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Juergen Klinsmann has emerged as a clear favorite to be named as coach of the United States men's national team after Bob Bradley was fired on Thursday.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati will make a formal announcement on Bradley's replacement on Friday, though it is expected that Klinsmann, who led his native Germany to the semifinal of the 2006 World Cup, will be given the task of leading the American team to Brazil in 2014.
Gulati made a concerted effort to sign Klinsmann, who has a home in Huntington Beach, Calif., at the end of 2006 but eventually settled on Bradley after failing to agree on terms. Klinsmann went on to lead German Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich for a brief and unsuccessful spell and has recently worked as a television analyst for ESPN.
Signing Klinsmann would be a hugely popular move among American soccer fans, with the sport's public apparently ready for what would be the first foreign-born coach of the national team since 1995.
An email to Klinsmann was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon, while U.S. Soccer insisted that following Bradley's axing, there would be no further comment until Friday.
In the frenzied moments which followed the Bradley decision, a swathe of big names were touted as possible replacements, but most were gradually eliminated as serious contenders.
Guus Hiddink, one of the most respected coaches in world soccer, was one name repeatedly mentioned. However, Yahoo! Sports contacts in Turkey revealed there was no indication that Hiddink was poised to leave his current position with the Turkish national team.
[Related: Gold Cup loss doomed Bob Bradley]
Marcelo Lippi, who led Italy at the 2010 World Cup, was also believed to be a candidate, with several members of the South American media linking him to the USA job. Lippi though, has strong connections with Italian television and print media, and it is likely that any news about an impending appointment involving him would have been leaked through those sources already.
Marcelo Bielsa, former coach of the Argentina and Chile national teams, would have been a popular choice due to his open and free-flowing tactical style, but he signed a contract with Spanish side Atletico Bilbao only weeks ago.
Other names floated included a bunch of homegrown coaches currently plying their trade in Major League Soccer, plus Dutch soccer legend Marco Van Basten.
However, with Gulati having remained in California after meeting with Bradley – even postponing a trip to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup qualifying draw – the momentum swaying toward Klinsmann continued to grow.
The tight-lipped nature of U.S. Soccer means that final confirmation may not arrive until Friday, yet it seems that American soccer fans will finally get the man they want.
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