It is the holiday season once again, and time to hand out the presents. What should we get this year for Jurgen Klinsmann? Has Jurgen been good this year? Well he has been successful, with a 9-2-3 record and the top spot in the semifinal of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying group, and a spot in the final round. But good? Whatever became of the new, more eye catching, passing style we were promised?
With that evolution as our guide, GotSoccer has a few presents in mind for the USMNT coach. GotSoccer would like to wrap up a creative, playmaking midfielder, a traditional number 10 if you will, for the Jurgen Klinsmann. Someone to slot into the middle of his lineup around lung busting, deep lying, destroyer types, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and, or Danny Williams. It’s not immediately clear where this smooth passing creator would come from, but this is season of miracles, not practicality.
Some say the young Norwegian-American Mikkel Diskerud
is the man for the job, we’d like to see more from Mix, but we hold out hope. Sacha Kljestan has played well for Anderlecht in the Champions League, although not really in the quarterback role. Sacha still might add something different to a three man midfield, currently made up of similar players.
But wait there is more. We would also like to give Jurgen the gift of clarity at center back. Because right now things are a kind of murky at the center of the U.S. defense. When the U.S. national team coach looks at the heart of his defense now, this is what he sees. Carlos Bocanegra, aging, coming back from injury and playing second division soccer. Sure, it’s the Spanish second division, but shouldn’t your captain be playing in someone’s top flight?
Klinsmann will also see Geoff Cameron when he scopes out his central defenders. Cameron has played pretty well for the Americans in that role, but for his club team Stoke, the former Houston Dynamo is playing fullback. Cameron has played most of his career as a midfielder, so he needs the reps in the center of the defense. Who else can Klinsmann turn to? He keeps calling in Maurice Edu, Cameron’s teammate at Stoke. But Edu is a career long midfielder, who doesn’t even suit up most weekends for the Potters.
Clarence Goodson is another who always gets a call from Klinsmann. But Goodson always seems to be, almost good enough, not exactly the type to instill confidence. Back in the day, Oguchi Onyewu was the rock in the middle of Bob Bradley’s defense, but then Gooch tore up his knee , and now he rides the pine for La Liga Champions League side Malaga, despite getting the occasional Champions League/Copa Del Rey run out. One time heir apparent Tim Ream hardly plays for his club Bolton, and the new Wanderers coach has his mind set on turning the former Red Bull into a midfielder.
Like I said, murky. What would clear things up for Klinsmann? How about the emergence of one of the following as a viable international center back? Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, or George John. John may seem a little out of place in this trio. But, a year ago the Dallas center back was hot property. A strange loan spell at West Ham, where he never played, followed by an up and down season for FC Dallas, doesn’t mean that John suddenly can’t play. Indeed, Dallas were happy to see John put pen to paper and re-up, so Klinsmann shouldn’t write him off.
Besler just won the MLS award as the defender of the year, and at 6’0’’ 170, Besler has to get the job done a little differently than the 6’3” John, and Gonzalez, who stands 6’5”. The 24 year old Gonzalez is year younger than his MLS counterparts, and is coming off a goal scoring, MVP performance, for the L.A. Galaxy in the MLS Cup. This time last year Gonzalez tore his ACL while training with Nurnberg. The Galaxy defense was lost without the big man, turning their season around after his return.
For a Holiday gift to himself, Klinsmann should invite all three to the U.S.national team January training camp, and maybe Austin Berry of the Chicago Fire too, and begin figuring out if any of them have what it takes.
What else would we like to see in Jurgen Klinsmann’s stocking. How about Jozy Altidore scoring goals as if he were playing for AZ Alkmaar. This is sort of a dual gift, because we would like to gift Altidore with some international goals, which would make everyone around U.S. soccer happy, except maybe the Jozy haters.
Do you remember the 2002 World Cup? Brad Friedel was magnificent, Brian McBride was brave, Clint Mathis had that mohawk, and scored a great goal against South Korea. What I remember most is the exuberance of the young Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, covering every blade of grass and racing past their opponents as if they were statues. Which brings me back to the season of giving. Donovan was a certainty for that team, as the rising face of U.S. soccer. But Beasley forced his way onto that team. For Jurgen Klinsmann, we would love to see some young player, through his performance, demand a spot on this U.S. team.
Maybe Josh Gatt, the young speedster, who showed promise in the Russia match, or Joe Gyau, or maybe Diskerud. What about Brek Shea, once he heals from offseason surgery, can he recapture the form that had people buzzing not so long ago? Perhaps young midfielder Sebastian Lletget, on the verge at West Ham, or Luis Gil, the young Real Salt Lake midfielder, can turn Klinsmann’ head, and get a chance and run with it. That would be a fine gift for the U.S. coach.
Another dual gift for the coach, one that would really make for a happy holiday around the Klinsmann house, would be some peace of mind and good health for Landon Donovan. For years now Donovan has answered the call for the USMNT, whether that call came from Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley or, well, actually not so much since Jurgen Klinsmann took over. A combination of nagging injuries and Galaxy commitments has kept Donovan from playing much for the man who brought him to Bayern Munich.
Now Donovan is talking retirement, or at least about taking a sabbatical. Klinsmann has said all the right things about supporting the vacillating star and even vowed to hear him out over dinner. So for Klinsmann, a happy and rested Donovan is the gift that would most brighten his holiday season, and also the gift that would be most likely to lead to the ultimate gift, a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Because, despite the whispers that maybe it is time for the U.S. to move ahead without Donovan, it’s simply not. To put it bluntly, the U.S. is not ready for life, post – Donovan. They have leaned on Donovan for a long time now, relying on the speedy attacker to provide the spark to an all too often static attack. They need Donovan through this World Cup cycle, and that is a gift that would truly brighten Klinsmann’s holiday season.