- USA face Argentina in the Copa America semi-final on Tuesday.
- Coach Jürgen Klinsmann has beaten Argentina twice in majour tournaments before.
- German tactician defeated Albiceleste at 1990 and 2006 World Cups.
When the USA take to the field against Argentina in their Copa America Centenario semi-final on Tuesday wondering how they might get the better of the Albiceleste, they need only look over to the touchline for some inspiration.
Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, in charge of the USMNT since 2011 but a product of German football, has famously beaten Argentina twice on the biggest stage and will be bidding to make it three out of three in Houston.
World Cup 1990: Germany 1-0 Argentina
The Göppingen native scored three times in the run-up to the final of the FIFA World Cup against defending champions Argentina. Unscarred by Germany’s defeat to the same opposition in the final four years earlier, Klinsmann played the entire 90 minutes, helping West Germany to a 1-0 success and their third World Cup triumph.
World Cup 2006: Germany 1-1 Argentina (Germany win 4-2 on pens.)
This time around, Klinsmann was on the sidelines, having led the German national team to the quarter-finals of a World Cup in his very first managerial position. Argentina opened the scoring in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, before a goal from Miroslav Klose levelled things up. In the subsequent penalty shootout, Jens Lehmann – whom Klinsmann picked over stalwart Oliver Kahn – was Die Nationalmannschaft’s hero.
Copa America 2016: a Klinsmann hat-trick?
The former VfB Stuttgart and FC Bayern München striker displayed all the traditional mental strength associated with German football in those two famous triumphs, and has now put together a USA team, containing four players from the Bundesliga, that contains that same self-belief.
Fabian Johnson, whose duel with Lionel Messi could be crucial, is a relative veteran of the side and his 50th appearance could be in the final, while John Anthony Brooks’ praises have been sung to the high heavens by his coach: “He’s having a brilliant tournament. He’s the best centre-back at the tournament right now.” Add to that the energy of the likes of Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood (suspended for this game) and the strength of this German-infused USA side becomes more evident still.
Argentina will be favourites, but one thing is for sure: The Americans can win this game, because Klinsmann’s teams have already done so.
Here's more on the Germany-born contingent in the USA fold:
Bundesliga link: Hertha Berlin (current club)
The USA's answer to Jerome Boateng has more in common than just an imposing physique with the Germany centre-back. "Berlin is my city, I grew up here. So Hertha are also my team," Brooks - who joined Hertha aged 14 - once said, but he quickly established the USA would be his country. Though he made a single appearance at youth level for Germany, Brooks simultaneously featured for US junior sides before making his senior debut in 2013.
Did you know? Klinsmann rates his centre-back very highly indeed. "He's the best centre-back at the Copa," the US boss told German media. "He's having an amazing tournament."
The versatile Johnson started his career in his home town, though TSV 1860 Munich - not FC Bayern München - were his first club. He even played alongside the likes of Mesut Özil, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer and Sami Khedira - all in Germany's UEFA EURO 2016 squad - in winning the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. Yet, that moment and the subsequent 'big' move to VfL Wolfsburg helped shape his international future on the opposite shore of the Atlantic. As he struggled to establish himself at the Volkswagen Arena before Klinsmann came calling in 2011. "I told them that Jurgen wants to invite me in and they said congrats," said Johnson of the moment he told his parents - Charles, a former US soldier, and Sylvia - he could play for the US.
Did you know? Johnson's father played basketball for Bayern München while his maternal grandfather was also American.
Current club: Colorado Rapids
Born in Germany, Jones spent part of his childhood in Chicago and Mississippi before returning to the country of his birth. After making his name in the Bundesliga with Schalke in particular in 165 top-flight games, the tough-tackling, straight-talking midfielder has gone full circle, re-crossing the Atlantic in August 2014 to join New England Revolution before heading to Colorado last March. Jones made three appearances for Germany in 2008 before pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes.
Did you know? Former Germany women's team star Steffi Jones is no relation, but her mother was Jermaine's nanny in Frankfurt.
With 110 goals in 221 Bundesliga appearances, Klinsmann can justifiably lay claim to being one of the most potent strikers to grace Germany's top flight. After his playing career ended, he guided his home nation to third place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup before a short-lived stint in the Bayern dug-out. Appointed US boss in July 2011, 'Klinsi' - as he is known in Germany - revolutionised the squad by calling on German-born players. "It's great that we've managed to convince them to represent us, and also we benefit from them being products of the elite Bundesliga youth system," he told bundesliga.com in an interview. "Our dream is to have European-based players with Champions League experience. That's what we really want."
Did you know? The son of a baker, Klinsmann qualified as a baker himself in 1982.