Having been called up to the USA squad for their upcoming friendlies against England and Italy, young Hertha Berlin goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann now hopes his Bundesliga breakthrough is just around the corner.
Klinsmann is one of seven Germany-based players in the latest USMNT squad, with Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Bobby Wood (Hannover), John Brooks (Wolfsburg) and Julian Green (Greuther Fürth) for company.
While Brooks and Green have German parentage and spent their formative years in Europe, Pulisic, McKennie, Sargent and Wood – like Klinsmann – each made a conscious decision to move to Germany in order to complete their footballing education.
Watch: bundesliga.com met Klinsmann when he joined Hertha last summer
“I think we all had varying reasons to go abroad,” Klinsmann explained to bundesliga.com. “[But] the biggest one I think would be that the Bundesliga has had a good reputation of giving young players a chance to play. Most clubs are known for developing talent and that age is only a number.”
Klinsmann – the son of legendary Germany striker and former USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann – joined Hertha in the summer of 2017, but with Rune Jarstein entrenched as the club’s No.1, his first-team appearances have been restricted thus far.
The 21-year-old impressed in his hitherto only Hertha outing, saving a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Swedish outfit Östersunds in the UEFA Europa League last December, though, and he remains optimistic that further involvement with Pal Dardai’s first team is to come.
“I’m learning a lot here and we have a very good working relationship with all the keepers at Hertha which I’m grateful for,” he said. “But also at the end of the day I have my sights set on the spot above me. We need to climb and be able to put pressure on the No. 1 as well.”
Currently behind Brad Guzan and Ethan Horvath for the US, as well as Jarstein and Thomas Kraft for Hertha, it’s something of a quirk of history that Klinsmann’s primary ambition is to keep goals out at all, instead of scoring them himself.
“I was always a striker or attacking mid but at one point just hopped in goal for fun during a break at school,” he explained. “I loved diving around and making those big saves. I eventually asked to go in goal for my club and I stayed there. My dad used to shoot on me a bit in our backyard or on the school fields, and he usually scored so that was some good motivation to get better!”
Klinsmann’s progress has been swift, and the US have been sufficiently convinced to give the Munich-born, California-raised shot-stopper a chance without yet making his Bundesliga bow. Sargent experienced the same, and now has two goals from five caps, but Klinsmann says he simply wants to learn.
“With the USMNT I hope to make an impression to where the coaches consider me for future camps,” he concluded. “I know I’m less experienced than the other keepers here so this camp is a good opportunity to get the coaches thinking about me for the future.”