U.S. Soccer appoints Herzog to lead Under-23 national team

Andi Herzog (R), an assistant to U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann (L), will coach USA's U-23 team.

PHIL NOBLE/Action Images / Reuters

U.S. men’s national team assistant Andreas Herzog will lead the efforts to qualify for the 2016 Olympics after U.S. Soccer appointed him as under-23 coach on Friday.

The decision marked a natural progression for Herzog after he participated in several under-23 camps last year. The former Austria international forward joined the federation as an assistant to former Bayern Munich teammate Jurgen Klinsmann in Dec. 2011 and served on Klinsmann’s staff during the FIFA World Cup this summer.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said Herzog’s experience within the federation made him the ideal candidate to direct the efforts to return to the Olympics after missing out in 2012.

"Andi brings a wealth of experience at the international level as a player and a coach," Gulati said in a statement. "In his years with the National Team he has developed a thorough understanding of our system, and we are confident that he is the right coach to accomplish our goal of reaching and succeeding in the Olympic Games."

Herzog openly stated his desire to coach the Olympic team last year and warded off interest from other coaches to earn the role. He is the third national team assistant to coach the Olympic team in the past four coaching cycles.

"I’m honored to have the opportunity to coach the U.S. Under-23 National Team,"  Herzog said in a statement. "We recognize the special place that the Olympic Games have in this country and we are committed as a group to qualifying for Rio in 2016. We look forward to putting together a team that will make all Americans proud. We also know it’s a part of our responsibility to develop players who will be able to contribute to the senior National Team, and that process has already begun."

Klinsmann accelerated those preparations earlier this month by inviting 12 Olympic-eligible players into training camp with the full national side in Carson, Calif. earlier this month.

Herzog is expected to rely on several of those players – including former under-20 standouts and MLS regulars Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids) and Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew) – as he starts to mold his squad for the qualification hurdles ahead.