|Jurgen Klinsmann--Not Bob Bradley|
Now seriously, it's humungously unfair for Klinsmann's first game at the helm of the United States men's national soccer team to come against the region's best team and the U.S.' biggest rival in Mexico.Nothing good can come of it unless the U.S. beats Mexico 2-nil. And even then, Klinsmann will be hailed as the savior and all future shortcomings will be judged against this--at least for the time being.
Maybe it's a good time to set expectations; consider this kinda like a tryout. Klinsmann is working with a slew of potential assistant coaches, starting with Tab Ramos, Thomas Dooley and Martin Vasquez. OK. The final 20 players Klinsmann brought to Philly includes some surprises. Clint Dempsey isn't on the roster, while DeMarcus Beasley is. So is Freddy Adu, Robbie Rogers, Kyle Beckerman, Zach Lloyd and Edgar Castillo. Who? Yeah. It's the young guys you've been clamoring for; the players Bradley never developed and never nurtured for 2014 and beyond. Bradley rode the veterans like Donovan, Dempsey, et al. And there's some justification there, mostly self-preservation--and in the end that didn't work.
Klinsmann has been around enough world-class football to understand the importance of playing younger players in meaningless friendlies and urge them to succeed and play at their highest level. This is the best way to evaluate young players; and at least most of these guys play regularly in MLS, for whatever that's worth. At least those are meaningful minutes, unlike Bradley who had no qualms about putting guys like Adu, Oguchi Onyewu and others who barely were on club rosters somewhere in the world, much less playing at all. And for some unfathomable reason were playing and starting on a national team roster! Says plenty about the state of U.S. football.
This might be the first mountain Klinsmann decides to climb. He needs players who are game fit mentally and physically. He needs players who understand the subtleties of game flow and rhythm. He needs players period, and not just players for today, but players for the next two to four years.
If you're a fan, tonight is must-see TV. Don't sweat the small stuff like winning or losing, because tonight it doesn't really matter. Let's see who Klinsmann plays, how the team plays and try to figure out what he likes and doesn't care for in this team. And tomorrow, let's talk about whether Klinsmann, and not the U.S., wins or loses.