Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By ADAM SERRANO
MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. –- Always his analytic yet positive self, Jurgen Klinsmann spoke to a group of reporters during a group interview in Los Angeles and outlined his plans for the U.S. national team.
With one eye on the upcoming matches against Costa Rica on Friday and Belgium and another on the future, Klinsmann gave his impressions on his first few weeks as U.S. national team coach. Klinsmann touched on a number of topics, including his staff and the future of a team that is very much in a period of transition.
Central to his plans is naming a first assistant and Klinsmann revealed that his choice will be former Chivas USA head coach Martin Vasquez. The USMNT coach described Vasquez as someone who will play a role similar to the role Joachim Loew played for Klinsmann during his time at the helm of the German national team.
Vasquez is not yet under contract with U.S. Soccer, but a team official states that discussions are pending. Vasquez will simply be Klinsmann's first assistant on an interim basis until a contract is finalized, with Klinsmann also revealing that there will be full-time head coaches hired to handle the Olympic and Under-20 sides.
"Martin Vasquez will play that (first assistant) role for me, he's got an exceptional amount of talent and qualities that are perfectly suited for his role here," said Klinsmann. "He knows the American landscape inside out and is connected well within the Mexican market, he has knowledge of coaching teams on and off the field."
During his brief tenure as the head of the U.S. national team, Klinsmann's focus has centered around youth development and making sure that the United States can remain competitive on the youth and senior levels. Klinsmann believes it is important for potential young national team players like Josh Gatt and Joe Corona to start their tenure at the U-20 or U-23 level, an area that Klinsmann insists will be an important feeder group for the national team.
"If I bring in a guy just because it’s reported to me that he’s a very talented kid, but maybe I don’t have the whole picture, that won’t be good for anyone," Klinsmann said. "Then you shoot where they are to suddenly high media attention and something that they can’t fulfill.”
Although Klinsmann is focused on the future of the national team, he admits that he is interested in reaching out to former U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. Klinsmann said he has a tremendous respect for Bradley, and during a recent conversation with Michael Bradley said that he'd like "to sit down with Bob and pick his brain and have a soccer talk.”
Although Klinsmann wants to make a connection to the past, he's focused on the future, which includes bringing a more "open minded approach" to the team. This even extends to the fan as Klinsmann would like when possible, to hold open training sessions for his supporters, a practice that will start this Wednesday. One thing about Klinsmann is undeniable, he's certainly enjoying the experience.
“I’m going to enjoy this job very much,” said the smiling Klinsmann. “I really enjoy every second of it already.”