A measly 4 plus years ago a group of US soccer fans from Lincoln, Nebraska attended a friendly between international powerhouse Brazil and the United States. That crew would eventually expand and morph into the hardcore group of American soccer supporters who proudly rock the American flag bandanna at all US Men's National Team games, known as the American Outlaws.
The American Outlaws have filled the void that the United States has lacked over the years, a righteous 12th man that pours its heart and soul into every match. Nobody could have known how quickly this organization would grow, as they already have over 70 local chapters and counting. The American Outlaws have revolutionized the way this nation cheers for its soccer team, and US Futblog had the honor of interviewing its founding fathers, Korey Donahoo and Justin Brunken. Enjoy...
ESPN analyst and former US international Alexi Lalas shared his thoughts on Jurgen Klinsmann, the Olympics, the new MLS designated player rule, Brek Shea, and much more with US Futblog. Here are some audio clips (9) from our conversation....
On what Klinsmann will ultimately be judge on:
Alexi really put it all in perspective there with his three points. For me, the most important is the cultivation of a soccer culture and creating a youth structure because most likely Jurgen will not be the coach when the ultimate goal of a World Cup is achieved. Jurgen will be remembered as the coach that turned the corner for the U.S. and helped them reach the next level that enables the Yanks to compete with teams of the highest caliber.
On Klinsmann's philosophy/system:
Clearly Klinsmann is still in his experimental period, but I agree that eventually the formation will be one that is more attacking in nature. The U.S. clearly has the talent to play the 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 but like Alexi made clear, “Jurgen needs to find a couple guys (forwards) that he has confidence in” before anything can happen. In order for either of these two formations to work it is imperative that Klinsmann finds a striker who is comfortable playing the lone front man position. As we all know, this has been a difficult task, but Altidore and Agudelo are very young and there is still time for them to grow into this system. Those two will certainly not be the only ones considered for the spot, but for me, they are the two forwards that have the best opportunity to claim that spot as their own.
On Klismann's assistant coaches:
I’ll cut straight to the point with this one and give my “short-list” of coaches that I would like to see. I would definitely like Sigi Schmid and Martin Vasquez to be on the squad, Sigi due to his great knowledge of the game in general, but his obvious familiarity with the MLS player makes him an asset to any American staff. Vasquez also contains a great knowledge of the current crop of MLS players but he also brings that Mexican-American perspective, which I believe is key going forward due to the recent influx of Mexican-Americans to the national team pool.
My next two selections may be a little bit “out there” per say but they each bring a little something extra to the table. Jurgen has talked about having someone across the pond to overlook the players who ply their trade in Europe. The first name that comes to mind for me is current AZ Alkmaar Technical Director, Earnie Stewart. One thing Earnie has going for him is that he is a former U.S. International, who has played on the biggest of stages. Most importantly is the fact that Earnie currently oversees one of the Yanks most promising players in Jozy Altidore. The relationship that he builds with Jozy over the next few years could be crucial to the success of the national team.
My last selection may be a bit of head scratcher, especially at this point in his career but...... Click the Read More button for more Lalas audio clips and US Futblog analysis
Sports Illustrated writer Steve Davis talked with US Futblog to give his state of the union address for US Soccer and to share his thoughts on Freddy Adu, Charlie Davies, and much more...
*US Futblog's comments were made independent of the Steve Davis interview
After Mexico stomped out the US in the Gold Cup final one would conclude that Mexico is younger, more skilled, and overall a team more equipped to compete against the World Powers in international competition. Do you agree with this statement?
Steve Davis: Yes, but let’s not make it more than what it is. These things are cyclical. The United States had Mexico’s number through the last decade, from roughly 2001 on. Back then, nobody was saying that U.S. developmental methods were superior. We pretty much knew better. So, we shouldn’t believe now, as I think some people are suggesting, that current Mexican developmental methods are necessarily superior. They may be … and they may not be. I’m just saying that a generation of young, exciting players comes along every once in a while. It’s Mexico’s turn right now.
US Futblog: I agree with Steve, it's definitely Mexico's time right now. No manager wants to see Dos Santos, Chicharito, and Pablo Barrera running at their defense in any national team competition. It's just scary to think that these players are so young- 22, 23, and 24 respectively. In any event I believe it's Mexico's stronger domestic league with superior youth programs that have advanced their National Team to "Top 10" status. The MLS isn't far behind in quality though and with the new emphasis on home-grown talent, the Yanks are closer than one would think.
Do you believe that the US is in a transition period in which young talent must step up, as Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey reach their 30s?
Steve Davis: Yes, pretty much same answer as above. Some of it is down to luck. For instance, we might feel a lot better about a new generation of American youngsters climbing the next level if Stuart Holden didn’t have all his injury misfortune.
US Futblog: The Yanks are definitely in transition mode with Donovan, Dempsey, Cherundolo, Bocanegra, and even Tim Howard either hovering around 30 years of age or beyond it. However, Donovan, Dempsey, and Timmy still have one more cycle left in those experienced legs, which gives the US ample time to transition smoothly. Like Steve said, you still have a man like Stu Holden to come into the center of the pitch and join Michael Bradley, who seems like he's been with the national team forever, but he's only 24-years-old. Also, I think that the young talent is coming....Timothy Chandler and Juan Agudelo are 2 great examples of this. Plus, you can't forget about the real young guys like Pelosi and Guido, who already are making an impression on strong European teams.