Opinion: 2014 FIFA World Cup figures majorly into Jurgen Klinsmann’s legacy for US Men’s National Team
Jurgen Klinsmann has fared well as the United States men’s soccer team coach in his first three years, setting records including a 12-match win streak. The coach now has something to prove in his first FIFA World Cup with the team.
The U.S. men’s national team has not advanced farther than the semifinals in the world’s largest soccer tournament, but that was in 1930 when the there were only 13 teams, compared to the modern 32.
The best result since then was in 2002, when the U.S. bowed out in the quarterfinals losing to Germany, 1-0.
Bruce Arena lead that 2002 squad, a coach with a long tenured career including an appearance for the U.S. National Team, coaching several college programs, and coaching three Major League Soccer teams — he is currently the coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy. He has two league titles with the Galaxy.
Klinsmann’s experience equals that of Arena’s — and arguably surpasses it.
Klinsmann had an extensive playing career on the field. He most notably played with clubs such as Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Inter Milan. His national team career has him tied for third for most goals scored for West Germany/Germany with 47. Although young, his coaching career is still impressive, coaching Bayern Munich and leading the German national team to a third place finish in the 2006 World Cup.
Proving himself and his abilities, Klinsmann expects to take the U.S. to new heights in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer. He is surely one of the most experienced to take the reins of this team, much more than his predecessors Bob Bradley or Arena.
In an interview Oct. 15 before the last World Cup qualifying match against Panama, Klinsmann explained the difference between coaching Germany and the U.S.
“In Germany it is a bit more simple because there is only one expectation … We say we want to win this thing,” Klinsmann said. “For us in the U.S., it is a growing process. We can surprise people in Brazil, (but) obviously our expectation is to get out of the group no matter who we draw. After that, we need to make the players understand it is all about mind games. Every game becomes 50-50 and will be won by the team who is better prepared and believes in themselves more.”
Before the World Cup draw Dec. 6, many would at least expect a return to the quarterfinals for the U.S. Now, with opponents Germany, Portugal and Ghana — currently ranked No. 2, No. 4 and No. 35 in the world, respectively, by FIFA compared to the U.S., who is ranked No. 14 — some are expecting the Americans not to make it out of group play.
But have faith American Outlaws.
With a revamped young squad including the addition of German phenomenon Julian Green and an experienced coach (who also might have the inside scoop on the German squad), I expect a U.S. return to the quarterfinals.
Will Klinsmann’s national team success be a one-and-done? A defining moment in Klinsmann’s coaching career lives and dies in Brazil this summer.
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