For whatever reason, we love to hear what the big voices in the game say about soccer in our part of the world.
Never mind that guys like Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho or even the clownish Sepp Blatter cannot possible know much about soccer in our part of the world. After all, why should they? They’ve got more than enough on their soccer plate without paying attention to what most of the world still sees as an outlier in the game. Well, maybe not Ferguson anymore … but you get the point.
Still, it’s part of the American soccer condition. We are constantly on the lookout for affirmation or validation. That spirited quarterfinal dash at World Cup 2002, easily U.S. Soccer’s high-water mark on the men’s side, only goes so far.
So when guys like Joachim Löw, manager of a ridiculously talented German side, one that will be among the favorites for World Cup 2014, speak on soccer here, fans and members of the fourth estate lean in.
Here’s what Löw said about the game here in a bigger, historical and cultural context:
Soccer here in the USA is still somewhat lagging behind what it is in Germany, not necessarily in terms of quality but in terms of tradition. Soccer in Germany is enjoying much higher status than over here, where the other sports, the famous ‘Big Four,’ are ruling the roost.”
He also talked about Klinsmann’s novel managerial approaches. Here, the current German boss does have a unique perspective worth hearing. Remember, all this novelty was not well received as Klinsmann sought to wrest Germany from too many of its former (and quite stodgy) ways. Löw was his top assistant in building that fashionable, younger Germany side that finished as such high-fliers, third place as hosts at World Cup 2006.
What Klinsmann will do, what he has done, is introduce new ideas and fresh approaches to the game. He’s been privileged to train under a whole array of coaches, and he was coach himself with Germany national team and Bayern Munich. So he has accumulated immense wealth of experience and knowhow. Couple this with the courage he has to effect change, and I think he will introduce a whole lot of new things that will do a load of good for the future of US soccer.”
Löw did get one part wrong, saying that Klinsmann’s final objective at U.S. boss was to “qualify for the 2014 World Cup.”
On that account, the current German coach could not be more incorrect. Steve Sampson, Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley all qualified U.S. teams for the World Cup. If we’re being honest, the “getting there” isn’t such a fancy trick out of this CONCACAF region.
Klinsmann was hired to move the United States off its sticking point, which has been second-round elimination at the last two World Cups. It was especially painful three summers ago in South Africa, where there was such a feeling of “opportunity lost.”
A lot of managers could get the United States to Brazil, and perhaps a few could successfully navigate the opening round.
Klinsmann needs to drive the bus a little further. Not that Löw needs to concern himself too much over that.