clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Questions and Answers: Jurgen Klinsmann, defining Dynamo soccer, and Pittsburgh Riverhounds

This week's Dynamo Theory Questions & Answers focuses on Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the US Men's National Team, an attempt at defining what exactly is Houston 'Dynamo' soccer, and a couple of questions about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Dom Kinnear. Coaches seem to be the hot topic these days.
Dom Kinnear. Coaches seem to be the hot topic these days.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The perfect storm has finally reared its ugly head. On the one hand, you have a coach with credentials well beyond any we've had before and with a strong will. On the other, you have players US Soccer fans have come to idolize to the point where they can simply do no wrong. Eventually, these two sides of the equation were going the clash no matter if it was World Cup 2014 or World Cup 2018.

Jurgen Klinsmann's choice to leave Landon Donovan off the US Men's National Team 23-man 2014 FIFA World Cup roster for Brazil is seen by many to be personal, and while I think some of that plays into it I don't think Jurgen is really that dense or stupid. Landon's been on the decline, as most players his age usually do. Some want to point to a need for leadership, but how is leadership borne? By fighting through adversity, and there is no bigger adversity than the Group of Death at the 2014 World Cup.

I really wish fans of the US would take a step back and examine the reality of the situation with their brains and not their hearts. While I am saddened Donovan won't be at this World Cup, it is a sign this team has moved onto something different. This isn't his team anymore, and that's the reality. Further, what has Klinsmann done thus far to warrant us questioning his decisions?

Klinsmann signed a 3-year extension prior to the World Cup draw, so no matter the outcome of this World Cup he isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The question is technically irrelevant, but even more so it is pointless. It is akin to Houston Dynamo fans calling for Head Coach Dominic Kinnear's head after losing in the MLS Cup and starting off the next season horrendously. Yeah, it happened and yes the right decision was made to keep him.

On the positive side, at least we know there is an extremely passionate base of US Soccer fans lurking about.

In order to really answer this question I think we first need to understand what constitutes 'Dynamo' soccer. During the Houston Dynamo's most dominant runs through Major League Soccer the team played in a consistent 4-4-2 wide diamond formation. The team employed Brian Ching up top along with one other forward, although for a short stretch we also ran out Nate Jaqua alongside Joseph Ngwenya.

The type of soccer saw smaller, quicker outside backs; primarily Wade Barrett and Craig Waibel. It also saw heavy use of the flanks along with a sophisticated control of the play through the midfield. Opposing teams tended to try to play through their midfield, knowing the center backs Eddie Robinson and Ryan Cochrane were prone to snuff out attacks before they developed.

Essentially, the team was built in a way which allowed for prolonged possession, creative attack through either Stuart Holden or Dwayne DeRosario, and balls over the top to either Ching or his paired forward. What is interesting is this current version of the Houston Dynamo is not built this way at all, and it is all due to the change in how the rest of Major League Soccer plays.

Whereas the flanks were the strongest point of attack in 'Dynamo' soccer, they are now a luxury more than a definitive requirement. The majority of our attacks may start out wide, but outside backs in MLS are much better than they were 4-5 years ago. We now have to rely on attacking from the middle as well, otherwise teams will cheat outside.

Therein lies our problem. We have capable play in the middle in Giles Barnes and Ricardo Clark, but up until recently due to our lack of a partner forward for Will Bruin we've been forced to play Barnes as a forward. If Will Bruin was Brian Ching, then it would be different and I think Barnes would be fine up there. But too much pressure is placed on Barnes to not only maintain possession, but to find the ball because he simply can't expect it to come from the middle otherwise.

I say all of this to say as we know it to be 'Dynamo' soccer is dead. It has as much to do with the improvement of quality of play of other MLS sides as it does the personnel brought in and available to Dom. It was bound to happen.

We have yet to field a consistent Starting XI. Even when we had Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia, someone else was usually out. And then we found our golden child up top in Mark Sherrod, and now he's out for who knows how long with the knee injury (no updates or word yet). Whether injuries, suspensions or national team call-ups, the Houston Dynamo just can't seem to get their ideal starting XI on the field at the same time.

While your question was most likely posed in jest, it bears an interesting thought to mind. While Head Coaching duties in MLS and USL-Pro are too much to combine, it wouldn't be out of the question to think it could be possible for Dom to coach both clubs. Consider what Eric Wynalda's Atlanta Silverbacks side has opted to do by bringing him in with the understanding he would coach through Skype for the majority of their matches.

As insane as that sounds to me, it leaves the possibility it could happen, however slight it may be. With that said, it isn't even remotely on Dom's radar, but what may be on his mind is having either Steve Ralston or Wade Barrett head over to coach the Riverhounds in an effort to better coordinate player movement and training between the clubs.

I doubt Riverhounds fans would take too kindly to such an option, but winning cures what ails you. The Houston Dynamo brand of soccer would work wonderfully in USL-Pro, but it would require someone with the understanding in the system to implement it. That would be Wade Barrett. We'll have to wait and see.

Most fans know by now the Houston Dynamo want to field a USL-Pro side of their own much like the LA Galaxy have the LA Galaxy II. It comes down to having total control over the players, their training and the experience they get while loaned out. If everything stays in house, that is one less system the player has to adapt to.

Thus far, as Chris Esposito explained in his post last week, the Houston Dynamo - Pittsburgh Riverhounds partnership has been less than satisfactory for both sides, and ultimately culminated in the dismissal of Riverhounds head coach Justin Evans.

Ultimately, I think the Dynamo and Riverhounds would be best served with a second year of the USL-Pro affiliation, but only if Wade Barrett or Steve Ralston wouldn't mind a year down their to prepare the loaned players in a way which would fit the style and system of Houston Dynamo. I'm also of the opinion, that style would be brutally effective in USL-Pro, but I digress. I think a Houston Dynamo Reserves side in USL-Pro is probably another full season out, so we're talking 2016 at the earliest. And see about about coaching.

Remember to send your questions in for next week's Dynamo Theory Q&A. You can post them in the comments, tweet them @dynamotheory using the #DTQA hashtag, or email them to dtblogstaff at gmail dot com.

Oh, and as always, feel free to post your own responses below.