The United States Men’s National Soccer Team announced that Jurgen Klinsmann is the new manager. Many believe that the team became stagnant under Bob Bradley and that Klinsmann is the coach to lead them forward. I’m under the impression that may not be true for several reasons.
Klinsmann has never led a team during World Cup Qualifying
Jurgen Klinsmann did coach Germany to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup. However, he never led the team during qualification as Germany qualified as the host nation. I wonder how Klinsmann will balance qualification against the player’s league commitments. Also, Klinsmann will have to coach the team under the pressure of trying to qualify and especially as the favorite. Unlike in the past, the United States is not quite the shoo-in for the World Cup as it has been for the last several. Many of the teams in CONCACAF have improved, showcased in the United States loss to Panama in the Gold Cup. Fans of the region can also look at impressive performances by Jamaica, even though the US beat them, and teams such as Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador only getting stronger. Many may chalk that up to mismanagement by now fired coach Bob Bradley, but it may be more due to the other countries improvement. It will certainly be interesting to see how Klinsmann handles qualification.
Klinsmann was fired from his last coaching gig
For the 2008-2009 season, Klinsmann took over as Bayern Munich’s head coach. This was his first coaching job on the club level. After being appointed as manager, Klinsmann tried to re-develop the whole system. With him at the helm, Bayern did reach the quarter-final in the Champions League, but Bayern do that almost routinely as they’ve been one of the best teams in Germany and Europe for some time. The team had a good record in the Bundesliga as well posting 16 wins, 6 draws and 7 losses at the time he was fired. The record isn’t bad, but he also had one of the top starting 11 in the Bundesliga and many coaches would have had success with that Bayern team. Klinsmann eventually was fired after having differences with the club’s Board of Directors. The firing may have just been due to his situation at Bayern, but we will never know as he hasn’t stepped back into the club waters since.
Klinsmann hasn’t managed since the 2008-2009 season
Another reason to question Klinsmann’s appointment is that he has been inactive since being fired from Bayern. Taking over the national team set-up requires a lot of commitment, especially in a program, which has missing coaches in several different levels. How quick Klinsmann can re-acclimate himself to coaching will determine his success. One benefit of coaching the national team rather than at the club level is that he isn’t going to be required to manage on a day-to-day basis. However, he still has to find the players to call in to camps, especially with a major friendly against Mexico coming up soon as the CONCACAF rivals face-off August 10.
How adept will Klinsmann be at scouting the US players?
Unlike many countries around the world, the majority of the US National Team doesn’t play in the domestic league. Klinsmann will have to scour top leagues in several different countries to find the top US talent. He should expect to log lots of travel miles during the World Cup Qualifying cycle. This was one area the United States slowly was improving on under Bob Bradley. Unfortunately, for Bradley he was too loyal to some players in big spots that he shouldn’t have been. Will Klinsmann be able to find the next top US talent? Only time will tell, but this is an area he will really need to focus on to take the US to the next level.
How well does Klinsmann know the CONCACAF teams?
The last reason to wonder about Klinsmann’s hiring is of his ability to coach in the region. Although Klinsmann has lived in California for many years, he has never coached here. He will have to scout each team effectively and not underestimate any team in the region. Many can question Bradley, but there were several times when he got tactics right against CONCACAF opponents. Tactically he was spot on in the US recent clash against Jamaica. His tactics almost looked genius again as the United States went up two goals early against Mexico. Unfortunately, for him it all unraveled and almost certainly cost him his job. Klinsmann will need to adapt quickly to the teams in CONCACAF in order for the United States to remain at the top of the region.
Jurgen Klinsmann is certainly a big name coach for the Unites States. However, he cannot rest on that. He will have to emulate the run he had with Germany and bring the United States to the semi-final of the World Cup or he will remain just a big name and one that didn’t live up to the hype.