The team's recent successes also point to the effective methods applied by Jurgen Klinsmann, its coach and himself a soccer legend, in training the players. In the 2014 World Cup, for example, the United States has made two consecutive trips - its first in its history - to the knockout stage.
Klinsmann apparently brings a European mindset with American sensibilities into the soccer training program for the players. For the 2014 World Cup, the players include Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, and Aron Jóhannsson.
During the Stanford training program, a typical day for the players included:
• Half-hour runs in the early mornings on an empty stomach
• Breakfast and shower
• First practice session
• Second practice session
• Dinner followed by bed at an early hour
Indeed, the training program in preparation for big soccer events, even exhibition matches, with the biggest event being the FIFA World Cup is physically and mentally grueling, to say the least.
Klinsmann also demands his players to always give it their best shot regardless of the time, place and players involved during each training session, each practice game, and each professional game. In a practice, for example, where 20 players were performing passing drills, Klinsmann chastised the players for playing as if they were at a funeral.
Why? Each player was instructed to stand in line, call out the name of a teammate, and pass the ball to him before moving to a different line. This was a minor exercise designed for cardiovascular endurance but it should be imbued with urgency, fluidity and rhythm.
Instead, the players were slow in their movements and passes, thus, the explosion from their coach.
Klinsmann's approach toward the USMNT soccer program is rooted in the following aspects:
• Race the clock. The national soccer team in the United States is always racing the clock especially with its standing in the FIFA World Cup dominated by the likes of Portugal and Brazil. The players must always be at par, even go beyond par, during their training and practice sessions.
• Bring in innovations. These innovations are not exactly new in the world of international soccer but many of these are new for American players. These include bringing in a third-party sports training company, pushing unusual treatment techniques like yoga, analyzing the players' blood work for deficiencies, and modifying player nutrition.
Of course, the standard components of a soccer training program - training in endurance, speed, strength, power and flexibility as well as skills and technical training - remain.