Starting the Jurgen Klinsmann campaign for US national team coach

This post is the first in a series of five recommendations for USSF President Sunil Gulati

Klinsmann is the right man to coach the US

Bob Bradley has had a successful run, but it’s time for him to move on to a new challenge and for US soccer to bring in a new coach to take soccer in America to the next level. There is really only one man for the job: Jurgen Klinsmann.  The former star striker and German national team coach is obviously a big name in world soccer, but after two good summers in a row US soccer no longer needs to prioritize borrowing other nation’s big names to be considered a serious soccer nation. There are four main reasons he should become the next US national team coach: he takes a holistic approach to building national team system from the playgrounds to the World Cup, he would develop a recognizable American style of play, he knows US soccer intimately and has thought about what it would take to transform the sport in America, and he is one of the best strikers of all time and would be a fantastic mentor to the future of US soccer, Jozy Altidore.

Let’s not forget to pay Bob Bradley his due. He took over in very difficult circumstances after a disastrous 2006 World Cup and an unsettled coaching search and not only righted the ship quickly, but won the Gold Cup in his first year, orchestrated a dazzling deep run in the Confederations Cup, won Concacaf World Cup qualifying, and won Group C at the Finals in South Africa. But despite those successes it wasn’t all roses. Bradley struggled to adapt his favored system to his personnel and was prone to play favorites rather than the best players. And while he fostered a remarkable resiliency within his team that produced too many comebacks to count, it is also true that his team found itself in need to come back far too often for it to not be partly down to poor match preparation and tactics. A four-year cycle is the right time to move on and that may be to Fulham if the rumors are believed. 

Klinsmann took over the German national team in an unfamiliar state of crisis. They had just been dumped out of Euro 2004 in the group stage having failed to win a game with just two years to go before it hosted the World Cup. Klinsmann, with current Germany coach Joachim Loew as his assistant, quickly went about transforming German soccer beyond just the senior national team, “rebuilding from the bottom up.” He consulted players and coaches and developed an attacking and proactive style, won the support of the national federation to encourage German clubs to teach his curriculum at their academies to ensure a talented stream of young players already schooled in his system.

That system was created after touring the country and asking players and coaches three key questions: “how they wanted to play, how they wanted to be seen to be playing by the rest of the world, and how the German public wanted to see us playing.” The US tends to play a counter-attacking style almost by default as we have never had enough creative or possession players to use another style – but that may be changing. Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu emerged in the midfield as solid two-way players, and Benny Feilhaber and Jose Torres both are terrific passers with great vision – all are under 25. Add in quick attacking players comfortable with the ball at their feet like Donovan and Dempsey, and the US team may be on the verge of playing the aggressive, proactive approach of the Klinsmann-Loew Germany. But whatever system is best for the US team as it continues to develop one thing is for sure with Klinsmann, we will have a definite style.

While he doesn’t start with the lifelong knowledge of German soccer, the California resident definitely knows US soccer. He has already identified American soccer’s biggest weakness – and no its not that we haven’t had a striker score in the World Cup since 2002. He said on ESPN directly after the US loss to Ghana:

“[The US]  is the only country in the world that has the pyramid upside down. You pay for having your kid play soccer. Because your goal is not to have your kid become a professional soccer player, your goal is that your kid gets a scholarship in college, which is complete opposite rest of the world… So we need to find ways to connect, however that could be, to connect with Hispanics, to connect with everybody in the soccer environment in the U.S., and to get kids who are really hungry, to get kids on technical level to perform, and what I mean is first touch.”

Doesn’t that sound like someone who wants to be the US coach? The first touch – the very foundation of building a quality soccer team – will be Klinsmann’s priority. Getting to the millions of American kids who play soccer, finding the ones that want it the most, and teaching them the technical skills they need will be Klinsmann’s mission. And he’ll have time to do just that without detracting from his ability to coach the team because its not like he’ll have a ton of important games to manage as we wait the interminable wait for the next World Cup cycle to begin. Remember, Golden Boot winner Thomas Mueller was only 14 when Klinsmann took over as Germany coach.

Jozy Altidore was also 14. Because American soccer fans have been following his every move for years, we forget that he is only 20 and will still qualify for the best young player award at the next World Cup. So much of the analysis of the World Cup (not just in America, but everywhere) is results oriented. Jozy didn’t score and the US team was out in the second round so his tournament must have been a disappointment. Well, I’ve watch the three group games several times (still can’t watch the Ghana game again!) and Jozy was a force in all three and was unlucky not to get one in the back of the net. All the skills are, but what Jozy needs now is the combination of the great striker’s combination of arragoance and guile. I can’t imagine anyone in a coaching position now that would be better for Jozy to learn from than Klinsmann.  

There are, of course, drawbacks. Klinsmann had a poor run as head coach of Bayern Munich in 2008-09. Loew’s success has caused some to say he was the real brains behind Germany’s transformation. And the high-profile and ultimately unsuccessful recruiting effort by Gulati in 2006 broke down reportedly over US soccer balking at the level of control Klinsmann wanted. But club management and national team management are different and there are two sides to the Loew coin that demonstrate that the program put in place by Klinsmann is bearing fruit – two semis and a final appearance in the last three tournaments – that should make US soccer more amenable to Klinsmann’s system this time around. If I was Sunil Gulati, I would hire Jurgen Klinsmann in a heart beat.

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6 Responses

  1. […] Follow this link: Starting the Jurgen Klinsmann campaign for US national team coach … […]

  2. Whats the link for the FaceBook page?
    if not start it. LETS GET THIS DONE!
    KLINGSMANFORUS

  3. Yes, we definately need to hire Klinsmann

  4. Bradley is going to Aston Villa. Let’s hire Klinsmann now.

  5. Hellow!

    I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.

    I have added your site to my site.

    Please link my site to your site.

    Thank you!

  6. SI reports today, Sept. 20th, that Kilinsmann and USSF had talks for about a month and had verbal agreements, but that USSF would not put those agreements in writing. Same thing about control again. It’s obvious Klinsamnn will not be USMNT coach until we get rid of Sunil Gulati and change the Board at USSF. Let’s have acampaign to get rid of Sunil.

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