Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Jurgen Klinsmann: Reassessment of a Reassessment

"the 10% that are unimpressed need to go be Germany fans because they will never be happy otherwise."
- Ryan Larkin (@Larkin8), a tweet.
If Jurgen Klinsmann cured cancer, I don't think I would congratulate him. It's likelier, probable, actually, that I would just list all the ways that he could have done it better. I lead with Mr. Larkin's tweet, then, to acknowledge...let's call it "Klinsmann Derangement Syndrome," as well as the possibility that I suffer from an acute case.

By end of day Saturday, the U.S. topped Group A in the Copa America Centenario. I did not see this coming. Getting out of the group seemed reasonable, but, for a fan-base conditioned to it by the 2015 Gold Cup, the 2015 CONCACAF Cup, and a rocky start to 2018 World Cup Qualifying, failure presented as a plausible option. The team has Ecuador next and, in a happy change, thoughts of a win and a trip to the Copa semifinals doesn't feel like fans smiling affirmations to themselves in a mirror from inside a burning house.

Mood swings of that magnitude make sense. Whether this it's accurate or just an effect of living it in the here and now, the Klinsmann era seems like the most contentious in U.S. Soccer history. The question of if and whether the U.S. Men's National Team programs are progressing at all, never mind as advertised, hasn't cooled off since the 2014 World Cup. Bad results in games that mattered kept discontent at a boil, but identifying the origins of the problems divided U.S. fans into two broad* camps (* yes, I think I'm squeezing out some nuance): one group of fans blamed those terrible results on the U.S. talent pool, while the other dropped the blame and a shit-ton of grief on Klinsmann.