It appears the U.S. national team’s scintillating 2013 has caught the eye of the Swiss Football Association, which will be hiring a new national team coach following next summer’s World Cup.
According to Blick, a German-language tabloid based in Zurich, Jurgen Klinsmann is on a short list of candidates to replace Ottmar Hitzfeld next year. Klinsmann, 49, earns an annual base salary of $2.5 million through a U.S. Soccer contract that expires following the World Cup.
Klinsmann told SI’s Grant Wahl in September that he would “absolutely” be interested in extending his deal with the USA.
“A lot of the stuff we’ve done now is foundation work. It’s really just starting to connect the dots that you always talk about in the soccer landscape in the United States: Getting connected to the youth level, to coaches’ education, getting connected really well with MLS,” Klinsmann said. “So yeah, that is my interest to continue that work. I’d love to be measured on success. I like that. But also you want to see that people in your environment are happy with how things are going, meaning now Sunil [Gulati, the U.S. Soccer president] and [U.S. Soccer CEO] Dan Flynn. I think they are impressed with what we’ve built now in two years, how we connected the [national] youth teams to us … A lot of the stuff that we laid out and continue now to deepen is happening. Therefore, yeah, there is a big interest to continue that network.”
But Blick hinted Tuesday that Switzerland may be emboldened by the fact that Klinsmann still hasn’t signed a new contract. The German World Cup winner has a Swiss agent – Bern attorney Andy Gross – and might be available for “exploratory talks” when the U.S. plays at Austria in a Nov. 19 friendly.
Hitzfeld, who managed both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to UEFA Champions League titles, confirmed last month that he’ll retire from coaching after the World Cup. He guided Switzerland to the 2010 tournament in South Africa and missed out on Euro 2012, but then engineered a resurgence that resulted in an undefeated 2014 qualifying campaign and a seed at next year’s finals in Brazil.
Blick reported that the ASF-SFV’s shortlist also includes former Tottenham Hostpur and VfB Stuttgart coach Christain Gross, who’s unattached after spending the 2011-12 season with Bern’s Young Boys; Thorsten Fink, who was fired by Hamburger SV in September; Switzerland U-21 coach Pierluigi Tami; current Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic, a naturalized Swiss citizen; and Swiss native and former Italian national team midfielder Roberto Di Matteo, who managed Chelsea to the Champions League crown in 2012.
Germany’s Bild quoted Klinsmann as saying that he recently has received “several inquiries” from European clubs and federations, which he called a “wonderful acknowledgement of our work here in the U.S.” He added that he is “completely focused on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil so we can take the United States another big step forward.” Bild called a Klinsmann-Switzerland partnership “unlikely” and “probably just a dream” because of the resources Klinsmann has at his disposal in the U.S. and because of his home in California, where he has lived for 15 years.