The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 19, 2014

Klinsmann's outlook changed in California

(Continued)

"You start to listen to their shouts and their words," he said. "Then you watch them, how they live their life, what they eat, what they drink, what they do and how it functions and how the traffic goes in Milano, instead of the very nice organized way in Germany."

For instance, time doesn't have the same meaning in Italy as it does in Germany.

"The favorite was, oh, I'm coming in two minutes — due minuti," he said. "That could be a good half an hour."

Throughout, Klinsmann was always affirmative, exhorting players in training and during matches. Having lived in the U.S. for so long, he comes across to American players as one of them, not in the exotic foreigner role Bora Milutinovic played from 1991-95.

"I think it's a natural process that everyone of us goes through when he lives over a longer period of time in a different country," he said. "You kind of melt more and more into that lifestyle, the approach. You understand a lot more behind the scene and underneath kind of the surface. I think the longer you are in a place, the deeper you are able to dig in with people, with topics, with whatever methods."

When Klinsmann took over, he jettisoned players' regular uniform numbers, going to the old system where starters were assigned Nos. 1-11 based on position. The message: No starting job was permanent.

And having observed U.S. soccer for so long, Klinsmann also knows soccer's struggles to compete with American football, basketball and baseball for top athletes. Because of its lack of prominence in the U.S., Klinsmann says American players lack "a higher demand of accountability," that daily pressure to perform from fans and media.

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