USMNT Coach Talk: Please Please Please Give Us Marcelo Bielsa

July 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

Match Fit USA has a killer post up about Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT. Go read it.

If I may, here’s what I gather as the main points of it:

  • Klinsmann please, but not quite yet. Klinsmann would be a great architect, provide top-down control, and generally create an efficient national system. He would want to do all of this, but…
  • US Soccer isn’t quite at a place to devise a technically proficient team. We’re on a cusp of having a steady 70 or so players in the top leagues of Europe and their concomitant training and abilities.
  • Klinsmann is relatively young and loves America. He undoubtedly is and does both of these. So we got time.

All in all, pretty sound in my book. So consider me on Team Klinsmann Starts in 2014. But that does leave us asking “Who takes the team for right now?”

There is only one choice here, fellows: Marcelo Bielsa.

Don’t know him? Hopefully not for much longer. He coached Argentina in 2002 and Chile this year. Zonal Marking, who I bow to in all expertise situations, has called the Argentinian tactically obsessive, an “innovator”, and rated him the 3rd best coach performance in South Africa.

Here’s what I know from watching a lot of the South American World Cup qualifying (no, I don’t have a life, thanks for asking):

He’s relentlessly attacking. As ZM points out, look in this clip at just how many Chileans end up about 18 yards from the end line. Hunker back and counterattack this ain’t.

I get all flustery just watching them move forward. Incidentally, it’s not a fluke- Bielsa is an old school Argentinian coach loves the 3-defender back line and 3-attacker front line. At about 2:35 into this one, peep the Chilean goal from this World Cup against Honduras:

Again, 6 or 7 players up in or around the box. Awesomesauce.

He’s relentlessly crazy. From When Saturday Comes:

One recurrent story in the Chilean press is that he has chosen to live by himself in a few rooms at an FA training ground instead of renting a house, while his family live in Argentina. The Chilean FA pays US$1.5 million a year to cover the salaries of his coaching team and himself, a huge amount by Chilean standards. Yet Bielsa only picked up his pay for the first time in June 2009. In the meantime, he lived off bonuses paid for points won. Other quirks catch the eye: Bielsa visits a zoo in search of inspiration for coaching ideas, he refuses to own a car, and is more than willing to stop and chat with kids on the street but won’t give interviews to the press (although he does conduct long press conferences).

So much to love right there.

He’d be a good fit here in America and I’m pretty sure he knows it. There’s really no mention of Bielsa coming here yet (hell, we haven’t even released Bradley, which, I mean, is really nice of us I guess), but there’s a mention by Max Zeger suggesting he wants a quiet place to work. This is understandable because, for those of you who don’t know and have healthy lives, Chilean soccer fans are some of the most batshit insane fans in the world.

That’s for a club team, people. *Massive hat tip to you, Chile. Bravissimo and keep showing us the way*

There’s some concern that, as US Soccer Daily put it, we don’t have the personnel for such aggressive styles, but I’m going to beg to differ. Firstly, let’s not forget the critique of Chile was that they didn’t have the personnel to hack it in South America. Second of all, Bielsa, while obsessive and crazy and nerdy, knows his personnel and would craft a formation that kept with the attacking-first mindset. We hire him and he’ll have 1,000 MLS tapes in his possession within 2 days and he’ll have watched them within a month. Finally, I can already see the 3-3-1-3 being a good place to start, put Michael Bradley center mid to be a defensive captain and Donovan at the 1 spot to create the attack. All I’m saying is it’s not preposterous.

So while we have little idea what Sunil Gulati will do, let’s try to keep some of these South American style coaches in the mix rather than simply go after a well-known to ESPN name.


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