If USA can't win on Tuesday, then Jurgen Klinsmann should be fired. Period.
If the United States national team doesn’t get, at minimum, a result in Costa Rica on Tuesday night then Jurgen Klinsmann must be fired.
He is the enigma, head-scratcher of a coach who just can’t help himself from always tinkering. The latest installment of his madness came on Friday night when he rolled out a 3-5-2 formation in the most important World Cup qualifier that the Americans play every four years. Against Mexico, Klinsmann went with a formation that his team barely plays. Against their most heated rival, he tried to one-up Mexico’s head coach Juan Carlos Osorio by attempting to be a master tactician.
Instead, his team looked as lost as anyone with an ounce of common sense can and would imagine. A head coach with any semblance of reason doesn’t just change a formation a couple days before a crucial match and switch to something completely foreign to his team.
But in the world of Klinsmann, thought and conventional wisdom goes out the window. The result on Friday night: a 2-1 score line that reflects not the American players but their dim-witted head coach.
The United States has beaten Mexico in four straight World Cup qualifiers at home, all the games by an identical 2-0 score. Klinsmann, in one night of experimenting, eradicated the mastery that the Yanks had over El Tri. In one night he decided that the best time to roll out a new formation foreign to his players was against their archrival, a Mexican team that arguably is the best in the region.
Now if he can’t get at least a draw against a difficult Tico side that is tough at home, then what has Klinsmann really accomplished? The hard truth is that he hasn’t taken the national team anywhere they haven’t been before.
In fact, he might have taken the entire national team a significant step back.
Look back to the World Cup two years ago under Klinsmann when the Americans, playing ugly, bunker soccer, seemed to regress in terms of style while advancing to the knockout round where they were disassembled by Belgium. Even in this summer’s Copa America, the United States looked terrible against better teams and beat sides in Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador that are the caliber of sides they’ve been easily dispatching for years.
But against the likes of Colombia and Argentina, they looked lost and inept, without a game plan or cohesion. This doesn’t fall on the players as this is the deepest talent pool in United States soccer history.
Instead it falls on a motivational speaker masquerading as a soccer coach.
In Klinsmann, the United States Soccer Federation was sold a bill of goods. He promised a sweeping revolution of style, taking America to an elite level. Instead, there are excuses about the player pool of talent available to him, something that didn’t stop Bruce Arena in 2002 from taking the Americans to the quarterfinals of the World Cup or Bob Bradley from winning the group eight years later. But under Klinsmann it is a long litany of excuses and very few results of note.
His rhetoric is soaring and inspiring. His results? Downright deflating.
He’s let Mexico re-emerge as the power of the region and his constant tinkering of lineups means that the United States now can only beat the minnows of world soccer. He has more Americans playing in England and Germany at a high level and more young talent at his disposal than at any time in the program’s history.
And yet he manages to bungle his way through simple chores such as, you know, not systematically changing his team’s formation before the biggest match of the calendar year. Friday night’s 2-1 home loss to Mexico is entirely on his shoulders.
Now with Costa Rica on the road, it is put up or shut up time for Klinsmann. Get a result and Friday night is a fluke, an anomaly. But walk out of Central America with a loss and an 0-2 start to the hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying and serious questions must be asked about Klinsmann’s future with the United States national team.
Questions that rightly should be answered with what would be a long overdue firing.