As things currently stand, there are apparently two types of American soccer fans these days: those that are for Jurgen Klinsmann, and those who are not.
When he was first appointed back in July of 2011, Klinsmann was heralded as everything from “the first big manager in the U.S. men’s national team history”, to “the American soccer messiah”. Like President Barack Obama’s first term in office, Jurgen arrived at the helm of the national team with charisma and talk of change. His personality was bubbly and buoyant, and he promised to deliver wins with a style that should reflect our mentality and culture. The media mostly gushed about him, and fans were practically foaming at the mouth.
Nearly four and a half years later — much like our president — Klinsmann finds himself in a very different spot.
Promises of a refined playing style have gone unanswered. In fact, recent formations and player selections don’t point to a single system at all, let alone a more attacking-oriented one. And in 2015 in particular, the wins haven’t exactly been delivered regularly either: a disastrous Gold Cup and a string of lackluster friendly showings have disappointed fans across the country. And even Klinsmann’s likable personality seems more combative these days.
The public and press alike have started to turn on him, despite many of them previously singing his praises. Some players have spoken out against his selections and apparent disdain of MLS-players. Klinsmann has butted heads with MLS supremo Don Garber over similar matters. And a glancing at Twitter will reveal arguments over his “achievements”, what merits he does and doesn’t bring to the table and an avalanche of #KlinsmannOut hashtags.
And as luck would have it, the complaints and dissent have built to a crescendo just before one of the most crucial matches the national team has faced since Brazil 2014.
Against our most hated rival.
At a “home” stadium that’s likely to feel like an away one.
Admittedly, I’m one of those that’s given Jurgen a bit more leeway. I don’t always agree with his team selections and formation decisions — increasingly so, I might add. Too, I think the US Soccer Federation hasn’t placed enough pressure on him. And I also believe he should get the sack if he loses to Mexico. But I also don’t know that there’s a clear candidate who will A) absolutely improve results and B) be willing and able to take the job.
Keep in mind though that this is just my personal take. You don’t have to agree with me, nor am I asking you to.
But it is from that place that I ask all of you, my fellow American soccer supporters, a favor ahead of Saturday’s pivotal CONCACAF Cup match between the US and Mexico.
Can we all, for a single day, simply support the team?
No arguing with your friends about Klinsmann’s ineptitude. No calling for anyone’s head. No running the players through the ringer. No social media crucifixions.
Just be encouraging and show your love for your team, your country and the men who represent it.
Harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow.
Add together the gravity of the potential result, the pressure cooker of a location, the weight of expectation from the general public, plus the added strain of playing our most mortal of enemies… everyone shredding up the coach and the team isn’t going to do anything to help that situation. At bare minimum, cutting out the negativity will help to keep the atmosphere at pubs and stadium from feeling highly toxic before the first kick of the match has even been taken.
Will this have any tangible effect on the game? Probably not. But it can’t hurt either. Counter to that, I can’t think of a sensible reason why potentially placing any doubt or lack of belief in the manager or his players would do us any better.
Once the game is over, if necessary, take Klinsmann and his decisions to town. But at least try to wait for the final whistle. But if we win, try celebrating it without any conditions or but‘s or what-if‘s. Your criticisms can, in fact, wait for tomorrow.
You know you want to like supporting the national team again. It’s a good feeling, even if only temporary.
So from one fan for another, all I ask is that for just for one day, for just one game, leave the USMNT-hating to the fans of El Tri and unite and strengthen.
– DJ Switzer