Monday morning was no ordinary morning at NIKETOWN in New York City for the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) was in town for the official introduction of Jurgen Klinsmann as the new head coach of the U.S. men's national team.
On Friday, July 29, 2011, USSF President Sunil Gulati officially made Jurgen Klinsmann the 35th head coach of the U.S. men's national team. Klinsmann was hired a day after former head coach Bob Bradley was relieved of his duties after five years of service.
Despite the fact that Bradley had a respectable coaching record of 43-25-13, following the 4-2 embarrassing loss to Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup Championship the writing was on the wall. Bradley will, for the time being, be known as the coach whose team lost by a combined score of 9-2 over the past two Gold Cup finals.
Following their 2010 FIFA World Cup elimination by Ghana there was no evidence that the United States has improved as a team as they were humiliated 2-0 against Brazil, tied Argentina 1-1 in a match where it was clear that Argentina was the superior team, followed by a 4-0 trouncing at the hands of the current World Cup champions Spain.
To make matters worse, the United States' performance in the 2011 Gold Cup was simply atrocious considering that the National Team has far more resources than many of their opponents. While the United States struggled in their path to the Gold Cup Final against eventual-winner Mexico, it was evident that many of the teams in CONCACAF had improved significantly in defense and goalkeeping as many of the teams battled the United States well.
Whether U.S. fans want to admit or not, the United States was clearly in danger of not qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. When it's said and done, many of the players were no longer responding to Bob Bradley's coaching tactics.
In time Bob Bradley will be truly appreciated for his consistency as U.S. head coach but for the remainder of 2011, many American supporters are ecstatic that he's been dismissed of his duties so the "Klinsmann Era" can be ushered in.
As a player, Klinsmann won the 1990 FIFA World Cup. As a coach, he lead Germany to a third-place finish at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Following his stint as Germany's head coach, Klinsmann compiled a 20-8-6 record. During his one-year tenure with Bayern Munich, Klinsmann posted an overall record of 25-9-9. However, it should be noted that in Bundesliga competition, Klinsmann record was 16-6-7.
For the past few years, Klinsmann has profusely expressed that American Soccer is a program where parents pay for their children to play in hopes of earning a college scholarship. It was at World Cup where he addressed the state of American soccer with his comments.
"This is the only country in the world that has the pyramid upside down. You pay for having your kid play soccer," he said. "Because your goal is not to have your kid become a professional soccer player, your goal is that your kid gets a scholarship in college, which is complete opposite rest of the world.
"We all came out of moderate families and fought our way through…so we need to keep this hunger throughout out life. I compare it to basketball here, because I look at these guys and they are coming from inner cities.
"So we need to find ways to connect, however that could be, to connect with Hispanics, to connect with everybody in the soccer environment in the U.S., and to get kids who are really hungry, to get kids on technical level to perform, and what I mean is first touch.
"The first touch yesterday was not there. There were far too many mistakes, and you can’t afford those mistakes in a World Cup."
Now that Klinsmann is in charge, it'll be interesting to see how much of his philosophy trickles down to where the USSF revamps their player recruitment where it'll lead to more wins in the youth level.
Will he play a pivotal role in ending what many soccer fans believe, the "Pay for Play" era? Or will he solely focus on enhancing the level of play with the current National squad because his contract will be up for review following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?
The only thing that will matter is if Klinsmann is able fuse his coaching and playing experience combined with his knowledge of the American culture and lead the United States to greater glory. It'll be curious to see how the current squad responds to his coaching philosophy over time.
While time will eventually answer our questions, the only thing certain is that Jurgen Klinsmann will make his head coaching debut when the USMNT faces Mexico in a rematch of the Gold Cup final on Wednesday, August 10 at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press & USSoccerPlayers.com ; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.
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