The United States national team got out of the “Group of Death” and nearly pulled off a round of 16 comeback against Belgium, but at the end of the day the UMSNT went home wanting more. It has led head coach Jürgen Klinsmann to do some soul-searching on what American soccer needs, and according to him its all about MLS.
Klinsmann took to Facebook just before the 4th of July holiday to voice what he thought the USMNT needed in order to make the jump to the next level of international soccer. In the post Klinsmann talks about many things, but highlights the need for better tempo and rhythm. He also made it clear he was talking about the domestic league, while not mentioning the letters “M-L-S” specifically.
Here is Klinsmann’s full post:
We get benchmarked at the World Cup and there is definitely stuff we have to improve and get better in. It’s many things off the field and many things on the field. Playing at that kind of a tempo, at that kind of a rhythm every four days – this has to become the norm. So our job as coaches is how can we make it clear that in order to get further and further we need to add the work load, we need to add the competition level, we need to make them understand what recovery time means, what their life off the field plays a role in many things you can achieve in your career.
For Klinsmann, this isn’t a new theme overall. He’s trying to reshape the culture of soccer from a career choice to a lifestyle. He’s made it clear to his players in brutal training sessions and heavy work rates that soccer players are more defined by what happens between the matches than what happens on the pitch.
It’s the work done between the games that makes the ultimate difference, and that is the thing missing at the MLS level. Well, that and the level of competition just isn’t up to the highest levels of Europe. It remains to be seen just how effective the message will be to the already established MLS bunch on the national team.
However, the message may be more for the future of the USMNT, as Klinsmann is looking to instill that level of competition, tempo and rhythm in the youth setup for the United States.
Only the USMNT’s performance at the 2018 World Cup will tell us exactly how Klinsmann’s vision is being implemented though.