Losing out to Jamaica and Panama was pretty embarrassing, and a number of fans projected their dissenting voices demanding that Jurgen Klinsmann be fired. Nevertheless, some are on the contrary and want Klinsmann to remain as the head coach of United States Men’s National Team (USMNT). While the opponents complain that Klinsmann has brought nothing but misery to the USMNT, the proponents are for the view that he has done a lot of good things, and even go further to point out how he has flourished in the most recent World Cup. Going by their arguments and views, it is safe to suggest that both of these groups are right.
When penning down his contract and agreeing on different terms, U.S. soccer president Sunali Gulati agreed to make Klinsmann both the head coach and technical director of USMNT. As if that was not enough, Klinsmann was allowed to have a say in the operation of under-17 and under-20 national teams. Considering the immensity of his powers, Jurgen Klinsmann was able to create a new under-23 national team as well as influence how the Development Academy system operates. To be honest, all of these roles are too huge for one person, no matter how perfect someone is or seems to be.
During his appointment, Klinsmann was to manage the senior national team, and before meeting Jamaica, he made it clear that one of his top priorities in the 2015 summer was to win the Gold cup. However, we can confidently say Klinsmann is not walking the talk, not after fielding a team in a formation they had not played in since February 2015. Of course, Jamaicans beat the U.S. in that match and this is what he said after the match-“the luck was not with us and maybe we were not clinical enough to put it in there”. To me, that is a scapegoat. Surely, how do you expect a team to be clinical when they are playing in a formation they are not familiar with?
“Passing combination, rhythm wise, and effort wise; everything was there,” says Klinsmann after the 2-1 loss to Jamaica. “That was a lot of good stuff we saw out there; only that we could not put something in,” he adds. Well, this was not all about luck because in real sense, you cannot expect luck to come to your side when you put together an unbalanced roster and spend the group stage experimenting with personnel. Despite all the laments and complaints, it is fair to demand that head coach Klinsmann be judged by the team’s overall quality and performance rather than their results. After all, fluke losses happen to everyone, including experienced and celebrated managers.
Nevertheless, even the overall performance is not encouraging either. Looking at the USMNT performance in the World Cup, they were totally outplayed by Ghana and needed miracle goalkeeping from Tim Howard and bad finishing from the Black Stars (Ghana) to win the match. Despite outplaying Portugal, USMNT gave up a 95th minute equalizer because he (Klinsmann) decided to abruptly change the compact back four to a crowded back five late in the game, thereby, bringing in a lot of pressure, which gave Portugal a stunning chance to sneak a goal. Against Germany, the team had little to do. And in their round of 16 match against Belgium, they needed good goalkeeping and magical saves from Howard to escape the historic and somewhat embarrassing exit. That match was probably the most lopsided game of the entire World Cup after the Brazil-Germany one (which was undoubtedly the first in that category).
We note from the analysis that USMNT was only good in one match (against Portugal), which, unfortunately, was also tainted by a bad coaching decision that directly resulted in dropping two crucial points. If we are to judge Klinsmann on results then World Cup was definitely a job well done. But if we are to judge him on overall quality and performance then we can say confidently that his tenure has experienced more than a few shaky moments. Back-to-back bad finishes against Jamaica and Guatemala in the third round of World Cup qualifying brought the United States at the brink of not even making the Hex. Ideally, they needed a 90th minute magic goal to see off Antigua and Barbuda. While their barren draw at Estadio Azteca is quite motivating, Costa Rica and Jamaica achieved the same result away to Mexico, while Honduras recorded a win.
Therefore, going by these facts, it is really hard to defend USMNT’s current head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Perhaps the time has come for the U.S. to try something new under someone new. After all, nothing is as good as change.