The German all-time great was saved from defeat after Robbie Rogers scored a second-half equaliser, hitting home in the 73rd minute. The fans at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia had seen Oribe Peralta put Mexico ahead in the 17th minute.
The match on Wednesday came less than two weeks after Klinsmann was hired and the new coach had only held three training sessions before his debut. Fans are hoping Klinsmann can shake-up the team after a string of lacklustre results.
"It was a special moment," Klinsmann said. "It was a special moment before the game, listening to the anthem and feeling the energy from the stadium and the players."
Klinsmann sent a message to his players before the game, with uniform jerseys stripped of their usual names. Starters were assigned numbers 1-11, the reserves 12-18. "It's a little bit of a signal that there's a fight going on for those numbers," he said.
Since reaching the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup™ last year, USA has stagnated. They were dominated by Spain in June, shocked by Panama in the group stage of the Gold Cup and fell to Mexico in that tournament’s final after blowing a two goal lead.
That defeat cost former coach Bob Bradley his job. Klinsmann's name had come up before in connection with the US coaching post - after the 2006 FIFA World Cup and again last year, when US Soccer gave Bradley a contract extension that proved to be short-lived.
The coach said he was pleased with Rogers' effort and with the energy that 21-year-old Brek Shea brought to the pitch. Shea's cross was tapped in by Rogers, who had come on in place of Michael Bradley just two minutes earlier. Bradley was playing for the United States for the first time since his father was sacked. "We wanted to see a performance with energy and excitement and with the goal that the fans were really going to enjoy their team," Klinsmann said.
Even short exposure to Klinsmann's coaching had been inspiring, according to Rogers. "I have really enjoyed playing for Jurgen. He has a lot of confidence in us, and to get that goal made me feel good," the player said. "I had just entered the match so it was a little surprising. I'll take it."
Mexico took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute when Peralta collected a cross from Andres Guardado, got around Bradley and fired a shot that USA goalkeeper Tim Howard couldn't save. "It was a pass from Andres, the only thing I did was stick my leg out in front of the defender and I was able to put it in," Peralta said.
For some time, the United States looked like the team that Mexico beat in the Gold Cup, with no real scoring chances in the first half. Shea's entry in the 59th minute helped change that. "In the second half, I thought we saw a very exciting game. It was an amazing learning process that the players went through," Klinsmann said.
The German, whose team will host Costa Rica in a friendly at Los Angeles on 2 September, said he thinks he has something to build on. "I think we can be very satisfied with that performance," he said.
"It was great to see some young players stepping into this team and being guided by the experienced ones... It's enjoyable to see how they go for it."