Next Goal Wins star Thomas Rongen critical of US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's management

Jurgen Klinsmann USA

The former US Under-20 and American Samoa head coach believes the Tottenham Hotspur legend has created a disconnect between the staff and players.

Jurgen Klinsmann might not be the right man to lead the US national team, former US Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen has told Soccer Morning.

Klinsmann had long-been linked to the US head coaching positon prior to taking up the post in the summer of 2011, not least because of his relocation to California after retiring from the game in 1998.

There was much fanfare surrounding his appointment at the time but, despite going on to win the 2013 Gold Cup and guiding the team to the World Cup’s last-16, opinion on the former Tottenham Hotspur striker has now started to sour.

Since the summer’s tournament, the US have been outscored 11-1 in the second-half of their eight friendlies, with 10 of the 14 total goals conceded coming after the hour mark, while Klinsmann’s men have also lost six of their last 10 matches going back to the group stages in Brazil.

The German has blamed both a World Cup hangover and fitness issues in recent months for his side’s downturn in form, which is said to have caused friction in the camp, but fans and the media alike have instead pointed to his questionable squad picks and tactical mistakes as the problem.

Now Rongen, whose attempts to secure American Samoa their first win as manager in 2011 is the subject of the recently-released British documentary, Next Goal Wins, has weighed in, arguing that he’s seen no progression with the team during Klinsmann’s tenure.

“Yes, he was a great player. Yes, he was a sexy choice but, if I take a look at the 2002 team that almost went to the final four under Bruce Arena and if I look at the team now, I don’t see huge progression,” the now-Tampa Bay Rowdies head coach said.

“I see a team that lacks identity. That plays different systems. I see a lot of dual-citizen players. There are a lot of things that remain somewhat questionable.

“There’s a little bit of disconnect between players and coaches, which is never a good thing. The American coach knows the American player real well. That’s one of the reasons why Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena were successful. They know what makes US players tick.

“It’s a different animal than players who have come through Bayern Munich or Borussia Monchengladbach or Tottenham Hotspur where the landscape is so much different.

“I’m not sure if the coaching staff [Berti Vogts, Andreas Herzog and Klinsmann] really identify and understand what makes the American player tick.”

In addition, Rongen, who has had two spells as US Under-20 head coach and also managed the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny, New England Revolution, D.C. United and Chivas USA in MLS, believes there are still considerable problems with the US development programme.

I think our environment still is not great,” he added. “The development at younger ages, which is still far from perfect, is not even close to what it is in the rest of the world.”

Klinsmann was also among the bookies favourites for the Aston Villa job this winter prior to Tim Sherwood’s appointment, while he has been linked with a return to Tottenham on various occasions, including following Andre Villas-Boas’ sacking last season.

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