Former Bayern Munich and German National Team coach Jürgen Klinsmann says that both Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley are ready to coach in Europe, but that American players still have some work to do to gain more credibility overseas.
Klinsmann – who last coached with Bayern in 2009 and has been linked to high-profile club jobs ever since he led the Germans to the 2006 World Cup semifinals – made the comments during an interview with Kansas City Wizards color commentator and former MLS player Sasha Victorine.
“Definitely an American coach can coach oversees,” Klinsmann said. "I would say Bruce Arena can coach in the Premier League, or Bob Bradley, or other people."
Klinsmann also added the name Martín Vásquez, now in his first year as the head coach at Chivas USA after he spent roughly 10 months as Klinsmann’s assistant with Bayern Munich until April 2009.
“Martín Vásquez, I brought him over to Bayern Munich to see it’s not such a big of a gap to coach in Europe,” Klinsmann said. “Maybe image-wise or name-wise, but not working-wise. I think he learned a lot there, but he also saw that, you know, it’s doable.”
WATCH: Klinsmann on USSF and MLS
Klinsmann said the transition might not be as smooth for American players abroad, however, despite the success of players like Landon Donovan, Tim Howard or Clint Dempsey.
“Players that come out of the American system just don’t have the credibility yet in Europe to make the next step,” Klinsmann said.
Still, Klinsmann said the onus falls on American stars looking to not only thrive with mid-table teams like Fulham and Everton, but to strive to reach the biggest clubs on the continent.
“The players who are already oversees, Clint Dempsey or Tim Howard or similar players, they have to take their future into their own hands and say … ‘I want to get to the big names, the big 10 [the big four in England, the big three in Italy, the big two in Spain and Bayern Munich in Germany],” Klinsmann said.
“If they would have that confidence, if they would have that guidance … can they compete there? Absolutely, yes. Can a US coach coach a European team? Knowledge-wise, no problem.”
Klinsmann also praised the progress of Major League Soccer, as well as league’s gradual identity change from a frenetic style of play found in NCAA soccer to a more nuanced style featuring stars like Thierry Henry and other foreign stars.
“You need the foreign players coming in, giving it a different flair,” Klinsmann said. “By bringing in foreign players now, you change step by step the style of play being played and shown in MLS, and it can only help.”
Klinsmann also praised the increased focus on youth academies in MLS, but said that the traditional collegiate path to the professional ranks and a lack of consistency for the US to produce the ever-elusive American striker.
“If you see a very good striker in MLS and you think, ‘Wow he has a lot of talent and a lot of potential, he could become a great striker,’ and a year or two years later, he’s not on the radar screen anymore, that means he couldn’t deal with all that emotionally,” Klinsmann said.
“You gotta show those strikers a certain path how to work on themselves and stay hungry inside themselves to continue, game to game to game."