Jurgen Klinsmann: 5 Biggest Things He's Changed with Team USA so Far
Jurgen Klinsmann took control of the U.S. national team in the summer of 2011, and since then, the team has undergone a variety of changes.
In a little over 12 months, the U.S. has been on a roller coaster ride as Klinsmann continues to figure out the best way to optimize the team's performances. Already he has posted some of the best wins in U.S. Soccer history.
Currently, the Americans are sitting atop their group in the current stage of World Cup qualifying.
The mastermind behind the team is starting to see more positive results on the pitch on a more consistent basis. There is still a lot of work left to be done, but Klinsmann is on his way to making U.S. Soccer a factor in 2014.
Here are five of the biggest changes Klinsmann has made to date.
Gone are the days of one set formation or refusal to switch things up. Klinsmann is not afraid to make changes on the fly.
Throughout his early tenure at the helm of U.S. Soccer, Klinsmann has put a plethora of options on the table for the U.S.
The results have been mixed, but he has been able to see what the talent is able to handle and what works best with his players. Klinsmann puts out what he feels will be the optimal formation, but if it doesn't work, he makes the halftime adjustments that are needed to fix whatever the problem may be.
As with any top level coach, he alters his style to the ability of his players and not vice versa. He puts the players in the best position to succeed.
The importance of his positive demeanor cannot be overstated.
Fans need not look any further than the former women's coach Pia Sundhage for what it can do for the team. Her infectious personality permeated through the team and help lead them from tough times back into the limelight.
Klinsmann is doing the same thing with the men's side.
His personality makes it easier to work with some of the big-name players who may have an ego. It also helps nurture the young newcomers to the squad. It is a great asset for Klinsmann as he tries to build something special.
It is a big change from what the U.S. national team has experienced in the past.
Another significant change has been the influx of youth to the national team.
While the mainstays are still on the squad, Klinsmann has given these youngsters a chance to earn their way onto the team. Not only as a member, but potentially as a starter.
Over the past 12 months, 25 men under the age of 25 have been called up to action for the U.S. Jose Torres, Terrence Boyd and Brek Shea are just a few that could be the next wave of talent to lead the U.S. to big things in the future.
Klinsmann has put an emphasis on youth since his was hired. He knows the American side has to improve to compete on the international stages. After being hired, he told Grant Wahl of SI.com where the U.S. needs improvement:
But one thing is certain: The American kids need hundreds and even thousands more hours to play. That is a really crucial thing. If it's through their club team, if it's through themselves, whatever it is.
As the U.S. continues on the path to qualify for the World Cup, don't be surprised to see more youngsters get minutes under their belts.
When a coach implements a winning culture, the wins typically follow. Klinsmann has not only changed the expectations of the fans, but of the team as well.
The head coach has changed the perception of American soccer.
Already in 2012 the U.S. has picked up two of their biggest wins ever. They defeated Italy and Mexico, both on the road. That is a massive boost for U.S. soccer.
They hold a 7-2-2 record in 2012 with their only losses coming at the hands of Brazil and Jamaica. The latter being a disappointing performance that they rectified on September 11th with a 1-0 victory in Columbus, Ohio.
Having a good game here or there or being competitive is no longer good enough. Klinsmann has brought a winning attitude to the team. The expectations are to win every match. It does not matter who it is against or where the game is to be played, the expectation is to come away with a victory.
The biggest, and most important, change under Klinsmann has been the depth of the U.S.
The team is no longer a select few athletes with mediocre talent mixed in. It does not come down to hoping Dempsey and Donovan can put the U.S. out front and then hope Tim Howard can make the save. The U.S. has options.
All over the pitch there is someone new to pick up the slack.
The back line has seen a few changes, the midfield is infiltrated with young legs and Herculez Gomez has emerged as another forward threat outside of Donovan.
Depth is vital in the big tournaments. None of the favored nations rely on one or two talented athletes, and now the U.S. does not either. It is a big step forward for the Americans. Klinsmann has found quality depth that can be used to mix things up when it counts the most.
That was a much-needed change, and now it is finally here.