USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann gave an extensive interview to Graham Parker, published on The Guardian website on Friday. Much of it is familiar to the U.S. fan – the brief rundown of Klinsmann’s appointment, his accessibility to his players, the way the USMNT will approach the World Cup.
But that approach to the tournament is implicitly tied to what Klinsmann talks about most in the interview: his view of development of soccer in the U.S., with particular focus on youth development.
Klinsmann’s contract extension, which keeps him as head coach through 2018, makes him one of the rare national team managers that won’t necessarily have their fates determined by World Cup performance. This long-term approach not only allows Klinsmann to do things like select a young squad for Brazil, with an eye toward the 2018 World Cup, but it also allows him to put plenty of thought into how to best develop the system in the U.S. so that the team can truly become competitive:
No matter what level we’re involved at, it’s trying to connect the dots – we’re trying to connect coaches’ education, we’re trying to connect player development, we’re trying to connect the professional league to the bigger picture, the international picture. So – and this is all changing over the past couple of years – we introduced an academy system with a 10-month season. MLS extended their season longer and longer in order to become more competitive.
Does Klinsmann want the USMNT to do well in Brazil, or is development more important? As he says, ““Well, you want both to happen – success in Brazil then continuing the long-term growth of the game and the players here.”
It’s bound to be a tough tournament, with the U.S. drawn in Group G alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana. But USMNT supporters should be relieved to know that Klinsmann is thinking long-term, that he’s trying to find ways of connecting the dots so that the team can continue to grow and to build upon its successes.