MIAMI Jurgen Klinsmann made his mark in soccer by being one of the most prolific goal scorers the game has ever seen.
The United States could use his scoring knack right about now.
Since Klinsmann took over as coach of the U.S. national team this summer, the Americans have one goal in three matches and no wins yet, either, settling for two losses and a tie.
They get a chance to change all of that in Miami on Saturday night against Honduras, a team that reached the 2010 World Cup and very well may be an opponent for the U.S. on the way through qualifying for the 2014 tournament.
The players at the end of the day, they make the calls, Klinsmann said. They decide on the field if they want to shoot it, if they want to dribble it, if they want to pass. They will make the difference. And we want to just guide them to a situation where they take their own careers in their own hands and be comfortable about it and confident.
Such is the process Klinsmann has talked about almost nonstop since taking over for Bob Bradley and getting tasked with finding a way for the Americans to reach that proverbial next level.
Hell have most of the best American options available to play in this two-game stretch of friendlies, first in Miami, then on Tuesday at Harrison, N.J. against Ecuador.
The one glaring exception to that is Landon Donovan, who will miss the matches with a strained right quadriceps.
Still, there will be plenty of veterans ready to go, including captain Carlos Bocanegra (who enters the weekend four shy of 100 international appearances for his career), and even one-time national-team regular DaMarcus Beasley who hasnt appeared for the national team since June 23, 2010 against Algeria, the World Cup match best remembered for Donovans spectacular late-game winner off a rebound in front of the net.
Looking to hopefully get my feet wet with the national team again, Beasley said. Its been a while since I put on a jersey. Hopefully I get a chance this weekend.
Hes earned his chance by reinventing himself, happily going to Mexico and competing for a team where almost no one speaks any English. Beasley isnt exactly fluent in Spanish, though hes trying to learn.
It shows you his character, his willingness to fight through different environments and through difficult moments, Klinsmann said. I think you see a far more mature DaMarcus Beasley now than you probably saw a couple years ago, which is natural.
Beasleys presence in camp this week is one way to illustrate Klinsmanns plan.
In short, hes looking at everyone and everything, older guys and younger upstarts, established players and ones with very few caps. Klinsmann is getting a first look at two-time World Cup player Oguchi Onyewu this week, the highly touted Brek Shea is getting plenty of attention, and German-born Danny Williams is getting a feel of how a U.S. national team camp works for the first time.
Out of that mix, eventually the core of a new team will emerge, the one hell take into World Cup qualifying.
Its a group that kind of develops its own character over the next 2½ years, Klinsmann said. It will be challenged in different ways, especially in the World Cup qualifiers. Every cycle of the national team, no matter what national team youre talking about, is always going through this path of redefining its leaders, redefining its chemistry, and this is now the process were going through the next months.
His players are going through a process as well the one where theyre still trying to come to grips with the fact that one of the games absolute giants is now their coach.
Klinsmann scored 47 goals for Germany in his career, and more than 200 goals for professional clubs like Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Tottenham.
On the field in training sessions, even at 47 years old and wearing a baseball cap pulled low to shield his face from the sun, Klinsmann still looks like he could play.
U.S. goalie Tim Howard said its still a bit strange to see Klinsmann in charge.
A little bit, Howard said, nodding. The one thing that we get that some dont have is the opportunity to realize how down-to-earth he is. For sure, we look at pictures of him winning the World Cup, pictures of him on the sideline in 2006, all those crazy, crazy soccer moments that he was involved in, all these massive clubs. But once you get to speak to him, hes just so cool, so regular.
And with a win on Saturday, the Americans would get to see yet another side of Klinsmann the celebratory one.
Its a group of players that has a tremendous working attitude and a willingness to learn and a willingness to improve, Klinsmann said. And so were step-by-step trying to build something that really prepares us well.