[BRAZIL 2014]To understand how close Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Loew are, you have to listen to Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid talk about being with them and speaking in their Swabian dialect that drove the rest of the German national team coaching staff nuts during the tenure of Klinsmann as head coach and Loew as his assistant. But there will be no conversations in Swabian or any other language until after Thursday's USA-Germany match at which Klinsmann and Loew will be on opposing benches.
Klinsmann's father was a baker from outside Stuttgart; Loew's father installed boilers in the Black Forest town of Schonau, about 125 miles from Stuttgart. The stereotype of Swabians is that they are hard-working, thrifty and conservative to a fault.
Klinsmann's father wanted Jurgen to take over the family bakery after the family moved to the outskirts of Stuttgart so he worked as an apprentice baker at Klinsmann Bäckerei before he turned pro at 18 with Stuttgarter Kickers. That same year Loew, five years older than Klinsmann, played for VfB Stuttgart, the city's other and now bigger pro club. They later met while taking classes at the famed German Sport University Cologne.
"We are very close friends," Klinsmann said on Wednesday. "We think alike and come from the same region and we have always been in contact. But coming into this World Cup everyone is doing the best we can do, so we leave the phone calls and text messages for a few days to get the job done."
Klinsmann resigned as German head coach after the 2006 World Cup at which Germany finished third. Loew took over as head coach and has led Germany to at least the semifinals of the next three tournaments -- all won by Spain.
Both Germany and the USA will advance with a win or draw in Recife or a Ghana-Portugal tie in Thursday's other game. If Germany loses, it will still likely go through because of its plus-4 goal difference. A U.S. loss will leave it in danger of going home, especially with a Ghana victory in Brasilia.
"Hopefully, when this World Cup is over," said Klinsmann, "we will get back on the phone and talk about it ... It is more than a working relationship, it is a very close friendship, and I have a lot of admiration for what he has done."