It’s Klinsmann – Is He the Right Choice?
The U.S. Soccer Federation confirmed today what many had expected – Jürgen Klinsmann will be the next manager of the men’s national team.
After reportedly twice trying to hire the German for the job in the past five years, Sunil Gulati has his man. The federation will hold a press conference in New York on Monday and his first match as head man will be against Mexico on August 10.
“We are excited to have Jürgen as the head coach of our Men’s National Team,” said Gulati in the press release. “He is a highly accomplished player and coach with the experience and knowledge to advance the program. Jürgen 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.”
Klinsmann’s resume is long and impressive. The 46 year old former striker played for a number of major European clubs in his impressive playing career, including Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur, and Bayern Munich. During his international career he led West Germany to their 1990 World Cup victory and helped a unified Germany win the 1996 UEFA European Championship. He was twice named German player of the year (West German in 1988) and was also awarded the Football Writer’s Association Player of the Year in 1995.
Of greater interest to American fans is his record as a manager. He was brought back to Germany as head coach of the 2006 German World Cup team and, in the two years prior to the tournament, completely reorganized the German youth system. Although many felt the team underachieved by finishing third in a World Cup they hosted, his improvements to the German system have revitalized the country’s youth system and has made them, behind Spain and Brazil, one of the favorites to win the 2014 Cup. After he left the German team and was rumored to be in line for some of the biggest club jobs in the world, he took the reigns of Bayern Munich in 2008. He led the club to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual champion Barcelona. The board, however, dismissed him towards the end of the season due to difference of opinion.
His ties to the U.S. are very deep. He has lived in the States since 2000 and even played lower-division soccer under an assumed name. During his stint as head coach of the German national team, some German newspapers accused him of lacking focus due to commuting between the U.S. and Germany. He was a finalist for the LA Galaxy job that went to Ruud Gullit and has served as a consultant for Toronto FC since 2009. His wife is an American citizen and Klinsmann has been heavily involved in American sports marketing.
He has described his style in the past as attacking, so the national team may not see much of a different style of play that was initially seen in the Mexico match last month. It will also be interesting to see if the team continues to turn to dual-citizen German players for squad depth. Regardless, the U.S. team will attract more international attention thanks to the name of the man leading it, and if he can succeed in rebuilding the U.S. youth system, this could be a defining moment in Gulati’s tenure.