Jurgen Klinsmann gives US team a ‘cool’ coach

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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) - Shaking up the U.S. national team in matters large and small, Jurgen Klinsmann walked into the locker room after his first win last weekend.

“It was quiet,” DaMarcus Beasley recalled. “And then Klinsmann went over to the iPad machine and turned on the music. That’s the kind of coach he is. He’s very cool. He’s fun.”

Did Bob Bradley ever do that?

Beasley shot a look and smiled.

“No,” he said, shaking his head.

From uniform numbers, to tactics, to challenging the American soccer establishment, Klinsmann already has stirred up a program that had gone a bit stale since its quarterfinal appearance at the 2002 World Cup. A former star for Germany’s national team, and a former coach of Germany and Bayern Munich, he’s also familiar with the plusses and minuses of the sport in the U.S. having lived in California for the past 13 years.

“He’s different, but good different,” Beasley said Monday, a day ahead of the Americans’ exhibition game against Ecuador. “He’s always full of life. He’s always laughing. He’s always smiling. He’s very energetic, even in meetings. You can tell that he’s happy to be here, happy to be the coach of the national team. I just think his persona will kind of rub off on us and give us that fight and that passion, the same how he played when he was a player.”

While Bruce Arena and Bradley practiced in relative secrecy, Klinsmann holds occasional public sessions. He stood on the field Monday and talked into a hand-held microphone, welcoming several hundred fans at Red Bull arena.

“He’s come in and he’s felt he’s needed to change the landscape,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said.

Since Klinsmann replaced Bradley on July 29, the Americans tied Mexico and lost to Costa Rica and Belgium before defeating Honduras on Saturday. He’s made tactical changes, pushing Clint Dempsey from midfield to withdrawn forward, encouraging outside backs to attack _ one at a time. The midfielders also are higher up the field.

And he’s challenging players.

“For example, he said sometimes I’m a little bit static. I need to stay a little bit more on the move, float around, keep trying to get into spots,” Dempsey said. “Whoever is marking me, cause them problems, make them get tired, make them come out of positions they don’t want to. He wants us to play a high-tempo game. He wants us to take the game to our opponent at a level that’s uncomfortable for them.”

Longer term, Klinsmann wants to eliminate the two-to-three months off that Major League Soccer players get each year.

“The big challenge is for MLS overall, how can they stretch that season into a format that is kind of competitive with the rest of the world?” he said. “Right now it’s not competitive. If you have a seven-, eight-month season, that’s not competitive with the rest of the world.”

MLS teams start training in January and their seasons last until mid-October or late November, depending on playoff success. European clubs begin practice in July and play through late May. The World Cup and European Championship fill June every other year.

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