CARSON, Calif. — Players and coaches alike have raved about the “positivity” and “energy” that Jurgen Klinsmann has brought into the US national team since his hiring in early August.
That positive spirit appears to be reverberating throughout the fan base, which has been re-energized since Klinsmann’s hiring. On Wednesday night, Klinsmann repaid that support, giving fans their chance to have an inside look at the team as it prepares for Friday’s friendly against Costa Rica (11 pm ET; ESPN2, Galavisión, ESPN3.com).
Nearly 2,000 US fans attended a free open training session at the Home Depot Center. This close interaction between fans and players looks to become standard policy for Klinsmann.
“My experience always had been, in Europe playing in different countries, that when you get to know your fans — the people that love the game — you feel also a little more responsible about what you're doing,” Klinsmann told a group of reporters after the training session. “I started that process in 2004 with the German team that before every national team game, we opened up to the public."
“The people loved it,” Klinsmann added. “And the players, they felt like, 'We've got to show these people we're ready to compete on the highest level.' I think it's a great connection with the fan base.”
Klinsmann said that during his tenure with Germany prior to the 2006 World Cup, the attendance for his open sessions reached anywhere up to 40,000 fans. His hopes are that the US can hold an open session before each match and eventually enjoy the same success at the gate that he enjoyed with Die Mannschaft.
In order to do this, the team sets aside the fitness aspect of a session to show the more appealing sides of a practice.
“Obviously when we do a session like that, we don’t stress the tactical or physical side … that was done over the last couple of days,” said Klinsmann. “I knew the things that we do in the public session was more on the entertaining side like finishing crosses and a playing a scrimmage.”
At the end of Wednesday’s session, many lucky fans left with autographs, but members of the USMNT departed with a renewed sense of support from their fans.
“It’s good to see some kids show up and people that are really pushing our game in a positive way, and hopefully on Friday night we’ll see them again,” said forward Jozy Altidore. “It definitely gave us a bump.”
Adam Serrano writes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.