U.S. men’s soccer just got its first major recognition from FIFA, the sport’s world governing body. USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been shortlisted and is now one of the 10 nominees for the Coach of the Year award. Even though it has only been given out since 2014, a U.S. men’s coach has never been shortlisted or even considered. The obvious question is does he deserve the prize?

Yes, it’s true that the USMNT only made it to the Round of 16 in the World Cup, which is always where they exit the most prestigious soccer competition in the world. But do consider this, the U.S. made it out of the Group of Death and only lost to Germany, in an impressive fight by the way (remember goalkeeper Tim Howard’s historic saves?): Germany, of course, would go on to eventually win the cup.

Now to the less obvious accomplishments, Klinsmann rebuilt the American team. He started from scratch and realistically looked at what he had at his disposal. Klinsmann brought in a few German-born players, for which he raised a few eyebrows, but John Brooks, Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson are among the very best on the team. Brook scored to win against Ghana in the first U.S. game of the World Cup and Jones kept America’s hopes alive after scoring the equalizer against Portugal.

In general, American soccer has improved a lot compared to previous World Cups. The difference in quality of the teams the U.S. played this year (Ghana, Germany, Portugal, Belgium) compared to the quality of those they played in 2010 and in 2002 (South Korea, Portugal, Poland, Mexico, Germany) is obvious, but the U.S. exceeded expectations.

Klinsmann became the national team’s manager in 2011 and has been responsible for two historic wins: against Italy in February 2012, the first win against the four-time World Cup champion since 1934, and Mexico, the first time they won in the Estadio Azteca.

It will take a few more years for Klinsmann to take the UMSNT to the level where he can be a runner-up or a winner of the Coach of the Year award, but he and the team are headed in the right direction.

COACH OF THE YEAR SHORTLIST
Carlo Ancelotti from Italy for coaching Real Madrid CF
Antonio Conte from Italy for coaching Juventus FC and Italy’s national team
Pep Guardiola  from Spain for coaching FC Bayern Munich
Jurgen Klinsmann from Germany fro coaching the U.S. national team
Joachim Loew from Germany for coaching Germany’s national team
Jose Mourinho from Portugal for coaching Chelsea FC
Manuel Pellegrini from Chile for coaching Manchester City FC
Alejandro Sabella from Argentina for coaching Argentina’s national team
Diego Simeone from Argentina for coaching Atletico Madrid
Louis van Gaal from the Netherlands for coaching the Netherlands’ national team and Manchester United FC

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