The extended Jurgen Klinsmann interview
When Insider went to France and Slovenia last month, it wasn't just to cover U.S. friendlies. The blog also had the opportunity to sit down with Jurgen Klinsmann for ESPN The Magazine's first Interview Issue. The U.S. coach gave us two separate audiences with him at the Americans' team hotel in Versailles, on Nov. 8 and Nov. 12, more than an hour of conversation in all. The result is now on newsstands, and on ESPN.com, so check it out.
But the magazine only had so much paper available for the loquacious Klinsmann. He gave us plenty more insights into his thinking, and loyal readers of this blog can see them in Friday's post and in a second installment next Wednesday. From the interview, Klinsmann's idea of the job extends beyond calling in players to win soccer games. He discusses changing the sport in the U.S. in ways that go well past a typical national team coach's purview. Whether Klinsmann has the organizational and coaching chops to overhaul a system while still winning games at the rate of his two predecessors, Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley, remains to be seen. With a 2-4-1 start, he hasn't done it so far. But this much we're sure of: The man has lots of ideas, and doesn't mind sharing.
Friday's post focuses, like the Mag's piece, on some of Klinsmann's big-picture philosophy, and its roots. In the Magazine, he speaks about the new German-born U.S. players he's brought into the team. We'll start with a follow-up we asked on the number of German-American players, because it leads into some of his broader ideas on his role:
INSIDER: How much did you know about most of these kids when you took this job? Had you been following them closely?
KLINSMANN: Yeah. In the international game, every kid that is going through the under-16, under-18 national team cycle -- or under-19, under-20 -- is noticed everywhere. Every American kid playing for the under-17 national team is identified by professional teams in Europe. All those databases are out there, so they are all scouted no matter how good or bad they are.
Whether it's the Premier League teams, the Bundesliga teams or Spanish teams, it's a global competition for talent. So you chase the kid all over the world. If the kid is Chinese, you go after him. And they identify these kids younger than ever before. We realized that there are a lot of very talented American, or half-American, kids who are coming through the ranks in Germany and other countries and now they are 20, 21.
INSIDER: Why is this happening now?