In a wise move, the U.S. Soccer Federation gave head coach Jurgen Klinsmann a new four-year contract extension that will keep the former World Cup champion with the U.S. Men's National Team through 2018. He also becomes the Technical Director for U.S. Soccer.
After a shaky start, Klinsmann's vision started to come to fruition in 2013, as the U.S. dominated CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a first place finish.
The team also captured its fifth Gold Cup title, winning all six matches en route to the championship. The USA defeated No. 2-ranked Germany, and also set single year records for wins (16), winning percentage (.761), and consecutive wins (12). Klinsmann's overall record with the U.S. is 27-10-7.
"I am very fortunate to continue the work we started more than two and half years ago," said Klinsmann. "It's exciting to see the progress we have made, and we continue to make improvements on all fronts. 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. These are fascinating topics and I am excited work with so many talented people and hear fresh ideas. For sure it means more work, but also many more fulfilling opportunities."
When he arrived, Klinsmann indicated that he wanted to expand the country's talent pool, that every position was up for competition, and that a more aggressive and attacking style would be implemented.
For the most part, progress has been made in all three areas, particularly as to the creation of an internally competitive environment.
When star Landon Donovan stepped away from the sport for several months, Klinsmann immediately set the tone by noting that even Donovan would have to earn his way back onto the World Cup roster. Donovan responded by making numerous appearances for the national team and legitimizing Klinsmann's message that all positions must be earned.
"One of the reasons we hired Jurgen as our head coach was to advance the program forward and we've seen the initial stages of that happening on the field and also off the field in various areas," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "In the past two years he has built a strong foundation from the senior team down to the youth teams and we want to continue to build upon that success."
In addition to guiding the senior Men's National Team, Klinsmann has been extremely active in building an integrated philosophy throughout the U.S. Youth National Teams, working closely with the coaches to develop performance driven standards both on and off the field.
Klinsmann is currently in Bradenton, Fla., attending the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase and will be speaking with all of the club coaches on hand.
The United States has been drawn into Group G of the 2014 FIFA World Cup along with Ghana, Portugal and Germany. The U.S. opens its tournament on June 16 against Ghana with kickoff at 6 p.m. ET at Estadio Das Dunas in Natal, located on the northeast coast of the country in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.
The USA will then face Portugal on June 22 at 6 p.m. ET at Arena Amazonia in Manaus, in the state of Amazonas, and will finish group play against three-time World Cup champion Germany at Arena Pernambuco in Recife, which is the capital of the state of Pernambuco and is also located on the northeast coast of the country. Kickoff for that match against Germany is 12 p.m. ET.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services