Posted December 12, 2013

U.S. Soccer signals approval in Klinsmann’s direction with new contract

Grant Wahl, Jurgen Klinsmann, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Jurgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann will be guiding the U.S. national team as coach and technical director through 2018. (Richard Drew/AP)

In a move that was surprising in its timing, U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann signed a four-year extension through 2018 with U.S. soccer on Thursday, adding the title of technical director to his job description. The extension will give Klinsmann the power to have a giant influence over the direction of the U.S. men’s program, which he took over in 2011.

Klinsmann publicly expressed his interest in extending his U.S. contract for the first time in an interview with SI.com in October, but Thursday’s announcement was the first evidence that U.S. Soccer was willing to give Klinsmann four more years.

Why would U.S. Soccer extend Klinsmann now instead of waiting to see how the U.S. does at next year’s World Cup? The timing may well have something to do with the difficult draw the U.S. got last week for the World Cup (Ghana, Portugal, Germany). If the U.S. had drawn an easier group, then it might have made sense to wait until after the World Cup to see if Klinsmann’s team had grossly underperformed.

With the tough draw, however, the U.S. is hardly a cinch to advance, and extending Klinsmann ahead of time shows that U.S. Soccer is happy with the direction the national team has been taking under Klinsmann. It’s a big vote of confidence for a coach who took the job in 2011 promising major changes to the U.S. system that anyone with knowledge of the game knew would take longer than 2014 to see through fully.

Klinsmann has been making a base salary of $2.5 million a year, so it stands to reason that he would get a raise to at least $3 million a year on the new contract, not least because he has added the technical director position to his job description.

STRAUS: Klinsmann signs on through 2018

Is there a sizable risk involved here for U.S. Soccer? Of course. The U.S. could play well at the World Cup and still not advance, but if the Americans are blown out of the water by their group stage foes there will be many who question this move. There’s also a school of thought that it’s unwise for any national team to keep a coach for more than one four-year cycle. In hindsight, the second terms of previous U.S. coaches like Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley were not as productive as their successful first terms.

Then again, extending his contract will allow Klinsmann to be bold in Brazil next summer, and sometimes boldness can be a great thing on the biggest stage. Whatever way you look at it, though, the Klinsmann Era of U.S. Soccer is clearly upon us.

11 comments
Rickapolis
Rickapolis

As positivewins said, the best athletes in America do not play soccer. We'll never seriously compete against the rest of the world (where virtually ALL a countries best athletes play soccer) until that changes.  As for Klinsmann, if he gets the USMNT out of their group at the World Cup he deserves a bonus. A vey big bonus.

morejunk
morejunk

Good news.


Now he just needs to convince US Soccer to drop out of CONCACAF and head for CONMEBOL.

MattCoughlin
MattCoughlin

I like it. I think you can make a good argument for 4-year stints in most cases, however, Klinsmann is tasked with improving the US, not only the senior side, but down to the technical direction for youth programs now. I really think his approach and philosophy will have more influence there. And that's something that takes more than a 4-year contract. I think the US will show better than some expect at the cup. And regardless of the success next summer, I want Klinsmann back to finish what he started with the "grassroots" of US soccer.

A quote from him found in an article from another site: 

“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,” Klinsmann said. “For sure it means more work, but also many more fulfilling opportunities.”

I think in the last few years of his contract we'll see an even more talented US team, a much deeper team. And that's why I think he deserved the extension and why it was given to him.



BrianHubbard
BrianHubbard

really like what KenKing said. So happy for US soccer and JK! GO USA.

KenKing
KenKing

Arena basically rolled the ball out on the field for the best 23 players he could find, and hoped for the best. 


Bradley took the best he could find, and taught them an ugly game, but the only game with which they had a chance to compete. 


Klinsmann taught the USMNT team how to play soccer and sought out the pieces that would allow us to at least start thinking about playing 'the beautiful game'.


You simply cannot compare the contribution of Klinsmann to the other two. All were good guys. But only Klinsmann really got the job done. Now, can we try to pry a certain coach away from the Portland Timbers, for the cucle when JK goes.

Boodah
Boodah

Yer-Genn, Yer Genn, Yer -Genn!!!!!

positivewins
positivewins

Frankly, Klinsmann has done better than we probably have a right to expect.  The US produces more world-class athletes than any other nation on earth, but we have not been able to convince the best of them to make soccer their sport of choice.  The US could be a dominating world soccer power if the sport becomes more widely accepted as a professional sporting opportunity.

Klinsmann's work with the entirety of American soccer - including what's been happening at the youth levels - may not bear fruit even during the run of this second four-year contract.  But barring an obvious candidate waiting in the wings, Klinsmann deserves a chance to see his plans through to the end of the beginning.

usamnt
usamnt

@RickapolisKnowing how to play point guard and having the technical skills to succeed as the world's best at that position - really has very little to do with being the best athlete in the country. Soccer is far less like 10 WRs running around trying to outperform everyone, but more like 10 point guards all reading the game and trying to achieve mastery of ball control. Yes great athletes help. No, Messi, Neymar, Zidane, (you get my point) are very very far from the best athletes in their countries or the USA. More kids playing every day of their lives from 4-10 and then not QUITTING soccer, and being coached well -  is what we need.

spikevicious
spikevicious

@KenKing Or, can we try to pry a certain coach away from ManCity USA, for the cycle when CP goes.

Davos1
Davos1

The group that runs MLS has the greatest impact on whether the US becomes a soccer power or not. Clubs develop players, not countries. Klinsmann can't really do much. The more money flows into MLS, the better US athletes start coming into soccer.

billyd13
billyd13

@Davos1 I agree the MLS has a large influence but the money in the BPL hasn't exactly made the English National team a power lately.  I think the accessibility and viability of kids in urban environments playing soccer at a younger age (which you could argue a richer MLS could influence) is the biggest aspect.