Dec 25, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT
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 …
Mar 27, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
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Mar 27, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT
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Mar 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
The New England Revolution have been on the losing end early in the season before.
Mar 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
No first cap just yet for Kane, though he’s expected to come off the bench in the second half.
Mar 27, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT
A resounding result for the 2016 Olympics hopefuls, away from home.
Mar 27, 2015, 12:18 PM EDT
Stoke City are on the verge of their first-ever top-10 finish in the Premier League, and Mark Hughes has been rewarded for his success.
Mar 27, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT
Another bitter injury blow for Juventus, who now have just one fit, first-team central midfielder.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT
Lampard is in the Big Apple, where he’ll spend time with his future teammates and watch them play Sporting KC.
Mar 27, 2015, 8:25 AM EDT
With a six-point lead in the league (and a game in hand), do Chelsea really need a “blessing in disguise” to win this year’s Premier League title?
Mar 27, 2015, 8:03 AM EDT
A star-depleted (international duty) Week 4 of MLS should still provide lots of entertainment and quality.
Mar 26, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
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Mar 26, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
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Mar 26, 2015, 7:17 PM EDT
Another month out for Sturridge, just when Liverpool’s top-four dreams rest on his shoulders the most.
Mar 26, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT
You couldn’t get this one anymore wrong, UEFA. 10-times worse than racism? Not OK.
Mar 26, 2015, 5:54 PM EDT
Solo said her 30-day suspension was full of therapy, apologies to her teammates and getting herself right for this summer’s World Cup.
Mar 26, 2015, 5:04 PM EDT
This weekend’s EURO 2016 qualifiers marks the halfway point of the group stage, which means it’s do-or-die time for a few hopefuls, and some giants.
Mar 26, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
The “Special One” received a rather special amount of cash in 2014.
Mar 26, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Reports claim Pjanic is ready to leave Roma after four years in the Italian capital.
Mar 26, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT
Xavi is heading to Qatar on a three-year deal, will get paid $11 million per season.
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