The United States Soccer Federation announced on Thursday that they have reached an agreement with current U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann on a contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2018.
It’s a very deserving extension for Klinsmann, who has completely changed the mindset of American soccer and its fans. Klinsmann has won 26 of 43 at the helm of the team, including a 12-match winning streak during the 2013 calendar year. He has also lead the team to historic victories against Italy (the first win over Italy since 1934) and Mexico (the first win ever at Estadio Azteca).
The problem with this extension is that it comes seven months earlier than it should. Klinsmann was hired to make the United States a soccer power in the world and though he has a few very good victories, the United States is hardly contending for a FIFA World Cup championship any time soon.
Moreover, the team is facing the toughest group it has ever drawn with second-ranked Germany, fifth-ranked Portugal and 24th-ranked Ghana alongside the Americans.
Going into the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the United States was in a similar group situation having drawn Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana after topping the CONCACAF Hexagonal table. The Americans came out of that with a draw, two losses and a -4 goal differential despite being ranked fifth in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. This poor performance would end up costing then-manager Bruce Arena his job.
There is no doubt that Klinsmann will have the United States be competitive in the group stage matches, but what will the mindset of American soccer fans be if the team crashes out of the group stage with one point and a -4 goal differential like in 2006? Will the USSF and American fans still believe that Klinsmann is the man that will help the United States take the next step?