Jurgen Klinsmann sets no deadline for U.S. success
The United States must climb a mountain to reach the peak of international football and Jurgen Klinsmann aims to be a part of the process.
"I have no deadline," the U.S. national team coach told a joint news conference with his former assistant-turned World Cup winner Joachim Low in Cologne.
On Wednesday, Germany's Joachim Low is set to for a third meeting with Klinsmann's U.S. team. From 2004 on, both were assigned by the German FA to prepare the Nationalmannschaft for the home World Cup in 2006. When the former Spurs star left following a successful tournament, his assistant Low took over and ultimately led the team to the 2014 World Cup triumph in Brazil.
In 2011, following a short spell in club football at Bayern Munich in the 2008-2009 season, Klinsmann began his work in the United States, and has since taken the U.S. team to the 2013 Gold Cup trophy as well as the knockout stages of the World Cup in Brazil.
"The work in the United States is different to the work Germany. The focus is just different," Klinsmann said prior to the meeting with his home country in Cologne.
"Back in 2004, in Germany we had deadline, the opening game of the 2006 World Cup. Every decision was influenced by that," he said
Klinsmann was reflecting on his tenure as Germany coach, for which he came under scrutiny right before the tournament following a 4-1 defeat in an away friendly with Italy. He finished out the tournament, which ended in what the Germans called Sommermarchen, their "summer fairy tale," despite their third-place finish.
"I don't have any deadlines here. It's about making one step forward, two steps back, and then several steps forward again," Klinsmann said, referring to the years leading up to the 2014 World Cup.
"In 2014 nobody believed we could make it past Ghana and Portugal in the group stages," said Klinsmann, who believes his work for the U.S. team is "more composed."
With the United States making it out of the Group of Death at the World Cup and causing a wave of U.S. football hype in 2014, Klinsmann believes that the "next giant hurdle" is to mentally prepare for the knockout stages of the competitions.
"We don't have the mental strength to beat Belgium [whom they lost to in the round of last 16 at the World Cup]. Our history is not like that. We have not reached this point yet, but we are working on it," he said.
Klinsmann cited Fabian Johnson as one of the examples of players collecting vital experience at the club level. The versatile Munich-born player became a mainstay for the Borussia Monchengladbach team that qualified for the upcoming Champions League season.
"We don't have Champions League players. But it's incentive to sting our players into making the next step. That Fabian Johnson plays Champions League makes us incredibly proud," he said.
Away from club level, the United States hope to defend the Gold Cup trophy they won in 2013, and qualify for the 2017 Confed Cup in Russia without playoffs.
"We need those games to learn, we still have a mountain to climb," he said.
Klinsmann said football in the United States will continue to be on its way up.
"The big U.S. sports: American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey are still ahead of us. They are in the veins. But we are becoming more popular, also from youngsters with dual citizenships," he said.