Jurgen Klinsmann was fired yesterday as the U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach and Technical Director. It came off the back of two tough losses to Mexico and Costa Rica in the first two games of the final stage, Hexagonal, of 2018 World Cup qualifying.
This firing is not a surprise for anyone who treats Klinsmann by the standard that he wished to be treated by when he took the job. He had a penchant for playing players out of position. Klinsmann also changed up the formation going into the Mexico game that failed to break through and score more than a goal, while leaving the back three vulnerable.
Probably the worst thing he did is undermining the MLS. Repeatedly saying that players needed to go to Europe and stay out of the MLS for consideration in his teams. But, his most recent team for the two World Cup qualifiers had eight MLS players and then seven after Tim Howard was injured against Mexico. Five MLS players started against Mexico and four started and two came on as subs against Costa Rica. Clint Dempsey, of MLS’ Seattle Sounders, would have also started if he weren’t injured.
Klinsmann was the Head Coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team for just over five years and had immediate success. He won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013. Then he guided the men out of the toughest group in the 2014 World Cup in a feat that was heralded as a giant success, but then fell in the second round of the knockout stage to Belgium.
The roster he took to Brazil was missing Landon Donovan, who is considered by many the best player to ever pull on a U.S. jersey, and the leading goal scorer. In this move, Klinsmann alienated many fans that thought that Donovan should be there no matter what, due to his experience and leadership. In his place he selected a 19 year-old Julian Green who was considered a future star for the US and his club team Bayern Munich, the top team in Germany’s Bundesliga for the last four years.
Then things started to go downhill in the 2015 Gold Cup, where Jamaica beat the U.S. in the semifinal and lost to Panama on penalties to finish in fourth place. This was a colossal failure due to being the overwhelming favorites to make the final and a loss in a third place game that was shown on a channel that many cable packages don’t carry, making it hard for fans to watch.
From there the U.S. was included in the Copa America Centenario, which is a South American tournament that was played outside South America for the first time. The U.S. finished a respectable fourth place but a loss 4-0 to Argentina soured the party. Realistically the U.S. never stood a chance in that game and after going down early weren’t able to recover.
Then came World Cup qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. In the fourth round, the first the U.S. had to participate in, he won his group by two points and avoided not qualifying by four points, but Klinsmann still made some fans nervous. After this poor showing the team goes into the Hexagonal and loses his first two games. Worse than that, he responded to people calling for him to be fired saying, “[Critics] don’t understand soccer or the team.” Well, if he was his predecessor, Bob Bradley, he would have been fired in 2015 after the Gold Cup failure.
Klinsmann was fired due to his failings after the 2014 World Cup. Many traditional soccer powers would have fired him then. He was then unable to save his job this summer with the Copa America Centenairo, after being the highest finisher out of North America. His failings in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup is the reason he will be looking for work. Not having a great first round put on a little pressure and the first two Hexagonal losses were the final nail in the coffin.