For much of my life, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team has been on the brink of world competition. With the hiring of a new coach, they might finally break through.
Last month, after a five-year courting period, Jurgen Klinsmann finally took the job as head coach of the national team. There’s no doubt in my mind that Klinsmann is the right man for the job, and I believe that he will be able to give the Americans the boost they need to be on the same level as the greats of world soccer.
Klinsmann coached the German national team on their unexpected run to the late stages of the 2006 World Cup. As the coach for Germany, he revamped their team and proved that he knows how to run a successful team. One of the changes he implemented in Germany, and will likely do here, was getting the team to play a more open, attacking style of play.
For years, fans have been calling for the hiring of Klinsmann, and many have been hoping the team would adopt a more attacking style of play.
Another reason why I think that American soccer is on the brink of something big is the amount of young, talented players. There was a time when Americans were rarely seen playing abroad, but times have changed. Last season, the leading scorer for Fulham, a team in the English Premier League, was Clint Dempsey, an American. There are also plenty of young players who will be looking for an opportunity to impress Klinsmann and win a spot in the U.S. squad.
Klinsmann has already had his first test as U.S. manager, a friendly game against Mexico which took place two weeks after he was hired. While it might be hard to draw a conclusion from that match, since he had only a few days to prepare, the U.S. was able to tie Mexico in a 1-1 game. What was evident, though, was an open style of play.
Another thing that I noticed while watching the game is that Klinsmann is excited to be here, and the players looked excited to take the field, which was something that was missing the past few months. Following the game against Mexico, many players, including Steve Cherundolo and Tim Howard, admitted that there had been a lack of energy in the past, and that the coaching change has energized the team.
The players weren’t the only ones who seemed excited to be there.
When Brek Shea scored the game-tying goal, the cameras found Klinsmann jumping and cheering on the sidelines like a crazed fan.
For much of the game against Mexico, the U.S. didn’t look like the reincarnated version of Brazil, but, with time, I think things will change. As the players get used to Klinsmann and his style, and as he gets used to the players, and finds a system which works, I think the U.S. will take a big step into the world spotlight. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.