BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, August 1, 2011
Jurgen Klinsmann was formally introduced as the US national team head coach on Monday in New York City and he held a long press conference to discuss his vision for US Soccer.
For those wanting specifics, the press conference will be a disappointment. For most of the time, Klinsmann spoke of generalities of development and a new approach.
There were a few actual news items to take from it.
The first is that Klinsmann will not have a full time staff for quite awhile. He said on Monday he will have various guest coaches for his assistants for the upcoming friendlies and that he is in no rush to hire the permanent members of his staff.
The second is that Klinsmann is very focused on working closely with Claudio Renya to shift the approach of youth development in this country. Klinsmann mentioned Renya's name on mulitple occasions and it's clear the former USMNT captain will have a powerful role under Klinsmann.
Also, Klinsmann stressed that he was flexible. He said he had his ideas on the future of the team but he would reevaluate them to determine if they fit the American game. He also said that the national team's style of play had to reflect the growing number of players from Latin-America.
The press conference left more questions than answers. The ideas he suggested seemed very long term and not short term. Changing the soccer culture within the United States is not something that can be done by any single person or small group of people.
It also seemed at times that he was biting off more than he can chew. He spoke at length about youth soccer and player development. It is healthy that Klinsmann wants to change a youth system that has a lot of flaws but it is also questionable that Klinsmann spent more time talking about youth development than actually coaching the team he was hired to lead.
A few years ago, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati talked about hiring a technical director and much of what Klinsmann discussed seemed like he fit that job role as well as being the coach.
When asked, Klinsmann ducked the issue of the amount of power he would have but it seemed clear he had a vision. Still, it remains very unclear how he will implement his vision and the details were lacking.
Gulati did not address the details that followed once he made the decision to replace Bob Bradley. It would have been interesting to hear if there was a coaching search or was Klinsmann was the only one he was considering.
Tough questions remain ahead for Gulati if Klinsmann struggles. The US Soccer president has been interested in Klinsmann for over five years despite the fact Klinsmann resume has gotten weaker with years of either failures (Bayern Munich coach, consultant at Toronto FC) or mere inactivity. If Klinsmann does not succeed, Gulati will be accused of having tunnel vision in his selection of Klinsmann those accusations will be difficult to defend.
Despite all the questions and lack of details, it is indisputable that Klinsmann has given a jolt of excitement to a program that has had a bad year since the 2010 World Cup. He may not have a strong resume, but he does command respect.
More eyes than ever before will be on the national team and Klinsmann seemed like he was prepared to handle that responsibility.