WASHINGTON—U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said here in the nation’s capital on Monday that it was “simply not true” that he was “jockeying” for predecessor Bob Bradley’s position before taking over in 2011.
During his introductory news conference at Swansea City last Friday, Bradley—the first American to manage an English Premier League club—accused Klinsmann of angling for the U.S. job while working with ESPN during the 2010 World Cup. Following the Americans’ loss to Ghana in the round-of-16 six years ago, Klinsmann criticized Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard individually then said, “It’s really important that they lay out a philosophy for U.S. Soccer and say ‘Now where do we want to go?’’ …. You need to know how you develop actually the players.”
Bradley wasn’t mentioned, but Klinsmann's words obviously didn’t sit well, even after he praised Bradley's Swansea appointment last week.
“I'm glad that Jurgen says some nice things now. When he did commentary on the 2010 World Cup, he was already jockeying for the job,” Bradley said.
Klinsmann responded Monday as the U.S. prepared to play New Zealand in a friendly at RFK Stadium.
“It’s simply not true,” Klinsmann said. “I could have taken the [U.S.] job in 2006. I could have taken it in 2010, and then we get together again in 2011 and finally figured a way to make this happen. I was not jockeying anything.”
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati had pursued Klinsmann on multiple occasions before landing him in '11 following the Americans’ loss to Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. Bradley was fired a month later.
“I don't appreciate the way it was done. I think they made a mistake,” Bradley said.
Klinsmann offered well wishes for Bradley, whose first match with the Swans is Saturday at Arsenal.
“I wish him the very best,” Klinsmann said Monday. “I think this is a big, big moment, having an American coaching a Premier League club. I think it’s huge. He’s an awesome guy. He’s a good person and I just keep my fingers crossed for him.”