So, like the awkwardness between two teenagers who like each other but are afraid to admit it, Jurgen Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer have finally joined together. Overall, I think this is a good move for soccer in America. Before I get into that however, I have to say that I disagree with dismissal of Bob Bradley. I thought he was a fine coach who knew how American players played the game. For the most part, he got results. I can only disastrous decision that comes to mind is starting Ricardo Clark, but other than that, I think the losses to Ghana and Mexico are more a result of the players than of coaching. But enough of that, turning back to Klinsmann.
Klinsmann is a great choice for the team for several reasons:
More after the jump...
1) He knows people. Some of Klinsmanns critics say that it was Joachim Loew that really ran the 2006 team and that when Klinsmann was in charge of Bayern Munich he failed to impress. First, I think it was shrewed of him to hire Loew in the first place. I expect he will make a similar ‘coaching' hire for the U.S. team. Second, that Bayern Munich team was a team in transition. Older players were on last legs and younger players hadn't found them yet. The politics of the club may have also prevented him from hiring the coaches he wanted.
2) Klinsmann is familiar with American players and the way soccer is played in America. It seems that coaches of the Nats are stuck in two molds. You are either purely American (Bradley, Bruce Arena) with no overseas experience, or you are an overseas coach with no familiarity to the American system. My worry in Bradley's replacement is that who ever took the job would be frustrated with the American system and quit after a year or two. What good would that have done for U.S. Soccer? Klinsmann will be able to bring the Old World mentality, which is needed to revitalize the team, while at the same time, adjusting it to meet the needs of U.S. players.
3) Looking at Toronto F.C. Klinsmann's work doesn't seem that bad. This year the on the field product is unquestionably bad. But what he has done is installed a system, that given time, should flourish. Youth development is a premium at the club, and he has helped attract a good coach in Aron Winter, and quality designated players in Frings and Koevermans. I expect Klinsmann to do much the same for the U.S. team.
The U-20's failure to qualify for the World Cup and Pan-Am games, the flair out of the U-17's, and the plateauing of the Nats has shown that what U.S. Soccer really needs is a technical director. With Jurgen Klinsmann they are going to get that. Hopefully, he will have the freedom now to appoint a technically sound U-20 coach, dismantle the U-17 residency system, and work with Claudio Reyna to improve youth soccer. To me, the ultimate success of Klinsmann tenure will not be whether the U.S. qualifies for the World Cup (which it will), wins the next Gold Cup (which it will), or wins its World Cup groups (if anything, we've learned that U.S. success in the World Cup depends on the draw), but will be on whether the U.S. system is structurally sound enough to see continual improvement. And on first impressions, I think that Klinsmann is the perfect hire for that.