To take one example, the New York Red Bulls Academy produced Juan Agudelo, a young striker who broke into the full national team last year when he was only 17. The Red Bulls cover all expenses for players at their academy. This is a vast improvement over the soccer landscape in America 15 or even 10 years ago, but we're talking about, at bottom, deeply embedded cultural attitudes toward issues like amateurism and youth sports and where on the developmental ladder to introduce the profit motive. It takes time for any changes to take place and even more time for them to yield any results.


Enter German Jesus. It's funny to think that Klinsmann, who is deeply plugged into the youth soccer scene here, twice rejected the USSF because the organization wouldn't grant him enough control over player development, which is precisely what someone needed to control a little better. Gulati has dismissed the issue of control as a "red herring," but given how much time Klinsmann has spent in the past few days talking about the importance of youth development, you have to think that Gulati has given him free(r) rein. And why not? For all his surface charm, Klinsmann sounds like a man who's studied the systemic issues. Here he is discussing the sociological implications of American soccer with SI's Grant Wahl:

The U.S. is known worldwide as a melting pot. ...Soccer in a certain way transmits the culture of a country ... You have the Latin influence [in the U.S.]. You have the cultural backbone of your university system, which is completely different from the rest of the world. You have the fact that it's mostly organized soccer, when we know that the best players in the world come out of unorganized events. I think it's a fascinating topic.


Equally fascinating will be to see how Klinsmann tries to "disorganize" or re-organize American soccer to make it work better, to forge a melting pot style unique to America, preferably in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, preferably without Jonathan Bornstein. One of the smart but obvious things Klinsmann said on the topic was this:

Oh, definitely [the style would be] influenced by the Latin Americans, I mean, because they are such a huge part of the population here. And they love the game. I mean they're all soccer freaks. And they will have an influence on that. I think that the appointment of Claudio Reyna as the technical director of youth development, this is the first signal — [saying] we want to dig into the Latin community and we want to get those kids ... And we don't want them to go back to their home countries. We want them to become real American players.


How incongruous. A savior who intends to try to do what we need him to do, not just what we dream he'll do. For now, Klinsmann is saying all the right things. His first order of business, however, will be to name a team for the Aug. 10 friendly against Mexico, a rematch of the traumatic June 25 Gold Cup final that precipitated Bradley's exit. It's a symbolic assignment but a fitting one, given the contrast between youth development in Mexico and the United States (a battle Mexico has, for the time being, won). If Klinsmann gets past El Tri, we'll congratulate him. If he achieves World Cup success, we'll praise him. If he molds an American style of play that strikes fear into the hearts of enemy teams, we'll canonize him. But let's not get our hopes up, eh? Ah, screw it. Let's.

Jürgen Klinsmann keen to harness Latin American spirit with US [The Guardian]
Klinsmann could redefine U.S. team's philosophy at all levels [Sports Illustrated]
USSF models youth development on a mix of foreign concepts [ESPN]