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How Berti Vogts Can Help Jurgen Klinsmann Pick the Right Squad for the World Cup

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 14:  Berti Vogts the coach of Azerbaijan looks on during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Group F Qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan at Windsor Park on November 14, 2012 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Phil KeidelContributor IIDecember 20, 2016

United States Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann drew perhaps unwelcome notice recently by making over his coaching staff exceedingly close to this summer's World Cup.

Klinsmann relieved his long-serving No. 1 assistant Martin Vasquez of his role as Klinsmann's chief advisor. Per Nicholas Mendola's report for Pro Soccer Talk, Vasquez was moved to "other responsibilities within U.S. Soccer."

That sounds remarkably like Michael Corleone telling Tom Hagen in The Godfather, "you're out, Tom."

Into the void left by the Vasquez demotion come Tab Ramos and Berti Vogts. United States soccer fans certainly know who Ramos is; the midfielder earned 81 caps with the American national team in his day.

Vogts has a far more significant global profile but in America he is a bit more of an unknown.

As noted by Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times, "former German national team coach Berti Vogts...is one of the most experienced managers in international soccer."

Klinsmann's hire of Vogts will be judged on how much Vogts really knows about the Americans' World Cup opposition.
Klinsmann's hire of Vogts will be judged on how much Vogts really knows about the Americans' World Cup opposition.Nelson Antoine

Baxter also neatly summarized the ties that bind Klinsmann and Vogts: "Like Klinsmann, Vogts won a World Cup for Germany before taking over as coach and leading the German team, which included a striker named Klinsmann, to a European championship in 1996."

It is something of an awkward marriage between Klinsmann and Vogts now in that Vogts will continue in his current role as the national team coach for Azerbaijan, a job Vogts has held since 2008.

Klinsmann and Vogts will actually be opposite numbers for the friendly between the two nations, set for Candlestick Park in San Francisco on May 27.

Come to think of it, though, how better for Vogts to see which of Klinsmann's players fit in the system both men favor than to coach against those players with Vogts' own team? Live match action will tell Vogts more than any film study or training ground work ever could.

Already, the partnership between Klinsmann and Vogts has brought a favorable return. Klinsmann's team took a two-goal lead over fellow World Cup qualifier Mexico in a recent friendly, before El Tri clawed back for a draw.

Klinsmann also noted, per Mendola's report, that Vogts has live match coaching experience against sides that the United States Men's National Team are slated to face at the World Cup (Germany, Portugal and Ghana).

"Through his time as the head coach of Scotland, Nigeria and Azerbaijan, he is obviously very familiar with our opponents in the group stage of the World Cup, and for us this is a huge bonus," Klinsmann said of Vogts.

It would be unrealistic to expect Vogts to get to know Klinsmann's players well enough to make all the World Cup personnel decisions for the United States in the short time left before the tournament starts.

But that is not why Klinsmann brought Vogts on.

Vogts is on Klinsmann's staff now because Vogts presumably has specific information on the USMNT's opponents that Klinsmann can use to set up his side.

And candidly, if Vogts' intelligence in this area is not useful, the Vogts hire amounts to a lot of nothing.

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