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USMNT

Who could be the next United States soccer manager?

Background – Could Klinsmann Leave the USMNT?

USA World Cup

England put in a typical English performance at the recently concluded European Championship in France and were unceremoniously booted out of the competition by the unfancied Iceland national team.

As is usually the case, the sorry display from the Three Lions led to their manager Roy Hodgson leaving the job and now the England team is looking to get a new man to take the them to the World Cup in Russia in two years’ time.

Several names are being talked about. The Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce, who is well versed with the ways of English football having managed numerous clubs from West Ham United to Blackpool, is one of the names interviewed for the post.

Interestingly, the United States national team boss Jurgen Klinsmann is also thought to be high on the list of probables shortlisted by the English FA. The United States Soccer Federation has also been under pressure to get rid of the German after a slew of unfortunate results since the 2014 World Cup, but Klinsmann has so far held on.

Now with England likely coming for his signature, we take a look at some of the candidates who could take up the reins of the Stars and Stripes if the German goes across the pond. This is despite reaching the Copa America Centenario semi-final.

Bruce Arena

The long serving Los Angeles Galaxy coach is the most successful manager in United States soccer. Arena is a hugely experienced and influential manager and he has numbers to speak for themselves. He has won five MLS Cups – two with DC United and a further three with LA Galaxy.

To further his case, he has handled the senior national team before, having managed them for eight years – from 1998 until the 2006 World Cup.

And he was very successful during his long stint. He managed the national team for a total of 130 games and registered 75 wins for a 58 per cent win rate. Moreover, he also won two CONCACAF Gold Cups and guided the team to the quarter-final of the 2002 World Cup.

The national team in its current state would also be a challenging proposition for Arena, and it would be interesting to see if he is up for the crucial role leaving his current job.

Bob Bradley

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The 58-year-old is another United States managerial veteran. He took over the national team in 2006 after Arena’s exit and led them through the 2010 World Cup in South Africa before being relieved of his duties after the Stars and Stripes lost the 2011 Gold Cup final to Mexico.

To his credit, he guided the team to knockout stage in South Africa from a tough group before exiting after losing to Ghana in extra time.

Bradley then took the reins of the Egypt national team, and is currently at the helm of French outfit Le Havre. He almost guided them to promotion to the top flight but eventually settled for fourth spot in the Ligue 2 standings.

Jesse Marsch
The current New York Red Bulls boss has – in stark contrast to Klinsmann – earned renown for his tactical acumen. With the lack of any big names at Red Bulls, Marsch has been forced to guide a team of unknown faces and he has done the job remarkably well, guiding the side to the 2015 MLS Supporters’ Shield.

A relative greenhorn in management, and still only 42, Marsch would be an ideal replacement for Klinsmann if the United States want to make a clean break from the past and start afresh.

Summary – Time for a change?

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The fact that Klinsmann apparently is even considering reportedly talking to the English FA and the pressure on the US Soccer Federation suggests that a change could now happen. With the USMNT focused now on the FIFA World Cup 2018, now would be a great time to bring in a new coach. What do you think? Who would you like to see in charge of the USMNT?

Full Destination Soccer USMNT Coverage

United States’ all-time XI

usmnt greatest players

Background

The United States have had a cherished history in international football. Although they have never challenged the top dogs of international football, they have still been good enough to notch a top three finish at the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay in 1930 and cause a major upset at the 1950 World Cup as the team that largely comprised of a bunch of amateurs defeated England 1-0.

They have other remarkable runs in football’s prestigious event as they finished ahead of the Luis Figo led Portugal in their group at the 2002 World Cup and ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They are also a five-time winner of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. We take a look at eleven players who would comprise the all-time first team of the Stars and Stripes.

Goalkeeper
Brad Friedel
The United States have been blessed with some really competent goalkeepers in the recent past. But no one would come close to Friedel. The former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur custodian played 82 times for the Stars and Stripes and retired a legend from the national team in 2005.

Defenders

Steve Cherundolo
The right-back is one of the few one-club men in world football. He spent the entirety of his professional career at Hannover 96 and won them the second flight title in the 2001/02 season. The 2005 Gold Cup winner scored twice in his 87-match international career.

Marcelo Balboa
The center-back played 127 matches for the Stars and Stripes, earning his first senior cap in 1988. He played the majority of his career in the United States but that didn’t stop him from becoming the first player to earn 100 caps for his country. A rock of a defender, Balboa also scored 13 times.

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Eddie Pope

Pope started his senior international career with a World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago in 1996 and by the time he retired from the national team, he had sealed his place in the pantheon of US soccer greats.

Carlos Bocanegra
The left-back played 110 games for his country and served as the team’s captain for six years. He played club soccer in Scotland, England, France and in Spain and was twice voted as the best defender in the MLS.

Midfielders
Claudio Reyna
The defensive midfielder is widely regarded as the greatest player that the United States has produced. He plied his trade for Rangers, Sunderland and Manchester City amongst others and won over a 100 international caps.

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John Harkes
The midfielder holds the distinction of being the first from the United States to play in the Premier League. He represented the national team at two World Cups and retired with 90 international caps.

Cobi Jones
Jones retired with 164 international caps, an all-time record for the national team. By the time he hung his boots, Jones had scored 15 senior goals and won the 2002 Gold Cup.

Tab Ramos
Ramos played in the heart of midfield through the course of his 81-match international career. He went on to score eight goals and represented the Stars and Stripes at three World Cups.

Landon Donovan
A legend of the United States soccer, Donovan retired from international soccer as the leading goalscorer for his national team with a tally of 57 strikes, many of which were historically important ones.

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Forward
Clint Dempsey
One of the biggest United States’ success stories in the Premier League, Dempsey plied his trade at the highest level with Fulham as well as Tottenham Hotspur. Currently on 52 international goals, he is primed to be the all-time leading goalscorer for the national team by the time he hangs his boots.

The Omissions

We had to leave out Michael Bradley, and some excellent goalkeepers such as Tim Howard and Kasey Keller amongst others. Plus the mercurial Roy Wegerle and the iconic Alexei Lalas as well as the highly gifted Eric Wynalda.

What do you think of this? Are there players who should be included or not included in our USA’s Greatest Ever Soccer Team? Let us know in the comments below.

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Matt Miazga’s future at Chelsea and the US national team

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Matt Miazga is an upcoming center-back from the United States. The youngster started his youth career at New York Red Bulls in 2009 and progressed to the MLS outfit’s first team four years later in 2013.

He went on to feature in 34 league games for the New York-based club before Chelsea came calling for his signature in the 2016 winter transfer window and made him a Blue. By the time he arrived at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho, then in his second stint as Chelsea boss, had been sacked after a string of poor results. And the Blues had installed the Dutch manager Guus Hiddink for his second spell as the club’s interim boss.

The Dutchman steadied the ship and after ensuring the club’s Premier League status, started giving chances to youngsters in the squad. Miazga was one of the beneficiaries of Hiddink’s policy and went on to make two first team appearances for the Blues last season.

He made his senior Chelsea debut in a 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa at Villa Park and then made a second half substitute appearance in the following game against Swansea when he came on for another youngster, Kenedy.

Miazga didn’t light the two games on fire with his displays, but he did appear to be a good centre-back. He is still far from being a sure fire starter for Chelsea but chances are if he continues to develop his game he will be in contention sooner rather than later.

It is to Miazga’s great fortune that Chelsea have appointed a tactically strong manager in Antonio Conte and the Italian’s intense focus on drilling defensive discipline should be a great learning experience for the youngster.

Conte’s Juventus and his current Italian national team have been a delight to watch for purists who hold defensive organisation at a pedestal. And it is clear that a young player can only flourish by learning from someone of Conte’s calibre.

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However, going by Chelsea’s track record of loaning out their young prospects to clubs across Europe, Miazga’s fate remains unclear for now. He could be the next Chelsea prospect on another loan spell to Vitesse in the Dutch Eredevisie or might be loaned out to a lower league side in the English football pyramid. Whatever may the case be, Miazga should make the most of his opportunities and try to impress his manager in order to come under contention for a spot with the Chelsea first team.

Miazga had represented Poland Under-18 side early in his career and was eligible to represent the Poland national team at the international level owing to his ancestry. However, Jurgen Klinsmann tied him to the Stars and Stripes by awarding him a cap in a 2018 World Cup qualifier late last year.

The former Germany international didn’t call up Miazga for the recently concluded Copa America Centenario, probably due to the defender’s paucity of first team minutes since his transfer to Chelsea.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that strong showings in the upcoming season will strengthen Miazga’s case for a call-up to the United States national team when they begin their next set of international fixtures.

 

USMNT: Copa America Centenario Review

The United States had built up a good momentum heading into their Copa America Centenario semi-final clash against Argentina. Their three successive wins against credible opposition had raised expectations so much that there were talks of a possible upset against the 2014 World Cup runners-up.

However, it all came crashing down badly for the Stars and Stripes in the semi-final as Argentina took firm control of the match early on with a fourth minute strike from Ezequiel Lavezzi and never let go off their grip on the game.

And when Lionel Messi scored a free-kick for the ages near the half hour mark, the match appeared truly done and dusted. By the full time whistle, La Albiceleste had added two more to the goals tally to register a comprehensive 4-0 thrashing and book their place in the final against Chile.

So where does this tournament leave Jurgen Klinsmann and his men?

First and foremost, this Copa America outing didn’t reveal anything about the German that isn’t already known. Klinsmann is tactically naive and his management relies on the old cliché of fighting until the final whistle. He relies mostly on his ability to fire up his charges than giving them detailed tactical instructions to counter the opposition.

Now that kind of approach can work in the technically limited teams in the CONCACAF, but Klinsmann’s naivety gets greatly exposed when his team face stronger opposition. And the Copa America was a good example of it as the Stars and Stripes lost 2-0 in the opening game to Colombia before exiting the tournament with the heavy defeat to the Argentines.

“You saw tonight why they are the No. 1 team in the world. We just simply hit a far better team tonight”, Klinsmann said in the aftermath of the semi-final defeat.

“Once they have a lead, they’re not giving that lead away. They know exactly how to organize themselves behind the ball quickly. They pressure high right away when you are in possession of the ball that’s why we pretty much didn’t have any chance to score”, he concluded.

No one is countering the fact the Argentina are probably the best national team on the planet right now. But Klinsmann’s words seem to suggest that he was utterly helpless against Tata Martino’s side and couldn’t possibly alter the final outcome. And that is simply unacceptable.

Every manager should feel confident of upsetting the applecart. There is no point in managing any other side than the very best otherwise. Klinsamann’s position at the helm of the United States has been already under question and his team’s performance at the home tournament isn’t going to secure his job.

The president of the United States Soccer Federation Sunil Gulati had expressed his apprehensions about Klinsmann in the aftermath of the opening day defeat, and he has stressed that there will be an assessment after the tournament is over.

“We look at all of this, and we’ll do that after the tournament’s over and assess where we are and how we’ve done.

“The three consecutive wins were good. Today and the Colombia game were less good”, Gulati said.

It will be interesting to see if Klinsmann, whose side failed to muster even a single shot on goal in the semi-final, survives the assessment.

USMNT reach Copa America Semi-final

The United States began their Copa America campaign with a miserable defeat at the hands of Colombia and it seriously jeopardised their chances of getting through to the knockout rounds from a group that also had Costa Rica and Paraguay.

However, after suffering a crisis of confidence from his bosses in the United States Soccer Federation, Jurgen Klinsmann has turned around the fortunes of his side and they have now made it to the semi-final of the prestigious competition.

The resurgence of the Stars and Stripes began with a 4-0 walloping of Costa Rica in their second group game and a Clint Dempsey goal that helped the team register a 1-0 win over Paraguay in their last group game saw the team make the quarter-final of the home tournament.

However, playing against Ecuador in the quarter-final was never going to be an easy task. The Ecuadorians have several players plying their trades in the top European outfits, especially their most obvious threats Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia and West Ham United forward Enner Valencia.

But Klinsmann’s changed tactics and especially the fact that he is sticking to a specific starting eleven and not chopping and changing every game, seems to be working to perfection.

Dempsey scored his 52nd international goal in the 22nd minute of the match to put his team in front. The defence, which comprised of Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks and Matt Besler with Brad Guzan in goal, held tight and deprived the visitors of any clear golascoring opportunities.

The Stars and Stripes doubled their lead in the 65th minute when Dempsey laid the ball for Gyasi Zardes for the easiest of tap ins. Michael Arroyo’s 74th minute strike raised the hopes of Ecuador and they made some late surges in the hope of an equaliser, but the hosts held tight and secured the win to make it to the semi-finals.

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The Highlights of the match. Video credits: SonyLIV

Klinsmann was delighted with the performance of his charges and attributed their getting acquainted with the enormity of the competition as one of the contributing factors for the upward surge in their displays.

“They understand what the next level up there is about. The Copa America is, after World Cup and together with the Euros, the next level to play at.

“What they did was absolutely outstanding”, he beamed.

The match was played at the CenturyLink Field stadium in Seattle, where support for the Stars and Stripes is never in short supply. The former Germany international implored the home support to get behind their team in their remaining games.

“I really hope the country gets behind us for the semi-final. The support we have received has been fantastic. This is big time.”

Klinsmann reserved special praise for his star forward Dempsey, who has taken his goal tally in this tournament to three, and said that the Seattle Sounders attacker did what he does best.

“Clint is special and he showed that tonight and he’s done that throughout his career. This performance was unbelievable and in front of his home crowd – he deserves everything.”

The United States will face either Argentina or Venezuela in their semi-final and going by their recent performances, a final appearance for Klinsmann’s men isn’t too distinct a possibility.