
Gary Kleiban says
Excellent on all counts Alberto.
Speaking of the “state of the art”, do you notice how people lag far behind it? I guess that’s how it is in any field though …
But the distinction here is that the so-called “experts” or pundits in this country are WAY behind seeing it as well. And that is unacceptable, and what I try pointing out at times.
Was it Harkes, Lalas, Twellman, or all three of them that many times during the Mexico game spoke about – among other things – how all 11 players need to defend in the modern game? Well duh … If they understood the game, that sort of speak would have been in their vocabulary years and years ago! “Possession”? Same thing.
It has taken the extraterrestrial play of Barca to shake things up, and make it obvious. Unbelievable!
Well, so far so good. First half was awful but the 2nd half was much better, got to see some new ideas, and some new faces. Overall a positive game in my opinion. Now let’s see where we go from here.
I am really happy Klinsi brougt in new players and a few of Mexican descent. In San Diego and LA, a many/most of players in top youth teams are Mexican or Mexican-American. If we want to continue to grow the game, USMNT needs to be more inclusive. Moreover, I think Mexican and Central American players can give us some panache / flair / creativity we’ve not gotten with vanilla.
My two cents on the game last night:
Overall, the first half was pretty shaky. It was clear that the MNT had been asked to play differently, and it was uncomfortable for them. They were trying to work the ball out of the back with a patient buildup, including Howard making more short passes than I’ve ever seen, generally the backline was reasonably successful, but the buildup lacked authority. The team still lacked a real edge to it. In the end there were too many “unforced” errors and giveaways. For the middle part of the half MB dropped into a deep holding role, and killed the attack, stranding Buddle, and killing the team’s shape. I’m concerned about MB’s ability to follow his tactical assignment in a disciplined way. Once he returned to a more proper attacking mid positioning and movement, the team lurched forward and started to put attacks together. The Mexican goal was luck combined with skill, and too much space to work with.
For the most part, the first half was problematic because these players too easily reverted to Bradley’s tactics when under pressure. I was impressed with Klinsi’s ability to stick with players who were shaky in the first half especially the backline. The real key to the game were the subs. I don’t think this was so much a vindication of MLS, but rather youth and their willingness to fearlessly follow instructions and the tactical plan. I suspect that Klinsi’s tactics were the same for the whole match, but the players who started the halves did not execute.
The subs came in MB dropped to a holding role where he was more comfortable; I was impressed with Beckerman’s sticking to a reasonably disciplined holding mid position. The attack really took off because of aggressive play and dynamic switching of Torres and Donovan. Agudelo was able to do much more as a striker because he could adapt his play to the situation (i.e., he took initiative). Basically, the front 4 in the 4-2-3-1 started to work as a fluid unit and went after the Mexicans. We should have won the game on a PK, and Rogers should have earned a red card on his breakaway (Agudelo’s pass was fantastic).
Finally, ESPN earns a giant WHAT THE FUCK! For showing a LLWS qualifier before the game and keeping it on the air during the first part of the game. Seriously what the fuck are they doing? While I’m on the topic, please put Alexi Lalas to pasture, I’m tired of hearing his antiquated opinions and mindless drivel. Their advise at half-time was… drums please… bring out the 4-4-2, we need a second striker. Please fuck off. Thank god that didn’t happen. See the result and the above discussion for the real answer. Please find me someone who actually knows tactics cause these guys don’t despite having been pros. The ESPN Deportes guy (Jorge) was a shitload better than any of the others though.
Agree totally w/your analysis Bill. I watched Spanish channel. ESPN is a frigging joke! That’s partly why I fear MLS move to NBC. I for one will likely stick to FSC and Gol to watch EPL, La Liga, Serie A, and Bundesliga. I really can’t stand ESPN.
Castillo was awful in left back. Agudelo is getting too much pressure. He’s too young and still unpolished. But media will hype him and fans then expect too much. Then he becomes an Adu or Altidore. We don’t allow him to make mistakes and learn from them.