| HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif Jan 3 Juergen
Klinsmann is determined to carry off a style revolution for the
U.S. national team while urging patience from the country's
In an interview with Reuters, the former Germany coach and
striker said it could still be a long journey before Americans
saw the desired results.
"We'd like to take the team from a reactive style to playing
with a more proactive style. It's a huge change because in the
past they were always used to reacting to whatever the big teams
played against them.
"This transition will take time," he said near his home town
in California before a three-week training camp with players who
not involved in European club play.
Klinsmann, 47, who replaced Bob Bradley as head coach in
late July, said it could be tough to explain the need for time
to success-hungry fans.
"To tell the general American public that this is a
long-time process is very difficult because Americans, like
Germans, are impatient at times and they want to see results,"
said Klinsmann, whose team have won two matches, lost four and
"So while always working with the players in changing their
mindset, you've got to provide some results. It's a tricky one.
You want to have the results while going through changes."
The former Inter Milan and Tottenham forward is convinced
his players are capable of taking on the new approach.
"Americans are not reactive types of people - it's not in
their DNA. So why do you play a style that is not your culture?"
"We may never be able to play a truly controlling type of
soccer against countries like Spain or Germany or Brazil. But we
want to get closer to playing with them instead of just
defending and hoping for a counter - that's not my philosophy
and that's not the American philosophy."
Klinsmann says he is working hard to build new bridges
between the disparate hotbeds of the sport in youth
organisations and universities to newly created academies and
the increasingly important professional league, Major League
"It's still a bit of the 'Wild West' here because U.S.
soccer is disconnected from college soccer and college soccer is
disconnected from pro soccer," he said. "Maybe we'll never be
able to connect it all perfectly. But a lot is happening. Our
goal is to connect the dots everywhere we can."
He said American players had made tremendous strides in the
past decade, with most of his first team now starters in top
flight European leagues. A decade ago most of the Americans
playing in Europe were bench warmers. The next step, he said,
would be for more U.S. players to be on clubs competing in the
"It's difficult because there isn't the same mindset here
the way European nations or big football nations have in terms
of the social pressure they get wherever they go," he said.
Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup as a player and is
fourth on Germany's scoring list with 47 goals, said it was also
a challenge for Americans to think more globally about soccer.
"We have to tell the people in the U.S. we're not competing
in a domestic situation," he said. "Americans are used to the
competition being within America - the NBA, the NFL, the NHL.
"It's all so American-driven and all the top players in the
world that play that sport want to be part of the NBA, the NFL
or the NHL. So it's not always easy for the Americans to
understand that soccer is the other way around, that soccer is a
globally driven sport. Your competitors are global and your way
of working has to be global."
Klinsmann, long an avid user of technology and the modern
tools of communication, coached Germany for two years while
commuting back and forth across the Atlantic. Now he is keeping
his eyes on developments around the world with many of those
same tools and a growing worldwide network of assistant coaches.
He can watch any important soccer match anywhere in the
world on TV in the United States. He also has an assistant coach
based in Europe, former Austria striker Andreas Herzog, staying
in touch with players and coaches as well as another focused on
Latin America, Martin Vasquez.
"I don't use the best practice found in the United States -
I use the best practice from around the world," said Klinsmann,
who first ran into some media criticism in Germany for borrowing
U.S. ideas on fitness and mental trainers.
"If I see something in Australia or China or Europe that is
extremely good I put my nose it and want to learn about it,"
said Klinsmann, who speaks Italian, French and Spanish as well
as English and German. "Last month I was in Brazil for a
coaching symposium and there's interesting stuff you can pick
He dismisses, though, any notion he favours European-based
"No, I'm straight-forward with everyone involved here: The
only preference is quality and performance," he said. "It's all
performance based. I watch MLS games as much as I watch European
games. Obviously the level of play is growing here and getting
better but it's not where the Bundesliga and the Premier League
are and everyone who is realistic knows that.
"So all I'm interested in is evaluating players based on
their quality and performance. If the players are more in
Europe, they're in Europe. If they're here, they're here."
"I brought in players who were not even on the radar screen
playing MLS," said Klinsmann. "There were players in Mexico who
were not on the radar; they were kind of ignored. I brought them
into the picture."
(Editing by Simon Evans and John Mehaffey; To query or
comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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