Fire Thomas Rongen!

Thomas Rongen should be fired. Who is he you’re asking? Let’s go there.

Saturday night I had a fun conversation with Dalton Del Don about a bunch of different topics. We went from the NBA to MMA to soccer. We now have a couple of wagers on the NBA playoffs which should be interesting. Would you take the field or the Lakers/Heat to win it all at even money? What about the Thunder vs. Denver series? Who would you want laying 2:1 for the Thunder?

Back to the conversation I had with Dalton about soccer. I told him and actually blew his mind about Freddy Adu and for a split second – wow- he didn’t believe me. We were talking about his age – guess how old he is if you went over/under 25? He’s currently playing in the second division in Turkey while Jozy Altidore is playing in the first division. Not exactly the best league for your upcoming stars to play in.

The Freddy Adu answer? He’s just able to order a drink in the U.S. - he’s 21. It’s easy to forget he got a contract at the old age of 14 and is now working his way back to relevance. Will he ever get there? U.S. soccer fans can only hope so.

I’ve played soccer ever since I could walk, so did my younger brothers. One went on to be an Atlantic-10 swimming champion while the other went on to be an All-American at SUNY Fredonia. For those that don’t know, there isn’t as huge of a difference between Division One and Division Three soccer as with football or basketball. The brother who went on to be All-American at Fredonia was inducted to their Hall of Fame last Fall. He’s much bigger than I and is now a cop. You should sleep easier tonight in Western New York.

Given the soccer background, my family and friends have always been passionate soccer fans, despite the lack of interest in the states, sans the World Cup. For those who don’t know, Thomas Rongen is the U-20 coach, which means he’s instrumental in developing our young players to become world-class stars. He’s done a horrible job in doing that, putting it bluntly.

The U.S. has some considerable upside with what they’ve done sending players overseas and finding talent. Rongen has been horrible in developing talent, which is his primary job. Let’s start with Neven Subotic. He was a Serbian-born player who found a place for Mainz, in Germany’s Bundesliga for the 2006-2007 season at age 19. Mainz was relegated to the first division after that year and Subotic anchored a solid defense that finished fourth there, just out of promotion as a 20-year-old. His coach at Mainz – Jurgen Klopp – received a better coach position for Borussia Dortmund in das Bundesliga and took Subotic with him. He (Subotic) signed a five-year deal and rewarded his new club with six goals in the 2008-2009 season.

Subotic had a choice to make as a youth; he could play internationally for the United States, Serbia or Bosnia-Herzegovina.  He initially made appearances for the US U-20 team but was left off of the U-20 roster for the 2007 World Cup for that age group. The coach? Thomas Rongen. Subotic’s quote about that is this:

“Well, Rongen certainly said some discouraging and false things about me. Never in my life have I heard that a high level coach publicly criticize a player. Professional coaches do that one-on-one with the player. I find this disappointing, because a few months later after Rongen said I was not good enough for the U-20s, I played a very good season and started getting calls from various countries [U.S. included] for the full men's team. I still don't know what he saw in the other players, and what he didn't see in me.”

Subotic decided to go with the Serbian National team and has had a fair amount of success. He is now one of the more sought at defenders in soccer, and Borussia Dortmund is currently expecting ridiculous offers from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City for his trade. Again, this is a 23-year-old who could have two more World Cups in him for the United States. Thanks, Rongen.

Fast forward to last month. The U.S. U-20 had a solid team; remember the names Conor Doyle, Juan Agudelo and Gale Agbossoumonde. The team had a win-and-in game that took on Guatemala for the right to go to the U-20 World Cup. Rongen was quoted as saying, “even our B team is going to be the best team we are going to play." What happened? Sloppy weather and a lack of luck led to the U.S. losing and not going to the U-20 World Cup. Again, Rongen was the coach and should be gone.

Juan Agudelo didn’t play in that game, since he was busy scoring a goal against Argentina in a March 26 friendly for the senior U.S. team. He had a nice conversation with Lionel Messi after the goal, letting him know that he was friends with Thierry Henry. Going back to January 23, 2010 he scored the game-tying goal against Brazil for the U-20 team. He’s 18, so please handle him with white gloves, U.S. soccer.

In the end, let Thomas Rongen go. He hasn’t helped at all. Soccer is very political in case you’re not following at the lower levels. There is a ton of talent here in the United States. It’s one of the most popular sports in America and if you’re ever bored, google Clint Dempsey and see what he’s about. Also know that no matter how bad we have of a U.S. team, we always have a ridiculous goalie. That’s kind of important. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan should be good for another World Cup; what happens in interim IDK but I'll hope for the best U.S. fans. You should too.


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