World Cup: Jurgen Klinsmann addresses USMNT shake-up: "It's simply a professional shift"

TEMPE, Ariz. – Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t afraid to make tough decisions, even if it means dropping his right-hand man just months before the World Cup.

Buried in a press release on Sunday announcing former Germany head coach Berti Vogts as a special advisor to the US national team through Brazil 2014 was the surprising news that assistant coach Martin Vasquez would be transitioned to other responsibilities within U.S. Soccer, with U-20 head coach Tab Ramos taking his place.

What those responsibilities were wasn’t clear until Monday when Klinsmann explained why his assistant at both Bayern Munich and with the USMNT would no longer have a role on the bench after more than two years in that capacity.

“I decided that his best role is in the scouting area,” Klinsmann told reporters, “not on the field with the team.

“It’s simply a professional shift. I have to make decisions with my staff to put them in positions where I think they’re best in order to hopefully do well this summer in Brazil,” he added. “Sometimes it’s a shift that doesn’t please everybody, but this is part of the head coach’s role. You’re not there to please everybody, you’re there to put people in the best positions to get the job done, and the job is getting out of the group stage this summer.”

Vasquez was on Klinsmann’s staff at Bayern Munich between July 2008 and April 2009. He began his MLS coaching career as an LA Galaxy assistant in 2004, then spent three seasons in the same capacity with Chivas USA. He moved up to head coach of Chivas in 2010 before re-joining Klinsmann when the German took over the US in July 2011.

Now, just 77 days before the USMNT take on Ghana in Natal, it’s Ramos who’ll help guide training sessions while Vasquez takes on scouting duties.

“There are moments when it’s not about the timing,” Klinsmann said. “It’s doing what is best for us as an entire group going forward – even if it comes a half a year before or a year before or two days before the first game. If you have to do something, you have to do it, and that’s my job.”

The players, meanwhile, voiced admiration for what Vasquez helped them accomplish as an assistant, but also deferred judgment to Klinsmann when it came to what’s best for the squad with Brazil on the horizon.

“We all have great respect and great appreciation for what Martin brought to our team over the course of a few years,” Michael Bradley told reporters. “On that level, I think we’re all sad and disappointed to kind of hear that he’s moving on within U.S. Soccer.

“But having said that, if Jurgen feels that this is something that is going to put us in better position come the summer and make our group that much stronger, then we have total faith and total trust in that. Things like this aren’t really what’s important. The foundations have been laid, the big work has been done.”

Vogts, winner of the 1974 FIFA World Cup as a player and head coach of the Germany team that won the 1996 European Championship – for whom Klinsmann was a starter – will continue as head coach of Azerbaijan while part of the USMNT staff, a role that had been discussed for some time.

The 67-year-old’s main duties will revolve around scouting and the development of training plans, and Klinsmann said Vogts’ experience as head coach of Germany and Nigeria as well as recent matchups with Portugal as Azerbaijan boss would help the US prepare for their group-stage matches in Brazil.

“I already for a longer stretch of time had that thought and had discussed it with Berti. That’s not a decision made overnight,” Klinsmann said. “That’s something that goes almost 10 years back because I wanted him as a technical director in Germany when I coached Germany in the 2006 World Cup.”