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Jurgen Klinsmann

Did the window for USMNT coaching change already pass?


After sputtering out of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in dreadful fashion, the calls for Jurgen Klinsmann’s firing as Head Coach further intensified. A Jeckyl and Hyde performance against Peru and the shellacking at the hands of Brazil in suburban Boston only tossed kerosene on the flames. A large contingent of US fans and media are pushing the Confederations Cup play-in match against Mexico as a “win or be gone” match for Klinsmann.

But is that a wise change to make at this point?
Sunil Gulati in a difficult position with Klinsmann. The primary goal for any USMNT Head Coach should be qualification for – and performance in – the quadrennial World Cup. Every decision towards the team should be viewed through than lens. The view after the 2011 Gold Cup was such that Gulati sacked Bob Bradley and replaced him with Klinsmann.
The current style and makeup of Klinsmann’s setup has come under increased scrutiny. Clearly he’s on shaky footing right now, given the dire performances versus Jamaica and Panama to close out this summer’s regional test. Every match that passes leaves the team appearing ill-managed – holding onto ageing players like Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, and Chris Wondolowski, while asking talented players to adapt to new tactical roles (Michael Bradley and Alejandro Bedoya more recently).
Should a dire loss to Mexico in October mean a coaching change? In past years when qualifying would have started in the next calendar year, I would have agreed. The past several months of USMNT play has underwhelmed. Even some of the players Klinsmann wrested away from rival nations have failed to impress. This is especially evident in John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado, who have not passed the smell test.
But with World Cup Qualifying being the real prize, can Gulati afford to make a change a mere month ahead of the opening match? Would that place Klinsmann’s successor at a disadvantage, having to deal with whatever chaos comes from the change? Not to forget being tossed into qualifying with a group that has underperformed of late.
It’s true that the United States received a favorable draw in Round 4 with Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines likely presenting only a minor challenge. And maybe Group C could be viewed as an appetizer to the real meal, the Hexagonal. Out of the three groups, it’s the one you’d want if you were bringing the team up to speed with a new coach.
Still, it’s a risk. But is it a bigger risk than beginning the 2018 cycle with Klinsmann calling the shots? That’s the question that lies ahead should the US stumble against Mexico next month.
But realize that the Gold Cup failures could have been the nail in Klinsmann’s coffin, if Gulati had pulled the plug. By not doing so, it heaps more pressure on Klinsmann for the Confederations Cup Playoff in October. A loss there would only reinforce what many already believed – that it should have been done in August.
The Post-Gold Cup solidarity with Klinsmann is a stand that Gulati may have to ride out, for better or for worse. If somehow the US fails to make Russia 2018, would Klinsmann really be the only one to blame?
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  1. David

    September 10, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I don’t think you can put all the blame on Klinsmann. Yes, he has had many questionable lineups and I often question why he plays so many players out of their natural position. I think at the end of the day, the United States simply isn’t good enough regardless of what Klinsmann or any other coach does. We just lack the quality to be anything better than just an average/above average team. Heck, if we had a top coach like Klopp or even Mourinho, the results would still be the same. It’s the same story year after year. The USA gets a few quality wins against top nations and everyone gets delusional and think the USA actually has a chance to do something on the world stage. Then reality sets in and you see things like crashing out of the Gold Cup. As long as I have been following U.S. Soccer, it continues to be the same story. If the USA loses on October 10, Klinsmann will still have his job.

  2. Smokey Bacon

    September 10, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Klinsmann is too arrogant to resign while Gulati is too arrogant to fire him.

  3. David Hughes

    September 10, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Based on USMNT players body language in the past two games. These players have lost total confidence in Dr. Jekyll and Mr Klinsmann experiment. I for one am routing for the USMNT to lose in October so we can get on with hiring a new coach and move the us soccer program forward as we have lost valuable time. In fact this is another reason why USSOCCER Sunil Gulati time here is well over as we need new direction. No leadership vision, bad decision making at every instance from Pro/rel lack of hiring of Jekel and Hyde and Corruption here in the back door of USSOCCER CONCACAF.

  4. Dean Stell

    September 10, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Just make a change. Look at the chaos Mexico was during qualifying for 2014: They qualified by the skin of their teeth and played pretty well in Brazil. They won the GC, fired their coach and just played a really good (friendly) match against Argentina.

    Honestly, national team coaches are overrrated anyway and they have a shelf-life. Their ability to implement some perfect new technical system is so overrated. It’s a players’ game, not a coaches’ game (esp at the national level where the coaches spend little time with the players). The only button they have to push is to freak players like Altidore out that they might not get called up anymore if they don’t start __________, because we’ve got all these German guys like ____, _____, and ____. But you can only push that button a couple times before Altidore knows it’s BS because he’s been playing with Bobby Wood in camps for 4 years now and knows he’s better, so now when Klinsman screws with him, Altidore knows what is happening and just gets annoyed.

    Anyway…..make a change. It seems like enough guys are annoyed at the coach that he’s doing more harm than good now. Plug anyone in and don’t get too attached to them because they should rotate out in few years.

    • Eddie

      September 10, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      So would you fire Jogi Loew if it was in your power to do so? I mean, he came in 2nd at Euro 2008, 3rd at the 2010 World Cup, reached the semis of Euro 2012, and won the 2014 World Cup. By your logic, though, it seems he should have been fired a few years ago since national team coaches shouldn’t remain in the same position for long time.

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