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Jurgen Klinsmann

Klinsmann directly responsible for USA defeat to Mexico


Photo credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Dos A Cero is a thing of the past. For the first time in fifteen years, the United States lost a World Cup qualifier on home soil – falling on Friday night against Mexico by a score of two goals to one.

In this most meaningful Hexagonal opener, the mystique of Columbus fell apart for the USMNT – done in by another dose of aggressively incompetent coaching, and maybe a little bit of karma.

Jurgen Klinsmann refused to be outdone. He lined the US up in a 3-5-2 formation in which it had never played before.

The result was, of course, disaster. There was hardly an American player on the field who looked comfortable in a first half in which Mexico took the lead, hit the woodwork twice, and thoroughly dominated proceedings.

Klinsmann would abandon the 3-5-2 for the obvious 4-4-2 after just 28 minutes. But for Mexico, flying up and down the field with a confidence that they’d never shown before in a Columbus qualifier, the early success provided a crucial mental lift.

This time, El Tri didn’t crumble – not after the US got serious after the formation change, and not even after Bobby Wood leveled the score just after halftime.

In the end, it’d be Mr. Meltdown himself – the ageless Rafa Marquez – who had the freedom of Ohio on an 89th minute corner and used it to flick the game-winning header past Brad Guzan.

The identity of the Mexico hero was the salt in what is a painful wound for the United States. This program’s one organic tradition, its one great calling card, was its success in this game. It is no more.

And – stop me if you’ve heard this before – Klinsmann is directly responsible.

For a coach who saved his job not five months ago by finally settling on a consistent formation and group of personnel at the Copa America, this decision to abandon familiarity for novelty in these circumstances was another amazing stroke of hubris.

The result was a US midfield and backline which, feeling its way in the dark, was spectacularly disjointed. Against a Mexican attack full of skillful, quick playmakers, both units were left reeling.

Klinsmann’s post-game response to the total failure of his entire game-plan was, of course, to throw his players under the bus. Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones were called out by name.

The criticisms were ridiculous. Jones started the match despite having not played 90 minutes since June and, understandably, wasn’t sharp. Bradley, meanwhile, had a massive amount of work to do in the face of all kinds of pressure.

There were other questionable personnel decisions. Timmy Chandler, who has never played well for the US and doesn’t play wingback, predictably struggled early as Mexico overloaded his side of the field.

Christian Pulisic, who doesn’t play as a number 10 for Dortmund, didn’t play particularly well as a number 10 for the US in the first half. When moved wide in the second half, where he does play in the Bundesliga, Pulisic settled.

This isn’t hard stuff. Continuity matters. Players’ comfort matters. Against a good team, those factors make up the margins.

Details are crucial too. John Brooks and Jozy Altidore didn’t appear to know whether the US was man or zonal marking on the Marquez goal, which, at this level of the game, is amazing.

When you consider that the US has historically crushed Mexico on set pieces – often in Columbus – that was another bitter pill to swallow.

Now, after losing at home, the US is in trouble. Next up is a trip to San José for a showdown against Costa Rica on Tuesday, where the Americans are 0-8-2 in World Cup qualifying.

They’ll go to Costa Rica without Tim Howard, who, fittingly, hurt himself taking a goal kick in Friday’s first half.

SEE MORE: Schedule of World Cup qualifier on US TV and streaming

Needless to say, there is a very real possibility that the US wakes up next Wednesday with no points and no margin for error in their eight remaining Hexagonal games.

Of course the US should be okay. They certainly have the talent. In Altidore and Wood, they have a truly excellent strike partnership. Pulisic, if utilized correctly, can be dynamite. The defense is solid. So is the midfield.

But no one should deceive themselves. World Cup qualification is no sure thing. Just in the last two years, Klinsmann’s teams have lost to Panama, Jamaica, and Guatemala. The latter two teams didn’t even make the Hex.

Truth is, had Andres Guardado stayed on the field on Friday night, Mexico might not have needed its captain’s late intervention. With Klinsmann in charge, no game is safe for the US.

This loss ends an era. The loss that ends the Klinsmann era might not be far away.

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    November 13, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Mexico played well at times they should get some credit, also as a previous poster stated the USMNT is a mediocre team at best, if it were club football they would be in the bottom half of the table, they destroy teams like Haiti, Cuba, and the El Salvadors of the world, once in a while they are good enough to pull out an upset and get a nice win. With few exceptions the players are nothing special, you could have any manager it wouldn’t matter, what is Klopp going to do with Altidore the Sunderland failure or Bradley whose best days are long past? The goalkeeper used to be the one bright light and even that’s gone now, a 37 year old who’s best days are past or the back up Middlesborough keeper are the best options. I know the fans have either have been led or just have blind hope think that it’s some special team but it’s not, also CONCACAF is so horrible that it really doesn’t matter and they are going to qualify anyway so nobody should panic as far as that goes.

    Finally, who in the world is Abe Asher? Do you just allow anyone to submit articles? I hope that is the case because if you are paying this person then that is pretty embarrassing.

    • a

      November 22, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      Timmy Chandler is the worse player on the US roster with Mr. give the ball away Bradley a close second.

  2. jim

    November 12, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Agreement or disagreement aside, this was one of the most poorly written articles I’ve ever seen. Despite the fact that I’m an American, I’m soccer literate but had a very hard time understanding what you’re talking about. About specifics, Pulisic played like a talented, nervous kid earning his first cap. Playing center or left or whatever, most of his first touches were extremely heavy and he killed several promising attacks because of that fact. Bradley gave the ball away often, and Klinsmann was justified in singling him out. (And I am most definitely not a Klinsmann fan).

    But getting back to my main point (poor writing), is there anybody out there who can explain the comment about Tim Howard “fittingly” getting injured. Maybe it’s a pun, but, based on other stuff I’ve read, such wit is beyond the writer.

  3. Smokey Bacon

    November 12, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    How about giving Mexico some credit? They were always going to cause problems. It was a cracking game well played by both sides.

  4. Jake

    November 12, 2016 at 10:31 am

    It doesn’t matter who the coach is. The US sucks. Always has. Always will. Time to face facts.

  5. Harry

    November 12, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Klinsmann changed the formation due to injuries. That he quickly changed back to 4-4-2 showed he was aware that it wasn’t working. Yes, he should take the blame for the start the USA had but it wasn’t him that was playing on the field and didn’t mark Marquez or had no one on the far post on the corner. The USA dominated the second half but for some poor decisions by players who should have passed to an open teammate could have scored more. This defeat was on everyone, manager and players alike. No one should be blamed more than the other.

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