The United States Soccer Federation passed up a chance of signing former Germany national coach Juergen Klinsmann to lead the U.S. men’s national soccer squad. Klinsmann withdrew his name from consideration for the job last Thursday, but there is no need to worry, for the USSF presented Friday their new interim head coach. Bob Bradley was chosen to lead the national team for the next six months, and maybe more, depending on how well he does during his stint. Hiring Bradley was a no-brainer for the USSF, but that does not mean it was the best decision.
Bradley is definitely a worthy candidate. He has a good resume that includes 124 Major League Soccer wins, making him the most winning coach in MLS history. He also has an MLS Cup title under his belt, from when he coached the Chicago Fire in 1998. Those two points alone should make him a shoe-in for the job. But when you consider the better person for the job, Bradley does not even come close to Klinsmann.
Klinsmann was one of the greatest players to ever play for Germany. He has won a number of achievements, including a beloved World Cup. As a coach, he led a young German national team to a surprising third place finish, losing in the semifinals to the team that went on to win the tournament, Italy. He is obviously a man who knows not only how to play the game, but to coach it as well.
Germans did not want to part with the coach they learned to respect, but Klinsmann resigned as head coach after the World Cup to take a break from coaching. The USSF also parted ways with their long-time coach, Bruce Arena, which opened the door to rumors of Klinsmann coaching the U.S.
The German star lives in Newport Beach and is not far from the Home Depot Center in Carson. When a good German coach lives in the area and is willing to negotiate, you do what you can to convince him to take the job, not let it fall apart like the USSF did. It was almost perfect for the USSF. Klinsmann lives in California, he knows the language and he often visits the Home Depot Center. What went wrong?
According to Klinsmann, they just could not agree to terms and he wished the best to the future coach and team. Shame on the USSF for not trying harder to land this guy because he would have definitely made a difference in U.S. soccer.
Bradley has done a great job for his club teams in the MLS, but international soccer is much more different. He has served as an assistant to former coach Arena, and you may find similarities in the way they like their teams to play. We do not need another coach similar to Arena. He has done a lot for the U.S. in the past seven years, but it is time for the USSF to hire a different kind of coach, a foreign coach like Klinsmann.
For the U.S. to compete with teams in Europe and South America, they need to have the same mentality as them, and they can only get that from a coach who understands European soccer. It is obvious American coaches cannot grasp that mentality because they lack the experience.
Sure, Arena had success in 2002, losing in the quarterfinals to Germany. But in 2006, the U.S. team looked awful, losing to the Czech Republic 3-0 in the opener. Their only point was a 1-1 tie against Italy (the U.S. goal was actually scored by an Italian defender). The U.S. team is known to play conservative soccer, whereas Europe plays a faster-paced, more aggressive soccer. American soccer has to eventually adopt a different style to compete with the best of teams.
Klinsmann coached one of the most aggressive teams in the World Cup. He could have put American soccer back to where it was in 2002, which was a successful year for them. This past year, soccer has backtracked here, and hopefully it does not backtrack too far. The mistake the USSF made will not be evident immediately. We will have to wait three years to finally see that the USSF made a poor decision in not agreeing to terms with Klinnsman. Oh well; until then, good luck Mr. Bradley.