For a guy who won one
He hadn't even got his new business cards before the loud complaints started over his affinity for European players and his dismissive attitude toward
Fifteen months ago they nearly staged a mutiny.
But the loudest criticism came just last month, when Klinsmann named a World Cup roster that left off
Seven weeks later Klinsmann has the U.S. in the second round of the World Cup, having gotten through a first-round group that included two of the world's top four ranked teams.
If you're waiting for a big, fat "told you so," you won't get it from Klinsmann. At least not publicly.
"It's absolutely no big deal getting criticized. It's just part of the environment," he said Friday, less than 24 hours after his team moved into the tournament's single-elimination knockout stage, where it will meet Belgium on Tuesday.
Klinsmann has been through this before. A decade ago, after taking over the German national program, he overhauled the team's structure on and off the field. A year later he benched popular goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.
But after Germany finished third in the 2006 World Cup, the government gave Klinsmann its prestigious Order of Merit award. And many of the things he put in place are still there — including Joachim Loew, his handpicked successor as Germany's coach.
It has been the same in the U.S. While Klinsmann has been fought every step of the way, the path he's chosen has proven to be effective.
While he's continued to lean toward Europe — seven of his U.S. players, including five Germans, are dual citizens — his roster also includes 10 MLS players. That's six more than Bob Bradley, a former MLS coach, picked for his World Cup team four years ago.
As for his New Age training methods, intense workouts and dietary restrictions that include a ban on soft drinks, they are among the main reasons the U.S. is one of the fittest teams in Brazil — one able to overcome 9,000 miles of travel and games played in both a humid rainforest and a tropical downpour just four days apart.
The jury is split on his roster decisions, although it's leaning in Klinsmann's favor. While Donovan would have been a nice alternative when forward
Klinsmann's Midas touch has been so mind-boggling one player quietly credits it to magic "Klinsmann Dust."
"We wouldn't be there without John Brooks' goal against Ghana or DeAndre's movement in the game and so forth," Klinsmann said. "This group is only as good as its bench. This group is only as good as its 23rd player and this is what they hear every day from the coaching side, that everyone is so tremendously important."
The team heard one more thing from its coach on Friday. Two weeks after telling the media that it wasn't realistic to believe the U.S. could win the World Cup, Klinsmann told his players they should plan on staying in Brazil through the July 13 World Cup final.
"I asked this morning, everybody, all the players, to make sure that all their flights are booked after July 13th," he said. "That's just how you have to approach a World Cup. No matter what happens now you can always change your flights. So, it's better to start with the end in mind. The end is July 13th.
"Portugal, one of the favorites, [we] almost beat them. We beat Ghana, the best African team. We should have done better against Germany. So now it's up for the next one, which is Belgium."
Do you believe him? Sure, he was right about Germany, and the European players and training philosophies and his roster picks. But maybe this time he's wrong.