New U.S. national team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann talks to the media during… (Chris Trotman / Getty Images )
The highly awaited debut of U.S. national team Coach Juergen Klinsmann is but days away. It has been only after what has seemed like years of speculation, and in some quarters hope, that the parties eventually would make it to the altar.
An otherwise ordinary friendly against Mexico — nothing but bragging rights on the line — has been enlivened by the recent appointment of the soccer icon who previously absorbed considerable home-country pressure in coaching Germany to a third-place finish in the World Cup in 2006.
Who better to ask about Klinsmann landing in the hot seat, starting Wednesday in Philadelphia, than the man once in the same position?
Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena talked about the hot seat on a hot, sunny day in Carson on Friday after his team's light practice in advance of Saturday's key game against Dallas.
"It'll be interesting. I hope people have some patience," said Arena, who was the U.S. coach from 1998 to 2006 and guided the team to 71 victories.
"He'll be inexperienced in that position. He has an inexperienced staff. He's going to need a little bit of time to make some mistakes and get acclimated to the situation. I think if they can get over the hump there, they're going to be fine."
One reporter asked if it was a good decision to hire a foreign coach. Klinsmann, however, is different from most other international options, having lived in Huntington Beach for many years.
"Who knows? I think for our environment, people think that's the way to go because they have all these magic wands," Arena said. "I hear if you've won a World Cup, that's the answer.
"Diego Maradona won a World Cup, and I'm not sure he's necessarily demonstrated that he has the skills as a coach. It takes time. It takes experience. Juergen has a good head on his shoulders. I think if he puts in the time and the effort, which we fully expect him to do, he's going to do fine."
The Galaxy's David Beckham said he thinks Klinsmann was an excellent choice.
"I think he's got the experience. He'll have the respect from the players," Beckham said. "I'm sure if there's any problems throughout the team, there won't be any more because he's a strong manager, a strong personality. And he's a manager and a player who has done everything in a soccer player's career."
Patience, naturally, is advised. Even the most experienced and seasoned coaches can stumble in new situations.
"If you give them some time and let them get experience and acclimated to the position and allow them to make some mistakes, it's all part of it," Arena said. "…Mexico is a friendly. If people want to make the result of that game more than it is, it's their business. But they could be paying Iceland. They could be playing Brazil. It really doesn't matter in the big picture."