Seven years ago at the World Cup in Germany, Jürgen Klinsmann and Joachim Löw celebrated Germany's third place finish as coach and assistant coach. On Sunday, they'll face off for the first time as opposing coaches.
It was the highlight of the fantastic World Cup hosted at home: at the beginning of July, 2006, a half-million fans emphatically received the German national team at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to give thanks for the countless unforgettable moments of that tournament. It was the last chapter of what's known in Germany as "the summer fairy tale."
But the sunny day in July wasn't just the final curtain call of the heroic third-place team of that World Cup. It also marked the end of the cooperation between Klinsmann and Löw on the team's coaching staff.
Klinsmann went on to become coach at Bayern Munich, while Löw got a promotion from the German Football League (DFB) and was named head coach. This Sunday, the two former colleagues square off for the first time from opposing coaching zones: Klinsmann, who now leads the US national team, hosts Löw and his old team for a friendly to mark the 100th anniversary of the United States Soccer Federation.
"I learned a lot from him, and I really enjoyed working with him," said Löw about his former boss.
Klinsmann has had the top job in US soccer since 2011 but so far has been unable to really leave his mark. Löw is full of praise anyway.
"I see his work [in the US] very positively," Löw said. "He has amazing visions and clear expectations."
Four years ago, the 48-year-old Klinsmann failed to hold to his post with Bayern Munich. Now he wants to lead the US to the World Cup in Brazil next year.
"He could delegate, that was his biggest strength," Löw said. "He could assign responsibility. Our work together was absolutely productive, it was very exciting and positive."
Along with Löw, the former World Cup champion from Germany's legendary 1990 squad broke new ground at the DFB during his time as coach.
"Whether you see him as a psychologist or a good manager – it's all been tried and tested," Löw said. "He's also gone at his role as the US coach with a lot of gusto. He wants to bring the team to the World Cup, which I think will happen."
Klinsmann in the lead
It may be the first time Klinsmann and Löw have ever faced off against each other as coaches, but they've lined up against each other in the past as players. In the 1982/83 season, Klinsmann and his second-league side Stuttgart Kickers took on Löw's Freiburg team. Klinsmann's side got the better end of that one, winning 4-1. A year later, the two strikers met again. Löw got the short end of the stick once again, losing 2-1. Klinsmann even scored the decisive 2-0 goal for the Kickers. For Löw, it's time for a little payback in Washington.
First opponents in the Bundesliga, then co-pilots of the German national team, and now as opposing coaches – both men are looking forward to this reunion.
"We don't talk on the phone all the time, but we've stayed in contact," Löw said.
Klinsmann is excited for the encounter, too.
"Of course I'm looking forward to seeing Jogi Löw," he said, adding: "but I'm looking forward to seeing other members of the staff, too, and the players – although I'm not so sure I know them all," referring to the fact that Löw is in the US without most of the national team mainstays that Klinsmann might know.
Before the two coaches get down to business in the match, there's likely to be a short reunion off the pitch in Washington.
"We'll get in touch and meet up for a coffee," Löw said.