Questioning the USMNT’s Motivation

Klinsmann’s personnel choices on and off the field are less than inspiring
by Jeff Maurer   |   Friday, September 14, 2012

Donnie Moore - motivational speaker for USMNT

If you haven’t yet reached the point where you’re questioning Jurgen Klinsmann’s judgment, than watch this clip and get back to me.

This is the man Klinsmann brought in to fire up the team before Friday’s match against Jamaica. His name is Donnie Moore, motivational speaker and love child of Tony Robbins and Joey Buttafuoco. His speech to the team involved wearing a track suit, emphasizing the importance of self-confidence, tearing a phone book in half, and rolling up a frying pan “like a burrito” (except that he didn’t - you need to fold the corners or the rice will fall out). Jesus was also in there somewhere. He did not, it seems, discuss when a wall should and should not jump on a free kick.

I can’t blame the players for being more than a little confused when they took the field against Jamaica. “In this situation, am I the frying pan or the burrito?”, they were surely thinking. “Who is the phone book? What did Jesus have to do with anything? Didn’t that guy’s fireplug-like build contribute to his feats of strength more than his positive attitude? And why was he dressed like Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos?” And while they were thinking all that, a free kick went through the wall for the equalizer.

Klinsmann doesn’t need Matt Foley’s born-again half brother to inspire the USMNT to victory; he needs better personnel choices. All joking aside, I am completely behind Klinsmann’s efforts to promote a positive, attacking mentality. If he can bring joyous, fun, free-flowing soccer to a country that views KMFDM as sugary pop music, then he can bring it to the US. But he needs to choose the right players.

Some of Klinsmann’s personnel decisions baffle me. Why were Jones, Edu, and Beckerman all starting on Friday, two of them in unfamiliar wide positions? If Bocanegra not playing at a high level is a problem, then why is Edu and Gomez barely playing at all not a problem? Why can’t Chris Pontius get a call up? Why did it take so long to phase out Michael Orozco-Fiscal? How many chances is Jose Torres going to get? These questions are all more difficult to answer than “how do you rip a phonebook in half?” (you pinch it a little and then tear along the crease).

The 1-0 win against Jamaica on Tuesday was encouraging. Maybe Klinsmann brought in someone different to motivate the team, perhaps an Orthodox Jewish juggler who could explain how life is like keeping six bowling pins in the air and that deep down we are all Maccabees.

Whatever he did, it worked. But in the future, I hope our fortunes turn less on getting a message into the head of guys who should be fringe players and more on getting the ball onto the feet of our best eleven.


Georgetown Univ.
Club Domestic:
DC United
Club Foreign:
A comedian and avid fan who blogs about DC United for The Washington Post. He was a semifinalist on season 7 of Last Comic Standing and performs nationwide. A decent passer with a good strike from distance, but is glacially slow and has no left foot.