Skip to content

PST’s Top Three Most Intriguing People in U.S. soccer 2012 – No. 3 Jurgen Klinsmann

Dec 25, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

Klinsmann-Mexico

Will there ever be a more unique figure that the man currently in charge of the United States national team?

Klinsmann, the German-born U.S. coach who has lived in California for about 10 years now, was unique before he ever took the position.

Heck, the state of being “unique” seems to follow the guy around; witness the one-of-kind way U.S. Soccer chased him for the position, pursued him like a fawning John Cusack character pursues the girl in all the movies.

Klinsmann isn’t just a unique figure in soccer, he’s just a different cat altogether.

Sometimes, that comes across in his selections and in his quirky roster selections, which is a biggie among various reasons he’s on this list. (Good example: his sometimes-hard-to-understand affection for Jermaine Jones, which Klinsmann patiently explained here.)

Another ornament on this Christmas tree of Klinsi intrigue is that the man sure didn’t take long to become a somewhat polarizing figure. He’s been on the job less than 18 months, but the groaning and grousing has grown gradually.

It’s not that he’s not successful. In the end, Klinsmann’s first full year in charge finished with a 9-2-3 record. That .750 winning percentage matched the best for a U.S. national team in the modern era, same as in 2005 when the team went 13-3-4. Wins at Italy and at Mexico (the country’s top rival) became signature achievements.

The trip through World Cup qualifying’s semifinal round wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, for sure, and even the preternaturally positive Klinsmann admitted as much at times in 2012. But in the end the Americans finished about where they usually do, at the head of the group.

But Klinsmann didn’t win the right way for some people. And that’s what, most of all, makes him such an interesting figure. With Klinsmann, the conversational always seems to start with style rather than results.

He brought some of that on himself, with assurances of playing higher up the field, of more passing out of the back, of trying to get the Americans to impose themselves on teams rather than sitting back in a more responsive pose.

Still, the bottom line is the bottom line, right?

Or is it? After all, the man wasn’t just hired to improve the ratio of Ws and Ls – he was hired to inspire and conjure something more out of all this, to move the whole thing forward.

And that’s why he’s our No. 3 most intriguing person in domestic soccer this year.

Nos. 2 and then No. 1 are coming later today …

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: “I Was There” visits Chelsea fans across the country as Mourinho’s men clinch the title

    May 5, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    If you’d like your supporters group to be featured on future episodes of ‘I Was There’ simply send pictures/video to @NBCSportsSoccer or on NBC Sports Soccer on Facebook using the #IWasThere hashtag.

  2. MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 0-1 San Jose Earthquakes

    May 5, 2015, 10:46 PM EDT

    Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes Getty Images

    Adam Jahn scored with his head while David Bingham made a big penalty stop to lead San Jose to all three points.

  3. UEFA Champions League preview: Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich

    May 5, 2015, 9:43 PM EDT

    Pep Guardiola faces his former club when Bayern Munich travels to Camp Nou to take on Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal matchup.

  4. Emmanuel Adebayor hits out at his family in bizarre Facebook post

    May 5, 2015, 8:58 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Getty Images

    The struggling Tottenham striker seems to have more problems than just scoring goals.

  5. Carlo Ancelotti still upbeat despite Real Madrid’s loss to Juventus

    May 5, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    The Real Madrid boss is confident his side can overcome the 2-1 deficit following a first leg defeat in Italy.

  6. Africa’s richest man hopes to buy Arsenal

    May 5, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    The Davos World Economic Forum 2015 The Davos World Economic Forum 2015

    Aliko Dangote has a net worth of nearly $16 billion, and he wants to use some of that cash to buy the Gunners.

  7. Patrice Evra praises Carlos Tevez’s play, says striker has “United blood”

    May 5, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-TRAINING FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-TRAINING

    The duo won the Champions League together with Manchester United in 2008, and Patrice Evra thinks that gives them an edge with Juventus.

  8. Three things we learned from Juventus vs. Real Madrid

    May 5, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-REALMADRID FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-REALMADRID

    The Italian champs take a slender lead to the Spanish capital with them after a classic European encounter.

  9. Juventus 2-1 Real Madrid: Tevez penalty lifts Juve over defending champs

    May 5, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    Tevez stole the show as Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin. Tevez stole the show as Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin.

    A second-half penalty from Carlos Tevez led Juventus to a big home win over Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.

  10. Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge undergoes hip surgery

    May 5, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

    The Reds’ striker will now begin his rehabilitation towards next season after a disappointing campaign riddled with injuries.

  11. Newcastle captain pens open letter apologizing for recent nosedive

    May 5, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT

    Coloccini Getty Images

    The captain came to his team’s defense, but it ended up coming out quite awkward.

  12. LIVE – UEFA Champions League semifinal: Can Juventus beat Real Madrid in Turin?

    May 5, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-FIORENTINA FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-FIORENTINA

    The Italian champions welcome the reigning European champions to Turin for the first leg of their semifinal. Follow all the action live.

  13. Rais Mbolhi rejoins Philadelphia Union, back training in full

    May 5, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT

    Mbohli Getty Images

    Thought to be on his way out, Rais Mbolhi is back with the club. For now.

  14. Injured Oscar out of Brazil squad for upcoming Copa America

    May 5, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT

    Oscar Getty Images

    Oscar hasn’t appeared since his collision with David Ospina, but Dunga says the midfielder’s injury is training related.

  15. Will Chelsea offer Didier Drogba a new contract? Should they?

    May 5, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    Drogba Getty Images

    Didier Drogba is 37 years old, but still represents the best option for his role that Chelsea can buy.

  16. US Soccer adds Guatemala to summer friendly list days before Gold Cup

    May 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Guatemala AP

    Just four days before opening the Gold Cup, the US will host a familiar CONCACAF opponent.

  17. Report: Newcastle in for Aleksandar Mitrovic, agree to $22 million fee

    May 5, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT

    Mitrovic Getty Images

    Newcastle appears to have lofty goals, but the prospects of bringing a Champions League striker to St. James Park while trying to stave off relegation appear grim.

  18. American defender Will Packwood released by Birmingham City, while Spector’s extended

    May 5, 2015, 8:38 AM EDT

    Packwood Getty Images

    The 21-year-old Packwood saw his playing time significantly diminished this season, and finished the year on loan in League Two. Meanwhile, his experienced teammate Jonathan Spector is staying on.

  19. Reports: Chelsea gearing up contract extension talks with Mourinho

    May 5, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Mourinho Getty Images

    With Jose Mourinho “here to stay” Chelsea has looked to make that sentiment official.

Featured video

Week 35: Premier League recap