Klinsmann's USA project: Reform or Revolution?

The international break generated debate about Jürgen Klinsmann’s short tenure as USA selector and coach. Results of friendlies aside, George Vecsey of the New York Times points out that the German is a proponent of “the revolutionary theory for young players that soccer should be fun” and invites fans to watch the team’s training sessions. Together with Claudio Reyna — the former fantasista turned head of US player development — Klinsmann believes “coaches can teach soccer, but on the field, soccer is not a teachable sport. [ . . .] Athletes must play the game by themselves; they must be creative.”

Of course, the US soccer system has demonstrated little such creativity so far. In general, its pay-for-play youth system marginalizes or excludes the working class and the poor and almost invariably produces robotic, Anglophile, tactically troglodytic teams. So is Klinsmann’s project reformist or revolutionary?

Amy Lawrence in The Guardian’s Sports Blog writes that “the great German enthusiast is trying to overhaul football in the US not just the national team.” The post picks up on some of Vecsey’s insights and adds Klinsmann’s criticism of both the short MLS season and the archaic system of using college soccer to form professional players. Readers’ comments on the blog page make for fascinating reading. What do you think about the Klinsi debate?

2 thoughts to “Klinsmann's USA project: Reform or Revolution?”

  1. I had the good fortune to observe the USMNT open training session at Red Bull Arena Monday night and was thrilled to see Klinsmann prowling the pitch like a tiger, bouncing from one group of players to another, exuding positivity and enthusiasm.

    He is a missionary and a revolutionary, bringing a possession game with aesthetic concern to a national side far too long obsessed simply with results. I’m hoping his philosophy will permeate the country’s soccer culture. But this will take time and I’m concerned the US sporting public will prove impatient.

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