USA’s Copa América has been revived by their glorious, bloody defense

If Jürgen Klinsmann’s world has gone from storm clouds to sunshine in the space of a week, it’s down in large part to the efforts of John Brooks and Brad Guzan

Jürgen Klinsmann has been here before. The titans of the German football establishment – Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness, Felix Magath – greeted Klinsmann’s appointment as manager of Die Mannschaft in 2004 with condescending bemusement. They did little to hide their disdain for the California resident in the years that followed, deriding his attachment to America – caffeinated, silly America – as an insult to German football’s stolid, collegiate traditionalism. By the time Germany’s home World Cup rolled around in 2006, that low hum of tutting disapproval had turned into a roar. Beckenbauer famously criticized Klinsmann in public for not turning up to a coaches’ workshop three months before the tournament, and there was much fretting over the team’s sluggish, stop-start progress on the field. But then the World Cup started, and Germany was transformed – from a team of directionless plodders to a tantalizingly mobile outfit committed to attack at all costs.

German football has not been the same since. Sure, a lot of the renaissance in Die Mannschaft’s fortunes over the last decade is down to Joachim Löw, not to mention the youth and development structures that allowed a new generation of talent to flourish – but it all began in 2006. It all began with Jürgen at the World Cup, arms pumping furiously on the sideline, eyes bulging, clapping like a lunatic. Klinsmann’s sheer exuberance provided German football’s resurgence with its originating jolt; Michael Ballack, the captain in 2006, later said he had never met someone “with such a gift for making people so enthusiastic about something”.

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