In 2011, Jürgen Klinsmann was announced as the newest head coach of the USMNT. This move was met with great optimism as Klinsmann had previously coached at world power Germany. He brought along promises to bring the United States to the next level.
Well it has now been five years and I think we can all see how that has turned out. The Americans now sit dead last in the World Cup qualifying Hexagonal after losses to both Mexico and Costa Rica. My big question is: When did losing to Costa Rica become the next level? While Los Ticos are an improving side, they are still a team that we should be able to beat, or at least lose a close game with. They certainly should not be 4-0 better than us.
During Jürgen Klinsmann’s time in charge of the USMNT there has only been 1 success, a Gold Cup win in 2013. Since then the state of the National Team has gone downhill quickly.
A round of 16 appearance in the 2014 World Cup easily overshadowed the fact that the team should have lost almost every game they played in. While they did take Belgium to extra time in that round of 16, it was most due to the superhuman effort put forth from Goalkeeper Tim Howard who managed to save 16 shots. At this point Klinsmann could still get the benefit of the doubt as it was the first major tournament disappointment that he had led the Americans into.
A summer later the US attempted to defend their Gold Cup title as the host nation. Throughout the earlier rounds the Americans did not seem like a team that wanted to be playing. The loss in the semi-finals to Jamaica should not have happened, however it still put Klinsmann’s side in the 3rd place game which would have qualified them for the Confederations Cup in 2017. They blew this chance by losing to Panama in penalties. This was the point where Klinsmann would have been fired by any other country that has a well established soccer program, like the USA is trying to pretend they have.
Then there was the Copa America tournament, also hosted by the United States. After having an easier path to the semi-finals, the Americans faced off with Lionel Messi and Argentina. When Klinsmann was hired it was so that we could compete with teams of this caliber, well we didn’t. Right from the get go it was obvious that Argentina had the advantage, however they also outhustled n American side that was once known for their scrappy ability to stay in games. By the time the official graciously blew the final whistle it was 4-0 to Argentina. Again, with his body of work Klinsmann would have been fired at many other countries as he had not, yet again, been able to make a final of a major tournament.
One big reason that the team is not successful in these big tournaments is the lack of consistency in formation. This leads to issues in remembering assignments which can lead to goals. Some of the formations that have been played by Klinsmann’s squad include the 4-4-2, the 4-3-3 and the recently added 3-5-2. Out of all these formations the system has the player for one of them, the 4-3-3. However it is the one that Klinsmann has done whatever he can not to play. His latest craze is the 3-5-2, which involves three good defenders who have familiarity with one another to play in unison. Without Geoff Cameron in the lineup there is only one other top level defender, John Anthony Brooks, on the roster. This hasn’t worked out well and has led to some ugly goals. One would think that after five years on the job Klinsmann would have figured out a formation by now.
With World Cup Qualifying taking place during tis international break, it was the perfect chance to seize control of the Hex with a home win against Mexico. This did not occur as the team came out in a disorganized 3-5-2 formation. The switch to a back 4 helped stabilize the team, however it did not come until after Mexico had scored the opening goal of the match. They found the equalizer in the second half, but it was not enough. In the 89th minute Mexico found the winner off a corner kick when Rafa Marquez was left open at the near post and guided the ball through Brad Guzan and into the goal. A loss that again could have gotten other coaches fired in serious soccer nations.
The losses continue to pile up as the Americans traveled to Costa Rica to play their second game in the Hex. Right from the opening kick the team looked overmatched and again unorganized in the back three formation. Then came the four Costa Rican goals. Really, a 4-0 defeat to Costa Rica. Jürgen Klinsmann should not have left the stadium with job after that embarrassing display from his team. It doesn’t matter how much he accepts the blame, it is obvious that things are not gong to change.
At this point it is a decent time to look for a new coach for the national team as they have until March to figure out who to call up for the next round of matches in the Hex. If the team does qualify then it still gives a new manager a year and a half to figure out what players are worth taking to Russia. After the recent results it should be, but isn’t, painfully obvious that Jürgen Klinsmann is no longer the right person to lead the USMNT into the future.