US Soccer begins a new era tonight in Philadelphia, the Jurgen Klinsmann era. The German legend makes his debut as the US skipper nearly two weeks after Bob Bradley was fired after nearly five years in charge. Klinsmann's first test will come tonight at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles, as he leads the USMNT against heated rivals Mexico. It's fitting that his first match would be against the Mexicans, whose 4-2 destruction of the US in the Gold Cup Final nearly a month ago was likely the final nail in Bob Bradley's coffin.
Klinsmann brings a wealth of international credibility and success with him. As a player, the German was part of a World Cup winning squad and won numerous trophies with giant European clubs like Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. While playing with Tottenham Hotspur of the EPL, he won the PFW footballer of the year award. As a manager, Klinsmann guided Germany to a third place finish at the 2006 World Cup. He has been highly sought after as manager since that World Cup, but has reportedly turned down jobs at Chelsea and to stay with Germany as he preferred to stay in the United States, where he has lived for 13 years, runs a successful marketing firm and has an American born wife and family.
Klinsmann faces not only a quick turnaround for his first game following his appointment as coach, but also a depleted squad. With the European soccer season set to begin this weekend, several notable players like Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey will not be part of the squad this evening.
"It is obviously a little bit complicated with it being the first game after the Gold Cup, and a lot of players still in preseason," Klinsmann said. "You just try to make the best out of it...You want to see a team that gives a high energy and shows a great attitude and shows the people a great performance."
Of course, the same goes for Mexico, who will be without breakout star Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. However, they will be fielding a relatively strong squad which features Rafael Marquez, Giovanni Dos Santos and Pablo Barrera, who scored two goals against the US in the Gold Cup Final.
Klinsmann has promised to bring a new attacking style to the US team, which has players like Landon Donovan excited.
"Jurgen has very positive energy and it's infectious," said Donovan. "I think the guys have already taken to that well. As far as tactical things and a style and an approach to the way we play, that's going to take a while."
The game takes place tonight at 9pm on ESPN2 and Univision.