February 13, 2012

Jürgen Klinsmann Tries to Teach Football to America: Klinsmann knows that his new freedom has a lot to do with the relative unimportance of soccer in America. There are Americans who say that soccer isn't a sport for men, but for girls and pansies who don't have what it takes to play American football. In this sense, America isn't too weak for soccer; rather, soccer is too weak for America. These attitudes have helped American soccer, especially the national team, carve out a comfortable niche for itself. The team has never been under the unconditional pressure to win. "In this sense, the environment is different in the United States," says Klinsmann. "If you lose a match here, nobody cares. Then people say: 'Oh, you lost yesterday. No problem.'" (gallery).

posted by rumple to soccer at 05:08 PM - 6 comments

Didn't have soccer in schools or anywhere else when I was growing up. Looks like it would be good exercise, but it is so incredibly boring to watch.

posted by ic23b at 09:48 PM on February 13

Were you growing up in the 50's/60's in the USA? Also: "Soccer is boring" is far more dull a sentiment than the game itself.

posted by josher71 at 07:41 AM on February 14

Soccer's a terrific spectator sport once you've learned how the game is played and how scoring opportunities take shape. I got into the sport a few years ago after a bunch of soccer fans began frequenting SportsFilter, and the World Cup and Premier League in the U.K. have become two of my favorite sports.

Klinsmann thinks nobody cares? Someone should show him the YouTube video of the crowds around the country reacting to Landon Donovan's last-minute goal in the World Cup. He'll learn how much we care if he doesn't get the job done.

posted by rcade at 08:45 AM on February 14

I haven't gotten to the point of watching MLS or Premier League, but I'm looking forward to the World Cup in 2014.

posted by apoch at 09:08 AM on February 14

Didn't have soccer in schools or anywhere else when I was growing up. Looks like it would be good exercise, but it is so incredibly boring to watch.

I didn't grow up with the sport either, so I'm a casual fan, at best. However, Mexico v. USA is must-see TV. The World Cup can be fun to watch and I continually surprise myself by my interest in English Premiere League games that might be showing on regular Fox TV.

posted by NoMich at 09:38 AM on February 14

The takeaways from that piece:

1. the hypercritics of the US national team aren't on the staff of the big newspapers or on the television: they're writing on the web, on blogs and forums, or in the comments of those big media websites. That's partly, as the piece notes, because there's not a huge number of ex-pros or authoritative media voices. Even great writers like the recently-retired George Vecsey see themselves as enthusiasts first. That's more the focus of the "nobody cares", but it extends more broadly to matches outside the World Cup.

2. For Klinsmann, this gives him the chance to treat the job as a long-term project. (He's just ruled himself out of the running for the Spurs job, should Redknapp take over the England team.) Let's see if the federation is sufficiently patient.

3. He's diplomatic about it, but he clearly regards the college system as an impediment to player development, which is one reason why he's picking dual-citizens who were brought up in foreign systems, and hoping that the academy produces talent. This isn't a novel thought, but he's going to need good allies for that.

posted by etagloh at 11:01 PM on February 14

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