So Juergen Klinsmann sat down with Sasha Victorine, and said that he had been a candidate for the USMNT job all along:
Now, I'm not calling Klinsmann a liar…although Juergen's effectively calling Sunil Gulati a liar, if that's how negotiations went.
We'll never know, because Sunil is never going to tell us. He wouldn't even admit ever talking to him, let alone what the sticking points of any alleged negotiations may or may not have been. So Klinsmann can say anything he pleases about the negotiations.
Trying to read between the lines here – did Victorine have time to follow up at all? As in, what did he mean by the technical side, and what did he mean by 100%? We don't know, and trying to guess leads to messes like this. Youth programs? MLS? Callup dates? Maybe those were issues, maybe not. There's no way for us to know.
What we do know – or what we can assume with some certainty – is that Gulati was wasting Klinsmann's time. The Klinsmann interview with Victorine should sound familiar – we heard very similar language back in 2006:
Then again, Klinsmann did go into more detail earlier this year, and it apparently
did have a lot to do with player availability.
Those seemed like stupid reasons at the time, and they haven't aged well. Bradley, crucially, won that Gold Cup (it was last year's that he bungled), and that led to the Confederations Cup which did so much for the program. Copa America…well, yeah, winning Copa America would be nice.
But since it's not a CONCACAF tournament, the USSF doesn't really have any particularly strong pull with the clubs to release their players. Just because it's Klinsmann asking, instead of Bradley, wouldn't have made any difference.
Anyhow, all this is beside the point. Gulati and Klinsmann had lengthy conversations in 2006, and presumably whatever the sticking point was in 2006 still existed in 2010. If Gulati wasn't willing to give on those points, he was wasting his time, Klinsmann's time, and Bob Bradley's time. And ours, of course, but let's face it, we choose to pay attention to this stuff.
Maybe Klinsmann will be specific again later, and it will turn out the reasons were as stupid as the ones he cited earlier this year.
While there's more to being the US coach than game day, it sort of rankles that Klinsmann used such broad language about what kind of control he wanted. If Klinsmann really wants that kind of control and influence over the American soccer establishment, let him run for president of the USSF.
If he does, I hope he loses. MLS needs to have room to grow. It needs its players. The US national team is a bigger deal, but it's MLS that's developing these players, it's MLS that's doing the grassroots marketing (well, Red Bull and the Galaxy excepted), and MLS fans should expect to see their players when they buy tickets. MLS gives enough when qualifying and the Gold Cup roll around – asking teams and fans to do without their best players for two months out of a six month season is out of line.
If Klinsmann didn't have a solution more practical than having MLS play in the winter, then Klinsmann wasn't much of a solution.
So there was no alternative to Bob Bradley. Because, mumble mumble mumble. I forgot, Klinsmann and Bob Bradley are the only two coaches in the world.
I wish now Seattle and Houston had done better, just so we could have had a proper conversation about US-based coaches evaluating US-based talent. In fact, if Jason Kreis wins another Cup for Salt Lake, you're going to have to tell me why he's not in the conversation.
Or Preki. He's available. He's motivated. He doesn't take a lot of crap. He's succeeded Bob Bradley before. And Sacha Kljestan's family hates him.
I really hope Bob Bradley does spend the next few months or years finding a proper job in the Premiership. Yeah, I think he should have been let go, but he didn't deserve this nonsense. I hope at some point he gets to tell Sunil where to get off.