US SoccerUS Soccer
Jurgen Klinsmann

Quote Sheet: U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati and MNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann

U.S. Soccer Federation President SUNIL GULATI

Opening comments:
“U.S. Soccer is very pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with Jurgen to coach the team over the next four years and, frankly, to recognize some of the other things he’s doing in terms of the direction of the overall program by adding that to his portfolio. It’s been a very successful two and a half years. That doesn’t mean every game has been successful over that period of time. The team has played well, we’ve got the best record we’ve ever had over a similar period of time and a number of notable, landmark wins in various places. We’re really very pleased as we build toward the summer, the seven and a half months as we go toward Brazil that we have continuity beyond that.”

On why he thinks Jurgen Klinsmann will be different as a two-term coach than previous coaches:
“I actually had a discussion with my class at Columbia about this and statistical analysis a week ago. Two-term coaches, by definition, people only get a second term if they’ve done well the first term which means the likelihood that they’re going to do better than that, purely on statistical terms is not as good because they would have done very well in the first. Obviously, if you win the world championship, it’s harder to do better than that the second go-round. So I think there are a lot of things that are different about this apart from the statistics. One is, our opponents over the last two years have been very, very good. We’re pleased with that. That doesn’t mean we haven’t qualified before, won the Gold Cup before, but not only the wins and losses but how we’ve played. We think supporting that effort, both going into the World Cup and beyond, is the right way to go.”

On announcing the extension now as opposed to after the 2014 FIFA World Cup:
“From my end, it does a few things. One, we’ve had a very good run and we want to show our support for Jurgen. That’s not the main issue at hand. But there are also pragmatic market considerations. After the World Cup, lots of things could happen. Jurgen may have other interests, we may have other interests. This is a way of making a long-term commitment to each other, one that we’re pleased with. Traditionally we’ve waited until after the World Cup. We decided not to do that here. I think Jurgen is a unique coach with unique opportunities so that’s certainly part of what we wanted to do, but we like what’s been happening with the program over the last couple of years. All of this doesn’t come down to one game or one missed shot or one save. Clearly the World Cup is extraordinarily important and it’s a measure of where we are, but it’s not the only thing and the only way we measure ourselves.”

On whether his decision was influenced by the interest demonstrated by other organizations in hiring Klinsmann:
“We’ve obviously read some of those things. On a specific level, none of those things were critical to us. The desire to make sure we had a long-term commitment from Jurgen and he had one from us was part of it, and market dynamic does dictate some of that. So we’re not oblivious to the fact that Jurgen over the last two years has had an extraordinary run with the National Team and that would bring a lot of interest from the outside. Sure, some of that matters, but not specifically the Switzerland or Tottenham issues, but generally a coach that has done very well, that has an international reputation, who speaks multiple languages would be sought after. So the desire to have a commitment from him, contractually, for a long period of time, that matters, of course.”

On the extent that Klinsmann’s role changes with the addition of the Technical Director position:
“I think there are two things: one is that Jurgen has been involved in some of those areas during this first two and a half years. But as he was finding his way with the team and it was new to him - obviously the U.S. isn’t new and coaching isn’t new - but coaching the U.S. team was, he needed to focus very much on that so the amount of time he was able to spend while we were in the middle of qualifying and the Gold Cup was obviously relatively limited. But he has spent time in those areas, in Coaching Education, in the hiring decisions regarding our Youth National Team coaches, all of those things. What we’re doing now is doing two things. One is formalizing that, something that has been informal. And second is recognizing that in this second cycle, he’s now established and can spend more time on that, whether it’s with our Coaching Education programs, our Academy programs, and as Michael (Kammarman) mentioned, he’s down in Florida now with our Academy coaches and our National Team coaches. So, I think you’ll see a greater influence because he has the time. He’s always had the inclination to do it and now we’ve just formalized that.”

On what he has seen in the past year and a half beyond the results on the field that make him eager to establish continuity through 2018:
“Certainly, the record of the team has been good. That’s obvious to all of us. I think the way we’ve tried to play, and we haven’t been able to play that way in every game and certainly against top opponents that gets more difficult. The game I always refer to is the Bosnia game. We’re playing a ranked team, a World Cup team as it now turns out, we’re down 2-0, we come back to tie the game 2-2 and then we don’t sit back. That’s a new mentality. The players a) had the confidence to continue to press forward against a good European team, in Europe, where we’ve come back from two goals down and not be willing to accept a draw and we go on to win that game 3-4. Were there some mistakes in that game? That answer is yes. We gave up two goals. But that sort of mentality, which I think feeds into players competing very hard at every position – and that’s been talked about – is a big part of what we’ve seen. And Jurgen’s desire to see the U.S. not sit back and try to play teams, try to press teams further down the field. All of those things are extremely important. Now, we aren’t going to be able to do that in every game. We’re not going to be able to do that against Spain or Germany. Tactics may be different against Spain or Portugal or whatever. But we’ve see more of that. We’ve seen more confidence and I think that’s in great measure due to the confidence that Jurgen has instilled in the team and the individual players that we can be better than we’ve been, and we’ve been pretty good. I don’t want to take anything away from where we started. We’ve been in the last six World Cups prior to this one so we’re building on a foundation but our expectations and, frankly, our demands are even higher. I think the players and the team have responded to that.”

On whether the decision to extend now was to send a message that this is a long-term project despite the results in Brazil:
“That’s all part of it. It is a long-term commitment. It does send that message and it does send a message to everyone, whether it’s a current group of players or a current group of youth coaches or the external community that might have been thinking there’s an interesting coach in the U.S. after the World Cup. It’s all of those things. That’s the rationale for doing it now. Jurgen and I have been talking about it for some period of time. Not too long ago we started having serious discussions about it. It happened fairly quickly. To make very clear, we didn’t reach an agreement after the Draw. We had an agreement before the Draw. Just didn’t want to detract from the Draw itself so therefore we announced it afterward. This isn’t a reaction to anything that happened at the Draw itself, in terms of our group.”

On when he knew this was the move he wanted to make:
“I don’t think there was a particular moment. I think the Bosnia game I referenced is symbolic of a number of things we have seen and that’s why it’s important but it wasn’t a game that we made a decision. It’s been a process. Jurgen and I talked earlier in the year about how we were doing on the field, off the field with the rest of the program and were we satisfied with the direction, not necessarily where were overall because we all want to be better. And the answer to that question was yes, that the direction we were headed was good. We started having further discussions on a long-term possibility and in not a lot of depth because we were in the middle of qualifying and the Gold Cup was in the middle of the summer but then once we got through the qualifying process, frankly, it was relatively straightforward when we met a few times. It took a little longer to get some paperwork done but it was in the Fall this past year in the last couple of months where we sat down and worked things out.”

U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach and Technical Director JURGEN KLINSMANN

Opening comments:
“I’m extremely pleased, proud, happy to have the opportunity to continue our path toward Russia 2018. Also the fact that I’m allowed to take on the Technical Director role as well and have an influence and hopefully a good hand in guiding several other areas throughout the U.S. Soccer landscape in the next couple of years, connecting all the youth teams, connecting the Academy programs, connecting to Coaches Education and other areas. It’s something very exciting to look forward to. I’m very pleased and looking forward to long-term development here.”

On announcing the extension now as opposed to after the 2014 FIFA World Cup:
“I think it really helps us to look a little beyond this upcoming World Cup, which is extremely important, no doubt it. We want to do well there, and we will do well. But for the type of work that we have begun there, we want to show the players, we want to show everybody involved in the game here that there is a plan in place, or there are ideas in place, but they will also take time to break through, to develop, to educate, whether it’s the players, whether it’s staff, everybody involved. This is not just a process that depends purely on the results of the World Cup. I think it gives you a bit more consistency; it gives you more opportunities to follow through with things. Especially now with the Technical Director role, getting involved in coaching education, I just had a talk with all the Academy coaches down here in Florida, and develop plans beyond the World Cup without losing the highest priority, doing well then in the World Cup. It’s easier to break through messages, it’s easier to get everybody pulling in the same direction if they know that you’re long-term here and you follow through with it, you’re consistent, you’re persistent and you want to do things well and you want to explain yourself in the long term. It gives us all of that sense that we are thinking through certain periods and not just now counting down the days until game one starts in Natal in Brazil.”

On the extent that his role changes with the addition of the Technical Director position:
“The first two and a half years were a learning curve for me, as well. My first time going through CONCACAF. My first time going through the different stages of qualifying for a World Cup and making it. That experience has been a great experience but not an easy one. As you know we started the Hex with a loss in Honduras and then we took off. But having done all that, I have a better understanding; I have a better feel for the Federation. You get to know each other, you know now who plays what role, so that all became, not a routine, but something you’re familiar with. Now you can touch other areas. You can have good conversations with people that drive the game at all different levels in this country. That’s why I’m so eager to take that role on as well because I want to be part of it. I want to be part of soccer making it to another level in this country and build on the strong foundation that was already built by the people before I came on board and to keep on improving everything here.”

On going into the World Cup knowing that his job is safe and how it affects the approach he takes for the tournament:
“It doesn’t really affect how I approach the World Cup. My expectations are along the same lines as everybody’s expectations. We want to get out of the group. We want to surprise some people there, but nothing changed on that. It’s a good feeling to know that you can now lay the foundation for more things after the World Cup in player development and other areas that I touched on before. A coach will always be measured by his results. I’m a very ambitious person and I always have high expectations in what I want to do so I’m not looking for any kind of comfort zone going into the World Cup and I would never take that approach because I expect us to do well and to get through that very difficult group. You’re always going to be measured on that. You guys are going to measure me on the results in Brazil, rightfully so. There is no protection for anything. As a coach in the professional field you are always on your toes. You are always under observation and judgment from the public side. It’s just easier now in many other areas to think beyond the World Cup in other working areas.”

On what specific parts of the Technical Director role is he targeting for the Youth National Teams and the development of the player pool for American players:
“I think we went through a learning curve the last two and a half years and one of the big disappointments of that learning curve was obviously not being qualified for London 2012. That kind of shocked us and hit us and we were all very disappointed with what happened in Nashville that day. Going forward, we want to start pushing those topics earlier. We want to address the Olympic far earlier with camps happening already in 2014. We want to talk closer with MLS about what we can do for that age group, the 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds. We want to make sure that Tab [Ramos] with the under-20s, Javier [Perez] with the under-18s, that we all go in the right direction. We want to connect early to all sorts of talents that float around; around the world with American-European kids, with Mexican-American kids, kids in South America. We want to start to do all that connecting work ahead time. We have done fairly well to find good players with American passports, being American citizens and we’re going to continue that path as well. But obviously we want to improve the quality of all the young kids in this country and MLS plays a very, very important role. Our Academies play an important role. We want to get that process intensified, we want to go deeper into it, we’re going faster in it in order to make our youth teams also be stronger once they hit the international competition. It’s a big part of going forward to make sure that we’re going to be in Rio 2016, to make sure that Tab’s group qualifies again and so forth.”

On what he has seen so far on the coaching side and whether the coaching in the U.S. is good enough:
“It’s never good enough because coaching means it’s an ongoing education. You just learn, as I learned during the past two years with the CONCACAF competition and the Hexagonal and all of that. As a coach, you always continue to learn and continue to grow, and you have to educate yourself always to another level and add more and more to your own portfolio of knowledge. I think there is an amazing base of knowledge in this country, through the U.S. Soccer system but also the college system and many, many opportunities out there. We want to dig deeper into that. We just had a talk with about 200 Academy coaches here in Bradenton where we said clearly that we want to upgrade all their licenses over the next couple of years. We’ll make it mandatory that all the Academies have the highest coaching licenses and never be satisfied with anything. We want to be sure there is an on-going process throughout the year in all levels of coaching. I think the exciting part is that now you guys, meaning the media, give it far more recognition than ever before in terms of what goes on in the soccer landscape in this country. So we can spread our word and vision to coaches or to parents or to players directly in a way that was maybe not possible before. We want to go deeper in all those elements and you’re absolutely right, we need to improve the level of coaching, we need to improve the quality of players and we want to do that hopefully in a timely fashion.”

On how soon he thinks the U.S. will able to go to a World Cup, be drawn into a difficult group and not only expect to surprise people but expect to win:
“We all know it’s a tough group but that’s what we were working for over the last two and a half years. That’s why we played friendlies in Europe, away from home, outside of the CONCACAF area, in order to learn, in order to grow, in order to develop that belief that once the World Cup comes along that we are able to beat these countries as well, that we want to play eye-to-eye with them and not just sitting back and playing counter-break football. That’s what we’re going through. We’re going through that process and I think we’ve done fairly well in quite a few of those games and we’re going to build on that. It’s going to be an on-going process that we continue to do. With good results comes more confidence and hopefully we’ll develop more and more quality within our rosters, within our player base, in order to also implement that approach. Therefore, now comes a proving point. Brazil is a proving point. Now we’re going to prove to the world that we are improving, that we are getting better, we are ambitious enough to say that we’re going to go to the second round and that’s what we’re trying to do and we will go for it.”

On what he would like to see moving forward in collaboration with Major League Soccer:
“I could lay out a Christmas wish list and I don’t know how Don Garber would take it, or Todd [Durbin] or Nelson [Rodriguez], but we all have the same goal. We want to improve the competition. We want to improve the quality of the players. A big topic from us, on our end, is that we have to find ways to give playing time to kids coming out of the youth system. The kids that go into the professional ranks, how do we make sure that these kids continue to play and play 40 or 50 games a year which they badly need in order to grow and in order to reach their highest potential one day. Because if they miss out on one or two years and only sit on the bench or are not playing at all, being loaned out or whatever, they miss a big chunk of their development and therefore will never reach their highest level. I discussed here examples of other leagues. You take the Premier League, they used an Under-20 Premier League, so all the Under-20 teams travel basically to the same place that their first team does and plays in under-20 competition there. Germany does it differently, they have an under-20 “B” team, all the Bundesliga teams, and they play in the third or fourth highest professional division to develop those players, to give them playing time. Another example is the Champions League in Europe. They started an Under-19 Champions League. That being said, it means that all the Under-19 teams of Champions League clubs, if it’s Manchester United or Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, their under-19 teams are traveling with the first team and in the afternoon of the evening game they’re going to play against each other which gives them an amazing exposure to the highest level of the game in that age group. So if you add it up, these youngsters between the ages of 19, 20, 21 and 22, they get 40 to 50 games a year. Meanwhile, if I look at Tab’s group that was in Turkey, you can look at all of these players name by name and you can see how many games they ended up with in the last season, playing in MLS or in other clubs, then we are far, far behind. Those are topics that we need to put out on the table, that we need to find solutions because at the end of the day we’re all going to benefit from it. MLS will become a far better MLS if we bring these youngsters of the highest talent through and develop them right away and not wait two or three years and lose them at the end of the day. And, same for us at U.S. Soccer with the National Teams. It’s crucial from our perspective as well. It has to be a work, hand-in-hand. It’s going to be a lot of talks together and figuring it out. Obviously there is always a financial picture to it as well, finding a solution. But I think MLS has come such a fantastic long way already that now the owners know and understand how important it is to develop your own players and we are right there with them.”

On whether being at the helm of the U.S. MNT long-term is what he always wanted or whether he realized it over the last two or so years:
“You always go through a learning curve so you need to understand how things work here, you need to understand how the landscape is laid out. CONCACAF for me, even though I’m living here in this country since 15 years ago, going through CONCACAF and going to these places and kind of getting those experience was necessary for me to feel more familiar with it, more comfortable with it, and then figuring out, okay is this something that you want to do long-term or maybe going back to Europe and take on the next challenge. Coming through these two and a half years, I started to really enjoy that work of getting to know everybody involved and understanding the potential of the United States in an international perspective, to grow, to improve and to challenge the so-called bigger soccer nations around the globe. And I just felt like this is a wonderful opportunity to make it grow more and more and more. Yeah, then I also got excited about certain moments. It was my first time, obviously, in a Gold Cup and traveling with the other teams on the same charter flight and going through that experience. And obviously you play Mexico as your main rival and the other Central American nations, and all of that kind of adds up and creates even more the desire to continue that work and hopefully to keep improving the product here in this country.”