Klinsmann Out, Arena back in-Does it Matter?

cak5Bruce Arena is the safe choice. He’s got the international level experience, He knows the player pool and, he will probably get the US National Team to Russia in 2018. He can beat the impoverished Central American and Caribbean nations and he won’t play bizarre formations against Mexico and Costa Rica.

However there are lots of challenges with the national team program. First and foremost, the players aren’t very good. Most come from MLS, a less than respectable league. Arena wants his players in a year-round soccer environment playing more intense games to help them mentally as well as soccer-wise.  

Why not do what Australia did so successfully in 2006? The Australian Soccer Federation hired a Dutch coach, Guus Hiddink and let him live in Europe, which amounted to a pretty strong hint where the players should go. He helped place them on clubs using his connections. He held training camps there. He played friendlies there. The Australian team nearly knocked off Italy, the eventual champion in the second round.

The biggest issue of course is what’s supplying the players.  The youth development system in America seems to re-invent itself every few years. It’s different in Europe where player development becomes a source of revenue with regulations that send a percentage of professional fees to the youth clubs that cultivated that player. How many world-class soccer players has the US, population 325 million, with soccer fields everywhere, youth clubs everywhere, weekend tournaments everywhere every produced? The answer is none.

Soccer is not a glamour sport in the US like football, basketball and baseball so it’s no surprise our best athletes don’t choose soccer. If soccer was a men’s glamour sport in the US we would dominate. In women’s sports soccer is a glamour sport and the reason why the US women’s national team is a perennial world champion.

I believe an American team should be coached by an American. I also believe that the people who run our governing bodies need not copy what everyone else does; our solutions will come from our American culture like it always has. 

Paul Dobbs


November 28, 2016