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Jonathan Klinsmann apparently made an impression at Hertha Berlin

Written by Will Parchman


Jonathan Klinsmann’s 2015-17 U.S. U20 cycle had a pleasant end that masked an at times jostling road to get there.

Klinsmann finished his course with coach Tab Ramos and the U20s as the relatively unquestioned No. 1 goalkeeper for the U20 World Cup earlier this year. Klinsmann’s efforts in South Korea were not without their bumbles – he was at fault for at least two of Ecuador’s tallies in the wild 3-3 opener – but he straightened out toward the end and finished with a respectable tournament on balance. It would not be enough to label him as an immediate up-and-coming pro with a top club, but it would raise a few eyebrows and perhaps crack a few doors.

There is also the question of his heritage, of course. The fact that he is Jurgen Klinsmann’s son, a native of the very game’s lifeblood itself, would not itself get him a contract. But, again, the doors would be ajar.

Hertha Berlin provided Klinsmann, who would otherwise be entering his junior year at Cal, an opportunity via a trial this week. And it would seem he’s making a good impression. How do we know? Hertha coach Pal Dedavi literally told us.

“He made a good first impression,” said Pal Dardai about Klinsmann.


This, of course, helps the cause and has nothing at all to do with his goalkeeping abilities. Or, likely, his prospects at the club in general. But it was Very Good Internet Content.

Klinsmann has to be a bit of a curiosity in Germany, not only because of his patronage but because he’s a youth national team keeper raised in a country that produces great keepers in a college program that produces great keepers outside the gaze of a hungry German development machine that brooks no competitors. Germans likely don’t rightly know what they have in Klinsmann The Younger, and any inkling that he could possibly have an impact on any plane with his father, albeit at a different position, is perhaps worth the squeeze.

Klinsmann was invited to Berlin for a 10-day trial, and in Dardai’s exact words, “If our goalkeeper coach Zsolt Petry is convinced of him, we’ll get him.” Sounds fairly definitive, no? The Germans have never been one for nuance games, after all. Either Klinsmann is good enough to insert into the reserve team, or he is not. That much we’ll know soon enough, as Cal and coach Kevin Grimes await the decision with baited breath.

Klinsmann’s two greatest attributes are his organizational ability – he’s quite smart, clearly – and his leg. He has the mentality of a sweeper keeper, which is good, but he does not have the swift feet required to consistently recirculate possession under duress, as a sweeper keeper seems constantly put under pressure by his own daring movement. Klinsmann wants to step into the defensive framework and work the ball, but he too often falls over it to make this a consistent reality. In the meantime, his upright shot-stopping is quite good, which Hertha will no doubt have picked up on immediately.

The good news? At 20, Klinsmann is still exceptionally young in Goalkeeper Years. This doesn’t mean I think he’s quite as pro ready as other keepers in his pool (U20 World Cup understudy JT Marcinkowski, for instance, might not be quite as good a shot-stopper but is much better at reading trajectory from post to post), but he could be in time. As we’ve learned, you can hardly do better than being planted in Germany’s fertile developmental soil.

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