U.S. Soccer has finally hired Juergen Klinsmann, the German expat, as coach of its men’s national soccer team.
Message boards a rejoicing, soccer aficionados are busy regaling the new coach as a real innovator.
But is he really the guy to take the USMNT to the next level? Can he really bring U.S. Soccer to the brink of winning the World Cup?
Since the USMNT has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals (2002), the next level for U.S.men’s soccer constitutes earning a berth in a World Cup semifinal. Klinsmann has reached the semis before, as coach of Germanyin 2006, but he lost that game and had to settle for a 3rd place finish in a tournament his country hosted.
Reaching the semifinals isn’t necessarily the brink of winning a World Cup, though it’s awfully close. There’s certainly something to take away from a Top 4 finish in planet Earth’s biggest tournament — honor, notoriety, etc – but expectations need to be greater.
Scads of writers are saying this is a sure-fire match, the USMNT and Klinsmann. I’m a little more apprehensive. What’s really in this for U.S. Soccer? Is Klinsmann the great European soccer prodigy that will alter this country’s fortunes forever, as was described in the book “Soccernomics”?
Is a 3rd place finish at the World Cup enough of a credential to create this kind of furor over a guy who lives in Newport Beach and occasionally consults a bad Major League Soccer franchise?
After five long years of courtship, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati hires Klinsmann at a time when the men’s U-20 and U-23 teams do not have managers and the national team plays Mexico in less than two weeks?
It may not be the best of timing, but this is where the rubber meets the road.