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Juergen Klinsmann named U.S. men’s national team coach
Now that the U.S. Soccer federation’s perennial coach-in-waiting finally has the job, Juergen Klinsmann will be expected to kick-start a stagnant men’s national team.
The USSF moved quickly Friday in hiring Klinsmann a day after the firing of Bob Bradley.
The former standout player and coach for the German national team will be a familiar name to American fans. The U.S. almost hired Klinsmann twice — first after the 2006 World Cup and again last year before giving Bradley what turned out to be a short-lived contract extension.
“I am proud and honored to be named the head coach of the U.S. men’s national team,” Klinsmann said. “I would like to thank the U.S. Soccer Federation for the opportunity, and I’m excited about the challenge ahead. I am looking forward to bringing the team together for our upcoming match against Mexico and starting on the road toward qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”
Klinsmann will be introduced Monday at a news conference in New York. His first game as U.S. coach is Aug. 10 against archrival Mexico in an exhibition in Philadelphia
Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil begins next June.
“He is a highly accomplished player and coach with the experience and knowledge to advance the program,” USSF President Sunil Gulati said. “Juergen has had success in many different areas of the game, and we look forward to the leadership he will provide on and off the field.”
Former U.S. defender Alexi Lalas, who worked alongside Klinsmann for ESPN at last year’s World Cup, expects him to inject energy, but notes he’s not a miracle worker.
“It’s not as if all of sudden because Juergen Klinsmann is coach that we’re going to have an American Lionel Messi drop into our laps,” Lalas said. “The players are what they are. It’s up to him to make sure he has the correct mix of players and to motivate them, to coach them up. For the experienced veterans that are part of the national team setup, this will be a source of motivation — and maybe a kick in the pants.”
Although the federation has discussed the job with Klinsmann in the past, the coach’s desire for wide-ranging authority over the entire U.S. program became a point of contention.
“When you look at where we are and where we should be, Juergen is coming in with a full-blown plan,” said former U.S. forward Eric Wynalda, now a commentator for Fox Soccer. “There’s a lot of things he’s been very adamant about, things he feels need to change. The reluctance from U.S. Soccer’s point of view to relinquish power was the only piece of red tape in his way.”
Klinsmann will have a chance to make his mark in the federation’s youth teams, given current coaching vacancies at the Under-20 team, which failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup, and the Under-23 team, which soon will start preparations for 2012 Olympic qualifying. The Under-17 team also could face a reassessment after its second-round elimination with a 4-0 loss to Germany at this summer’s FIFA championship.
Germany coach Joachim Loew, who was Klinsmann’s assistant before becoming his successor, expects big changes.
“I am happy for Juergen, that he has found a new challenge and I wish him a lot of success,” Loew said. “The way we know Juergen, he’ll go into the job with power and shake up a lot of things.”
Klinsmann is the first non-American to coach the national team since Bora Milutinovic (1991-95), who was succeeded by Steve Sampson (1995-98), Bruce Arena (1998-06) and Bradley.
By Brahma Chellaney
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