Confession time, I did not grow up loving soccer.
Crazy, I know, but that’s typically the case for the majority of soccer journalists in this country. I mean, even Grant Wahl used to cover basketball.
That is something you need to know in order to better understand the rest of this column, I am not your average soccer fan in the United States but I do spend a lot of time with people who are average fans.
Following the United State’s exit in the 2014 World Cup a lot of people seemed willing to give Jurgen Klinsmann a break, sure they exited in the same round as 2010 but they were competitive and almost came back against a Belgium team that had as good a chance as anyone to win the whole thing.
However, after the United State’s disappointing finish in the most recent Gold Cup people are starting to turn on Klinsmann.
Most people were quick to point at Joachim Löw’s recent World Cup trophy, stating that Löw is the real tactical genius and that Klinsmann was just the figure head in the whole Die Meinshaft operation.
Sure, Klinsmann might not be a tactician’s dream but he is the right man for the job and I’ll try to explain why I truly believe that.
I am a 25 year old woman, so I sit right in the middle of the coveted 21-30 group that people enjoy calling “Millennials” while trying to figure out how to sell stuff to us. I spend the majority of my time with other 21-30 year olds and here’s something shocking, almost everyone who I talk to really likes Jurgen Klinsmann.
His job is not just to coach the United State’s Men’s National Team, it’s also to get the United States to give a flying squirrel about soccer in-between World Cups and he’s doing that. No other coach in the world has that job, because almost other country in the world loves soccer and does not have to bring casual fans into the fold for more than two months every four years.
Yes, you can contribute some of the increased awareness to the fact that soccer is now more accessible than ever but some of it is his doing as well.
They like watching him on the sidelines, passion is something that Americans can relate to. I’ve seen some pundits claim that Americans want an American coaching the team and I don’t really hear that. No one dislikes him because he’s German, they dislike him when the team is losing which is a much more typically-American response to a sports team.
Did the United States need to beat Mexico on Saturday? Yes, they did.
But should Jurgen Klinsmann be fired because they lost? No, he should not be.
In my opinion the team assembled for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil should be a great indicator of the job Klinsmann is doing, those are the players who have been in the Klinsmann system the longest. The 23 who journeyed to Brazil last summer will, for the most part, not make the trip to Russia. Same with the players who were in the recent Gold Cup, the team assembled to make a run at a gold medal in 2016 are going to be the core of the USMNT come summer of 2018.
I understand that I am speaking on behalf of a group of people who don’t really know much about soccer, playing FIFA and watching El Clásico should not really warrant you an opinion on something this big and something that affects the culture of soccer in the United States as much as who the head coach should be. You might brush my opinion off as a result and that is fine, but know that soccer grows in popularity every single year and this age group I’m speaking about represents the biggest growth.
I’m an avid college football fan, anyone who knows me knows that, and you don’t fire a coach after two years just because the first year wasn’t great. Obviously the World Cup is a lot longer than two years but I think we should give Klinsmann until after the 2018 World Cup to look for progress within the team. If we bomb out of Russia I will be first in line to ask Sunil Gulati for a coaching change.
Until then though? Let’s let up a little bit, guys.