Andreas Herzog will be the manager of the United States' U-23 team for the 2016 Olympics, U.S. Soccer has confirmed. The appointment is no surprise, with Herzog being Jurgen Klisnmann's top assistant for the senior team and openly campaigning for the U-23 job last year.
Klinsmann has put a huge emphasis on the U-23 team, establishing it as a permanent squad and part of the Americans' development program for the first time. U.S. Soccer used to just put together a U-23 team for Olympic qualifying and the Olympics every four years and have that be all, as opposed to the year-round training camps, friendlies and other tournaments that regular youth teams have. Now it has all of that.
The Americans manager believes the U-23s are an important age group, with young professionals taking part, but those who aren't quite ready for the senior team yet. But while Klinsmann created the team, it did not have a manager or staff. Coaches were pulled from other age groups for training camps and friendlies so they could get together, but it wasn't as if the team had a leader. Now it has one in Herzog.
Herzog had a long and distinguished playing career, finishing it with the LA Galaxy. The Austrian, who had 103 caps for his country, then became an assistant with his homeland's national team before leading their U-21 team. Then, in 2011, Klinsmann hired him for the U.S. staff. That he is now taking over the U-23 shows how serious Klinsmann is taking the squad and the bridge of the youth teams to the senior team.
Olympic qualifying will be at the end of the year, with the Olympics following in the summer of 2016. The team is running out of time to prepare for the biggest matches of the cycle and with the U.S. failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, the pressure will be on. Herzog will be the man taking them through it all.