Magazine article Newsweek

Goal Oriented

Magazine article Newsweek

Goal Oriented

Article excerpt

Byline: Daniel Gross

How a German coach revived American men's soccer.

On Sunday, July 28, when the final whistle blew, two dozen members of the U.S. men's national soccer team rushed the pitch at Soldier Field in Chicago. The U.S. had defeated Panama 1-0 to claim the Gold Cup--a tournament of North and Central American teams--for the first time since 2007. It was the 11th straight win for the team--a record.

A few minutes later, a trim, blond man could be seen trotting onto the field, pumping his fist and smiling broadly. Jurgen Klinsmann, the legendary German player who took over the U.S. men's team two years ago, had watched the game from a box above the field. Late in the semifinal game against Honduras, long after it had been wrapped up, Klinsmann had been ejected for furiously protesting a non-call.

Klinsmann, 49, has imbued his team with that same fiery spirit. He enjoyed a storied career as a lethal scorer in Germany, Italy, and England, and was a stalwart of Germany's national team, with whom he won the World Cup in 1990. When he retired from playing in 1998, he moved to Southern California with his American wife, former model Debbie Chin, and their two children. As a coach, he led Germany to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup.

The U.S. men's national team, in sharp contrast to the women's squad, has never been more than a regional power. Every four years, it relies on grit, determination, solid defense, and goalkeeping--not flair or skill or elan--to get to the World Cup, where it typically crashes out to South American, European, and African teams that play "the beautiful game" more competently and beautifully. …

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