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Tim Howard claims USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann banned PB&Js

Goaltender extraordinaire Tim Howard, who almost single-handedly carried the USMNT to the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, claims in his autobiography that manager Jurgen Klinsmann had something of an iron-fisted approach when it came to running the squad and controlling players’ activities.

In an exclusive excerpt from his upcoming memoir, “The Keeper” published on ESPNFC.com, Howard allows a peek behind the curtain on how Klinsmann operated, detailing how the 50-year-old German was prone to micromanagement.

Jurgen dictated when we woke and when we slept. He insisted we wear USA track suits during training, and even when we hung around the hotel. Sugary snacks were replaced by leaner, high-protein bars, “Performance nutrition,” he called it. I’d spent my whole life eating PB&Js; somehow, under Jurgen, the sandwich morphed into a natural version of the staple that was practically unrecognizable … and to my taste buds, inedible.

We had earlier curfews. Less time to sit around after meals shooting the breeze.

Jurgen was even determined to change our breathing.

The last part had to do with how Klinsmann insisted in the team performing yoga training sessions, sometimes lasting upwards of two hours.

But Klinsmann’s stranglehold on all aspects of off-the-pitch activities did not end with training and nutrition, either.

Jurgen banned cell phones from the locker room. He insisted that the team administrator was on call 24/7. We began bringing our own gym equipment to hotels, to ensure we always used state-of-the-art machines. Each dawn, we took “empty stomach runs,” 30 minutes of sprints designed to pull energy from body fats. He took us on field trips — to Versailles, to the 9/11 Memorial — to inspire us as human beings.

Whether or not the players agreed with Klinsmann’s approach to coaching — and some of them apparently did not (“None of the players argued with Jurgen, but you could sense misgivings from their body language, a kind of tension when they were around him,” Howard writes) — there certainly appears to have been a method to the madness, and his strict policies arguably paid some semblance of dividends for the entire team and its success in Brazil.

Just without peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, though.

(photo credit: ISIPhotos.com)

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