The month-long World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event on the planet. It begins next month in Brazil. The U.S. men haven't made it past the quarterfinals in more than 80 years.
The coach, "60 Minutes Sports" correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi reports, is hoping to rebuild from the top down.
Jurgen Klinsmann was a legendary soccer player in Europe. Now he's putting his mark on the U.S. Men's National Team.
Right away, he shook things up, stripping players' names from their jerseys, saying they had to earn them back, then moving players around to different positions, even openly criticizing his star players and the way Americans play soccer in general.
The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team is stacked with stars from Major League Soccer, such as Seattle Sounders' Clint Dempsey, and top American players from European teams, like forward Jozy Altidore and goalie Tim Howard.
But the hope for the United States in the World Cup may rest even more on their German coach. Klinsmann is an intense 49-year-old who may know the American public better than they know him."Americans want special moments," Klinsmann said. "They want the Olympics. They want the Super Bowl. They want, you know, the NBA finals and all that stuff. The World Cup is something similar to that. So, eventually, we want to make this game grow. We want to make this game, not competing now with the big three, you know, baseball, football, basketball; we want to make them understand that this is beyond America. This game is the only game that connects everybody globally."
Klinsmann knows a thing or two about the World Cup. He won it as a player and came in third when he coached Germany's national team.
But he's been publicly critical of his own U.S. team and U.S. soccer in general. He says American players lack the confidence and aggressiveness they need to compete at the highest level.
Asked about Klinsmann's comments that U.S. players need to play nastier, goalie Howard said, "I think he's right. When you look around at the rest of the world, there are teams who will stamp their authority on the game, who will be in your face, who will kick you. There are other teams who, in a very clever way, will dive and roll around and get the referee on their side. And I think we're just, as Americans, we're just very honest."
He continued, "You know, when it comes to soccer we'll kick someone and help 'em up, or we'll get kicked and our leg's falling off, but we want to be tough, and we jump up and we- and there's little moments that we can be probably more clever."
Klinsmann is not only trying to change the way the U.S. team plays but redefine the way soccer is played at every level in America. Could the goal-driven German be the one to finally pull it off?
That sense of fair play may not serve the Americans well as they enter the World Cup. They will face some of their toughest opponents in the first round, so bad it's being called "the group of death."
Klinsmann is exceedingly optimistic, but he's a realist. He knows the U.S. may not win the World Cup, but he's hoping to win over the country.
Watch Sharyn Alfonsi's full report tonight at 9 ET/PT on Showtime.