One nation under Jurgen Klinsmann with dreams of goals for all

Got a tip. comment, criticism, idea, or suggestion email us at

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Part 4 of Jay Martin's interview with former German coach Jurgen Klinsmann

NOTE: This is the fourth part of an interview with Jürgen Klinsmann conducted by Ohio Wesleyan University men's soccer coach Jay Martin. The interview took place in Munich in March of 2009. Due to its length Red White and Blue Army have broken it up over four days.

Q: How do you discipline players at this level? If you have to deal with an off the field issue, or even an on the field issue?

A: I think when you have a multi-cultural team, where every one of these guys take criticism in a completely different way. Some have no problem when they are criticized in front of the team, some have a major problem with getting criticized like that, because in their culture that’s simply not the way to do it. Depending on what kind of guy does it, I react differently. If I have the feeling that he needs a little slap in his face (figuratively) in front of the guys, he gets that. I don’t like to do it, because I want the guys to realize themselves that they made a mistake. The first thing I always tell them right away, this was wrong. Then they see what he is doing with that, and now depending on the personality I’ll say it to everyone, I might just keep it between us, or I might make a comment in front of the team that doesn’t directly mention that guy, or if I think that now it’s really necessary to make it clear for all of us, then I say that this was bad. I don’t believe in fines, that kind of stuff, because they’re making so much money that it’s not relevant to them. Young people who are making millions and millions of dollars, they get a fine of ten thousand, twenty thousand, you know, they don’t even know how to take that, because they don’t even know how to handle the entire money issue themselves because it’s far too much, and still they get it because the market is that way, and it’s okay, but I’m not the guy that comes in and hands out fines.

Q: Do you have a lot of rules?

A: They had rules last year, and they had big issues there, on the discipline side, they made many rules. If there are some disrespectful players, then you need to make it clear that this is not allowed at Bayern Munich. You represent one of the biggest teams in the world, and if this is not what you want, then come to us and use the door. It’s a simple discussion like that. But they, I think they really understand that this is something that is special. We had some issues at the beginning of the season, some bad games, because they thought the Bundesliga would be won by itself, that we will win it no matter what, who cares, that what we really want is the Champions League. We talked and talked and talked and yet they just couldn’t quite pull it up in the Bundesliga. We’d play at 80%, 90%, which in reality is a whole lot of effort, but we were missing that extra 10%, and every opponent that plays us gives 110%, and then they fall apart afterwards. So I thought about it and I realized that I need to make things clearer. So I got nasty, and then they were kind of getting really anxious and I was telling the guys that if you aren’t in for this then I will call five guys from the amateur team because they are hungry. They realized, okay now the coach is getting really serious, and that’s when we started going in the right direction. I think every coach needs to read his environment and his players, see what is right there and what is wrong, an overall catalog of rules. This might be helpful just to set the tone, but it is more that you have to remind them on a daily basis, let’s clean up the locker room, because otherwise the equipment guy has to clean out all of that dirty stuff, is that fair to him? He already has to wash it, now you’re making him pick it up as well? So we had some issues, and now you come in and it’s pretty clean, it won’t ever be 100%, but you know if you get to 80% it’s great. It’s a generation now that gets anything they want because of the standards that they enjoy in society, they probably don’t even have to pay at the restaurant. That’s the reality and it comes also from the U.S., from the big sports, all of that from the NBA and the NFL, and especially baseball. Soccer is just as problematic here as well.

Q: How about the USA? Where are we in soccer?

A: I think there’s tremendous, tremendous appreciation for the situation in the U.S. It’s come a long way, and it still obviously has a long way to go, but the pace is tremendous, if you look at the MLS, how they built the infrastructure in only a few years, they’re now trying to connect somehow to the developmental system, to the youth system, some have farm teams. I mean, obviously it’s biggest challenge is how big the United States is, and how many interests are involved in it, all of the different youth federations, two educational systems for coaches, but it’s going in a good direction. It will never be perfect, but not even Germany is perfect, or England, or Italy in its system. Even here you have very similar challenges to the U.S., depending on the content you teach, whether it’s the right stuff, depending on the situation of the coaches, the standing of the coaches, depending on where the talent comes through. I think the biggest challenge for the U.S is to get the pyramid back to their A’s. I think the pyramid is so upside down because it’s a pay-to-play system in the youth development, and this is the biggest enemy of U.S. soccer. The biggest enemy. And if they could somehow get it more reasonable, get it down to where everybody could afford to play, it’s not a scholarship driven society anymore, then that is the biggest challenge. But it’s a cultural challenge, it’s not a soccer-specific challenge. And for people it’s a big thing, for people in Europe, that you have to pay quite a lot of money for your child to play for a good youth team in the U.S., they don’t believe that. They don’t believe that the youth coaches are paid coaches, and that you get scholarships for that at universities. It’s impossible for Europe and South America to understand the American system, so I think the system itself is its biggest enemy, and still it’s progressing, still it’s growing and getting better and better. You have now, I don’t know how many first division players in Europe from the U.S. Amazingly good goalkeepers, a generation of goalkeepers that is outstanding, with Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, it’s just amazing. You have now good field players too, and hopefully the next generation improves as well. So it’s moving, it’s taking a lot of work to get done, but it’s baffling, because I’ve lived there for ten years, and I think there is so much potential, so much still to get done. It will be great someday.

Maurice Edu, making Bob Bradley look smarter by the day

It's not everyday that a Facebook friend does something noteworthy on a global level. Actually check that, it's nearly impossible for someone that your friends with on Facebook to do anything remotely interesting.

Well my Facebook friend Maurice Edu, a U.S. midfielder, scored the game-winner for Rangers in their 1-0 win today over bitter rival Celtic. If you haven't heard much about the Celtic-Rangers rivalry, look it up (not on Wikipedia though which is garbage).

Edu entered in the 26th minute and didn't disappoint as he finished from close range in the 90th minute. His team went 10 points up on Celtic with the win and now has the Scottish Premier League title firmly in its sights.

Your Nigerian coaching update

You can all sleep easier now that the Nigerian head coach post is filled.

Former Swedish national team coach Lars Lagerback (top-class name) has been hired, according to the Nigerian Football Association's website which announced the news on Saturday.

Lagerback resigned from coaching those blonde losers in Sweden last October after the Swedes failed to qualify for the World Cup.

As co-coach, Lagerback led Sweden to the past five major tournaments, starting with the European Championships in 2000.

Lagerback's lads are in Group B with Argentina, South Korea and Greece. A reasonably difficult but by no means impossible draw.

Would you like to listen to Didier Drogba's whining this summer up close and personal?

In the second recent coaching change for an African squad, Ivory Coast head coach Vahid Halilhodzic was fired due to the team's crappy performance (failing to reach the quarterfinals) at the African Cup of Nations.

Ivorian Football Federation president Jacques Anouma made that big announcement on Saturday on the state-owned television station (which sounds like thrilling television if you ask me).

A new coach should be announced in the coming days for the upcoming World Cup.

Halilhodzic had taken over after Uli Stielike of Germany was fired following a fourth-place finish at the African Cup two years ago.

We shall see if Ivory Coast learns from Nigeria's mistakes (see earlier post) and hires a new coach, not someone that was fired in the past.

Best of luck to the new coach too as Ivory Coast is what has unanimously picked as the Group of Death: Group G has North Korea, Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast. Feel better now about the U.S.A's draw?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Notes on a (semi) healthy addiction

When I was 11, I became addicted to sports jerseys. They were like polyester crack. The list of athletes I paid homage to was strange and varied. A few I remember: Shawn Kemp, Dan Marino,Sterling Sharpe, Ben Coates, Lou Roe and Grant Hill.

There were times my obsession cooled – I don’t remember asking my parents for a single jersey in high school, from 1997 to 2001. The malaise, however, didn’t last. I added to my collection in college, and after the 2006 World Cup, I got hooked on soccer jerseys. I picked up an England jersey that summer. My brother brought me home a gray and fluorescent green Real Madrid jersey from Spain. The Zinedine Zidane jersey I bought in a small shop in East Boston earned me a playful headbutt from a waiter at a bar in Brookline.

So really, it should come as no surprise that I was a bit too excited this week when Nike officially unveiled its line of World Cup away jerseys. Me being an addict and all, Nike’s riptide marketing sucked me in. The team U.S.A. jersey, which I first saw a mock up of a few months back, is a winner. Yes, the sash will make you look like Mayor Quimby, but it’s still a classic touch.

After all, the jerseys are modeled after the ones the Yanks wore when they beat England 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup. The navy blue and red trim also works.

Here’s my one quibble: the crest. I’m certainly not the first (or millionth) person to say this, but it’s a goddamn eyesore.
The three stars and vertical stripes are fine. But the red “US” and shooting star soccer ball are two reasons why true footballing nations make fun of us. The ball is heading skyward.

England’s soccer crest is three lions, France’s is a rooster, and Portugal’s is a badass cross. Ours is...a goal kick? I believe it was Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl who once wrote that there’s nothing good that could come out of the trajectory of that ball. Get rid of it. Revamp it. Do something.

At $70 ($85 with a name and number) a pop, an American soccer jersey is an investment based on unrequited love. But let’s be honest, I’m still going to purchase a new away shirt (I’m afraid if I buy a home one, which is allegedly similar in design but white, I’ll spill barbecue sauce or Frank’s RedHot on it). The question is, should I get it blank? Admittedly, it is kind of pathetic sporting another grown man’s name and number on your back. But hell, I have no shame. I’m a jersey addict.

Goodbye social life

In news that has no doubt sent soccer fans across the world (including Shimer and I) into convulsions, the English Premier League has announced plans for a 24-hour EPL channel which will begin airing next season.

Local networks will be able to pick and choose between news and feature shows, classic matches, local advertisements and live matches.

I'm a huge fan of the MLB network, NHL network, NFL network and NBAtv. Not having to watch the nightmare that is ESPN and outsourcing to sports specific channels is the wave of the future television-wise.

Fox Soccer Channel and GolTV are the forefathers for soccer-only stations and this EPL channel should be a huge success. One can imagine the same thing happening with the other top leagues in the world along with who knows what else, maybe Champions League?

Old man Van der Sar will be at Old Trafford for another season, so get off his lawn!

Ageless Dutch and Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar agreed to a one-year deal with United, meaning he'll be there through June 2011.

On a personal level, Manchester United was very understanding earlier in the season as the 39-year-old Van der sar had two lengthy absences and then a compassionate leave due to the fact that his wife had a brain hemerage.

He said: "This is a great club and I was shown a great deal of compassion and support during a difficult time in December and January for which I am extremely grateful. I am looking forward to winning more trophies with this great team."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was thrilled to tie up his first-choice goalkeeper for another year.

Ferguson told the club's official website: "Edwin's professionalism and dedication to his job and the way he looks after himself has given him the longevity in the game.

"That longevity includes such great experience not just at United, but at Juventus, Ajax and on an international level. We are absolutely delighted he is continuing for another year."

Ferguson is not exactly the most lovable manager and he can't be fun to play for but he obviously gets results. It seems evident from the generic press release quotes that Ferguson is pleased to have Van der sar for another year.

Adebayor accepts four-game suspension

Former Arsenal striker and current Manchester City hired gun Emmanuel Adebayor has accepted a four-game suspension after being sent off with a red card in Tuesday's FA Cup fifth-round replay loss to Stoke.

He hit Potters defender Ryan Shawcross with a flailing arm and he chose not to appeal the decision. It's normally a three-game suspension but an extra game was added since it was his second violent act of the season.

Adebayor received a three-game suspension in September after a crunching tackle against former Arsenal teammate Robin Van Persie.

City is also without another former Gunner, Patrick Viera, who kicked Stoke defender Glenn Whelan in last week's premier league match with Stoke.

Anderson's season with Man. U and World Cup with Brazil is over

Manchester United and Brazilian midfielder Anderson tore his ACL in Tuesday's 3-0 win against West Ham.

It's a costly injury as he's not expected to recover for ten months, meaning his EPL and Champions League seasons and World Cup tournament are all done.

Ironically, he was starting to get back in Sir Alex Ferguson's good graces after a falling out with his manager in January.

The injuries are piling up for United as Rio Ferdinand is out for a couple weeks with a back injury and Ryan Giggs won't return until April due to a broken arm.

Nani and Anderson joined United from Porto in 2007 but Anderson has failed to live up to his expectations as one of the top prospects in European soccer.

He only has 1 goal in almost 100 appearances for Manchester United.

Skrtel out for a few weeks

Liverpool and Slokian defender Martin Skrtel broke a metatarsal bone in his right foot during yesterday's 3-1 Europa League win at Unirea Urziceni.

Manager Rafal Benitez did say that English fullback Glen Johnson is expected back soon after missing the last two months recovering from a knee injury.

Deuce is on the comeback trail

Speaking at Fulham practice yesterday, US forward Clint Dempsey announced that he expects to be back on the field for his club team by mid-March.

He's been sidelined since injuring his right knee on Jan. 17 in a 2-0 loss to Blackburn. I remember hearing the news first and then watching the replay of the game late night on Fox Soccer Channel and to the naked, untrained eye Dempsey's injury didn't look severe at all. This wasn't Willis McGahee playing for Miami vs. Ohio State. Thankfully, the prognosis has stayed the same that it was a ACL strain and not a tear.

Dempsey had been running freely in training and also lifting weights. He was expected to begin touching a ball today.

Fulham is in its first European competition and with it's 1-1 draw at Shaktar Donetsk on Thursday, it advanced to the round of 16 in the Europa League with the 3-2 aggregate victory. This is relevant because Dempsey could get back in time for the second leg of that next round which will get him back in playing shape before U.S. training camp.

Our campaign for Freddy falls short, for now

U.S. men's soccer head coach Bob Bradley announced his 20-man roster for the Netherlands friendly next Wednesday and the biggest snub was Freddy Adu.

It's the last match before Bradley sets his final roster for the World Cup, so not being included means that Adu probably won't be making the trip to South Africa barring an unforeseen injury. Surprisingly, his club teammate Eddie Johnson got the call from Bobby B.

Despite his great form lately in Greece, Adu couldn't break through in the crowded (7 players) and talented U.S. midfield.

Rangers midfielders DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu both made it even though they've fought through multiple injuries this season.

Players will start gathering in Amsterdam on Sunday (stay out of those Cafes lads!) and they're set to debut their new jerseys on Wednesday.

After the Netherlands match (which we'll have tons of coverage of), the U.S. will reconvene in mid-May ahead of its exhibitions against the Czech Republic (May 25 probably in Harford) and Turkey (May 29 in Philly).

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England)

Defenders: Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Heath Pearce (Dallas), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday, England), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England)

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro, Sweden), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Landon Donovan (Everton, England), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull, England), Robbie Findley (Salt Lake), Eddie Johnson (Aris, Greece)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Captian Stabin has done it folks

Granted this story is a day old but cut me a little slack, the North Shore of Boston was without power last night thanks to the hurricane that hit us that no one knew about. Half the trees in my area were either blown out of the ground or had significant branches come down, and many of those came down on power lines or knocked over telephone poles. I probably saw at least 10 telephone knocked down today.

But anyway on to our man Captain Stabin, you know him better as John Terry the divisive former captain of Engalnd. It seems Fabio Capello's worst dreams have come true. Terry's affair with Wayne Bridge's former Vanessa Perroncel, who is also the mother of Bridge's child and may or may not have gotten pregnant with Terry, has caused Bridge to refuse a call-up to the England national team calling the situation "untenable," and stating he did not feel comfortable sitting in the same locker room with Terry let alone out on the same pitch side by side.

With first team left back Ashely Cole (who's also going through his own personal life crisis at the moment) out, the question now becomes who will Capello choose? Bridge's refusal to join up with England may leave Capello needing to call up both Everton's Leighton Baines and Blackburn's Stephen Warnock.

This weekend should be good when Terry's Chelsea face off with Bridge's Manchester City for the first time since the affair went public at the Bridge - Stamford Bridge. Bridge has already said he will not shake Terry's hand in the traditional pre-match handshake. It certainly will be must-see TV for any soccer fan.

Part 3 of Jay Martin's interview with former German coach Jurgen Klinsmann

NOTE: This is the third part of an interview with Jürgen Klinsmann conducted by Ohio Wesleyan University men's soccer coach Jay Martin. The interview took place in Munich in March of 2009. Due to its length Red White and Blue Army have broken it up over four days.

Q: Do you use any form of goal setting with the players? I know winning trophies are ultimately the goal for Bayern Munich, but are there smaller goals that you work with for players with the coaching staff?

A: We basically develop these player profiles, and within these profiles we define their goals. This is done on a very personal, individual level. Say if it’s technical defending, or positioning, or whatever work it is that we want you to do additionally, or your role within the team personality-wise, so that’s where we stand with them on a personal base. On a team base, our goal was basically to reach the top teams in Europe again, and to follow a path that is kind of being demonstrated over years by the standard of play in the Champions League. So in order to reach that level, we told them this is why we have to do certain work. Champions League games are games that are constantly on the edge of a rope . That means you have to be physically on top of things, on top of things technically, you have to be focused at both ends. The development of soccer over the last years has shown that there’s far less risk taken now by teams than there was before. So the Champions League sets the tone for the national teams actually. In the Champions League, let’s say 8 out of 10 teams play a 4-5-1. You will see the next big European Championship or World Cup with 8 out of 10 teams playing a 4-5-1. So the Champions League affects the game globally. We came in and said, okay guys, in order to be competitive in the Champions League, this is what we need to have done. Now Bayern Munich is a team that we can’t really play a 4-5-1, I believe in a proactive style of football. I would like to set the tone on the football field, to be the team that hopefully is able to control the game. We are forced often into this role in the Bundesliga because all the teams against us play defensively. So we basically have no choice, so we have a squad of players where we are forced to play with at least two strikers. Which is good, it’s totally fine with me because I’d rather go in with two strikers if it’s possible. But you still have to watch what’s going on with the other top teams in Europe, in order to not run into counterattacks. Counterattacks if you play Barcelona or if you play Manchester United, you have to be smart. Those games now, hopefully after doing our homework tonight and getting into the quarterfinal, those will be games that will be decided maybe by free kicks or corner kicks, and by just constantly fighting in every area of the field and by being as compact as possible. So it has become a kind of dilemma in football, because you see our teams moving in different directions. You have more opportunities if you have players on the outside that can play those diagonal balls forty, fifty yards, which we have. We have Franck Ribéry, or Massimo Oddo, some players who won’t play tonight because we give our other flank players a chance to play, but we have players switching sides right away to open up the game. But this I the direction we’ve gone for the last five, six, seven years. You’ll see it in the next World Cup, when the next European Championship comes along, this is what coaches are playing. The Champions League sets the tone for all that.

Q: It used to be the World Cup that set the tone for the whole world.

A: Exactly, and it shifted, by this huge presence media-wise of the Champions League. I think that UEFA did an amazing job pushing that Champions League into a format that is incredible, I mean tonight our game will be seen in over one hundred countries. They can choose, those countries, whether they watch our game, or Manchester United, or Arsenal, or whatever it is, but the players know that. The players are greedy for the Champions League, and that is shown in Brazil, it’s shown in Argentina, so that’s where things start really developing for them because of the higher tension level. National team coaches look at what’s going on. What is Alex Ferguson doing, what all of these very experienced coaches are doing, and they see also that we’ve shifted as a game towards a 4-5-1, you know Arsene Wenger plays a 4-5-1, and Mourinho plays a 4-5-1, and even for the Dutch people with Hiddink plays a 4-5-1 from a 4-3-3. So the two outside wingers become defenders, everybody behind the ball, and then depend on their qualities going forward. Spain is the major example, they were by far the best team in the European Championships by demonstrating how you execute a 4-5-1 with midfielders going forward, slicing into the defense. It’s just incredible. It is also important for player development. What is the role of the striker? What is the role of the midfielder? The new system kind of melts players more and more together. There are midfielders who now have the ability to become strikers, and then morph right back into defenders again. You have fullbacks that are playmakers, and obviously still the role of the #6 (holding or defensive midfielder) is still as important as ever. He’s the brain behind the system. Mark van Bommel is that for us, we tell him that he’s our quarterback. He must make sure that defensively we’re always compact. He must make sure that we switch the ball when needed. But then at the same time the one against one with players going into the box, the Messi’s and the Ribery’s, and the Cristiano Ronaldo’s of this world.

Q: The playmakers now on a lot of teams are moving to the outside instead of being in the middle. I think that’s a big change as well.

A: This is coming to the wings, because many teams now play with a double 6 going through the middle. You will see a team tonight, Sporting Lisbon, their key is coming from the outside with good players. In the first game, in Lisbon, they had ten crosses in the first half, they were all sharp, they were just flying in, they were looking to get a goal in the first half, and we were under pressure, and then we got one right before the half and it just kind of broke their neck. They are a team that deserves to be in the top 16 in Europe, three days later they tied Porto, 0-0, so it is interesting from just a technical perspective.

Q: Speaking of that, from a coaching perspective, which is more important: game preparation, or adjustments that take place in a game?


A: In-game adjustments are obviously important, but they are limited. To be honest, you can do adjustments at halftime, adjustments with three subs, and maybe you shift one thing or another during the game, but I think it’s more important the days before a game to have them really realize what the challenge is. We as coaches are limited once the game starts, we are absolutely limited. We have to be honest also, now 80, 90, even 95% of it at that point is up to the guys on the field. If they haven’t really, if it hasn’t sunk in by that point, then I think it’s almost impossible that they get it in the game, because during a game, the emotional level in their brains is so high that you can’t count on them to have rational technical discussions on anything. They only have vision through emotions, it’s game day, it’s game day, which that is a big part, the emotional side of it.

Q: What’s important to you when you select your staff? Your assistant coaches specifically.

A: Obviously it’s important their qualities, no doubt about that, their qualifications are very important. But it’s also important that they have a big inner drive to become better. An assistant coach for me, the first thing he has to say is that he wants to become a head coach. If he would say I’m a loyal assistant coach, I wouldn’t go with that. So I’ve said to my team, what’s your goal, and if they say their goal is to become a head coach, then okay, that’s what I want. Nick (Theslof) is an assistant, Nick is a young, talented coach, his goal is to become a head coach one day of a good team. So I need to know from a physical therapist, from a doctor, from a fitness coach that their goal is to become a better doctor, to become a great fitness coach, and I introduced myself at the beginning of the season and said that whenever you have classes for additional education, I want you to use those. I give you always free weekends, time is never a problem. So I observe if they do that, and if somebody would just think that, I’m there, I made it at Bayern Munich (as an assistant), and they are satisfied with just that, then there might be a change at the end of the season.

Q: You’ve already said that you empower your staff, you empower your players, what do you demand from your assistant coaches on a daily basis?

A: I demand from my team that they obviously are very thorough in their preparation for the upcoming games, for our opponents, that they watch the videos about the other teams, that they talk through that, that they define what we’re going to see when we show the players. I expect them to prepare for training sessions in different options, giving me two, three, four options every day. So when I come in it’s okay, what do you want to achieve with the training session? But how does it feet into the week, how does it fit with the long-term plan? Does it fit with something we need to maybe solve from the last game? And does it fit into what we have now with the upcoming opponents. So it’s a nonstop thing for our assistants with preparation. Then I come in and we define it together, what will be the content of the training session, what will be the goals. I’m always the one to communicate it to the team, but they’ve done the majority of that work already beforehand. My role then becomes more of a managerial role. I deal with the board of the club on a daily basis. The media department, I deal with the environment of people that want something from this team, I deal with the team administrators and tell them organizational issues, what I want to see, what we might change. As you know, I think my team is doing a tremendous job, and I think that they really both work extremely hard and accomplish a lot. Obviously, for somebody coming from a U.S. environment, which is also a very demanding and tough environment, but coming here where this game is lived through every person on the street, it’s a different feel that you can’t escape from anything. And I think that’s what they live and breath right now, and I think Landon (Donovan) has been here with us for a few weeks, and I wish it would have been longer. We have three high profile strikers for next season, and it wouldn’t make sense in this moment to have a fourth striker, and the financial crisis has hit here too. So we had to tell Landon, yes you can play here, yes you have all the qualities, yes you can break through here, but it’s just too much of a financial burden to take on at this time. But in this team for ten weeks, he learned a lot. It will help him this year, and hopefully it helps him make that big jump, because quality-wise he can play in any team. He just has to get really nasty, he has to get nasty every day in training. Not training like yesterday, because we played before, that’s not a hard training session, but all of the other sessions is a war, I don’t want to use that word, but that’s what it is. It’s a difficult environment where they define their own hierarchy within the group every day. They do passes purposely to make you look bad, they make comments in order to make you mentally shaky, it’s all part of it. It’s all part of dealing with the stress

The news goes from bad to worse for Blues

It wasn't intentional but after watching Chelsea's depressing 2-1 loss yesterday to Inter Milan in a Champions League game, I just didn't feel like blogging about it.

I had simultaneously been glued to the U.S. men's hockey team's game vs. Switzerland and they came through with a much more satisfying 2-0 win to advance to the final four and the medal round.

For Chelsea, it was a forgettable result and match. They'll still have the second leg at Stamford Bridge in three weeks but it was a lifeless effort on the road from Chelsea.

Today club officials from Chelsea confirmed that goalkeeper Peter Cech, one of the best in the world, tore a calf muscle yesterday. He's expected to be out for a month while backup Hilario will take over the starting role.

I promise this won't become like a Brett Favre watch

It doesn't take a genius to realize that Landon Donovan is coming back to the LA Galaxy next month when his very successful 10-week loan with Everton is over.

So join the Facebook group, bitch on Everton message boards and bombard Twitter but it looks certain that Landy Cakes is coming back to the MLS (for the Galaxy's March 27 season opener) before he goes to training camp with the U.S. men's national team.

It's not hyperbole to say Donovan's run so far with Everton has been an unblemished success. He was named Everton's player of the month for January and he has helped them move from twelth to eighth place in the EPL. They've been one of the hottest teams lately, knocking off Chelsea and Manchester United in consecutive weekends.

The silver lining in all of this is that Donovan is openly hoping for another stint in England in the near future.

"I'm enjoying it and enjoying every day that I'm here," Donovan said. "Every day that goes by makes me think that I want to stay here.

"I would definitely imagine that I will be back here at some point in my life."

Stuart Holden makes his Bolton debut

Lost amidst the US-El Salvador game and the Champions League action of the last couple days, U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden made his debut last night for Bolton in their 4-0 loss to Tottenham in a fifth-round replay FA Cup match.

Holden was in the starting 11, one of five midfielders in Bolton's peculiar 4-5-1 formation. It was clearly a tough result but the good news is that he played all 90 minutes so his fitness must be at a decent level ahead of a likely World Cup roster spot.

Holden joined Bolton in January after playing with the Houston Dynamo of the MLS. He previously had a brief stint in England with Sunderland but that was cut short after getting injured in a bar fight in Newcastle. Happens to the best of us, right?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Final thoughts

Deserved win, but once again as we have repeated for some time, these cannot be the players that the U.S. relies on to take them anywhere in the World Cup.

Sacha Kljestian was active the first half, but not sharp really missing some point-blank shots that should have been dealt with better. He seemed to drift out of the game in the second half, but his moment of brilliance just before the final whistle to steal the ball from the defender work the give-and-go with Ching and then beat the goalie for the game-winner was a prime-time play. I think Kljestian at the very least earned a spot in the U.S. camp until the start of the World Cup. Final verdict: Will he make the team, for me, he should not be there.

Brian Ching I think made the loudest performance tonight. With just a half to work with he was by far the most the dangerous US attacker on the night and really made me eat my words. Before he scored he was at least getting to crosses and nearly had a side-volley find the net. He was in the right spot for Pierce's cross and finished professionally. It was more fortune than good play that he ended up working the 1-2 with Kljestian for the game-winner, but at least he had the good sense not to hold onto the ball or try to take a heroic shot from 20 yards out and instead gave the ball back to Kljestian for the finish.
Final verdict: Ching booked his place in South Africa tonight for me unquestionably. Although I am not a fan of his game, this is the area of the field where the US is most vulnerable. Unfortunately I think if he sees the pitch in the Cup opposing defense will make him look slow, and he counteracts what the US will have to do to succeed, counter-attack with speed and superior athleticism.

Heath Pierce showed me the most tonight. A defender for Dallas, I did not know much about him. he was able to get up the field and provide terrific crosses without being exposed at the left back spot. In fact it was Brad Davis on the other side of the field whose costly mistake almost assuredly destroyed any chance he had to move on further.

Final verdict: Pierce I believe is another player that booked his place in the US camp. I think both he and Bornstein will battle it out for one of the last defensive spots. He would be great insurance for Bocanegra at left back.

Kyle Beckerman did what he does, provide good crunching tackles in the midfield, win a few balls, and iniate the offense through sensible smart passes. To me he was very good and really made Kljestian looked better than he was. However, was it enough for him to overtake one of the European based center mids or even MLS favorite Ricardo Clark? I doubt it.
Final verdict: The guy is one of the most under-rated players in the MLS and in the US pool, but I don't think he's going to make the camp. Bradley has too many other options at the position and needs to see more out of those players.

A couple of other players were inconsistent, but had flashes of brilliance. Robbie Rogers topped that list for me with a few really great crosses - including a couple off free kicks - and a fabulous shot off the upper-90 right before he was subbed. But then there were also the lapses of judgement - breaking in on net and firing over the top from close with 2 options readily available for tap-ins. I don't think we saw enough from Clarence Goodson, the defense just was not challenged enough. And although Eddie Gaven was really a spark-plug coming in at half, I'm not sure we can take enough away from 1 half of football against a second-rate side.
No one else for me stood out. Jeff Cunningham, Robbie Findley, and Connor Casey were all hurt by lackluster efforts but even more so because of Ching's shining performance.

Game, set, match... U.S. win deserved 2-1 result


Kljestian just won it for the US i nthe 91st minute. Defense way to casual as Kljestian steals it, works the 1-2 with Ching and burries it.
Making ammends for several misses in the first half and a somewhat lackluster second half, great play by Kljestian

90th minute

Eddy Gaven should have just finished off great flick by Ching and a beatiful diaganol run by Gaven. Although he was in the ball was bouncing just a little too much for him and he shot high and wide left of net.
Jeff Cameron on for Robbie Rogers

Rogers extremely unlucky, rifles a brilliant shot from the top of the 18 off the the left upper-90, great shot makes up for terrible shot just minutes ago.
Cunningham great cross from the right, his first real good touch of the game, to Ching and Ching hits a solid volley that Montes in net for ES makes a brilliant stop.

Ching is making me eat my words. He has made an impact, and is clearly much more dangerous than anything Casey or Findley did earlier in the game.

79th minute

WOW... Robbie Rogers just completely blew a chance to score a goal as the ES defense was caught napping. He breaks in on the left side. Both Ching and Gaven were up in the middle and back part of the box, but Rogers blasted it over the net near side.

Beckerman out, Dax McCarty in.
Finally, Ching does what he does best and my main man Heath Pierce may have locked up his spot. Great cross from the left side curling out towards Ching at the top of the six-yard box for a diving header. And he slots its off the keeper and into the near post.
Rogers has made some really fantastic free kick crosses but the US just hasn't been able to get on the end of any of them. Very frustrating. We need to finish. This is why the US may struggle in the World Cup not enough finishers. You have to make teams pay on corners and free kicks eventually and this team of players does not have that capability.
Great cross from Rogers and Evans has a brilliant header on net to the back post that is barely saved for a corner, Robbie Findley is being subbed for Jeff Cunningham after getting a knock early in the second half.

US putting on great pressure.

We're in the 64th minute

Unbelievably El Salvador just scored the first goal on a breakdown. Brad Evans just made the only mistake the U.S. defense has made trying to head the ball back to Rimando, but was not forceful enough and Rudis Corrales made them pay. Terrible

The U.S. defense has done a nice job the few times ES has been in their end of the field. But really ES is not pushing forward with much enthusiasm.

Gaven has been an instant spark in this half. A couple of nice runs, and now he just earns a foul deep in ES territory.
Nice cross by Rogers on the U.S. free kick, but again "The Stiff" cannot get a header on net when the keeper comes out. really a good chance for a goal.
Robbie Rogers finally makes his presence known, great move in the box sends in nice cross that "The Stiff" can't redirect in. Ching sucks hate that guy

Findley great start fires low shot on goal that ES keeper barely gets to and then gets involved with another U.S. attack right after.
Bob Bradley liked Kljestian's activity in the first half- Ching is coming on for Casey up top, Eddy Gavin is coming on for Brad Davis out wide.

Second half underway

halftime stats

Stats summary:
Shots: 6/2
On goal: 5/1
Saves 1/4
Corners: 6/0
Fouls 7/3
Offside: 2/2
No cards.

Ugh half-time Nil-Nil

OK so there's not much news to say so far. Kljestian had the U.S.' two most dangerous opportunities by far, but neither was hit far enough into the corner and the ES goalie was able to get a hand to both. Robbie Rogers also had a nice shot on goal in traffic that was also saved. Our boys were also active on several corner but never really had a troubling shot directly on goal.

For me Beckerman and Pierce were the best players. Beckerman had several good passes to start the U.S. attack and Pierce was terrific coming forward on several ocassions from his left back spot providing good service.

The defense has not been tested much. ES will probably just pack it in and look to counter. A goal or two or three is there to be had, but better finishing needs to be applied.
After Beckerman gets the U.S. offense going, Klejestian springs Davis down the left side, who gets into the box and gets his shot blocked directly to Kljestian. Kljestian should have scored. At least he is far more active and involved than the last game vs. Honduras but his results are not paying off. He should have 2 goals by now.

After a deflected cross, a blocked shot by Casey, Robbie Rogers rips a shot at the top of the box that is saved for another corner. Some very nice service on the corner which is initially cleared and then sent back to the ES keeper.

Beckerman just made a fantastic ball to spring the U.S. to Casey who made a brilliant pass to Klejstian, however, Kljestian shot was saved for a corner. Kljestian continues to disappoint, and I don't think he will be around long in the second half at all.
Heath Pierce just moments later beat his man on the right side and made a nice cross. He has been dangerous a number of times.

The U.S. is starting to make ground.
El Salvador just had their first shot of the game which flew about 5 yards over the top... Casey continues to show his target ability but poor distribution... Findely has showcased his speed a couple of times but he does not seem to be able to link up with Casey or the midfield, I think he woudl be the perfect counter attacking forward like Davies.

Kljestian got another good ball in the box, but had a very poor distribution giving up a good chance, which at least lead to a corner which was headed over.
Nearly had a repeat of the last friendly with Honduras. An El Salvador striker went dwon in the box looking for PK around the 20th minute, but the ref let play stand as it was really a phantom fall.

Connor Casey is showing why he can't be considered a realistic option for the U.S. at forward, his touch is lacking and he really is a lumbering oaf that is only dangerous against good teams in the air. We don't need to bring a player to the Cup that is a lesser version of Peter Crouch or Ching.

Goodson has played well in the back in the two times he has been tested, shielding off the ES offender on one occasion and making a good clearance under pressure on another.

Robbie Findley creating a little magic early, but Connor Casey can't stay onside

Good start

U.S. wins corner less than 2 minutes into corner which they nearly finish on the near post header.

LIVE U.S. vs. El Salvador updates

It's judgement night for the MLS-based All-Star U.S. players... Stayed tuned all night for updates as to how the team is performing as well as goals and cards.

Bob Bradley will be watching as will I.
Here are the lineups:
The U.S. will play as follows: Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando
Defenders, from right to left: Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pierce Midfielders, from right to left: Robbie Rogers, Sacha Kljestan, Kyle Beckerman, Brad Davis Attackers: Robbie Findley, Conor Casey Captain: Jonathan Bornstein
El Salvador
Goalkeeper: Miguel Montes
Defenders: Alexander Escobar, Marvin Gonzalez, Ramon Flores, Manuel Salazar, Deris Umanzor Midfielders: Ramon Sanchez, Osael Romero, Juan Carlos Moscoso Attackers: Rudis Corrales, Arturo Alvarez Captain: Ramon Sanchez
Sacha Kljestian is staring on the inside very interstingly alongside Beckerman. Love that they have Findley and Casey up top.... Hopefully that means Ching's fate has already been decided. Unfortunately I think he will be on the bench come the World Cup although he is a stiff.

Carpe deese nuts El Salvado

What kind of game test will El Salvador - a team that only scored 10 goals in the final round of qualification, finished second to last in the that final round CONCACAF region, and is only bringing three strikers on its roster to Tampa to play the U.S. - be ?

Apparently as good as our MLS players (see the roster below) are going to get. Lest we forget though this little Central American country has given the U.S. some problems in their past two meetings, a 2-2 tie back in 2008 and a 2-1 U.S win last fall in which the U.S. trailed early to the feisty El Salvadorans.

However, this is why the game is a crucial one as questions still surround the 23-man U.S. World Cup roster.

Picture this fun little scenario. Clint Dempsey has some kind of set-back, he's not ready to go by the World Cup. Oguchi re-injures his in knee at Milan in training or does not play a single minute of game-time and is not match fit. Charile Davies does not get back on the pitch for S0chaux in France - not match fit. And/or Landon Donovan breaks a bone in his foot/leg on a crunching tackle in the Premier League for Everton. Meanwhile back at home our MLS boys have not played a single minute for their domestic teams because they are stuck on strike in a bitter labor dispute with the league over guaranteed contracts and free agency - something MLS simply cannot afford.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but boys and girls that little nightmare could easily happen to the men's national team, and then won't we the Red, White, and Blue Army have a fun World Cup ahead of us.

The injury problems that currently plague the U.S. team (and fortunately look better and better each passing day for the MNT) and the very real likelihood of a lockout to start the MLS season make this upcoming seemingly meaningless friendly with El Salvador all the more important. Potentially as Leander Schaerlaeckens points out in his ESPNsoccernet story, this could be the last time any of these MLS players lace 'em up to take the pitch in competitive action before the World Cup begins. Let's hope not, but it's possible.

For me there really are about 6-8 completely open positions to fill out the U.S. roster whether it be in terms of a starting spot or somewhere on the bench and these are the positions you should be paying attention.

Let's take the optimistic approach and assume Oguchi is back in time and the rest of your defenders are healthy (it's a long way to go but bear with me) - this is where the U.S. has the most depth and three locks in Oguchi and Jay Demeritt in the middle with captain Carlos Bocanegra most likely on the left.

What becomes interesting is who fills that final spot on the right and which players earn reserve spots. Steve Cherundolo has occupied that spot in the past, but has been injured a great deal for Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga. I think his experience will earn him a spot on the WC roster, just not in the starting lineup. Jonathan Spector of Westham has also battled some injuries this season, but has started five of the last six games for his London club, and due to his performance in the Confederations Cup last summer probably for the time being has to be the favorite to earn the starting nod.

But as for players that are playing tomorrow I will be watching Chad Marshall, Jonathan Bornstein, and Clarence Goodson. By all accounts Bornstein is the most highly rated of these three and may even challenge Bocanegra for the left back spot or be slotted there if Guch is not back. Goodson scored the lone U.S. goal on a header vs. Honduras, but really was unimpressive in his second half sub role. And Chad Marshall to me is somewhat of an unknown, but has been the heart of the Columbus Crew, who won the MLS Cup 2 years ago, the past couple of season.
Clearly the midfield and attacking positions are where the U.S. roster has been most ravaged by injury. Dempsey, Davies, and Jermaine Jones (Schalke, Bundesliga) top the list. We saw relatively little free-flowing aggressive attacking the last friendly and I hope and would believe that should be an entirely different case in this game as essentially some of these players dreams of ever earning a World Cup roster spot are on the line.

It's funny almost how far a player like Sacha Kljestan has dropped - just two years ago there were rumors he was set to make a big move to Scotland's preeminent power Celtic of Glasgow. Now to me, he is a wash and a waste, probably someone who will never fulfill that potential.

I look at holding center midfielder Kyle Beckerman as probably the biggest dark horse, a player that like Chad Marshall for the Crew, was the heart and soul of last season's MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake. However, despite posting one of the few solid performances against Honduras, Beckerman will have a tough road to overtake any of the following for a WC spot - Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Maurice Edu, Jones, or even Freddy Adu - as Michael Bradley has the other central spot locked up. But the team needs more feisty, do-what-it takes, character guys like Beckerman - and that's why I wouldn't rule him out just yet.

The two Robbies - Rogers and Findley - are the last two guys I will be keeping a close watch and wishful eye on. They are two of the hottest names in the MLS and admittedly I do not know much about either. Rogers is potentially vying to be the outside left middy spot if Davies cannot comeback and Dempsey has to be pushed up front. Findley is a burner, someone in the Davies mold but by all accounts less skill.

I do not believe last season's top MLS scorer Jeff Cunningham has any realistic chance to make the roster. He's too inconsistent and simply does not possess the skill to play with World Class defenders, which is why he was never called by any club in Europe even the little guys.

Lastly I must once again say - PUT THE KAYBASH ON BRIAN CHING. In my book the guy is a stiff, if the ball is not played directly to him he's useless. He's somewhat decent in the air but is nowhere near the same class as former U.S. great Brian McBride, and simply cannot make this roster.

And if you follow that logic than Connor Casey isn't getting a sniff of Jozy's jock either. The guy is a lesser version of Ching.

Anyway, enjoy the match. Go Red White and Blue. And come back later in the night for post game analysis.

U.S. roster
Goalkeepers: Troy Perkins (D.C. United) and Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA); Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway); Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew); Heath Pearce (FC Dallas) and Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake); Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo); Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo); Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders); Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew); Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA); Dax McCarty (FC Dallas); Chris Pontius (D.C. United) and Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

Attackers: Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids); Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo); Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas) and Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)

Part 2 of Jay Martin's 2009 interview with former German coach Jurgen Klinsmann

NOTE: This is the second part of an interview Ohio Wesleyan men's soccer coach Jay Martin conducted with Jurgen Klinsmann. The interview was conducted in Munich last in March of 2009. Due to the length of the interview Red, White and Blue Army has spread it out over a four day period.

Q: How are the players accepting this?

A: It’s been, well I’d say there were many, many questions the first three or four months. We introduced a completely different fitness approach, which the German national team players knew from the World Cup, but the other players hadn’t experienced. We are focusing on the long run, which is a gamble because in the short term we need to be getting results, so we need to balance the goals and the environment in which we’re working. The payoff will come later, but if we don’t have results overnight, if they don’t happen in the beginning, everyone gets nervous, thinks whether or not this is the right path, are we doing a good job? So you run the risk that everything will be questioned ten times before it will be accepted. In Germany if you come into a successful environment (like the one at Bayern Munich), they expect you to continue. They won the German Cup and the German Championship and then everyone automatically says, why change this? We’ve won two titles obviously, so why change? My role was, the demand of the board was that we want to be at the top in Europe again. So in Europe they failed completely last season, they got really hammered in the UEFA Cup. I came in and said we have to win the domestic trophies in order to re-qualify for the Champions League, but in order to get back into the European spotlight, we have a hell of a lot of work to do. It was quite a challenging process up and through today, but I think we are on a good path.

Q: Martin Jol said earlier this year, in the first round (first half of the German season), that you (Klinsmann) are changing the way German coaching will be for the future. Is this what he was talking about? This total player development, instead of just on the field, such as the performance center aspects?

A: I think everyone is curious how this all will develop. I know Martin because of his time at Tottenham, he believes as I do that you get ahead when you empower people. It has to do with empowerment. And empowerment is a very, very strict and challenging thing. Because here, if you empower people, they see it as a loss of authority of the coach. So, if I empower the chief analyst to speak up to the players, to do a twenty minute session about Sporting Lisbon last night, the player might look at it as, why is the coach not doing this? Why is he not the one talking about Sporting Lisbon? But I come in and I say, Michael, one of our assistants, put the video together, he knows every secret about Sporting. They will go to that video and learn it inside and out, and everything he tells me, I learn it, and I use it. I’d rather spend those two hours that I have there in special talks with my players, so I empower somebody to get that role covered. Empowerment, on the German side, is still seen as a weakness, so that’s what Martin means. We have not only a results challenge, we have to deliver the results, meaning that we as individuals are responsible for delivering the trophies at the end of the season. That’s what the fans want to see, they want to stay in their environment to be seen as the elite club, the top club in Germany. On one hand you have to produce results and on the other hand you have to develop a new culture and you have to develop a long-term picture in order to be competitive with (Manchester) United, with Barcelona, with those teams. We talk about the top teams in Europe, which are the big four in England (Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal), the big three in Italy (Milan, Inter, and Juventus), and the top two in Spain (Barcelona and Real Madrid), and then there’s only one German team and that is Bayern Munich. So at the same time I need to make sure we win the championship to guarantee the Champions League next year, but we also have to compete on a larger scale. You want the double, but it’s just not enough, so maybe you have to sacrifice. We’ve won the double ten times, but we want more. It’s been a real challenge to compete on all fronts. It’s been an interesting nine months so far, because I was hired in January of last year, so I had to wait until the season ended. I agreed to not give any media statements; I prepared the performance end basically and then came in at the beginning of July. It really worked out perfect, he (Hitzfield, the previous Bayern manager) appreciated it, because I gave him support, I was very happy with every win, and it picked him up. I wanted to say good things, but everyone was already looking into the future and asking what was coming up.

Q: What are the three adjectives, when you think of the best possible coach, what are the three adjectives that describe that coach?

A: There are many areas to cover. I think empowerment is one of them. Cultural tolerance is another thing that is important to understand, you need to understand the athletes that you’re dealing with. You can’t just say that they play badly or well, there are thousands of reasons why a player doesn’t produce. We have an extremely talented player from South America here, he’s been in the team for five years, and yet he’s not breaking through here yet, because it is just taking time for him to adjust. Munich is different than Buenos Aires. Language, differences in languages spoken within the team, the philosophy around the team with the media, if you don’t break through in two or three months they tell you that you have failed. You have to give players time, and I believe in that. I believe in this player, I think he will break through sooner or later. So you need to learn how an athlete functions. You have to believe in everyone, and then at the end of the time period you come to the conclusion that maybe the player is not made for the environment of Bayern Munich. Lucas Podolski is not made for the environment at Bayern Munich because it’s a constant, constant competition every single day. I told him that he has to challenge the other two strikers, and if you’re better, you’re better and you’re going to play. But this fight, this kind of competition for his place, the other players were a little stronger in it. Now he will go back to his roots, to where he used to play, and he won’t have to do that (fight for his place).

Q: I’m sure having played in all of these different countries has helped you quite a bit.

A: I’m so grateful now to have played everywhere, because of the experiences. Living in those places, understanding them, how the French are, the Italian background, the English background. I know now, when (Italian striker) Luca Toni comes up with certain statements, what he actually means, and I can read him because I know his cultural background. So it can really honestly help you to read people, and you have to deal with several different kinds of people, you have to deal with an Argentinean different than a Brazilian. And even all of those Brazilians are different, so you just try to learn about them. So I think that understanding people is a vital tool for a coach.

Q: All of the coaches you’ve mentioned, including yourself, are great leaders. Is leadership something that a person is born with, or can you develop leadership over a period of time?

A: I think the talent of leadership is in all of us. It depends on your personal environment, if you get help as a player to develop leadership, throughout your school, your educational path, and then do you have the hunger. There are so many components of leadership. I think that every one of us has some type of leadership, if you call it up or not, if you develop it or not, depends on what’s going on in your daily life. I can see players working with me and see tremendous leadership, you know, and see in some of them having the potential to become good coaches. But it is a constant process you’re going through, and I think I learned a lot in those ten years living in the U.S. about different types of leadership. I went to Duke University, and listened to Coach K, seminars that help you to learn, and then watching other people, other coaches, you know Pete Carroll (head football coach at USC) I think is another great example of leadership completely different to a Coach K. If you observe, you don’t even necessarily have to sit down with them, but just reading and observing and going through some books, and there are industry leaders, we have right now amazing leadership in this country.

Q: How important is losing games to the process, or is it important, to the overall process of a player and a coach to learn?

A: I think it’s very important because they need to deal with setbacks. They need to deal with critics, they need to deal with down moments. It is a fine line, in terms of an aggressive environment here, because it (losing) can break your neck as well. So yes you need those defeats, you need those to get down to Earth to focus and deal with the critics, but you can’t afford too many of them, otherwise you’re environment can fall apart. The media are such a powerful force in countries like England, Germany, and even Spain with the top two teams, that no matter what your plans are in the long run, even if you get approved by 95% for your job, this 5% could kill you. We have experienced similar things here, which is why you have to go game to game and make sure that you get those results. Then at the end of the day the media do not ask anymore about your philosophy, about your knowledge, about your leadership, about your understanding of the team and your role with the team. We live in a media environment that absolutely has to sell and doesn’t need to inform people anymore. That was maybe twenty years ago when the media had the job to actually inform people, now the media has the job to sell something to people, and they don’t care what it is. So your role within the media environment is that it is nothing to take personally, you are just a tool to the media. Whether it’s a player or a coach, a tool for them to sell the paper or to get their ratings on TV. It’s not about you, whether you’re right or wrong. It’s about how they can sell this game tonight, should we start positively, negatively. They discuss that within their offices, so if they decide the Klinsmann is on the ropes, then they sell this. It’s not because they hate you or anything; it’s because they need the job. They have the power to influence 70,000 fans that go to the stadium, if they come in positive, if they come in negative, so it is challenging.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Capello says to England: stop being clowns like Terry and Cole

Who knew weeks ago when I first blogged about John Terry's affair with Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend that it would turn into such a huge story surrounding the English national team, which like it or not has a reputation for choking in big moments like the Buffalo Bills in the 90's.

With the most recent media circus surrounding injured defender Ashley Cole and his now ex-wife, Cheryl Cole (they separated!), Capello felt like he had to signal to the media his intentions with his bunch of Austin Powers wannabes. Haha, was that too dated?

Asked what will happen to players who step out of line after he spells out his code of conduct on their behavior, Capello said: "The players have to understand what I want if you want to stay with me."

Capello, who is renowned as a strict disciplinarian, does not want to see his players' private lives splashed across newspapers -- particularly as the Italian coach tries to deliver England's first World Cup since 1966.

"It will be very important because we need to create a group. The England shirt is very important. This will be one of the most important points we will speak about."

Capello will talk to his players next week when the team gathers before a friendly against Egypt on March 3.

The Italian head coach is saying the right things as England will all convene next week ahead of its friendly with Egypt. It's been four months since this troubled group was all together in the same dressing room. Should make for some awkward moments, huh?

Barcelona salvages Champions League tie with Stuttgart; Bordeaux captures first leg

Barcelona 1, Stuttgart 1

Cacau scored in the 25th minute to put host Stuttgart up 1-0 in the first leg of its round-of-16 Champions League game with Barcelona this afternoon.

Timo Gebhart hit a cross from the right side and Cacau outleaped Carlos Puyol for the surprising lead.

Soon after that, Stuttgart should have doubled their advantage as they had the ball in the box on a 2-on-1 but they fumbled it around and Puyol was able to clear it for a corner.

After a slow start, the defending champions from Barce woke up as Messi's shot was deflected by Stuttgart goalkeeper Jens Lehmann in the 40th minute and rolled past him, only to hit the post and bounce back to Lehmann's arms.

Swedish international Zoltan Ibrahimovic tied it in the 52nd minute, tapping home a rebound and with that, Barcelona had their all-important away goal.

The second leg is on March 17.

Bordeaux 1, Olympiakos 0
I didn't catch much of this game but I did see the goal as it happened during injury time in the first half. Michael Ciani headed in a free kick from outside the box by Yoann Gorcuff.

The Greek hosts squandered a few golden chances and even had a header goal by Enzo Maresca disallowed when the referee ruled that Matt Derbyshire fouled Bordeaux goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso during that play.

For the billionaire that has everything: an EPL team that's about to go bankrupt

Sitting in 20th place, out of 20 teams, it has been an awful season for Portsmouth and things appear to be getting only worse.

Basically, if the team doesn't find a new buyer by Friday, they'll lose nine points in the standings (not that it really matters) and they'll be forced into relegation.

Immediately after the news broke, Portsmouth's fraught chief executive Peter Storrie, exhausted by the relentless work trying to keep the club out of administration, gave his first interview to Soccernet, and told me: "It's sad, really sad, of course its a sad day for the club.

"After all the efforts we have put in to save the club, to keep the club alive, at least the club will survive, but its such a shame it cannot carry on in the same way, that cannot happen. Maybe if the Revenue hadn't brought the action that they did, we might have carried on, who knows?

ESPN Soccernet had been predicting this financial nightmare since September and it seemed a certainty after the EPL wouldn't allow Portsmouth to sell off some of its players after the designated transfer window.

When it comes to business, I am not your go-to source but on a human level, I think we can all relate that it has to be heartbreaking to see your favorite team crumble like this. Remember, they're not going to be destroyed but getting relegated and struggling to find potential buyers are not good signs for a team trying to stay above water in the best soccer league in the world.

So pour out a cheap lager for Portsmouth tonight. As a side note, the guy in this picture above probably isn't doing too well at the moment.