Jürgen Klinsmann said he and the US Soccer Federation came to a verbal agreement for him to take the reins of the US National Team, but the deal fell through when the two sides couldn’t put the same terms on paper.
The German legend was interviewed by the USSF for the top US coaching job for “about three or four weeks’ period of time” after the World Cup to potentially lead the team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but Klinsman said the USSF was hesitant to sign a deal that gave him authority over the technical decisions involved with the organization.
Klinsmann made the comments during an interview with Kansas City Wizards color commentator and former MLS player Sasha Victorine.
“We had … very positive conversations, but we didn’t get it to a positive ending because we couldn’t put into writing what we agreed on verbally,” Klinsmann said. “It was as simple as that. That was unfortunate, so it didn’t happen at the end of the day, but that’s the way it is.”
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Klinsmann was also interviewed for the US position following the Americans’ early exit at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but the two sides reportedly struggled with similar authority issues then, leading to the eventual full-time hiring of Bob Bradley in May 2007.
Bradley led the team at this summer’s World Cup in South Africa before he resigned a new four-year deal with the USSF last month.
“It’s obviously always about authority,” Klinsmann said. “When you have conversations with a club team or a national team, it’s who has the last word in what issues, and that’s what we couldn’t get into the written terms.
"Verbally, we agreed that the technical side is my side, and I should have 100 percent control of it. In written terms, they couldn’t commit to it.
“And at that point I said, ‘Well, then I can’t get the job done because I have to have the last say as a head coach for my entire staff, for all the players’ issues, for everything that happens with the team,’” he added.
“And unfortunately, they couldn’t commit to that, and that was basically the end of our talks, and then they agreed to continue with Bob as the head coach. And that’s totally fine.”
Although he praised the US team for reaching the knockout stage in South Africa, he reiterated that the team seemed ill-prepared before an eventual Round of 16 loss to Ghana.
"I think they could have gone even further with that game against Ghana," Klinsmann said. "It didn’t look like they were really well prepared for that game. They were maybe still dreaming a little bit about their last-minute winner against Algeria, instead of focusing right away on the game against Ghana.
“They had that big opportunity, they missed that opportunity, which was a pity," he added. "Soccer in the US in that moment, there was a hype around, and that was unfortunate. But overall, I think that was OK.”
Klinsmann – who worked as a television analyst for ESPN during the World Cup – last managed Bayern Munich before he was let go by the club in April 2009.
He led the German National Team to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup and had been linked with club jobs with Chelsea, Tottenham and the Los Angeles Galaxy before he took the reins with Bayern Munich in July 2008.