He’s as American as a foreigner can be
“California” Klinsmann has been living in the United States for over a decade. With his selection as coach, U.S. fans get the best of both worlds. They get a foreigner which most American fans still believe automatically equals superior and they get someone who understands the unique issues facing American soccer.
He’s open to new ideas
As manager of both the German national team and Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich, Klinsmann came into established and successful programs. Yet, with both assignments, he was not afraid to institute significant changes. While these changes brought conflict with his previous managerial assignments, the United States has few established traditions and so change will be much easier.
He brings instant credibility
As a player, Klinsmann twice won the UEFA Cup with his clubs and as an international, won both the World Cup and the European Championship. As a coach, Klinsmann helped guide an underperforming German side to 3rd place at the 2006 World Cup. Coaching Bayern Munich, Klinsmann only lost 1 out of 10 Champion’s League games (and that was to Barcelona the eventual champion) and had Bayern Munich 3 points out of 1st place in the Bundesliga with 5 games to go. America has never had a coach with Jurgen’s credentials, either as a player, or as a coach. Over the past few years, the American national team has had two major international stars, Neven Subotic and Giuseppe Rossi, choose to play for other nations in international competition. One wonders whether or not that would have happened with a coach like Klinsmann at the helm. With current American starlet Timothy Chandler still eligible to play for Germany, and several other potential internationals out there with dual citizenship, Klinsmann can help give us a leg up.
He understands our development issues
During the 2010 World Cup in an interview with ESPN, Klinsmann was critical of the U.S. development system. He knows that America essentially runs an upside down system with college scholarships the pinnacle of American youth development. While this presents a massive challenge as so few youth players ever make it to the professional ranks and therefore benefit greatly from a college education, this country has a system which is not built to create elite international players. Furthermore, in America, soccer is a sport for the rich who can afford professional training, field space and the travel required for elite teams. In the rest of the world, soccer is a sport which offers poor kids a chance out of poverty. In addition, anyone who is familiar with our youth development system and ODP programs knows how many talented kids they fail to identify, especially within our ethnic communities. For America to truly become a world soccer power, these problems need to be addressed.
John D. Halloran