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Jurgen Klinsmann Introduced as U.S. MNT Head Coach: July 14, 2011 Conference Call Transcription


U.S. Soccer Federation President SUNIL GULATI

Opening comments:
“It is an important day for us, and I’m very pleased that Jurgen Klinsmann will be joining us as head coach of the national team. It’s been a busy summer on all fronts, and still continuing with a lot of international exhibition games, MLS in full swing, the Women’s World Cup having just concluded. We think Friday’s announcement and today’s introduction is an extraordinarily important point in our future programming for the national team and the sport in general. It is a great pleasure to introduce Jurgen as our head coach.”

On continuing to work with Nike:
“Jurgen is not with any footwear company now. We have talked with Nike, and I’m sure Nike and Jurgen will work out a relationship that works for both of them. There are no commercial hurdles to cross in that. We are all very much in the same understanding.”

On the challenges for the national team coach:
“For next Wednesday’s game, my guess is we’re going to see many  players that people are familiar with, that Jurgen is familiar with that have been part of our team in the recent months. Hopefully, with a change and with some other ideas, Jurgen can take that group or find additional players and additional talent that he sees or views differently or develops, whether that’s younger players or some players that are maybe outside the group. People look at the game differently. Long-term player development is an important part of this project. The short-term is to qualify for Brazil and do as well as we can there. That’s the three year project, but we think a big part of this program and this project and the excitement is how Jurgen can help us and influence a lot of what’s going on. As he said, there are a lot of good things in place, and he’s seen that first hand. He’s talked about the Development Academy and MLS growth and so on. He’s already reached out to Claudio [Reyna], and we had dinner last night with Don Garber to talk about MLS and some other issues. Frankly, we’re excited in all those other areas we think Jurgen’s experience, background and ideas can be very helpful to us going forward.”

On the Olympic team and staff:
“We’ve talked about Claudio Reyna. We are going to continue the conversation on the Olympic team coach. One of the unique situations we’re in right now is the U-20 and U-23 teams are without a coach. We’ve left that open a little bit while this was going on. We’ve started to talk about the qualities and sorts of individuals that might make sense for that. It’s a very short-term assignment, a qualifying tournament for the U.S. in March and the Olympics just a few months later. That gives us a lot of options, but it’s too early to talk about specific names on that. That will happen in the weeks and months to come. It’s an important topic and one that we’ve begun to discuss.”

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN

Opening comments:
“I’m really happy for this special day today. I think I’ve been well introduced this morning at the press conference, a great event that Nike put together. I’m really excited about moving forward and approaching the first game already next week against Mexico and the next two games in September.”

On improving the national team with the given player pool:
“It will take me a couple of weeks and months to analyze most of the players and also to see what is coming through the ranks and the younger teams and then go from there. I’m extremely happy that I get this opportunity to move things in the right direction. It’s clear that the player pool right now is mainly the player pool that was already together during the Gold Cup. Already approaching a game in just a week is not that easy, based on the fact that a lot of the overseas players haven’t even started their season yet. They just came fresh out of vacation and started to train. We’ll need to find some solutions for that game in the short-term and then it’s my job then, step by step, to see how I can help every single player to get to another level. That’s part of my work.”

On announcing the roster for the Mexico game:
“We will try to put things together on Wednesday. I called a couple of players already and I will follow up tomorrow with all the rest and see who’s available, who’s in a decent shape, what the individual club situations are, especially the few guys overseas that struggle there not knowing where their future lies. I will get that all together by tomorrow night and hopefully by Wednesday, we can announce the roster and it should be a roster of about 20 players.”

On the progress of soccer in the United States since the 1998 World Cup:
“If you look at the development of the game in this country since the 1998 World Cup, it’s been just outstanding. It's  amazing what happened here in soccer with the establishment of MLS, with the national team advancing to the World Cup every time since 1990, with all the experience they could gather in the international stage and a lot of media attention now for the game of soccer in this country as well. It’s been a very busy last 10 to 15 years for soccer in this country, and it’s great to see that. I was involved here and there with MLS teams, and I’ve been involved with The Home Depot Center, so I kind of followed that path. It’s a good foundation that is laid out now from all the people that have worked so hard over the last 10, 15, 20 years. Now the question is to analyze where we are right now and how we can improve it even further on many levels – on the youth level, on the pro level, on relationships throughout the world and finding ways to give the players even more chances to become better.”

On his priorities after the upcoming matches:
“The priority is to meet the players and to understand their issues, to understand where they are at and to develop slowly a plan for each of them to hopefully improve further. Over the next couple of months, [it is] to also build a coaching staff that will then be established for the World Cup qualifying campaign and going towards Brazil 2014. I mentioned this morning that I won’t bring in a staff right away. I will work with some people that I know to get my feet wet over the next couple of weeks, but I would also like to meet some people here in the U.S. soccer environment that I don’t know yet and see if there’s some common philosophy, if there’s some common ground to work together in the future. I need that time to make sure that I gather the right people with me. Those are the two major priorities, absolutely. Besides that, helping Sunil and Dan and Claudio Reyna wherever I can on all sorts of topics. Certainly, right now, looking just towards the Mexico game, we need to get a roster together by Wednesday and make a really good impression in Philadelphia and show that it’s kind of a new style for everybody.”

On his strategy with younger players:
“We will dig into the whole generation of 18, 19, 20 year olds that are coming through, no matter if they are here in the U.S. or already overseas. That’s why I want to have Claudio Reyna with me to give me his input, and Ramos, who is important as a resource and to get his point of view. I will talk to a lot of coaches over the next couple of weeks and months, where they see talent coming through. This is something that goes parallel with the work with the team itself.”

On his off-the-field philosophies:
“Describing my own style in working with the team, I’ll leave that up to you guys. My personal philosophy is that I want to learn something new every day and I have the feeling I do that. I hope that the players are eager enough to learn something new every day also. I would like to improve that good foundation that is there and help everybody to reach its potential.”

On his plans with the youth development system:
“I don’t have any intention as of today to change things, because you have to look back at what happened already here in the last five to 10 years, it’s amazing. If it’s the introduction of the Academy programs throughout the country, the introduction of a curriculum now through Claudio, there’s a lot of good stuff already happening. We will definitely discuss all those different topics and issues, and if there’s a need for change, we can change it. But they will be discussed in a group, with Sunil, with Dan, and with Claudio, and other people involved, and hopefully making the right decision to strengthen and improve the programs at every age level.”

On the identity of the U.S. Men’s National Team:
“That’s  a real big topic that we are going to discuss over the next months, with everybody involved in it, with media people, players, coaches throughout the country, and leadership from U.S. Soccer. Down the road, it should be our goal that we build something that people here in the United States identify with.  Similar to what happened with the women’s team where everybody identified with the way they played their final, and unfortunately they lost it, but everybody identified with the way they presented themselves. There comes a lot of ingredients into the pot for that – it’s the culture here, the diversified culture, and it’s the way people look at soccer, the way people have their own lifestyles. Step by step, we throw all those bullet points into a pot and see how we can make something positive and identifying out of it. I like that discussion. I like that topic, because that’s what soccer is about. Soccer is about identifying with your favorite team, with your favorite style. Hopefully we can build something that the people really like. Obviously, it’s also based on the player material that you have at the end of the day.”

On player talent outside the United States:
“That’s definitely something we need to dig into – where to find more talent? Maybe find somebody kicking a ball around in the streets and develop him. There’s no immediate answer to all of that, because I think that there’s a lot of people out there that know that even better than I do. It’s definitely something that comes along with the attention that soccer gets in the United States. Today is a completely different level to 10 years ago. You have three or four different television channels that broadcast soccer 24/7. You guys on the lines right now are really covering soccer more and more. The more attention the game gets, the more the interest of everybody involved in it and even down to the kids level, the more they see it the more they want to play. Down the road, I hope we find ways to find a little Messi in the United States. That would be awesome. Obviously, I can’t give you all the answers right now.”

On the greater importance of the Olympics around the world:
“The Olympics was always a little bit of a tricky topic for the soccer world. I played in the Olympics in 1988, and I was not allowed until that point to have played a FIFA qualifying or FIFA World Cup game, so that’s the only reason why I could play in 1988, because afterwards I had my first World Cup in 1990. The countries never really, at least the European nations, gave that much importance to the Olympics, but that has changed. It’s like your Under-23s are representing your nation, it’s televised globally and the attention is far bigger than it ever was before. The nations also would like to see strong teams in that competition even if it will never be on the level of Copa America or a European Championship or World Cup, but we will talk through that from a U.S. Soccer perspective. What is best for that age group in terms of who should be the coach? Who should be approached? It’s an important topic, and therefore needs to be thoroughly thought through.”

On the reactions since taking the position:
“Today, I’m just happy and proud that I got the opportunity. Knowing each other for quite some time now, we talked our way through the last couple of years and now felt like it’s a good time to get that started. There’s a comfort level there between Sunil, myself, Dan, the board here. The family reaction simply couldn’t have been any better. Obviously the kids and my wife are very excited. This means we will stay in California. The Home Depot Center is 30 minutes away, so that all matches as well. The response I got from Europe was really overwhelming. I didn’t really expect that. I got so many calls and emails and text messages that were really encouraging from a lot of coaches, from a lot of media people, and also even from South American people. That shows you again that a lot of people overseas are looking towards the United States with interest and with curiously to see what’s going on there. A lot of people I’ve talked to throughout the last couple of years have really gotten more into looking at the U.S. as a potential soccer nation. They follow the path of MLS, and they follow the path of the national teams. That raises again the bar and makes the game even more popular in this country and I think this is great.”

 


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