SAN FRANCISCO — Berti Vogts is literally working both sides.
As soon as he’s done coaching Azerbaijan against the Americans in a World Cup warmup Tuesday night, Vogts will immediately return to his other important soccer gig: scouting U.S. World Cup opponents as a special adviser to Jurgen Klinsmann.
Only in soccer could Vogts pull this unique scenario — guiding one team, then rejoining the other in the lead-up to Brazil.
“I’ve never seen or heard that before,” U.S. midfielder Graham Zusi said. “That’s just the way it is sometimes.”
Vogts expects about half of Azerbaijan’s 9 million people to be watching the game on TV when it will be 7 a.m. in the former Soviet republic, 12 hours ahead. The match at Candlestick Park is the first of three World Cup warmups for the U.S. stateside before departing for Sao Paulo.
Not that Vogts is getting ahead of himself.
“First, I’m the national coach for Azerbaijan. Proud to play here against the United States,” Vogts said. “Azerbaijan is a very, very small country. More Azerbaijans are looking forward for this match.
“It’s a huge match for Azerbaijan, and I hope the match also will help the United States. It’s the first match, then they play against Turkey in New York and in Jacksonville against Nigeria. It’s very interesting matches for the U.S.”
He is quick to clear up a couple of things: Klinsmann hasn’t asked him to make any tactical adjustments based on better preparing the U.S. even though his team has faced all three World Cup opponents, and Klinsmann only offered the idea of this match and Vogts agreed while feeling no pressure to oblige.
“It’s a friendly. It’s a natural match. It’s not a match about two friends. It’s a match of Azerbaijan-USA,” Vogts said. “Azerbaijan inhabitants have about 8 million, and maybe 4 million are waiting for the match against the big USA.”