I’m not surprised that the United States lost to Jamaica in the Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday night. If you’ve been watching the tournament, you probably weren’t surprised either.
Jamaica is a solid team. Thanks to a new coach, the best part of two months together this summer thanks to a Copa America invite, and a clearly defined tactical setup, the Reggae Boyz know exactly who they are.
They badly wanted to beat the US – and thanks to a couple moments of brilliance and a whole lot of committed, grind-it-out defense, they did. Deserved it, too. It’s one thing to know who you are, but Jamaica believes in who they are too.
But boy, the statistics don’t flatter the US. This marks the first time since 1968 that the US has lost to Caribbean opposition on home soil, the first time they’ve ever lost to a CONCACAF opponent that isn’t Mexico in the Gold Cup, and the first failure to reach the final of the continental tournament since 2003.
This loss wasn’t a one-off. The US, playing at home, was put under considerable pressure and often outplayed by the likes of Haiti, Honduras, and Panama.
Jurgen Klinsmann could never settle on a lineup, a formation, or a style. His devotion to the center-back pairing of John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado was either severely perplexing or constantly enraging, depending on your perspective – especially considering that Matt Besler has been frozen out of the team since he hit back at Klinsmann’s condescending comments about US players lacking fitness in January.
Besler’s ouster from the US setup isn’t an original story. Landon Donovan and Benny Feilhaber can relate.
But even without the Sporting Kansas City men, and with two young, overmatched defenders – and even Timmy Chandler for god’s sake – the US’ play and departure from this tournament was shocking.
Klinsmann will take the blame. He should too, for any number of reasons. But the question going forward is, why hasn’t Klinsmann been able to improve the US? Or Bayern Munich, for that matter?
Klinsmann’s entire coaching legacy was based around the Germany revolution primarily orchestrated by his assistant Joachim Löw – who now, with a World Cup win to his name, is universally regarded as one of the most talented managers in soccer.
Klinsmann’s true genius with Germany wasn’t the smashing attacking football is reign produced, or the influx of youthful exuberance that revitalized the entire countries football scene for a decade and more to come. It was acknowledging that he didn’t know best.
When Klinsmann got the job, he had no previous managerial experience. So he tapped Löw to be his right hand, saying, “I haven’t spent 10 or 15 years on the bench. So I want to have a coach at my side who has.”
Smart move. It helped that Low is also one of the kindest managers in the game, extremely loyal, and generally extremely well-liked by his players. That was back when Klinsmann wasn’t a savant – when he knew better than anyone else that he had very little idea what he was doing.
After that ’06 World Cup, of course, Klinsmann resigned and Löw was promoted. Since then, Germany has thrived and Klinsmann has flopped.
His next job, at Bayern Munich, was a near-comical failure. The players, notably Low’s Germany captain Phillip Lahm revolted over Klinsmann’s methods – but according to Bayern executive chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, he was actually fired because he wouldn’t part with his assistant Martin Vazquez.
Unsurprisingly, Vazquez was also in the eye of the storm when Klinsmann came under the only type of fire that can equate the fire he’s facing now – after the first Hexagonal game in the spring of 2013.
Klinsmann’s tenure as US manager hasn’t been an abject failure, but from what he’s promised, to what he’s paid, he has been. There’s no progress. No real plan. Not from a man who turned to Alan Gordon and route one with his team needing a goal to force extra time against the 76th ranked team in the world.
It’s simple. Klinsmann’s results have been worse than Bob Bradley’s, and worse than Bruce Arena’s too. The soccer backs that up: You saw it against Jamaica, and you saw it all tournament. This team has little idea how it wants to play, and the result of that confusion is too many crosses, too many long-balls, and too many unforced turnovers.
The only thing Klinsmann has really done better than his predecessors is win friendlies in Europe – and that counts for absolutely nothing.
Klinsmann sold Löw’s work and Löw’s vision when he got hired by the US. Four years in with the Americans, he doesn’t seem capable of replicating that work on his own.
Klinsmann’s own staff as US coach has been volatile. Arena brought Bradley through, and Bradley had the excellent Jesse Marsch, while Klinsmann doesn’t even have Vazquez anymore. He fired him before the World Cup.
Independent of Löw, there is nothing in Klinsmann’s record that suggests he is the kind of coach that has earned the unprecedented power, money, and, considering that this humiliating result won’t get him fired, confidence from his boss, that he has at US Soccer.
Sunil Gulati’s infatuation with Klinsmann is almost ten years old. If he does not act, and the US fails to get to the Confederations Cup, he’ll have to face the music too.
The US national team is a very good job and it will attract strong candidates. There’s zero reason to be afraid of a post-Jurgen world. It can’t get much worse than what we just saw. The Klinsmann Revolution has been threatening to turn into the Klinsmann Regression for quite some time.
So either hire Joachim Löw as the new assistant coach, or show Klinsmann the door. US Soccer is better than this.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- French minister apologises for Champions League chaos
- Where to find Corinthians vs. Boca Juniors on US TV
- Where to find USWNT vs. Colombia on US TV
- LAFC confirms 12-month Bale deal with options through 2024
- Barcelona unveils 2022/23 away kit to honor Olympics anniversary
- Favre new Nice coach as Galtier in PSG talks
- Gabriel Jesus signing helps Mikel Arteta’s aims at Arsenal
- Turkish Süper Lig rights renewed by beIN SPORTS
- Spain without injured Hermoso for Euro 2022
- Cech joins list of Chelsea departures