Saturday, March 26, 2016

Klinsmann, the BMW and the Bug

My first car, back in my college days, was a 1974 Volkswagon Bug. It had a funky black and gold paint job, a weird anti-theft system where it wouldn't start unless the fan button was pushed in, no radio, a balky clutch, no air conditioning and and a tendency to shake violently at speeds over 50 mph. 

I loved that car. It ran fine on the cheapest gas. I could push the side swivel windows to get a nice breeze on my face on a hot day. I never got a speeding ticket in that car. I would draft behind trucks on the freeway to minimize the shaking. The front space under the hood had plenty of storage. Parts were pretty inexpensive and some simple repairs and oil changes I learned how to do myself. 

My friends loved it because no one felt bad about getting beach sand in my car, a cooler would fit under the back seat, and they could hear/spot my vehicle coming from a considerable distance. They dubbed it MGD.

Mine looked like this, except with a black hood, and not quite as pristine.

Anyway, not all my friends at this time were broke artists. One had just finished medical school and celebrated by purchasing a beautiful BMW. Determined to keep it looking/running perfectly, he opted out of beach and camping trips, bought only the most expensive gas and got it washed and detailed regularly. 

He trusted me to drive it and I got my first speeding ticket in that car, partly because it traveled so smoothly I didn't feel I was going fast at all. 

On the other hand, he couldn't drive my car without getting incredibly frustrated. He'd forget how to start it, couldn't get a good feel for the clutch and would stall often, would panic when the shaking started, and broke the swivel mechanism on the driver's window trying to adjust it. 

But this was all the car's fault, always. "How can you drive such a piece of crap?" was his constant question. 

I'd just shrug. My car worked for me, I knew how to work with it, it got me places and it was mine. 

"Let's go in Andrea's car," my buddy Rachel said when we were planning a road trip up the coast with friends. "If we go in the doctor's BMW, he won't let us eat in the car or pull off the road for anything interesting." 

Anyway, that's my analogy for the USMNT. Clearly, the team is more like my Bug, and my argument has never been that the players are so good that they deserve a better coach than Klinsmann. It's more that because the team isn't that good, they need a better (more versatile, more inspirational, more creative, more tactical) coach. 

Me and the MGD, back in the day. 

Klinsmann is like the BMW-driving doctor, wondering why he can't coach the USA like he did Germany, refusing to adjust his approach and blaming the players every time things don't work, even when he makes a huge mistake (LD, the broken window swivel). 

I used to be pretty generous with my car. If someone needed to borrow the MGD for any reason, my only condition was that they know how to drive a stick shift. But after I fixed the window swivel, I barred the doctor from driving my car ever again. I realized I had to look out for what was mine, and if he wasn't going to be careful with it, I had to draw that line. 

He acted like it was no great loss, of course. Who would want to drive that piece of crap USMNT?