First: Columbus, Ohio is THE undisputed soccer capital of the United States of America.
(What would Johan Cruyff do?)
As tributes from the Netherlands to Spain and all around the world continue for the recently deceased footballing legend Johan Cruyff, his name should be on the minds of the USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) and its fans.
When you consider the confusing insistence of Jürgen Klinsmann to use the same players who struggle to win big games against top teams (and lesser opponents), who lead squads that lack any apparent tactical purpose, how is anything going to change without making a big change at the top. Mr. Klinsmann selects his players and decides who plays and who he develops.
Too many players who should be on the pitch gaining valuable experience aren’t getting genuine opportunities to play and improve, which is ironic given Jürgen’s prowess for recruiting young, dual-citizenship talent.
The 2-nil loss at Guatemala this past Friday was shocking, but, sadly, not entirely surprising. Guatemala is not a powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination and if the 95th FIFA ranked CONCACAF foe becomes the standard for success, the USMNT is really in trouble. And this is why Cruyff should be on the minds of American coaches, players and fans tonight and in the near future.
Johan Cruyff’s style was/is world-class that looks like a high-stakes, speed-infused master level chess game. However, don’t be fooled, it takes tremendous vision, hard work and talent to execute his philosophy. Most teams can get results just playing for the win. But teams with an objective focused on carrying out a grand strategy with complex, purposeful movement and possession that can attack at will, while simultaneously simplifying the game with clarity and mesmerizing with creativity are commonly referred to as champions.
Is this how you would currently describe the USMNT?
Win or lose tonight (I predicted a win), Jürgen Klinsmann’s future should still be discussed with pressing questions going forward. My vote has been for a new coach for quite some time now. The issue isn’t just advancing in World Cup qualifying, but whether or not the USMNT product on the pitch can play against, and not just chase, the best teams in the world.
Granted, Klinsmann and Co. delivered a massive win in a massive stadium when they needed a victory. 4-nil warrants congratulations. The goals were great and the atmosphere was incredible. At Crew Stadium, the USMNT team has won 8 games, including 7 World Cup qualifiers with absolutely zero losses.
Once again, well done Columbus!
However, is keeping Klinsmann as manager worth risking another underwhelming 4-year World Cup cycle?
That’s the massive question leaving Columbus, Ohio.
P.S. Local fan favorite Ethan Finlay was clearly onside when he scored.
For Dutch soccer players and fans, the lion is the symbol on their national team jersey crest. However, most would agree Johan Cruyff is the true icon of Dutch soccer.
The Dutch footballing legend passed away today at the age of 68 in Barcelona, his adoptive city where he paved the way for the club’s sustained greatness.
“Cruyff, who made his name as a forward with Ajax and Barcelona, was European footballer of the year three times.
He won three consecutive European Cups with Ajax from 1971, coached Barcelona to their first European Cup triumph in 1992 and helped the Dutch reach the 1974 World Cup final, where they lost 2-1 to West Germany.”
Cruyff’s wisdom on the sport was equal to his talent on the pitch and sideline.
“Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”
In the soccer world, March 24, 2016 will be remembered as a very sad day. Johan Cruyff was a genuine living legend, influential as a player, coach and mentor. His innovative style of play, aptly defined as “total football,” introduced and revolutionized the theory focused on the fluidity of players on the pitch.
In other words, a central midfielder was not limited to a role in the middle and a winger was not restricted to just the outside. The position players (not the goalie) were interchangeable. When executed properly, there are few (if any) teams that can counter this approach.
“Total football” is a world-class strategy.
And world-class is the right way to describe Johan Cruyff’s legacy.
Cruyff’s tactical prowess has and continues to influence the massively successful and astronomically in-demand managerial services of Pep Guardiola (Barcelona, Bayern Munich). Plus, the academies at Ajax and Barcelona continue to instill his style and wisdom.
Speaking of style and wisdom, watch his take on the Dutch national team from back in 2008.
That’s what total knowledge of soccer looks and sounds like.