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12.12.13

Four Thoughts on the Future of the Klinsmann Era

The American head coach gets a contract extension and the title of technical director. He'll be around until 2018. Brian Sciaretta tells us what the announcement means and why he'll succeed.

BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 12, 2013
4:30 PM
Jurgen Klinsmann will be coach of the U.S. national team through the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The announcement comes as a surprise because it is a vast departure from how U.S. soccer has handled its coaches in the past. While Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena were given contract extensions for a second cycle, those only came following successful World Cups. Here are four thoughts about the move.

1. Things change quickly
In the final game of the semifinal round, Klinsmann’s team fell behind Guatemala 1-0 in the first half. If that result held, the U.S. would have been eliminated from the World Cup in embarrassing fashion. While the team rallied to win the match, the Hexagonal got off to a dreadful start with a loss to Honduras and a report of turmoil within the team.

That was nine months ago. This is now. Klinsmann and the national team enjoyed a mostly stellar 2013, routing CONCACAF opposition in World Cup qualifying and at the Gold Cup. Nice wins over Bosnia and an undermanned German team made Klinsmann look smart, but underwhelming losses to Belgium and Austria show that the U.S. still has a long way to go.

It was a good year for Klinsmann but he and his team haven't proven themselves against top opposition. Handing him this contract based on the evidence at hand was a gutsy move.

2. Bucking the second cycle jinx
There aren’t many national team coaches in the world who take the job for two full cycles. U.S. Soccer’s decision to extend Klinsmann’s contract is likely a show of confidence that Klinsmann has a cohesive vision for the future. All teams win games and lose games. Even the best teams can have bad World Cups. But U.S. Soccer wants Klinsmann to lay the foundation and shape the program beyond 2018. Klinsmann may have the skills to do so. Unlike the past situations, maybe the second cycle will bring more success than the first.

3. Klinsmann is in charge now
The technical director job is the one that Klinsmann always wanted. It is unclear as the specifics that the job will entail, but it will likely include broad power into all aspects of U.S Soccer with a vision of implementing improved coaching with a set style throughout the country. In the announcement today, Klinsmann indicated as much when he said: “the role of Technical Director is a huge challenge and also a huge opportunity as we look to keep connecting the dots to the Youth National Teams, Coaching Education, the Development Academy and the grassroots efforts in this country.” He is now the man.

4. Remarkable stability in the U.S job
In the past 15 years, U.S. Soccer has had just three coaches. When you look south to Mexico, there have been four coaches since September. Obviously, it is not a good thing to stick with a poor coach but it is also a good thing to have consistency and for players to know what to expect when they arrive into camp. Coaches are always more likely to be respected when players know the man in charge isn’t going anywhere. Plus, it gives the American coaches in-waiting more time to develop.

What do you think of the move? Support it? Hate it? Tell us below in the Comments.

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