The United States Soccer Federation made the right move when they announced the signing of Jurgen Klinsmann as head coach of the men’s national team. After Mexico embarrassed the national team in the 4-2 loss at the Gold Cup, a change was needed. No other coach in the history of United States soccer has the playing or coaching resume that Klinsmann brings to the table. Klinsmann was in the mix for the head-coaching job 5 years ago when Bob Bradley was tabbed to run the program. Now Klinsmann will take over a program that needs an influx of passion and organization.
It was not surprising that Bradley was fired after the loss to Mexico. The US team was up 2-0 against our biggest rival in Mexico, only to lose 4-2 as Mexico dominated and embarrassed the US side in the second half of the Gold Cup Final. After a performance like that change needed to happen and it was Bradley’s time to go. The only surprise with the change of the coach was how long it took to fire Bradley. It took roughly a month for Bradley to be let go and one day to sign Klinsmann to the head-coaching job. That means that behind the scenes Bradley was already on his way out as the deal to bring in the German was being finalized.
Jurgen Klinsmann is the most decorated player and coach in the history of US men’s soccer. Klinsmann was named German Footballer of the year in 1988 and in 1990 helped the German national team win the World Cup. Jurgen is the only player to score at least 3 goals in 3 World Cups, he scored a total of 11 World Cup goals which ranks him in a tie for 5th all time. Klinsmann earned 108 caps (international appearances) with the German national team, winning the 1996 UEFA European Championships and is the third leading scorer with 47 goals. Jurgen as a decorated club career as well, playing for such clubs as Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspurs and the big German club Bayern Munich.
Without much coaching experience Jurgen took over the German national team and lead them to a 3rd place finish at the 2006 World Cup. After that he was the head coach for Bayern Munich. Klinsmann has experience with American soccer since he served as a special assistant for the LA Galaxy and has lived in the states for quite some time now and even played for a developmental team in Orange County in 2003. Klinsmann has the playing experience and coaching experience to make a dramatic impact on soccer in the United States.
Soccer in the United States has always struggled for recognition and more fan exposure. The truth is that soccer is not an American sport and many Americans just don’t understand the game and don’t have the interest to learn. These are some of the reasons that a successful international player and coach is the right choice to lead the squad. American coaches have had some success but until the American men’s soccer team is as successful as the women’s national team it will still only be a minor sport and only important on ESPN every 4 years when the World Cup is around. Klinsmann has a great opportunity in front of him to change the culture of soccer in America. Success on the national stage will be his greatest recruiting tool. If Klinsmann brings a German style of soccer to America changes will be obvious and drastic. The German national team is known for being big, physical, fast and attacking. They break down every component of the game and find ways to get better. They analyze the running form of their players and work to improve running efficiency and fitness. The Germans have been meticulous in their preparation for matches and tournaments. Their players maximize their physical, mental and psychological performance. I think that there will be many changes about US Soccer in the upcoming months. Changes in how we play and train on the pitch to how we recruit and develop our players. All of these changes will move soccer in America forward and it is up to Klinsmann to put the right people in the right spots and produce a quality product that produces results on the field. Americans love winners and success in sports and the men’s national soccer team needs more success on the field and to show the passion that we saw in the women’s team in this past World Cup.
The first test will come quickly for the national team and Klinsmann as they face rival Mexico August 10th in Lincoln Field in Philadelphia. There could be line up changes, personnel changes and a complete change in tactics but time is short and emotions will be high. Mexico vs. US is always an emotional and physical contest and the US will be coming into this match seeking redemption for that 4-2 beating in the Gold Cup. After that another friendly against Costa Rica in the Home Depot Center on September 2nd and then what might be the best look at what impact Klinsmann has done will be when the national team travels to Brussels on September 6th to face Belgium. Going into a foreign country and playing in front of a hostile crowd is the best way to see what a team is made of and how they face opposition. I look forward to this game and other matches in the future to judge the success and impact that Klinsmann has had on US soccer. Klinsmann has a huge task in front of him but he has all the tools to build US soccer into a contender on the world stage. The US Soccer Federation may have just found the right (Ger)man for the job.