People’s choice? Juergen Klinsmann now holds the future of the USMNT in his hands (AFP Photo).
Well, it took a few years longer than first envisioned, but it looks like U.S. Soccer – or should I say U.S. soccer fans – finally got their man. And this time around he was hired with a minimum of fuss:
CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Soccer appointed Juergen Klinsmann as its new national coach on Friday, a day after firing Bob Bradley.
The former Germany coach will be a familiar face to American fans, given that he nearly got the job after the 2006 World Cup and then again last year before Bradley was given what turned out to be a short-lived contract extension to 2014.
The former Germany striker’s first game in charge will be a friendly against archrival Mexico in Philadelphia on Aug. 10. Qualifying for the next 2014 World Cup in Brazil begins next year.
“We are excited to have Juergen as the head coach of our Men’s National Team,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “He is a highly accomplished player and coach with the experience and knowledge to advance the program. Juergen has had success in many different areas of the game, and we look forward to the leadership he will provide on and off the field.”
Klinsmann will be formally introduced Monday at a news conference in New York.
“I am proud and honored to be named the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team,” Klinsmann said. “I would like to thank the U.S. Soccer Federation for the opportunity, and I’m excited about the challenge ahead. I am looking forward to bringing the team together for our upcoming match against Mexico and starting on the road toward qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”
Although the U.S. federation discussed the job with Klinsmann in the past, the coach’s desire for extensive authority over the entire U.S. program was considered a point of contention.
Klinsmann, who turns 47 on Saturday, has a considerable World Cup pedigree.
As a player, he scored 11 goals in three World Cups, 1990, 1994 and 1998. That ties him for sixth on the all-time scoring list, just behind Pele.
Klinsmann was a key cog for West Germany’s 1990 World Cup-winning team and the German team’s captain from 1994 to 1998. He retired in 1998 and moved to the United States shortly afterward.
Bradley’s dismissal after five years in charge came as a surprise on Thursday.
He led the U.S. team to considerable success and several big moments. But the U.S. seemed to ake a step backward this summer, and a stinging 4-2 loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final last month — when the U.S. blew a 2-0 lead — appears to have convinced U.S. Soccer officials it was time to make a change.