Created on Friday, 13 December 2013 Written by NANCY ARMOUR, AP National Writer
U.S. Soccer wasn't taking any chances of losing Jurgen Klinsmann to another country or club.
The federation broke with tradition and gave its coach a four-year extension before the World Cup in part because it feared other teams would pursue him after the tournament in Brazil next summer, USSF president Sunil Gulati said Friday.
There was speculation linking Klinsmann to Switzerland and Tottenham Hotspur, his former club team.
"We've obviously read some of those things," Gulati acknowledged on a conference call. "At a specific level, none of those things are critical to us. But, certainly, the desire we have a long-term commitment to him and he has a long-term commitment to us was part of it, and market dynamics dictate some of that.
"The program has done well and ... that would bring a lot of interest from the outside," Gulati added. "So sure, some of that matters."
U.S. Soccer waited until after the World Cup to give extensions to Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley. But Gulati said he saw no reason to wait after seeing not only the success Klinsmann had in his first2 ½ years, but the direction of the program.
The U.S. is 27-10-7 since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as national team coach in July 2011. It qualified for its seventh straight World Cup and won this year's CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. The Americans also set team records this year for wins (16), winning percentage (.761) and winning streak (12).
The first victory in the streak was against Germany — albeit its second-string team — and the last was a come-from-behind 4-3 victory in Bosnia-Herzegovina that Gulati pointed to as a sign of progress.
"We've seen players with more confidence, and I think that's a great measure in the confidence that Jurgen has instilled. That we can better than where we've been," Gulati said. "We're building on a foundation. But the expectations and, frankly, the demands are even higher now, and I think our players have responded to that."
Klinsmann also was given the additional title of USSF technical director as part of the deal, putting him in charge of the program's development at all levels. All U.S. coaches have had some input on the lower levels, but this gives Klinsmann the power to institute a singular and consistent approach in coaching and player development throughout the entire program.
That kind of cohesion is essential if the Americans hope to achieve a spot among the world's best teams, Klinsmann said.
"This really helps us to look beyond this upcoming World Cup, which is extremely important," he said. "But for our type of work, we want to show the players, want to show everyone involved in the game here that there's a plan in place, there's ideas in place.
"It's easier to get everyone pulling in same direction if they know you're long-term here and you'll follow through with it," Klinsmann added.
The extension was agreed to before last week's World Cup draw, where the Americans were placed in the most difficult group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. But it wasn't announced until Thursday because Gulati didn't want to take attention away from the draw.
Having job security through the 2018 World Cup in Russia won't change his approach for Brazil, said the 49-year-old Klinsmann.
"I'm a very ambitious person, I would say so, and always have high expectations in what I want to do," he said. "I'm not looking for any kind of comfort zone going into World Cup and would never take that approach. Because I expect us to do well and get through that very difficult group."
After winning the 1990 World Cup with West Germany and the 1996 European Championship with Germany, Klinsmann retired as a player in 1998 and moved to Orange County, Calif.
Klinsmann coached Germany to a 20-8-6 record from 2004-06, leading the team to a third-place finish at home in the 2006 World Cup and then quitting. He coached Bayern Munich from July 2008 until he was fired the following April.