It’s over. Jurgen Klinsmann, five-and-a-half years after being hired to transform the United States men’s national team, has been fired.
US Soccer President Sunil Gulati finally pulled the plug on his handpicked coach on Monday afternoon, six days after the US lost 4-0 in Costa Rica in one of its worst performances in recent times.
Bruce Arena is expected to be announced as Klinsmann’s replacement on Tuesday. Gulati will speak to the media on Tuesday afternoon.
This was a decision a long time in coming. The USA’s loss in Costa Rica was its worst in World Cup qualifying since 1980. Five days before that, the US lost a thirty-match home unbeaten streak in qualifying against Mexico.
By any standard, Klinsmann was failing as a manager.
The 2015 Gold Cup was truly the nadir. Take away the quarterfinal win over Cuba, and the US was outshot in that tournament 85-47 by Honduras, Haiti, Panama, Jamaica, and Panama again.
That wasn’t a blip. The US was also outshot 92-44 at the 2014 World Cup that also saw the US possess the ball less than any other US World Cup team in modern history – including the team of semi-professionals that competed at Italia ’90.
This from a man who, when he was hired, promised to deal in the kind of possession-based, high-tempo soccer that the US had never played before.
But Klinsmann couldn’t follow through. As a gameday coach, he was spectacularly out of his depth – constantly and needlessly churching through formations and personnel.
The never-before-used 3-5-2 that he sent the US out in against Mexico in Columbus two Fridays ago was only the most recent high-profile example.
The facts: US Soccer’s Elo rating when Klinsmann took over after the 2011 Gold Cup Final was 34. It’s now 33. There was no transformation. There wasn’t even evolution.
It turned out that Klinsmann – tasked more than any other single person ever has been with the development of the game in the United States – had nothing but contempt for the game in the United States.
He had nothing but contempt for both journalists and supporters. On Sunday night, seeing the writing on the wall, he told The New York Times that everyone calling for his job was “being disrespectful,” and “ignoring the facts.”
He was completely dismissive, and, at times, openly hostile with MLS – the league which, whether you like it or not, is and will continue to be the bedrock of the national team.