While I was attending the United States men's friendly against Peru at RFK Stadium last week, a funny thing occurred to me as I was waiting for the 7:36pm kickoff. It was malaise, apathy, and compared to previous USA friendlies that I have done to at RFK or elsewhere, I just wasn't in the mood for it.
Before getting to that in larger detail, I'll try and put all my cards on the table so that whatever cries of bias can be mitigated. The first is an easy one, namely the lack of a D.C. United player in the roster for the games with either Peru or Brazil. And yeah, the omission of Bill Hamid from the roster in an international window was a nuisance. But you know what? I'm sort of used to it by now, and if coach Jurgen Klinsmann wants to bring in a guy who's saved 67% of his shots in Sean Johnson (Hamid's saved 78%, by the way) or a guy who's barely getting minutes for his club team in William Yarbrough, I've grown surprisingly comfortable with it. That's what Jurgen Klinsmann does, and it goes past any basic awareness of the player pool in his domestic league. Klinsmann wanted Geoff Cameron as a center back at Stoke City but he was at right back last year for large amounts of time. Now that Cameron's at center back with club, what does Klinsmann do with country? Subs him on as a right back in the Peru game. Why not I guess.
And while we're here, whatever views he has about MLS are nothing new or surprising because if he does not say them, they can be viewed in action. But when Antonio Conte thinks a 28 year old midfielder who is an MLS MVP candidate (in Sebastian Giovinco) can be called in for Euro 2016 qualifiers and Klinsmann thinks a 30 year old midfielder who is an MLS MVP candidate in Benny Feilhaber (who had his own prior European club experience, it should be noted, for the MLS phobic) can't even be called in for friendlies, then he must have a particular kind of wisdom that makes him impervious to anything. And that's fine, because it is the type of thing we have seen for years at this point, and the act is tired. All you can do is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ any time who mentions when players don't understand soccer, or go through the thought exercise that if he had a midfielder named Mikael Brajdlei playing for Sutjeska in the Montenegrin First League, then perhaps he would cap him with more frequency and consistency than the jerk who left a spot on the bench in Europe for playing time in Canada. It's fine, really.
There were a couple of extenuating personal circumstances as well when I was at the game at RFK, the kind of stuff that people put their arms around you and ask how you're doing, because when you have family deal with loss and with fighting a vicious disease in separate situations, you want the diversion of the game. And the Peruvians in all seriousness kicked the crap out of the American fans in terms of atmosphere and noise. It was reminiscent of some of the late '90s/early '00 games at RFK during qualifiers and friendlies with CONCACAF opponents. Those folks were fun, and while things like mortality are expected to 'show you what's important in life' as athletes are fond of saying, I'm in my 40s, if I didn't know what was important in life and what my priorities should be by now, chances are I'm not going to. But you know what? It wasn't really that either, believe it or not.
At this point, I think I've just got Klinsmann fatigue. His personnel selections are going to be what they are (bizarre), he will continue to turn a blind eye to a League in his backyard that surprisingly, might have a player or two that could serve more benefit to the U.S. team than detriment. He will continue to say things that will draw the gnashing of hundreds of teeth. And things will continue to be the same, or at least maybe a hair or two better than Bob Bradley. But it is kind of funny to look back at the 2010 World Cup and Klinsmann's remarks, when scores broke their necks from nodding in agreement isn't it?
What's exactly changed since then? I mean, more players have been growing up and into the fold, a portion of them have found success in MLS' Academy system whether Klinsmann wants to admit it or not. Hamid, Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo, Andy Najar and Ashtone Morgan (to name a few) are amongst homegrowners who have appeared for their National teams. The pieces were starting to be put in place before Jurgen came aboard, they are reaping more dividends now and will continue to do so after he leaves. This, by the way, is something to remember, the next time a snake oil salesman even tries to associate Klinsmann with the successes of Joachim Low and the Germany national team. But you know that Klinsmann will claim credit for it. Like that two and a half minutes above, his Dianetics if you will, Klinsmann is a politician, a cult leader, a politician and most everything he does in front of a microphone has Jurgen Klinsmann in mind to a degree.
This is a guy, after all, whose initial introduction to many fans was almost to portray himself as this predetermined heir for American soccer notability (we can all agree that greatness was getting a little ahead of ourselves), the cure for their ills. Since then, he has tried silly psychological tactics for "earning your name" on a US shirt, tells players who never partnered in defense before that they would be doing so the morning of a qualifying match held as many as three practices a day for a month before a World Cup in the Amazon, his son should have logged off Twitter after said World Cup roster was announced, and this is the stuff I could easily remember. Short of locking the players up in a double wide and play musical chairs to Bohemian Rhapsody, he's failing at the basic stuff before you even get to the discussion about buying in.
But you know something? I'm not irked by it. Jurgen's got a multiyear deal, so he'll presumably get paid whether he leaves or not, whether we like it or not. I've moved on past it, it's a tired act, and I say with certainty that I am not the only one that shares this sentiment. At this point I and others I know are just in it for the yucks, the Jurgenfreude, if you will.
The only remotely frightening part in all this is I wonder if anyone in the locker room (or who's played a game under this clown) shares the same feelings that I do.