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USA-Jamaica semifinal has German connection

Jamaica head coach Winfried Schafer (center) walks the Georgia Dome field in Atlanta on July 21, 2015. (Photo: Mexsport)

ATLANTA -- When the coaching staffs of the United States and Jamaica perform the traditional post-match handshakes after their 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal match at the Georgia Dome Wednesday, some will be more heartfelt than others.

Germans Jurgen Klinsmann and Winfried Schafer call the shots for the U.S. and the Reggae Boyz, respectively.  Former Germany head coach Berti Vogts, the USA technical advisor, said he is “good friends” with Schafer.

"He married a girl from my village, and for many years we have vacationed together in the Black Forest for the Christmas holiday,” Vogts noted.

Vogts and Schafer starred for three Borussia Moenchengladbach championship sides in the Bundesliga during the 1970s.

"Winnie is a special player and person," expressed Vogts.  "He was a good runner and a good passer, and he was very good with his teammates.”

During a press conference on Tuesday, Klinsmann pointed out that Schaefer "loves to joke around.”

"The States has two German coaches -- Klinsmann and Berti," the former Tottenham Hotspur star remarked.  "It's good for us. The states need two German coaches against Jamaica.  It's two against one."

Schafer coached Klinsmann, who was at VfB Stuttgart at the time, in a game in the late 1980s during his 13-year tenure as Karlsruher SC coach.  Both teams traditionally clashed in what Schafer called "a very strong derby."

"He played in a goodbye match for a player in my club,” the 65-year-old said.  “We all changed after one hour.  He was a crazy player."

And as a lethal striker for several top-flight European clubs as Klinsmann helped West Germany to the 1990 FIFA World Cup crown.

Schafer went on to coach internationally, including stints with Cameroon and Thailand.

"I'm not surprised about his work with Jamaica," Klinsmann commented.  "He's very strategic, smart.  He is very much able to adjust to different cultures and nationalities and different environments.

"He is a very, very competitive.  He will tell his players everything possible to make it miserable for us, difficult for us.  That's his job."

For one game, though, the niceties have been set aside.

"We often text each other to say good luck or congratulations, but that stopped before this game!" Vogts said.

At least until the post-match handshakes.

 
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