Jürgen Klinsmann won the World Cup and the European Championship with Germany during a brilliant career that saw him play for Inter, Tottenham and Bayern, among others. As coach, he led Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup and he coached the American men’s team from 2011 to the age of 16. Besides writing a column for ESPN.com, he also appears as an expert on FC Daily.
With less than two years to go until the World Cup, it’s an exciting time for fans of the American men’s team, who are at the heart of a team capable of playing in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Several players have joined Europe’s top clubs over the past 12 months and the experience they gain from playing in the best leagues and the best league in the world, the Champions League, is good news for the national team.
Christian Pulisic was in Dortmund before moving to Chelsea last year, and Giovanni Reina has since followed in his footsteps in Germany. Weston McKenney has moved to Juventus, Sergino Dest is in Barcelona and Tyler Adams plays for RB Leipzig.
None of these players is older than 22 years, another big difference with the previous generations of American players who went to Europe after they settled in Major League Soccer or played in college. It is wonderful to see so many young people showing courage and giving it a chance at an earlier age than before.
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The youth systems, academies and MLS have the merit of working with young players in this country. They are learning a new culture in Europe, but Pulisic and Reina, for example, have skills that were developed in America at the ages of 10, 11, 12, 13. The success of the U-17’s and U-20’s, who regularly reached the qualification rounds for the World Youth Cup, shows the talent that exists.
And the road to Europe is dragging on, we hear great things about Chris Richards’ departure from Bayern Munich to Dallas, and this week Joe Scully signed with the Borussia Mönchengladbach in New York.
Germany is a good place because it is open to young people to play, but there are opportunities all over Europe. For example, Brenden Aaronson left the Philadelphia Union for Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, where he is supported by his coach – and American – Jesse Marsch.
So, how do you give yourself the best chance of success at the highest level? It is important to have good people around to help you adapt to your new environment. Reina is a good example, because her father Claudio played in Europe and her mother Danielle Egan represented the American Women’s National Team.
You have to have an open mind, be willing to learn and fight for a place every day, and understand that sooner or later I have to kick someone close to me out. If you experience a setback, for example a B. injury or a change of coach, acknowledge that you have a chance to prove yourself again. Of course the actors think about their own situation and that is why this support network is so important.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Weston McKenney (left) and Christian Pulisic (right) are part of a new generation of American footballers who are passionate fans. Getty
If you get the chance, take it! Reina got her first Bundesliga minutes less than a year ago and has become an important player for Dortmund. Like Pulisic, he can play in different positions, and that’s a good thing, because the chances of influencing the game increase; instead of expecting to score goals, he has the ability to assist, fit well and create chances.
For young offensive players, a change of pace is always an important feature. I first saw him with Christian when he was 15 or 16 years old and I said that this guy not only has a very good technique, but he can jump over players in a split second. Giovanni looks a lot like him, although he is bigger and has a different movement pattern than his own. Destiny can also make passes for players in the first few meters.
This ability to create space is what a differentiator needs in the opposition’s penalty area. To maintain them, you have to stay healthy and work hard on your body, stretch, go to the gym. Make sure your system is in good condition, because once a player loses his momentum, he can become mediocre.
The Champions League will be relaunched next month and is in fact a feeder system for a successful World Cup. So every four years, the main European countries, plus Argentina and Brazil, will compete with each other.
By taking part in challenging tactical competitions, not only are their skills tested, but they also gain the leadership and character traits they need to survive the final rounds of the tournament. Without long-term competition within CONCACAF the American players will have to find their way through the knockout stages of the World Cup and to the fifth game, the semi-finals and the final.
If you play in the Champions League every year, you get that knowledge, and that’s why what I’ve seen in recent years is so exciting. You are the child of your environment, and if your environment is Barcelona, every year it’s about titles; the same goes for Chelsea, Dortmund and others. At Juventus, McKenney plays for a team that has won the championship nine pure seasons!
In the big clubs the expectations are clear and you live up to them on a daily basis. They have to go over to the national team now. So it’s not enough to just leave the World Cup group and be told by everyone that it’s a success.
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