|< Prev||Next >|
The US Soccer Federation has decided to part ways with head coach Bob Bradley after a five year tenure. Jurgen Klinsmann has been handed the responsibility of preparing the US national team for the coming tournaments, in particular the 2014 FIFA World Cup and its preceding qualifiers.
The current US squad has a balanced mix of both youth and experience. Bob Bradley had done a commendable job in bringing together a talented pool of players, but he has not fully been able to transform this mix into a cohesive footballing unit. USA's football team has had a cyclic performance, as far as World Cups are concerned, since 1990. They have reached the knockout rounds in1994, 2002 and 2010 but have failed to qualify from the group stages in the World Cups in between â€“ 1990,1998 and 2006. This peculiar pattern, if it continues, predicts a dismal World Cup under the new coach. But fortunately, Klinsmann has the credentials to face and end this cycle.
Jurgen Klinsmann has had a glittering career, both as a player and as a coach. His exploits on the field are legendary, having played for some of the top clubs in the world â€“ Inter Milan , Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Munich, to name a few. He was also instrumental in the West German national team's 1990 World Cup win.
As the coach of the German national team, in 2004, he gathered a reputation for not basing his team selection on player reputations but rather on performances. He is also a staunch believer in the value of youth in a team, as can be seen from his squad selection for the 2006 World Cup.
Klinsmann, who is based in US, was also a favourite for the position in 2006 and in 2010, but the move never happened. In the current US squad, he has a few advantages and many challenges. The advantages are - the balanced mix of youth and experience, a relatively clean slate considering the past performances of USA in the World Cup, which reduces the pressure as far as major tournaments are concerned.
At the same time, he faces the challenge of bringing the CONCACAF Championship back to USA, which is currently held by arch rivals Mexico. Klinsmann has been known to focus more on attacking football, and the current USA squad has been accused of being out of sorts in defence, especially in the recently held Gold Cup where USA squandered a 2-0 lead in the final to lose 4-2 to Mexico. This mismatch, and its eventual and effective resolution, will prove to be a decisive factor in the future performance of the team.
The upcoming match against Mexico, on 10th August, will provide the first glimpse into the policies used by Klinsmann on his road to World Cup 2014, though it would be premature to judge him in such a short time period. The good news is that he has been given ample time in which to build his squad for the 2014 World Cup, and considering his close association with USA's Major Soccer League, he has a deep understanding of the philosophy and mechanics of soccer in USA, which will definitely speed up the team building process.