TORONTO – Jürgen Klinsmann is getting a crash course in Toronto soccer in what could be his most difficult challenge to date.
The city’s multiculturalism, long lauded as a strength, is a trait Toronto FC's new consultant hinted will actually make the task of identifying the all-important style of play a challenge for the club.
“I think it’s a very interesting market for a soccer franchise because there are so many soccer cultures involved in this city that sooner or later you have to find your identity and say, 'This what we want to build on,'" said Klinsmann on Thursday in his official unveiling as a consultant to help turn around the club’s lagging on-field product.
"Is it an attacking style of football? Is it a counterbreak football? Is it a possession-oriented football? The staff has to answer that question sooner or later and find the right people to implement it.”
The former Germany legend, in town for meetings with the TFC braintrust, took a break Thursday to brief the local media on his work ahead. Toronto missed the playoffs in 2010 – the fourth straight season – and has had five coaches in four seasons.
Formally announced last week, Klinsmann expressed excitement and intrigue about the assignment.
“It’s an interesting opportunity for us to work alongside Tom [Anselmi, executive vice president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment] and his staff and, hopefully, we can give him and his team good ideas, good thoughts, help in, hopefully, making the right decisions,” said Klinsmann to a packed media turnout at BMO Field.
[inline_node:322530]“The decisions at the end of the day, if it's regarding possibly a new head coach or new GM or whoever they’re looking at is obviously totally up to him and his people," Klinsmann said of Anselmi.
"But obviously, we can bring on the table a lot of things, our global network quite a bit of knowledge in the game. So we’re excited, we’re excited to have that opportunity and to experience your city.”
Klinsmann will offer ideas throughout the process, but has until the start of the season to provide his input. Included will be five names for the vacant director of soccer position. However, his name won’t be one as he ruled himself out as the next head coach or director of soccer.
“We need to do things right, we need to be the class of this league and help set the agenda for this league," said Anselmi. "I think the first four years we’ve seen a few things that we’ve done well, but certainly a few things that we haven’t done well enough and that’s about to change starting right now."
Klinsmann and his company, California-based SoccerSolutions, will gather intelligence on TFC’s culture, functioning, coaching staff, facilities and MLSE’s wishes to get the big picture. But Klinsmann said everything emanates from a style of play.
“One element that’s very very important is, what do you stand for?" said Klinsmann. "You as Toronto people, you as TFC, what is the style of play that you prefer? What do your fans want to see? What type of football do they really want to enjoy? And it starts with that."
“…You can kind of start to identify what type of coaches play that way, what kind of GMs, if you want to have a GM, think that way, how is your entire staff equipped with that, maybe your existing people that are right now here already have that philosophy in place.”
At first glance, Klinsmann sees a foundation in Toronto.
“I think there’s already a certain fundamental, there’s a base here and you have people that work here since four years in this environment, you have an academy that works well as far as I understand," he said. "So there is a foundation and we will just try to see what elements are there to improve and whatever elements are there already that work well.”
The former Germany coach came to the US in 1998 following the World Cup and has since consulted on projects with various MLS teams, including working with Los Angeles Galaxy parent company Anschutz Entertainment Group to develop the Home Depot Center and establish the Galaxy’s academy programs.