Klinsmann targeting fitness 

September, 2, 2011

CARSON, Calif. -- In the five weeks that have passed since he was hired as U.S. coach, Jurgen Klinsmann has wasted little time putting his stamp on the national team program.

There are new players (Fabian Johnson) and new opportunities for previously discarded ones (Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco Fiscal). There's a new top assistant, Martin Vasquez. There's a new optimism around the squad.

Quite simply, there's a new way of doing things under the German legend: his way. And anyone who has followed Klinsmann's coaching career, from the German national team to Bayern Munich to the U.S., knows that a huge part of "his way" involves an unconventional approach to fitness training.

Klinsmann has quickly implemented change there, too.

Along with most of the rest of former coach Bob Bradley's staff, out went longtime fitness coach Pierre Barrieu, who had worked with the U.S. for almost a decade. In came Mark Verstegen, the American exercise guru credited with helping Klinsmann's German team reach the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup. Verstegen, founder of training firm Athletes Performance, joined Klinsmann for his debut match against Mexico last month. Verstegen hasn't officially replaced Barrieu as the team's permanent conditioning coach, but it's clear that Verstegen's methods are a big part of Klinsmann's plan, beginning with the baseline fitness tests the players were put through here this week.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.