The United States could be faced with a fight to hold onto head coach Jurgen Klinsmann after next year's World Cup. Switzerland is already searching for a replacement for legendary coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, who will retire after Brazil 2014, and it has Klinsmann in its sights, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.
Switzerland's interest should by no means instill panic among U.S. fans. Having admirers is one thing, but a series of events would have to happen before Klinsmann and the national team parted ways. None of them are particularly likely.
First of all, there is the reality that, for Klinsmann, the U.S. is home. He is married to an American, former model Debbie Chin, and has made California his primary base for more than a decade. Also, his son Jonathan is a promising goalkeeper who has been part of U.S. national junior squads. Unlike some coaches who accept foreign positions, Klinsmann has no great hankering to return to his home continent.
[Slideshow: Eye on Brazil and 2014 World Cup]
Finances, as always, could come into play and, in that regard, U.S. Soccer is able to hold its own. Klinsmann is already well-rewarded, raking in around $2.5 million per year, which is a good salary considering national team coaches typically earn less than club managers due to the lesser time demands.
If the Americans were to meet expectations at the World Cup or surpass them, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati would surely be comfortably persuaded to dig a little deeper into the coffers to secure a contract extension. And if a run to the knockout stage or even quarterfinals in Brazil was enough to double Klinsmann's pay to $5 million, that pay raise would be enough to match anything Switzerland has to offer.
The Swiss are a wealthy confederation but they are not foolish with their money. Besides, another possible candidate, former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo, would settle for considerably less and be willing to base himself in Switzerland full-time.
When Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley in 2011, he demanded a strong say in the overall structure of the national team program and that policy has reaped rewards. In leading the U.S. to the top of CONCACAF's final qualifying group and a world ranking of 13, he appears to have built a squad that has the technical ability and tactical nous to at least hold its own amongst the world's best.
[Slideshow: Top players of the European leagues]
U.S. fans should accept that such attention over Klinsmann is a by-product of that success. Managers with losing records rarely get looked at by prospective employers and Klinsmann's name is in the frame because his team is winning – and doing so with a style of soccer that has gained plenty of plaudits.
And in the unlikely scenario that Klinsmann did leave, the program would be in fine shape for whoever took over, possibly a homegrown coach such as Jason Kreis, Dominic Kinnear or Caleb Porter.
Aside from the California sunshine and the money, the biggest reason why Klinsmann will probably still be the U.S. national team coach heading into the next World Cup cycle is that – compared to the Switzerland position – his current job is better.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jurgen Klinsmann