By Brian Trusdell
NEW YORK - Juergen Klinsmann realizes he's not going to be coaching in Germany, or even in Europe.
As the newly installed manager of the U.S. national team, Klinsmann believes that the style of soccer reflects the attitude of the country it represents.
"Studying your culture, and having an American wife, and American kids mainly, right now my understanding is that you don't like to react to what other people do," the 47-year-old Klinsmann said Monday at a formal introduction to U.S. reporters. "I think that maybe is a starting point.
"I think America never really waits and sees, and leaves up to other people, to decide what is next. I think America likes to decide on its own what is next. This guides me to more of a proactive style of play where you like maybe to impose more of the game than sit back and wait for your opponent and then react to it."
The German-born Klinsmann, announced Friday as the replacement for Bob Bradley who was fired a day earlier, has lived in the United States since 1998 - including children "that are more American than German."
He says he has become well acquainted with the American culture, from its education system to its soccer infrastructure, which he says will enable him to run the American program and coalesce its vagaries into a stronger unit.
He will have a first test in 10 days when the United States plays Mexico in Philadelphia, a friendly rematch of the Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl where the United States led 2-0 but lost 4-2. He then has Costa Rica on September 2 and Belgium four days later.
But Klinsmann's role seems bigger than just as coach of the men's senior team with a contract through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He has other concerns on his mind besides Mexico, Costa Rica and Belgium, and the start of World Cup qualifying next year.
"There are lot of different challenges ahead of us, especially on a foundation level," he said. "And our foundation is youth: how they should be trained; how often should (they) train; how much time they should spend with the ball; how they should develop their talent.
"If you have a kid that plays in Mexico 20 hours a week, maybe four organized soccer but 16 hours unorganized soccer, just banging the ball around in the neighborhood, that gets up to 20 hours. It doesn't matter how he plays -- with his dad or his buddies in the street. This will show later with his technical ability with his passing with his instinct on the field and all those things."
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati has courted Klinsmann - winner of the 1990 World Cup with Germany and the manager of his native county's national team when it finished third at the 2006 World Cup - for years.
In reports from at least a year ago, Klinsmann indicated discussions in the past have degenerated over amount of control, a notion Gulati dismissed Monday as a "red herring."
"What Juergen's comments previously were about, was being able to incorporate that into a piece of paper," Gulati said. "So the understanding we've had about how we're going to move forward, frankly, has been pretty clear for many years. How to best incorporate that is something we've been able to get through, and you're going to see a collaborative effort in all areas.
"We didn't do this on a handshake."
Klinsmann, who retired to Southern California after his playing days, has seen American system from up close, including occasional training sessions with the Los Angeles Galaxy when fellow German native and now Seattle manager Sigi Schmid coached the club to playing as an amateur under the pseudonym of Jay Goppingen with Orange County Blue Star in the fourth-tier of U.S. soccer.
"Having lived here for the last 13 years, I've gotten to know the U.S. soccer environment for quite some time," he said. "There has always been kind of this feeling around, maybe one day I'll get the opportunity to coach the U.S. team.
"This is a big moment for me, personally and also my family, and that I'm really proud that I get to be a part of U.S. soccer's future."