Posted on October 11, 2011
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — Don’t expect Martin Vasquez to be named coach of the U.S. Under-23 National Team. That job and responsibility is too big to go to an assistant coach with the full team, says head coach Juergen Klinsmann.
Vasquez, who is expected to be announced as an assistant coach, will remain with the senior side in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and other competitions.
Klinsmann said on Monday that “someone else” will try to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics in the CONCACAF qualifying in March.
“Martin and I, we will have our hands so full with everything with the senior National Team, tracking down all of the European guys, going down to Mexico, covering the development of the MLS senior team guys,” Klinsmann said after practice at Red Bull Arena, where the Americans prepare to play Ecuador in an international friendly on Tuesday night.
“The Olympic team, from whatever it starts now, as soon as possible until the Olympics is more than a fulltime job. It’s a big task together. The best kids in that age group, Under-23, many of them going through different stages in Europe right now. Very good talents. Their education was the European system, almost like you see now. That system has benefited them.”
Klinsmann said he expects the team will including the likes of D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo, AZ Alkmaar striker Jozy Altidore, Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury and Nuremburg defender Tim Chandler and Hoffenheim midfielder Daniel Williams.
“I want them to do that,” he said. “You need somebody to focus on that fulltime and a separate staff really to have that responsibility. It’s something special, something special.”
Compared to other National Team coaches in other countries, Klinsmann places a high priority on the Summer Games — and for good reason. He was a member of the West German side that earned the bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Games.
And it wasn’t the medal that has made Klinsmann excited about the Olympics, it was his overall experience.
“The medal thing aside. we should have won the gold medal that time, but because we missed a penalty in the last minute against Brazil in the semifinal,” he said about a game that finished at 1-1 before the South Americans won via a penalty-kick shootout, 3-2. “A penalty would have finished off the game and go into the final. Unfortunately, we missed that penalty, a guy that throughout the whole season scored every penalty — he kind of showed nerves.”
But the Olympics ranks high atop Klinsmann’s career highlights.
“I always said throughout my career the Olympics was the absolute highlight of my experiences,” he said. “Certainly not trophy wise. That’s not important. For me, to have experience tracked and field, hockey, swimming competitions, going to the canteen and discovering Gabriella Sabatini standing in front of you waiting for her table. All these moments, those were completely a new dimension.
“So, if there is any soccer player who has an opportunity to play in an Olympics, take it in, no matter what. Soccer is related to a FIFA World Cup. It’s not important. What’s important is that unforgettable experience that these guys can have. That’s why I really stress that Olympic team and the World Cup right in the background. I’m very hot on that topic to field the best team possible, to field the best way possible. Hopefully, doing the qualifiers then and prepare a strong side because that team will feed into my World Cup team two years later.”
Photo: Juergen Klinsmann: “If there is any soccer player who has an opportunity to play in an Olympics, take it in, no matter what.” Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: North America, U.S.A.
Tags: 1988 Seoul Olympics, 2012 London Olympics, Garbeilla Sabatini, Juergen Klisnammn, Martin Vasquez