On Thursday, United States soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann agreed to a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the U.S. team through the 2018 World Cup, while also making him the team’s technical director.
The deal was a no-brainer for the U.S. Soccer Federation after Klinsmann turned around a lackluster team into arguably the deepest, most talented and most entertaining American squad ever.
Klinsmann was hired as United States head coach in July of 2011, replacing Bob Bradley. The 49-year-old played for Germany’s 1990 World Cup championship team and coached the Germans to a third place finish in the 2006 World Cup. But he has lived in Orange County, California for years and his heart has been in the United States for a long time. Making him the head coach was an obvious move when Bradley was ousted.
In his first six games in charge of the United States men’s national team, Klinsmann’s squad suffered four losses while drawing once and winning one. After an up and down first year on the job, things slowly turned around for the Americans and in 2013 they won their fifth CONCACAF Gold Cup and the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group.
The 2013 campaign saw the U.S. set a record for its most wins in a year (16), longest winning streak (12) and highest winning percentage (.761).
Klinsmann has also been instrumental in widening the team’s talent base. He has built youth outreach programs, while also reaching out to young players with dual American citizenship and convincing them to represent the United States at the international level. The result is an American squad that is deeper than it has ever been, with more players competing professionally in Europe’s top leagues than ever before.
Klinsmann had the following to say about his new deal:
“I am very fortunate to continue the work we started more than two and a half years ago. 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 (to) work with so many talented people and hear fresh ideas. For sure it means more work, but also many more fulfilling opportunities.”
The new deal also means Klinsmann’s future will not be determined by America’s ridiculously difficult draw in the 2014 World Cup, where the U.S. will be grouped with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Instead he will have a chance to continue building on what has been an incredibly successful tenure thus far.