(Friday, December 8, 2006) -- With Jürgen Klinsmann withdrawing his name from consideration for the vacant job of manager of the United States men, Bob Bradley will become interim U.S. coach today, it is expected.
The U.S. Soccer Federation has scheduled a media phone conference for Friday with the organization's president Sunil Gulati "to make an important announcement on the search for the next head coach of the U.S. men's national team," a USSF press release said.
Bradley, it is believed will be asked to lead the team for a period of five months. This presumably would be to allow him to keep his job as coach of Major League Soccer's Chivas USA.
This turn of events does not mean Klinsmann will not eventually become manager of the U.S. men. The star striker for Germany in three World Cups, including the 1990 champion, Klinsmann became manager of his national team, leading it to third place in this summer's Cup.
He resigned soon after, saying he was not interested in taking another coaching job any time soon, choosing instead to take a long period to recuperate from the stress. However, after Bruce Arena was fired July 14 following the Americans' disappointing performance and first-round World Cup exit, Klinsmann immediately became the leading candidate.
Calling Newport Beach, Calif., his home -- a fact that infuriated Germans -- he was a regular figure at The Home Depot Center in nearby Carson, the U.S.'s main training ground. He also has the extensive international experience as coach and player, yet is fluent in English and familiar with the American way of life and approach to soccer.
Communication between Gulati and Klinnsman was ongoing, though both parties went to great lengths to deflect rumors that a deal was forthcoming. Salary and control were major issues to be negotiated with Klinsmann requiring a contract far greater than had ever been paid to a U.S. coach, one that would call for an annual pay package worth as much as $3 million per year.
Those talks ended yesterday when Klinsman sent an e-mail to the media reading, "Sunil and I have concluded our discussions about the U.S. men's national team program and I have withdrawn my name from consideration as coach. I'm not going to go into details about our conversations. But, I certainly
want to wish the next coach of the U.S. men's national team much success, and I want to, also, thank Sunil for the opportunity to exchange ideas."
None of the events would seem to rule out the possibility of Klinsmann being hired in the future. Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup does not begin until 2008, a year Klinsmann once indicated would be a good time for him to re-enter the coaching world.
Bradley would be an odd choice to replace Arena on a full-time basis. When he let Arena go, Gulati indicated he wanted U.S. Soccer to head in a new direction. Bradley is one of Arena's closest friends and Arena was Bradley's mentor in many ways.
Bradley was Arena's assistant in D.C. United in 1996-97 and also his top aide with the 1996 U.S. Olympic team.
Bradley became coach of the expansion Chicago Fire and immediately led the club to the MLS and U.S. Open Cup titles in his first season. After the 2002 season, he resigned to become coach of the MetroStars in his home state of New Jersey, a club that fired him with three games remaining in the 2005 season.
Bradley had coached in the state for 12 years at Princeton before joining Arena at D.C. United. It was as college coaches -- Arena was at Virginia -- where he and Bradley built their strong relationship. Arena and Klinsmann are also said to be good friends.
Bradley was hired this year to coach Chivas, a team that went 4-22-6 in its inaugural 2005 season. In his one season, he turned the club around. The club finished third in the MLS Western Conference at 10-9-13 and made the playoffs.
His 124 regular-season victories are most for an MLS coach and he added 14 more in the playoffs.
It is not unprecedented for the USSF to elevate an interim national-team coach to a full-time position. Greg Ryan was hired on an interim basis to replace April Heinrichs, and led the U.S. women to four shutout victories and the Algarve Cup title in March 2005 in Portugal.
He quickly was elevated to head coach and his team is now 25-0-5 during his tenure.
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