German football great Juergen Klinsmann is celebrating his 47th birthday Saturday as the new head coach of the U.S. men’s national soccer team. U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati wanted Klinsmann for the job five years ago, but was unable to reach agreement on a contract. Their talks broke down after Klinsmann was widely praised for leading Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup, which his country hosted.
Gulati wants to see Klinsmann take the American team to just such World Cup heights at Brazil 2014. And American soccer fans are eager to see what changes Klinsmann makes as he takes over from Bob Bradley, who got the boot after guiding the U.S. team to the round of 16 at last year’s World Cup in South Africa.
Joachim Low, Germany’s current head coach and a top assistant for Klinsmann at the 2006 World Cup, told the Associated Press, “He’ll go into the (U.S.) job with power and shake up a lot of things.” Klinsmann could shake up the American attack, which has been criticized as dull and unimaginative. During his playing days, Klinsmann scored 47 international goals, third all-time in German history.
“I’m excited about the challenge ahead,” said Klinsmann in a statement. “I’m looking forward to bringing the team together for our upcoming match against Mexico and starting on the road toward qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.”
The USA will host regional rival Mexico August 10th in Philadelphia, in a friendly match that officially kicks off the Klinsmann era of U.S. soccer.