The Klinsmann Legacy

Written by Will Parchman

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Regime shift is never a bucolic landscape of plush rolling greens and pastoral Bob Ross barnyards. It is, even in the best of times, a violent mashup of seemingly incongruous colors. It is a Turner painting, the man lashed to the mast as the snow and waves whip at his collar.

It is especially difficult when the transfer of power comes upon you suddenly. It has been a strange, uncomfortable thing to watch Obama slowly begin to vacate the levers of power for Trump’s administration, but the process itself is as normal as gravity. But when someone is fired, as Jurgen Klinsmann was late in 2016? Stability is an inherently foreign concept.

Klinsmann spent five full years operating as perhaps the most vocal agent of change in U.S. Soccer history. He was the spiritual kin of Teddy Roosevelt, all hot-blooded vigor and progressive change and public laments on the State of Things. In his sprawling, multi-thousand word introductory press conference in 2011, he bounced from youth national team playing style (he would like to better define it) to USMNT playing style (he would like it to “reflect the culture” and be more proactive), to the college game (he would like it to be more technical), to comfort zones (he would like to shove them out of an airlock in a space vacuum). In hindsight it was a meandering, rambling mess.

Klinsmann was, in truth, a Lamenter-In-Chief, a man so dissatisfied with the state of American soccer that he spent much of his time pushing back against it in lieu of the sweeping change so many were led to expect. Whether or not he had the ability to change any of the institutions he’d identified (or if he even tried – he never touched or attempted to touch college soccer, for instance), he complained vociferously and often. His idealism ground to powder, he was forced off his captain’s chair with nary a whimper.

This was the disconnect, the break between Klinsmann and the real world that led so many fans (and journalists) to abandon him. It wasn’t that he was terrible as a manager. His teams weren’t awful, more often than not, and his winning percentage remained defiantly high to the end. But his teams failed to assert almost any of the principles of style, proactivity and discernible youth progress that he seemed to trumpet upon his arrival. He was the reform candidate, and at least in his primary duty as a coach, there seemed to be precious little reform.

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Written by Will Parchman

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In the end, it was the vague grandiosity that got him.

Jurgen Klinsmann of course is no longer the USMNT coach, fired in place as he attempted feverishly to dig himself out of the hole he created. In doing so, he obliquely took a swipe at a vocal subsection of the American populace that would see him gone (which was the vast majority by the time Costa Rica’s 4-0 demolition was done), mentioning that they perhaps don’t “understand” the game.

Klinsmann will now take those thoughts into unemployment, however brief that time is, to be replaced until the end of the 2018 cycle (and unlikely beyond it) by Bruce Arena.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Earlier this year, a Jurgen Klinsmann biography called Soccer Without Borders was excreted into this atmosphere. Co-written by Klinsmann (or at least “with help,” whatever that means) and a man named Erik Kirschbaum, the book was ostensibly a pro-Klinsmann propaganda piece. He called the U.S. performance in Brazil “stylish,” quoted Klinsmann deriding the counter-break style that won the U.S. its biggest World Cup and Confed Cup games (“you can maybe win one game in 10,” which, no), justified Landon Donovan’s 2014 World Cup exclusion. So it went.

Anyway, it was Klinsmann as Klinsmann wanted to be known. It was him, but sheared free of all the inconvenient bits, his flaws ground down to the nub and presented only as a way to frame his perfections. Of which there are many, you must know.

Klinsmann’s job status ignited a firestorm of controversy after the U.S. tanked against Costa Rica and fell into the cellar of the Hex after two games. ESPN, Fox, Vice, Sports Illustrated, NBC, everyone (even your humble author) ran articles explaining how and why Klinsmann’s time was up. Sunil Gulati simply hasn’t done anything about it (that may change?). Oh and yes, they’ll qualify because CONCACAF has perhaps the most forgiving qualification format on the planet, not because the U.S. will engineer some stirring turnaround worthy of wider job security.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Patrick Rothfuss’s second book of the fantasy series Kingkiller Chronicle, Wise Man’s Fear, takes its name from the following premise. It appears several times in the book, each time foreshadowing something to come.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Pearl Jam’s heyday, a fitful burst of energy from 1991-1994, was defined by a growling, unhinged Eddie Vedder, crunching guitar licks and a not-so-vague sense of melancholy. However you look at Pearl Jam now, they are forever defined by Ten, their first and most commercially successful album housing cover band classics like Evenflow, Alive and Jeremy.

The record follows them everywhere. Even now as a 51-year-old Vedder outruns those headbanger days with searing political commentary tunes like Bushleaguer and swills wine while crooning over acoustic guitars, he is trailed and even hounded by Ten’s shadow.

I would argue, and perhaps there are others like me in small numbers, Pearl Jam’s true golden era occurred between 1996-2000. In that span the band released more thoughtful, intricate albums like No Code, Yield and Binaural. All three (especially Yield), dominate the previous Ten-Yield-Vitalogy run, but it doesn’t much matter what I think. Pearl Jam, in large measure, is Ten. And it will always be Ten.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The moment certain things happen, and those certain things are bad things, you feel them. A leg break, a poorly taken test, a car wreck. It’s like the weight of them rushes on you all at once and there isn’t time to line the moment with silver. It’s bad. There are no shades of anything else.

That’s mostly how it felt when Darlington Nagbe said no to a Jurgen Klinsmann call-up for a pair of national team friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand earlier this month. According to the initial Taylor Twellman report on Twitter, Nagbe walked away from the table over “family reasons.” Grant Wahl reported today it goes a bit deeper than that.

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Is the USMNT turning a corner?

Written by Will Parchman

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If the moment is lost to the crackled, yellowing pages of lore, it would be no great surprise. There is little national fanfare about a single blow in a rout, a raindrop in a sea as the flood fell.

There were already three goals on the board by the time the movement pushed deep into Trinidad & Tobago territory, and the Soca Warriors were broken by the American onslaught after half. A flurry of rabbit punches to the solar plexus. So in the 71st minute, by the time the stretched T&T defense pulled back into its own third, its nose was already trickling blood.

The whole thing started simply enough, Sacha Kljestan finding Jozy Altidore flayed to the left with a free patch of grass just outside the box. But the needlework was intricate, Altidore one-touching a pass in for the implacable Christian Pulisic, whose shot caromed off the keeper, whose rebound fell to Paul Arriola, whose clean-up job found the back of the net.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The more Joachim Löw pored over his options, the more his problems danced like demons on the periphery.

The German camp at the 2012 Euros had been more fractious than most knew, a giant rift pulling the Dortmund and Bayern players apart at the seams. Germany suffered for it in the end, winning three quiet one-goal games in the group phase, dispatching Greece in the quarters and then bowing out to Italy in the semifinals.

In the two years between 2012 and the World Cup, Löw operated like a coach-cum-armchair psychologist. He pulled in players as mediators between the fire of the two warring Bundesliga factions, and by the time 2014 rolled around he was still unsure of his purchase. German soccer is not without its egos, and Löw was tasked with juggling the most fragile of them all at once.

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Written by Will Parchman

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As early as March 2014, we’d known Julian Green was going to be on the plane to Brazil for the World Cup. We didn’t know know, but there is the type of knowing that involves late night D&D sessions and conspiracies in the woods that involve a fugitive lab experiments but you just know something’s happening in the Upside Down.

Julian Green’s impending selection to the World Cup was something like that. We were all the sheriff and we all knew it was falling into place in front of everything else.

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Written by Will Parchman

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I first met Oscar Pareja in 2013, during his final rickety carousel ride of a season with the Colorado Rapids. His project in Colorado had never really gotten off the ground for a variety of reasons, many of them systemic, but Pareja was buoyant still.

The Rapids had just beaten the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 to cap a nine-match unbeaten streak that preceded a sharp decline at the end of the season. But in the interim they were surprisingly good, too good really for the talent available at Pareja’s disposal. And in their 2-0 win Deshorn Brown, a young 22-year-old forward Pareja helped establish, scored the ultimate winner.

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