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On the timing of Jurgen Klinsmann’s re-signing, Sunil Gulati answers the “why now?”


Having Jurgen Klinsmann stay on another four years makes perfect sense on so many levels.

If he is truly going to re-image not just the national team program, but push the individuals who make up the program to new frontiers, then it makes sense to give the project time to completely unfold.

So last week’s news seems right in time with the beat, the one that has sounded so tuneful over the last few months, when the fruits of the renovation labor have surely been harvested. The United States in 2013 really did accomplish so much.

(MORE: U.S. Soccer signs Klinsmann for another four years)

But it’s the timing doesn’t look quite right. Which is exactly why the news caught everyone by complete surprise. Wouldn’t it make more sense to address all this after the World Cup? Won’t U.S. Soccer look pretty bad in the unlikely event that things fall completely to pieces next summer in Brazil?

On a conference call yesterday, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati attempted to address the timing issue. He took a couple of passes at it, even. Here was the first pass:

From my end, it does a few things. One, we’ve had a very good run and we want to show our support for Jurgen. That’s not the main issue at hand. But there are also pragmatic market considerations. After the World Cup, lots of things could happen. Jurgen may have other interests, we may have other interests. This is a way of making a long-term commitment to each other, one that we’re pleased with. Traditionally we’ve waited until after the World Cup. We decided not to do that here. I think Jurgen is a unique coach with unique opportunities so that’s certainly part of what we wanted to do, but we like what’s been happening with the program over the last couple of years. All of this doesn’t come down to one game or one missed shot or one save. Clearly the World Cup is extraordinarily important and it’s a measure of where we are, but it’s not the only thing and the only way we measure ourselves.”

There’s a lot more there. In fact, Gulati was subsequently asked about recent reports that other clubs or national teams might be interested in the German-born U.S. manager. Specifically, might Swizterland be sniffing around and gauging interest?

Gulati denied that any specific opportunities put the “hurry-up” on re-signing efforts. But he did site “market dynamics.”

The guess here is that “market dynamics” had a lot more to do with this than Gulati would prefer everyone know. After all, no one likes to feel like they are being pushed into something. And they certainly don’t want the public to believe so.