Monday, July 17, 2006

The Bruce is thanked, but is Klinsmann calling?

Klinsmann story updated here.

I go away for a weekend to visit my family and what do you know, a big US soccer story hits. As everyone but myself has already noted, Bruce Arena (pictured) was denied a third term as coach of the US Men's team. However, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said this was not due to the poor performance in Germany, instead it was due to desire to change things up after eight years.

I am not shocked by this news, but I did think that if Arena wanted to coach again, which he did, then he would be given the chance. I was wrong.

Arena is the best coach America has ever had. He took the joke and made it into a threat. Germany did not go so well, but that was not all Arena's fault. He made some questionable coaching decisions (such as putting so much of the blame on the refs after the Italian game, which I think hurt us after the crap call in the Ghana match, and not putting Eddie Johnson in during the Italian affair), but one cannot forget that the reason so many of us were disappointed by Germany was Bruce had made us believe we could win.

Gulati said that Arena will stay on as coach till they hire a new coach or till his contract ends in November. Since the US has some match coming up in the Fall, the Bruce might get one final turn on the sidelines.

But the takes us to the question of who is next. All the talk in the press and on the web is focused on J├╝rgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann would be a great choice as he does seem to understand the US system (although he has never been involved with it directly) and he brings some much need international respect with him.

However, what happens if Klinsmann is not the next manager? With all the hype that is building over his possible hiring, if someone else gets the job, it will be seen as a let down (the only possible exception to this would be Guss Hiddink, but I don't think he knows the US system plus he has signed up with Russia through at least 2008).

Unless Klinsmann has already agreed and they are just waiting to make an announcement, Gulati needs to start floating some other names. He needs to get people talking about some other possibilities. Heck, even if it is Klinsmann, he should float some rumors just to make news.

My biggest concern about Kinsmann is that he will be seen as the great savior who can do no wrong. He, like all people, needs to be challenged. If we all drink the kool-aid on Klinsmann, we might be disappointed again come 2010.

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