SAN FRANCISCO – Berti Vogts, one of the greatest defenders in German history, and the last coach to lead his country to a World Cup title, has dual roles this week in the Bay Area.
Vogts, 67, is in charge of Azerbaijan’s national team that plays the United States on Tuesday night at Candlestick Park in the Americans’ first exhibition game as a World Cup unit.
Then he will join U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann as an adviser who scouts the Americans’ upcoming World Cup opponents.
The man who also coached Scotland and Nigeria already has some thoughts about Ghana, the Americans’ first World Cup challenge June 16 in Brazil.
“The striker and the midfielders are very, very good,” Vogts said Sunday before Azerbaijan trained at Candlestick. “They’re quick, they are physical.”
Vogts said the Americans’ best chance might be attacking from the wings, because Ghana’s defense is compact. He said Ghana plays similarly to Nigeria, which the U.S. plays in an exhibition on June 7.
Fan of Green
Vogts sounded like a fan of outside midfielder Julian Green, a German teenager with an American father. Green, 18, has appeared only once for the United States in a game last month against Mexico. He plays for a fourth-division team part of Bayern Munich’s system.
“I saw him in the training,” Vogts said. “He is a very, very talented player. He’s very quick, and speedy, that’s what you need. Maybe he can come in the last 20 minutes, the last 10 minutes.”
Vogts coached coach
Klinsmann was part of three World Cup teams coached by Vogts, including the winners in 1990. Vogts recalled telling the teenage Klinsmann to switch to the middle from the wing position.
“He did it, and he started a big, big career,” Vogts said. “He is so enthusiastic. He’s more American than a German. The Germans are always thinking about things, but Jurgen is so positive, that’s the American way of life. That’s good for the team, good for the supporters.”