On Monday news broke that Jurgen Klinsmann had been fired from his post as USMNT coach. This news wasn’t surprising given the recent results that the USMNT have suffered and Klinsmann’s increasingly touchy press appearances. It is disappointing though, considering that there have been some obvious strides made in making U.S. soccer a respectable presence on the international stage. In the ten years that I’ve considered myself an invested soccer fan there have been some quality moments like beating Spain in the Confederation Cup (2009), beating Mexico in Mexico City for the first time (2012), or my personal favorite: the Landon Donovan goal against Algeria to advance past group stage in the 2010 World Cup. When Klinsmann took over in 2011 it felt like the US was poised to take the next step. In the 2014 World Cup the U.S. played well and were a Wondo missed chip shot away from advancing to the quarterfinals. There has been some other moderate successes in international play, but that next step never really came.
In the last month they’ve lost to Mexico and Costa Rica (whom they beat 4-0 earlier this summer) and the wheels look like they’ve come off a bit so Klinsmann was understandably let go. The best part of any coach getting fired is the ensuing coaching search. Though Bruce Arena has been tapped to return to his old post, there are some other coaches which should get a look from U.S. Soccer. Here are five coaches (not necessarily soccer coaches, but a little unconventional approach can be good) who have proven their ability to take teams from below average to championship caliber:
Sport: Little League Football
O’Shea was always in the shadow of his brother, football star Kevin. Danny decided to challenge Kevin’s supremacy as a little league football coach after Kevin refused to let Danny’s daughter Becky “The Icebox” O’Shea on the team despite her obvious talent. Coaching a team of underwhelming misfits, O’Shea was able to inspire and motivate his Little Giants to the biggest upset in little league football history. With O’Shea’s ability to motivate and willingness to try unorthodox methods (Annexation of Puerto Rico, anyone?) he could certainly be just what the USMNT needs right now to take the world by storm.
Tom Palmer/Anne Montgomery
Sport: Little League Soccer
Sheriff Tom and Miss Anne are responsible for one of the biggest turnarounds in soccer history. They successfully transformed the struggling Big Green from the laughingstock of Elma, TX into a championship team. This coaching duo succeeds through Miss Anne’s knowledge of the sport (from growing up in England) and Sheriff Tom’s ability to scout local talent (Juan). This foundation of strategy and scouting is just what the USMNT needs to continue to grow as a soccer program.
Sport: Dodge Ball
Patches is a wily veteran whose advice would surely impact the USMNT. The seven-time ADAA All-Star’s gruff coaching style serves as motivation not only to succeed but also to stay alive. Patches only wants winners on his team so he would naturally find the bigger, stronger players and put them through an intense training regimen to churn out ruthless killers on the soccer pitch. After all, like dodge ball, soccer is a game of violence, exclusion, and degradation. The turnaround Patches created with Average Joe’s is nothing short of amazing and with actual professional soccer players the potential would be unlimited.
George Knox/ Al the Boss Angel
Sport: Major League Baseball
Somewhere out in the country a little kid is asking his dad when they will be a family again. If the guy is a deadbeat who has no interest in their kids then they’ll likely respond with “When the USMNT wins the World Cup”. Every once in a while, though, miracles do come true. For the USMNT to get their miracle they need to hire George Knox and the band of angels led by Al. There isn’t any exceptional coaching or talent required with this combo. In fact, it’s blatantly cheating to use angels to compensate for lack of skill and talent. For one magical World Cup though, it’d be nice to see a ball defy the laws of physics and go into a goal because an angel was carrying it or to see an opposing penalty kicker completely whiff on the ball because an angel moved it out of the way. Then, after the USMNT wins, that previously mentioned kid will still be spurned by their father but end up with a better family anyway.
Sport: Little League Hockey
Perhaps nobody is better fit to coach the USMNT than Mighty Ducks’ coach Gordon Bombay. Sure he has a background in hockey, but hockey is just a faster paced soccer except it’s on ice and has fewer people and a smaller playing area. Still, there’s a goalie and games are typically low-scoring so it’s close enough. Bombay has a history of turning around underachieving teams on both the domestic and international levels. He can obviously discover talent, as evidenced by his discovery of the Bash Brothers and Russ Tyler (of knucklepuck fame). He also is a stickler for finding rules that benefit his teams, like when he learned that the “cake-eater” Adam Banks should be playing for his team instead of the cross-town rivals. This ability to find advantages when there seemingly are none is another strategic advantage to having Bombay. Above everything else though is that Bombay instills a strong team unity in his teams. Despite the egos and clashing personalities, at the end of the day “Ducks fly together” and that’s what the USMNT needs.