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U.S. Soccer looking to Klinsmann again?

Has the U.S. Soccer Federation's flirtation (obsession?) with Juergen Klinsmann been rekindled? If this report is accurate -- and there's no reason to believe it isn't -- USSF President Sunil Gulati is batting his eyelashes at the California-based German for the second time in four years.

This dance is apparently underway even though the man in charge of the U.S. team -- and who is under contract through December -- remains in limbo. Gulati met with Bob Bradley in California on Thursday, and although neither side offered comment, a source close to the situation said "absolutely nothing" was resolved about Bradley's future.

For much more......

Gulati didn't respond to a text message this evening, and for all we know, he wants Klinsmann to guide the under-23 squad into the London Olympics in 2012. (Or not.) Okay, so let's assume Gulati is leaning toward a coaching change and Klinsmann is his primary (and most realistic) candidate. Why not cut ties with Bradley first before pursuing someone else? Perhaps Bradley is Gulati's second choice -- just like four years ago when he couldn't reach a deal with Klinsmann -- and because Bradley is on the payroll, he is able to string him along for a while. If talks with "Klinsi" falter again, Bradley stays. Far-fetched but not out of the question.

Gulati likes Bradley and appreciates all that he has done, most notably reaching the final of the Confederations Cup, claiming first place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and winning the group stage ahead of England in South Africa. He was clearly disappointed that Bradley couldn't steer the Americans past Ghana in the round of 16. (With all due respect to the Black Stars, it was a massive opportunity missed by the U.S. program.) Gulati's biggest concern, it seems, is the team growing stale during a second four-year cycle under the same coach -- a malaise of sorts that many felt settled in under Bruce Arena leading to the 2006 World Cup, his second. Fair enough. It might very well be time for change, new energy, new perspective.

Which brings us to Klinsmann. The USSF's pursuit of the legendary striker four years ago made so much sense: With passion and a progressive approach, he had guided a young Germany squad to third place in the world. Well before then, he had settled with his family in Southern California, driving distance to the U.S. base at Home Depot Center, and had become acutely familiar with the American system, MLS's quirks and the expanding player pool. He was a hot commodity.

Four years later, Klinsmann is just another well-known former coach, having lasted a mere one season at Bayern Munich (25-9-9 in all competitions) in 2008-09. German clubs don't exactly have him on speed dial these days. And the attractive play and superior tactics exhibited by Germany at this year's World Cup, despite the absence of several injured players, demonstrated Joachim Loew's managerial brilliance. Until their semifinal defeat to eventual champion Spain, the Germans were the best performers in the tournament. Loew was Klinsmann's top lieutenant in 2006, earning wide praise for his work.

Tactical and personnel decisions aside, Klinsmann would certainly bring emotion and personality to the U.S. program. For all their fine traits, Arena and Bradley were largely subdued figures who rarely expressed themselves on the sideline and, for the most part, were reluctant to embrace public relations and media endeavors. That would not be an issue for the personable Klinsmann.

So here we are again, much like in the fall of 2006: Bradley (who at that time was the interim coach after Arena's dismissal) waiting for a decision while the USSF reportedly courts Klinsmann. No matter what the federation decides, let's hope the process is smoother than the last time. Sadly, I'm not optimistic.

By Steve Goff  |  August 28, 2010; 1:37 AM ET
Categories:  U.S. men's national team , USSF  | Tags: Bob Bradley, Juergen Klinsmann  
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Next: PPL Park to host USA friendly vs. Colombia

Comments

Steve,

Please tell me you are in L.A. for the game. If you are back on the east coast get to bed. I know I have to.

Posted by: Alejandro_10 | August 28, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

Oh, thanks for the Klinsmann information. It could be interesting. Too bad he doesn't live just down from the Anacostia Wildlife Preserve at RFK Stadium.

Posted by: Alejandro_10 | August 28, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

Nice late night post! I think this time, Gulati gets his man...

If they are in talks again, it would stand to reason that both Gulati and Klinsman know enough about what it'll take to get a deal done and at least one of them is ready to compromise. At least, I hope so.

Posted by: cray | August 28, 2010 2:01 AM | Report abuse

That article that he wrote for the BBC about how he and Loew redid German soccer from the ground up sounded immediately to me like how he'd start an interview with Gulati. I think he thinks he can do the same to American soccer (not necessarily on the same level, but the same concept), and I think he has a passion for American soccer, and I think he wants this job.


But, Steve usually knows more than I do, so...

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | August 28, 2010 2:34 AM | Report abuse

I think Sunil Gulati has man-love for Jurgen Klinsman. Twice he tried to get him to play in MLS (and the best that ever happened was the charity match after 9-11). He tried to get him for the NT. I won't say it won't happen but I"m very skeptical.

And here's the deal--if bob Bradley is your second choice, than you've screwed up the search and the criteria. Here's why: if you truly fear that Bradley is missing some critical pieces and can't take the team the next step OR you think the program will get stale, than those are true whether you hire Klinsman or not and there are plenty of other good coaches who could come in here and add something BB doesn't have or would be a change in direction. And if you truly think that Bradley can take the team the next stage, that the program probably won't go stale (which you'd have to if he's your second choice) than effectively you're saying you don't think bringing him back for another 4 years has major risk, you don't think the team could have been managed better. And it's okay to take that position too--but if so, than you rehire BB. But to think about replacing him but also retain him shows a schizophrenic mindset that is muddled on standards for judging and objective evaluation of the man. If you think there is a significant risk of going stale, if you think he lacks certain tactical acumen than BB cannot be your second choice otherwise you're admitting that either you haven't done much of a search or--if Klinsi says "no" again--that you're hiring someone (BB) who you feel will let you down. And if you feel that he'll continue to grow, that he does have the tactical sophistication, than why wouldn't you just extend the contract rather than run the risk he bolts to another side?

Posted by: JoeW1 | August 28, 2010 2:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm heartened to hear these news. I've been advocating Jurgen Klinsmann for US coach for a long time. His credentials are without question and he understands Americans. Whatever it takes, Jurgen Klinsmann for our coach for Brazil 2014. And we need to hire him NOW--it will take a long time to develop our team. We need to start TODAY

Posted by: gvergara54 | August 28, 2010 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Brazil 2014 is going to the the World Cup in which the United States ought to become a world class soccer power. And Jurgen Klinsmann is the one person that can get us there.

In 1950, the United States made soccer history by defeating England. In 2014 the United States can make soccer history by winning the world cup in the center of gravity of world soccer, Brazil.

With Jurgen we can do it! So LET'S DO IT!!!

Posted by: gvergara54 | August 28, 2010 3:35 AM | Report abuse

Hells... Yeah.

He cares more about US soccer than any foreign coach. He would at least set a Precedent of high profile coaches adding to the program. Should he join, Gulati would have to submit to some positive change in the way things are done at the elite level.

I submit that Loew deserves massive credit for the success of 2006, but guess who broke the will of the German program in bringing him in? We all know that this cycle is going to be tough due to the gap between the talented generations (current crop of u-20's+young MLS vs. Donovan, Gooch, Dempsey, even Holden).

Even if the old guard loved Bob, how much do they Know they aren't going anywhere in the lineup? Fear is required. As for the young ones, the opposite is true. If they believe that some structure is the only thing that will save them, that working harder than everyone else is always going to work, they haven't met Ghana before. Let's show people we can do more with a soccer ball than kick it to three guys who and pray they finish off one or two chances.

Gamble, and when 2018 and the fresh talent comes of age, we will be grateful, regardless of how far we go in 2014.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | August 28, 2010 3:56 AM | Report abuse

it's about $. klinsman wants a few million of them per year. ussf probably wouldn't pay more than 800k. hopefully some marketing deal could make up the difference.

Posted by: troy6 | August 28, 2010 5:12 AM | Report abuse

batting eyelashes... great touch there Steve.
Another excellent post that makes your peers look like interim reporters. Thanks for keeping it thorough my friend.

Like I said before, unless US Soccer can land the big fish there's good reason not to throw Bradley back yet. Hopefully he is treated with the respect he deserves though.

OT: Uhmmmm Arsenal's Song had quite the do' change this week eh? WTH?

Posted by: DadRyan | August 28, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Maybe it takes a foreigner to bring out an American style. E.g., Pia Sundhage. I'm good with it.

Pay the man the money, Sunil. There has to be some benefit from all these &^%&^%&^% Mexican national team games on our turf.

Posted by: OWNTF | August 28, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Brazil 2014 is going to the the World Cup in which the United States ought to become a world class soccer power. And Jurgen Klinsmann is the one person that can get us there.

In 1950, the United States made soccer history by defeating England. In 2014 the United States can make soccer history by winning the world cup in the center of gravity of world soccer, Brazil.

With Jurgen we can do it! So LET'S DO IT!!!

Posted by: gvergara54
-------------------------------------------

I appreciate your enthusiasm and positive outlook, but we're not winning the World Cup in 2014. Not a chance. We're likely still 20 years away from that. Or being VERY optimistic, maybe 2022 if we host.

Whatever we do with Klinsmann/Bradley, do it quickly...and not in the press!

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | August 28, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Klinsmann has never done anything as a coach that really excited me. A trained monkey can lead a European team to a third-place finish in a World Cup that they're hosting, and Germany has been a better team without him. He was unimpressive at Munich. I think he's overvalued as a coach because of his legendary playing career.

Posted by: ashleybone | August 28, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I think there's great reason to question what Klinsmannn would bring to the program. I'd also suggest that Klinsmann would have been a more useful choice 4 years ago. Perhaps with a coach of his stature, the USA progrm might have been more appealing to players like Subotic and Rossi.

Furthermore, despite the disappointing result against Ghana (and the clearly poor decision to start Rico Clark, acknowledged when he was subbed out so early), Bradley scaled heights with the USA program that few would have imagined possible.
"Stale"? If one means sticking with the same players too long, that might be a concern for other national programs with real choices. The USA pool isn't barely even 30 players deep.

The only real value I see in bringing in Klnsmann is it might signal for the future that the USA job is one to covet. Since the days of Bora Milutinovic, it has not been a job that the top international coaches have seriously considered.

My expectation is that Klinsmann will have dial back his $$$ demands at least. He doesn't have the leverage he had before. If he wants to get the status he probably covets here, he needs the national team job...maybe even more than the the program needs the likes of Klinsmann. If he's realistic in his demands, I expect the deal will get done. I hope it will boost USA soccer to better showings, but I doubt it.

As for Bradley -- good coach, but will a team like Aston Villa really take a chance on an American coach? He night have to settle for a miserable option like trying to restore the success of a moribund DC United....

Posted by: fischy | August 28, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The real issue is Klinsmann's desire to revamp the youth development structure. This is BADLY needed as youth development in the US is dysfunctional, mainly because of how ridiculously narrow-minded and parochial it is. Unfortunately, that parochialism is what maks it particularly resistant to change and I'm not sure anyone, esp. a foreigner, can bring some sanity into youth development. But it's really far more important than the specific person in charge of the senior national team.

Posted by: saabrian | August 28, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"Germany has been a better team without him."

Yeah, he lead them to 3rd place at the WC losing to the eventual champions. And after he left, they skyrocketed to... 3rd place at the WC losing to the eventual champions. Massive improvement!

Posted by: saabrian | August 28, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@ fischy

This sounds a bit like the argument between Caleb Porter and Onalfo to me. "Porter brings nothing, Onalfo took KC to the playoffs twice! Did a good job in such a poor city."

The international soccer community is not going to give us our due until long after we stop low balling ourselves. There are far shallower depth pools in other countries who find success at the highest level, this is not an excuse.

If nothing else, Klinsmann brings a level of understanding and, more importantly, criticism to the program. Complaining about the talent pool? Then stop whining about a man who wants to Do something about it, not just for this cycle, but for the long term. The US benefits nothing from another stoic, conservative MLS coach who is only good at masking weaknesses rather than improving on them.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | August 28, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I think Jurgen Klinsman brings a lot of positives as a coach (one of which--it frees up Bob Bradley to coach DC United). But let's not get carried away here folks....
--Germany benefited from an influx of fine youth (Philip Lahm--is there any American backliner someone wants to argue could be our little Phillip Lahm in 2004? Schweinsteiger?) and already had a proven finisher (like Klose or demean him, the man has shown under 3 different coaches that he scores goals in World Cups).
--Klinsman benefited from a tactical wizard (Loew--and Klinsi was never shy about admitting this).

The people who are insisting that Brasil is our WC where we step out need to drink a cold dose of reality rather than the purple kool-aid. We don't have a single striker right now capable of being a force, of being someone in a 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 (which appear to be the formations of choice) who can handle that role sufficiently to score goals and create chances at the international level. Altidore? Davies? Adu? Come on...we don't have any striker at the level of Klose, let alone a world-class finisher. We have a bunch of D-mids and a couple of capable 2-way mids and Torres and Michael Bradley is the best 2-way mid we've got. But against Brasil, Argentina, Holland, Germany, Italy, and probably France and England we're outplayed in central midfield--and that's not just about formation and tactics.

I think Klinsmann can add some value to the USNT, he's a unique resource. But those who think that all we need is him and suddenly we're going to vault up have badly overestimated our talent at the senior and U-20 levels. And no, I'm not a Bob Bradley apologist--I think we underperformed in SA, showed a number of troublesome trends (giving up early goals for instance) and I'm afraid that Bradley would attempt to keep this team together and build on SA (rather than recognize that every cycle is a new generation with lots of turnover and a big need for speed and youth). But we're not far enough along for a coach to make that much difference in how our talent at the senior level performs.

Posted by: JoeW1 | August 28, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I'd be interested in hearing just what Klinsi has in mind for US youth. More centralization or professionalization? It's a very big, sprawling country, and few parents are willing to part company with their kids or see them slotted into professional programs at tender years. On the other hand, boosting local instruction would be tough because there aren't enough adult Americans with the skill set or tactical understanding to impart. This ain't Germany, where you're never more than a train ride away from anywhere.

Posted by: fischy | August 28, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

We dont need a foreign coach. We have plenty of American coaches that can do the job.

Posted by: alan19 | August 28, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I think I remember that part of the reason Klinsi turned down the job before is because he was told that top-tier players would be unavailable for the Gold Cup that year and he didn't want to coach essentially a B team. What does this tell us about him as a coach? Part of building a program is working with all players in the talent pool, not just the big guns. This isn't Germany or Bayern. American players need a coach who will actually teach them skills and tactics. I'm not saying Klinsman can't do this, and I love the energy thy he would bring to the program, not to mention the high-profile name. But I don't see him as a tactical genius who will take the USMMT much higher than where we currently sit. Perhaps Klinsi and an assistant like Loew would be a great combination. But I'm not sold on Juergen alone.

Posted by: CYork1 | August 28, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Bora! Bora! Bora!

Posted by: Ron16 | August 28, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"American players need a coach who will actually teach them skills and tactics."

Tactics, yes; skill, no. By the time a player makes the USMNT roster he should have skills, and if he doesn't it's too late to teach them. That is why the intriguing thing about Klinsmann to me is his emphasis on revamping player development in the US. There are institutional hurdles to doing this, but if Gulati backs him Klinsmann might make a positive impact in this crucial area.

Posted by: b18bolo | August 28, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"those who think that all we need is him and suddenly we're going to vault up have badly overestimated our talent at the senior and U-20 levels."

----------------------------------------------------

Actually, I think we have some decent talent at the U20 level and younger. However, they're far too young to make a huge impact for 2014. The problem for the USA is that we took a big step backward after the first Bradenton class. That fist class gave us Beasley, Beckerman, Convey, Donovan, Onyewu. The next class gave us bubble players Eddie Johnson, Marshall, Mapp, Pearce and Quaranta. 2 years later -- Bradley, Adu, Spector, Bornstein, Rogers and Gaven. Since then -- Altidore is the only player with impact, plus a few players we're waiting to see if they develop: Lichaj, Stephens, Gonzalez, Alston, Hall, Arguez, Zimmerman.

6 years of post-Donovan classes and only 4 regulars on the national team, plus a handful of bubble players.

The next crop of players seems more promising.

Speaking of Spector -- a big oops against Man Utd, giving up a penalty.

Posted by: fischy | August 28, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I have been an advocate for US Soccer to get Klinsmann as their next coach. I think he will make a difference.
Sign the petition:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/
klinsmannasussoccercoach/

Posted by: goalscorer24 | August 28, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: goalscorer24 | August 28, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Our savior Jernmaine Jones had a nice header for a goal, but Cherudolo's boys win 2-1.

Posted by: fischy | August 28, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I really don't want to write another essay on this, but for all of the Klinsi supporters out there I would like to hear your opinion on why the DFB let Klinsi go so fast after WC 2006, and I would really like to hear your opinion on his performance at Bayern two years later.

Klinsmann's coaching resume:

2 years German national coach (with Lowe as an assistant)
3/4 year as coach at Bayern (sacked before the season was over)

That's it.

Both of those were with teams that had 18 WORLD CLASS players on it. How will Klinsmann do with a team that doesn't have 18 world class players on it? And don't think that he will be able to develop players into world class talents, that is the job of the clubs where the players spent most of their time.

Posted by: rademaar | August 28, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

JK, IMO, would not be a good national team coach. He hasn't had much success even with world class players so why would he have success with non world class players? Just because he's German shouldn't give him a leg up on any other candidates for the job.

I think the best candidates are coaches who develop youth well and get the most results out of little talent. Dominic Kinnear in Houston and Steve Nicol in NE immediately come to mind.

Posted by: Unitedfury | August 28, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

For a head coach, Klinsmann didn't have much authority at Bayern Munich and had to deal with a lot of interference from Beckenbauer and other high powered muckety mucks (not sure what the German word is for that).

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | August 28, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

as for revamping the youth system in the US, I think we're four years to late on this as well. with MLS academies flourishing and youth leagues more dedicated to development than playing time (see the USSF Developmental Academy Program) Even moribund DCU has signed three players directly from their academy in the past 12 months, and has at least two other alumni playing overseas. Dallas, Chicago, LA, NY, everyone is signing kids and making investments in their futures. As the league is more mature and stable, there is a longer incubation period, maybe guys like Q coming in young are getting a year or two of seasoning and skill work before being thrown to the men. so what else does he have in mind? spiking Bradenton? (good move, I think it has outlived its usefulness at this point, we don't need a central command structure to find and nurture players, MLS is doing that already)

Posted by: joshuaostevens | August 28, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's something to pnder with Klinsmann: What will that mean for Donovan in terms of his role on the field. Remember Klinsi brought Donovan over for a trial with Bayern, but it seems no offer was made.

Posted by: fischy | August 28, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

There was no room for Donovan in that team fischy. You know that. Donovan wasn't going to sit on the bench anywhere.

Posted by: DadRyan | August 28, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

A) BB is a better manager than Klinsmann, as is Joachim Low.
B) BB should not want to continue with the USMNT and instead head to Europe and strengthen his managing there.
C) Surely there are better managers than JK out there -- Martin O'Neil? Steve Coppell?

Posted by: sw7104 | August 29, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm happy to hear this because - for once - it seems that U.S. soccer is making a LOGICAL choice!

The U.S. needs a been-there, done-that type coach, one with a flair, and one that can relate well with his players. Klinsmann loves the U.S. and is a quality coach. What happened with Bayern Munich was more of a power struggle, and included bickering over his backing to bring Landon Donovan in and give him a shot over German darling Lukas Podolski. Jurgen was never given a shot to finish what he had gotten started in Bayern, same thing with the German National Team.

Personally, I happen to like Bradley, I think he has been a good coach overall. Jurgen though could help raise the USMNT to the next level, someone who can help bring along the next generation and knows just what to look for.

Bring on Jurgen, I would be extremely pleased if they went in that direction.

Posted by: CyberCosmiX | August 29, 2010 3:10 AM | Report abuse

Give Klinsi whatever he wants and make him the next manager. Period.

Posted by: FAkeemail9875 | August 29, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Of course Klinnsman can do WONDERFUL!!!!!! He's German after all and our American inferiority complex can't ignore a German manager!!!! ;)

Posted by: Unitedfury | August 29, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

TONY MEOLA for HEAD COACH!!!

Posted by: vmrg1974 | August 30, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

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