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On the timing of Jurgen Klinsmann’s re-signing, Sunil Gulati answers the “why now?”

Dec 14, 2013, 6:10 PM EDT


Having Jurgen Klinsmann stay on another four years makes perfect sense on so many levels.

If he is truly going to re-image not just the national team program, but push the individuals who make up the program to new frontiers, then it makes sense to give the project time to completely unfold.

So last week’s news seems right in time with the beat, the one that has sounded so tuneful over the last few months, when the fruits of the renovation labor have surely been harvested. The United States in 2013 really did accomplish so much.

(MORE: U.S. Soccer signs Klinsmann for another four years)

But it’s the timing doesn’t look quite right. Which is exactly why the news caught everyone by complete surprise. Wouldn’t it make more sense to address all this after the World Cup? Won’t U.S. Soccer look pretty bad in the unlikely event that things fall completely to pieces next summer in Brazil?

On a conference call yesterday, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati attempted to address the timing issue. He took a couple of passes at it, even. Here was the first pass:

From my end, it does a few things. One, we’ve had a very good run and we want to show our support for Jurgen. That’s not the main issue at hand. But there are also pragmatic market considerations. After the World Cup, lots of things could happen. Jurgen may have other interests, we may have other interests. This is a way of making a long-term commitment to each other, one that we’re pleased with. Traditionally we’ve waited until after the World Cup. We decided not to do that here. I think Jurgen is a unique coach with unique opportunities so that’s certainly part of what we wanted to do, but we like what’s been happening with the program over the last couple of years. All of this doesn’t come down to one game or one missed shot or one save. Clearly the World Cup is extraordinarily important and it’s a measure of where we are, but it’s not the only thing and the only way we measure ourselves.”

There’s a lot more there. In fact, Gulati was subsequently asked about recent reports that other clubs or national teams might be interested in the German-born U.S. manager. Specifically, might Swizterland be sniffing around and gauging interest?

Gulati denied that any specific opportunities put the “hurry-up” on re-signing efforts. But he did site “market dynamics.”

The guess here is that “market dynamics” had a lot more to do with this than Gulati would prefer everyone know. After all, no one likes to feel like they are being pushed into something. And they certainly don’t want the public to believe so.

  1. hildezero - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    I think it was a perfect timing for them.

  2. footballer4ever - Dec 14, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    The fact that USSF hired JK was a risk in itself, but the 2013 results and team outlook has given the signals things are starting to get shaped in what USSF has envisioned. All this is aside of the results in the 2014 World Cup.

    • bear06 - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:54 AM

      JK’s hiring wasn’t a risk since he was best candidate for the job.

      • joeyt360 - Dec 15, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        It was a financial risk, because he cost three times what the other candidates did.

        I think the Technical Director part of this equation is very important. If the US performs poorly next summer, and there’s pressure to fire Klinsmann, this gives US Soccer the option of ‘kicking him upstairs’ to a TD-only role, perhaps naming his own successor, and still acting as an overall steward of the program, something it looks like Gulati has evaluated that we want.

      • bear06 - Dec 16, 2013 at 3:19 AM

        Yeah, he’s a big name coach so he was definitely going to get paid a lot more than what Arena or Bradley got paid. I believe we will perform well in the WC next summer even though it’s not going to be easy.

  3. schmutzdeck - Dec 15, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    The WC draw had a bit to with it.

    The US could play the three best games it has ever played in its history and still might not advance.

    Before the draw advancement out of the group was considered mandatory. This signing gives the USSF some wiggle room.

    And if the US is total garbage in Brazil?

    Well you can ALWAYS fire him. This signing just makes it more expensive; the USSF is gambling that it won’t turn out that way.

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