European experience vital for lofty U.S. goals, says Klinsmann

Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:51pm EDT
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By Erik Kirschbaum

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. Oct 17 (Reuters) - It is not that Juergen Klinsmann is an expat snob who thinks the top European soccer leagues are the only place for American players to hone the skills he hopes will take the United States to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

But he knows it is the unrelenting pressure to perform in the world’s most competitive leagues in England, Germany, Spain, and Italy that will help forge the quality to make his team accomplish the goal he has set for the tournament in Russia.

Klinsmann wants to see many of his players polishing their games in Europe, a stance that has put him at odds with the domestic Major Soccer League (MLS) which wants to keep the best talent at home to boost the status of the 18-year-old league.

“Our players who go outside the U.S. in England, Germany, Spain or France get used to the pressure and used to getting criticized if they have a bad game,” Klinsmann told Reuters in an interview near his adopted home in Southern California.

“They hear about it from the local people in the supermarket or at the shops or in the streets. The pressure is everywhere.

"They’re used to having to justify themselves for their performance all the time. Shifting that into the United States would be a huge step and is high on our wish list for the future.”

Klinsmann -- a prolific striker for clubs in Germany, Italy, France and England who helped lead West Germany to the 1990 World Cup -- admits he loves living in sunny Southern California.

But he knows the round-the-clock pressures of playing in the world’s toughest leagues in Europe are a priceless proving ground.   Continued...

Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the U.S. men's national soccer team, speaks to the media during a news conference in New York City, May 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Segar