Bayern Munich legend Paul Breitner is in town to promote his former club playing at Soldier Field for the International Champions Cup, but he also had some interesting things to say regarding the state of American soccer.
Breitner has such an impressive resume from his playing career that when he says something about the game it's probably worth taking note of. He won the 1974 World Cup with West Germany and won both Bundesliga titles (with Munich) and La Liga titles (with Real Madrid). He is scored in the 1974 final and also scored in the 1982 World Cup final, which West Germany lost, making him one of just four players to score in two different World Cup finals.
When asked how soccer in the U.S. has changed in recent years, Breitner gave an answer that might be slightly frightening for soccer fans in this country.
"I have a very long history and coming over to the U.S. and watching many games," Breitner said. "I was close to becoming a player of the U.S. league at the end of the 70s. I had an offer to play for the (New York) Cosmos. If I compare the situation at the 70s and 80s sometimes I get the idea that only a little bit has changed. When, I have to accept that, I read newspapers here in Chicago or in New York there is nothing, no word about soccer. So I'm a little bit afraid."
Breitner admitted he hasn't seen much of Major League Soccer due to it not being available in Germany.
However, Breitner did talk about the growing fandom in the country. Bayern Munich's trip for the ICC, which will be against AC Milan on July 27, does represent a need for the team to play in front of the growing fan base in the U.S.
"We have 30 million supporters in the United States so we have to be present sometimes," Breitner said. "First of all we have to come over to say thank you to all our fans, to all our supporters for supporting us. We want to offer our experience, our knowledge of maybe changing some kind of infrastructure of U.S. soccer. Also we can offer for example to teach some coaches to give them the newest, the most modern ideas about soccer. These are the reasons why we come over.
"We offer to teach coaches within the next years. We offer a partnership and this is also a point of view why we come to the States."
The opinionated German also talked about U.S. Men's National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who is a former player and manager of Bayern Munich.
"I think Jurgen's idea to develop his team or the entire U.S. soccer is to send as many youngsters as possible to Europe or maybe to South America to learn," Breitner said. "To learn soccer, which is the only one which is successful in these times and these years. This is the high-speed soccer created by Barcelona and now played by the best teams in the world. You only have the chance to win anything to improve if you are able to play at the same level. Therefore I think the idea of Jurgen is very good and logical that he says OK, send your talents to Europe at the age of 14, 15, 16 to come back with new ideas and to bring the ideas into all the teams that they play."
Check out the video above for more from Breitner's interview.