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Klinsmann Ready for Challenge of Coaching US Soccer

  • Parke Brewer

Juergen Klinsmann, of Germany, right, smiles after being introduced as the head coach of the U.S. men's soccer team by U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, left, at a news conference in New York, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.

Juergen Klinsmann, of Germany, right, smiles after being introduced as the head coach of the U.S. men's soccer team by U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, left, at a news conference in New York, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.

Former German football star Juergen Klinsmann met with the media for the first time Monday since being named head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team last Friday.

Juergen Klinsmann told the large media gathering in New York City that he will rely on his international experience and his knowledge of American life to help him try to improve the U.S. national team.

Klinsmann has lived with his family in California for 13 years and had been considered previously for the job. After U.S. Soccer last Thursday fired coach Bob Bradley with three-and-half years remaining on his contract, it turned to Klinsmann, who was able this time to get the terms he wanted. It was not necessarily salary, which has not been revealed, but how much control he would have over the development of the men’s national programs below the senior level.

First and foremost, Klinsmann said he needs to get to know the U.S. players. “Obviously, you know, it will take me a couple of weeks or a month to analyze most of the players and also to see what is coming through the ranks in the younger teams and then go from there. I am extremely happy that I got this opportunity and to move things, hopefully, in the right direction," he said.

Klinsmann will face an immediate test, as he must select a team to face U.S. arch rival Mexico in a friendly match in Philadelphia next week. The August 10 game was on the U.S. team’s schedule long before he took over as coach. “It’s going to be a challenge, absolutely. You know it’s a lot to do, basically calling up the players now, getting a squad together, knowing that it’s not going to be so easy since a lot of players have had their (off-season) breaks. Some of them haven’t even played a game yet in the new season in Europe, but that’s all just part of the job," he said.

Klinsmann, who turned 47 on Saturday, said he will rely on U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, Chief Executive Dan Flynn, former U.S. team players Claudio Reyna and Tab Ramos as well as other advisors. “I also would like really to meet some people here in the U.S. soccer environment that I don’t know yet and see, you know, if there’s maybe some common philosophies, some common ground to work together in future times. I need that time to make sure that I gather the right people with me," he said.

Klinsmann said he is pleased with the growth he has seen in the U.S. professional league, Major League Soccer, and said it has the opportunity to help develop the game even more. “It’s been a very busy last 10 or 15 years for soccer in this country and it’s great to see that. It’s a good foundation that is laid out now from all the people who have worked so hard over the last 10, 15 or 20 years. Now the question is to analyze, you know, where we are right now and how can we improve it even further, and find ways to get the players even more chances to become better," he said.

Klinsmann said that since he was named U.S. coach last Friday, the reaction from his home country Germany, from Europe and from the rest of the world has been amazing. He says there has been an overwhelming number of calls, e-mails and text messages. “A lot of people from overseas are looking toward the United States with interest and with curiosity to see what’s going on there, you know. And a lot people I’ve talked to throughout the last couple of years they've really gotten more into looking at the U.S. as a potential soccer nation. And that again raises the bar and makes the game even more popular in this country and I think this is great," he said.

As a player, Klinsmann led Germany to the 1990 World Cup title and to the European Championship in 1996. As coach, he guided his nation to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup. His new coaching assignment runs through the next World Cup in Brazil in 2014, and he will begin the task of trying to get the United States there in regional qualifying that begins early next year.

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