In a widely expected move Friday, Germany native Jurgen Klinsmann was named head coach of the U.S. men's national soccer team, becoming the squad's first foreign-born coach since Bora Milutinovic in 1994.
Klinsmann, one of the best German players ever, will be formally introduced at a news conference Monday in New York.
"I am proud and honored to be named the head coach of the U.S. men's national team," Klinsmann said in a statement. "I would like to thank the U.S. Soccer Federation for the opportunity, and I'm excited about the challenge ahead. I am looking forward to bringing the team together for our upcoming match against Mexico and starting on the road toward qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup."
"We are excited to have Jurgen as the head coach of our men's national team," U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati said. "He is a highly accomplished player and coach with the experience and knowledge to advance the program. Jurgen has had success in many different areas of the game and we look forward to the leadership he will provide on and off the field."
Klinsmann's first game in charge will be a friendly against Mexico in Philadelphia next month.
Klinsmann's hiring signals the end of a long flirtation between the German and the U.S. soccer team. Klinsmann, who lives in California, was a top candidate for the post in 2006 and 2010, but was never hired, reportedly because of issues about how much control he would have.
Once Bob Bradley was ousted as coach on Thursday, speculation immediately reached a fever pitch that Klinsmann would succeed him at the helm of the squad.
In firing Bradley, Gulati said it was time to "make a change."
"We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. soccer during the past five years," Gulati said. "During his time as the head coach of our men's national team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change. It is always hard to make these decisions, especially when it involves someone we respect as much as Bob. We wish him the best in his future endeavors."
Bradley's tenure included a wide range of highlights and disappointments. In his first year, he led the U.S. to a Gold Cup title, followed by two years later steering the squad to a shocking second-place finish in the Confederations Cup in South Africa. That tournament featured an impressive upset of Spain, a team fresh off winning the European championships and poised to go on to win the World Cup in South Africa the following year.
The World Cup seemed to sum up Bradley's reign. While the team started the tournament with a surprising draw with England and ultimately won its group following a last-gasp victory over Algeria, the U.S. was sent home after an extra-time defeat at the hands of Ghana, a result that left many fans disappointed.
The final straw for Gulati appeared to come at this summer's Gold Cup. The U.S., playing on home soil against a weak CONCACAF field that featured few quality teams aside from Mexico, never hit its stride in the tournament. A shocking loss to Panama in the group stage led many fans to call for Bradley's ouster. And when the team blew an early 2-0 lead in the final against Mexico en route to a resounding 4-2 loss, the cries for Bradley's departure grew even louder.
Gulati made the announcement following a meeting with Bradley and U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn in California.
Klinsmann will face a challenging job. Many of the team's veterans, such as Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra and Tim Howard, will be well into their 30s by the time the next World Cup rolls around in 2014 in Brazil. The chief U.S. regional rival, Mexico, has managed to launch a resurgence with young stars such as Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Giovanni dos Santos.
Up-and-coming Americans like Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore and Bob Bradley's son, Michael, provide many U.S. fans with hope for the future, but making the transition to a fresh young squad will be no easy job.