The Day After

Thursday, August 11, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

I'm struck today - after my maudlin ramble last night that was mostly down to putting fingers to keyboard at halftime and then changing course mid-stream - by the thing on which so many people are focused after the Americans managed to salvage a draw against Mexico last night in Philadelphia. It's not any perceived change in philosophy, or the play of any individual player, but the attitude of the new head coach. Jurgen, he's ebullient, and people are smitten.

After 13 combined years of ponderous reticence, Klinsmann's Richard Simmons act is like a firehose of Icy Hot to the face. All the excitement is downright infectious. The United States played 70 predominantly shitty minutes last night, inserted a few subs when Mexican legs were starting to burn, popped in a nice goal thanks to one of those subs, and left the Linc feeling pretty good. On balance, as a self contained unit, that game was terrible from an American perspective. As part of the Klinsmann narrative, it's something else, a mildly frustrating but tantalizing start to a new era.  Some of that is just the new coach effect. The rest is the bright and cheery packaging it came in.

It would take a truly hardened cynical soul not to be pulled along by Klinsmann and his exuberance. That will probably serve him well, giving him a bit more extra credit with the fans than his predecessor had on that front. Even people skeptical of Klinsmann's chops as a coach will find themselves subconsciously softening their criticism if and when its necessary. Bob got no such consideration. Bob wasn't the robot people make him out to be, but he looks like an Easter Island monument next to the fist-pumping German.

This reaction to Jurgen's attitude, willingness to chirp with the press, and general supersmile campaign has me reconsidering my belief that most of the fan base won't be able to gin up the patience to deal with Klinsmann rebooting the program. Maybe most of them will than I thought, in part because Klinsmann's gung ho attitude is totally enchanting. If Mexico had throttled the US last night it would certainly be different today, but it seems pretty clear Jurgen's personality is going to play a major role in how people view his tenure as he begins to dig his teeth into the project.

Now, I'm wondering - while so many of us sport cheesy grins and describe Klinsmann's smile as just the thing we need - if this the new coach's genuine enthusiasm might paper over cracks much further down the road. It's too early to make any judgements about anything Klinsmann has done (except for leaving Castillo in that game - seriously, Jurgen, what the flying...never mind) so forget I mentioned it for now.

It really is refreshing. I was smiling for every word of this post.


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