Klinsmann Appointed to National Team Post


Sunil Gulati has answered the call for a European coach to take the reigns of U.S. soccer.

Perhaps we need to be enlightened by our new swanky manager on how to play football properly, but his appointment isn't being met with praise only. Many fans out there on the internet are talking about how he'll identify talent, develop players and set the team up tactically better than not only his predecessor, but any U.S. coach before him.

I hope they're right. I hope that somehow, the players who have spent their lives playing this game will suddenly become world beaters. I hope that the change in the coach's accent will revolutionize the way that Americans play when they take the field together, but sadly I doubt it.

The best part of his experience came as coach of the German national team from 2004-2006 when Klinsmann was in charge of a team that was in a different category of class than what he'll inherit here. In those two years, his record was 20-8-6, a winning percentage of roughly 58%. He assumes control of a team that over the span of Bob Bradley's reign had a winning percentage right around 54%.

His second coaching gig was with Bayern Munich and lasted for the better part of a season before he departed with a record of 25-9-9.

He has experience, all be it not much, at the highest levels of world football as a manager. With Germany, a World Cup semifinal. With Bayern, a Champions League quarterfinal. Since then, he has basically waited for this job. Outside of some analysis of the 2010 World Cup for ESPN and a cushy consulting job for one of the sorriest teams in Major League Soccer, the former legendary striker has presumably spent his time relaxing with his wife and family.

He will face a mountain of criticism for any mis-steps after being heralded as a source of reform for U.S. soccer. Who knows? Maybe he is an incredibly philosophic man that will revolutionize how Americans view and play the game. Maybe his influence will be so great that he will fix the issues within the American youth system and help to unite American fans in favor of their national team so that we no longer have to sit next to guys from Atlanta at the U.S. vs Brazil match wearing Brazil gear. If he were to do it, he wouldn't just be a coach, he'd be a god. But something tells me that when this is all over, he'll leave the post as nothing more than a coach.

He may line the team up differently, force them to play the ball on the ground more and encourage better possession and passing. None of that will mean anything without results though. Klinsmann's fate will ultimately be decided on how well he can do what he was hired to do, the same thing as every other coach ever; win. Please, disregard the blatant negativity here, but I'm not sure that a 58% winning percentage with one of the finest national teams in the world qualifies him to be labelled a revolutionary figure.

jurgen-klinsmann_1112047cWhat is it exactly in Klinsmann's resume that has fans' knees buckling in ecstacy at his appointment? Is it that he's younger? Is it the blonde hair? Or is it the highlights he created as a player?

Since his playing career ended, this is undoubtedly the most difficult task that Klinsmann has faced. He's coming into a fractured world of U.S. soccer with players sprawled around the globe and a youth system that is producing a lot of bodies but only a few highlights. He has issues of depth all around the park and a team that lacks a forward that can score. Is he planning on changing passports so that he can suit up for the U.S.? If not, I'm not sure why his arrival is being met with so much optimism rather than the reasonable skepticism that every other U.S. coach in the past has been met with. Do people really believe that a European upbringing and successful playing career is enough to make Klinsmann the coach that will ring in the most succesful era of U.S. soccer's history? It seems so.

As for me, I'm a bit more skeptical. I not only qustion is his resume, I question his ability to stay on the job. His longest stint as a coach was the two years he spent with Germany and let's not forget that when things got difficult at Bayern, his relationship with the club's upper management and players dissolved and led to his dismissal before the season was done.

As it is, it seems this was inevitable. After the horror show of this year's Gold Cup, Bradley's leash couldn't have gotten any shorter, he had to be let go. I won't argue that. He failed to motivate his team and put them on the field with a ton of tactical shortcomings. Klinsmann will do himself a favor by studying where Bradley went wrong and choosing a different route. 

Identifying Talent

One other area that fans online harp on about is Klinsmann being a better judge of talent. Possibly, but Bradley tried out a ridiculous amount of players during his reign and uncovered a problem. When it comes to World Class players, the U.S. doesn't have a plethora of them. In fact, outside of one or two, it's debatable on whether or not we have any. It's not like Bradley didn't use the best of what is at his disposal, which is what Klinsmann will do as well.

It comes down to the product he can get out of the players and if there may be one area he is going to be far better than his predecessor, it's likely his ability to motivate unproven talent. Whether or not that translates to winning, we'll just have to wait and see.

Love it or hate it, it is what it is. Klinsmann is managing the national team and he'll need all the fan support he can get as his first challenge is a big one (Mexico Aug. 10). While I was dead set against it from the beginning, as a supporter of the national team, I and the rest of the skeptics need to get on board and hope that Gulati's roll of the dice works. If it doesn't, it should mean not only Klinsmann's job, but his as well. Truthfully, that may be the only way for U.S. soccer to head in a new direction. 

In honor of our new manager, here are some of the career highlights as a player that have made his name revered in the world of football.

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