The marriage between Juergen Klinsmann and the United States national team began with a perfect slice of good fortune, but the new head coach should not expect his honeymoon period to last long.
Klinsmann and the USA were handed a dream run through qualifying last weekend, when the World Cup draw in Rio de Janeiro gave the Americans what would appear to be a trouble-free passage toward the finals in 2014.
Instead of being pitched into a semifinal group including the likes of Costa Rica or Panama (which beat them in the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup), the Americans' presumed list of opponents is Jamaica, Guatemala and Haiti. If Klinsmann could have hand-picked a set of foes for his first competitive round, it would probably have looked something like that.
Even more fortunate was the twist of fate that will pitch the fourth-placed team in CONCACAF's final round against the winner of the Oceania region, instead of a team from South America or Asia. The USA will expect to comfortably finish in the top three, but in the case of an unforeseen mishap, a playoff against New Zealand would hold little fear.
Klinsmann used his first meeting with the media since taking the job to talk extensively Monday about bold plans for developing a youth development system that will serve United States soccer long into the future. Yet he should not allow himself to think that immediacy doesn't matter.
While the nurturing process aimed at producing – in Klinsmann's words – "an American (Lionel) Messi", is clearly important, the fact remains that in the court of public opinion the coach of German descent is going to be judged on the results and performances of the men's national team here and now.
Klinsmann was right when he talked about how the daily intensity and scrutiny on his job will be less than on the corresponding manager of Germany or England or another European or South American nation. The hunger for success is no less great in this country, however, and meaningful victories are the currency with which he will validate his multi-million dollar paycheck.
Bob Bradley's style was often too defensive, but that's not what got him fired last week. If Bradley had taken the team just one round further in the World Cup and held off Mexico's comeback in the Gold Cup final, he would still be employed, regardless of whether the tactical approach seemed dour.
The temptation will be for Klinsmann to take time to settle into the new role, looking at a large collection of players before deciding on those who will take the side forward to Brazil in three years.
He should not expect a large dose of patience though, because that is one trait missing in the United States soccer public. No one is going to clamor for his head if the team loses its friendly against Mexico in Philadelphia next Wednesday, but an early positive result would do him no harm at all.
With memories of that Gold Cup final disappointment still fresh, masterminding a "revenge" victory at Lincoln Financial Field would solidify the positive vibe that followed Klinsmann's appointment and buy him some breathing space with which to experiment.
The next step would be to implement the technique he employed during his tenure with the German national team ahead of the 2006 World Cup, by giving the side its own identity. In Germany, Klinsmann developed an attacking, fast-paced style, using young and hungry players, and was given the support of coaches in the Bundlesliga.
In the United States, such a task will be considerably more difficult, with no stylistic blueprint for the way an "American" team should play, and with the national team squad playing its club soccer at various locations in Europe and Major League Soccer.
"I deeply believe that soccer in a certain way reflects the culture of a country," Klinsmann said. "Having studied the U.S. culture over the last 13 years, it is quite a challenge. You have such a melting pot in this country with so many different opinions and ideas floating around there.
"One of my challenges will be to find a way to define how a U.S. team should represent its country. What should be the style of play? Is it more proactive and aggressive, a forward-thinking style of play? Or is it more reacting style of play? That comes with the players that you have at your disposal, but also the people that you are surrounded with, and the people that have an opinion in this country."
That challenge is one of many that await Klinsmann. But with this job, success means there are fewer questions and opinions tilting in his favor.