Is it Time for Klinsmann To Go?
Is it Time for Klinsmann To Go? avatar

If Sunil Gulati won’t dismiss Jurgen Klinsmann then U.S. Soccer must replace its President with someone who will after the Americans were humiliated 4-0 by Costa Rica in World Cup Qualifying Tuesday night in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Klinsmann's performance needs to be reviewed. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Klinsmann’s performance needs to be reviewed. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Coming on the heels of Friday’s 2-1 loss in Columbus to Mexico, the U.S. has now lost the first two games of the Hex, the final round of World Cup Qualifiers.

With eight games yet to be played, there is still time for the Americans to right the ship and qualify for Russia 2018, the question emerging from this performance is this; is Jurgen Klinsmann the right man for that job?

The U.S. has never won in Costa Rica, so it was always going to be a big ask for the visitors to come away with a point, never mind three, but no one could have foreseen a beatdown of this magnitude.

After last week’s inexplicable switch to a formation his team had essentially never used before, Klinsmann reverted to his team’s familiar 4-4-2 against the Ticos. But the coach’s stubborn insistence on staying with Tim Chandler and Matt Besler as his fullbacks seemed a curious one, and neither player repaid Klinsmann’s confidence.

But his fullbacks were simply one part of the larger problem. Central defenders John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez played as if they had been introduced in the locker room immediately before taking the field, with Brooks mystifyingly bad on the night.

Guzman (ISI Photos/Brad Guzan)

Guzan had a decent game despite conceding four goals.  (ISI Photos/Brad Guzan)

Despite surrendering four goals, emergency goalkeeper Brad Guzan was probably the best American at the National Stadium last night and Tim Howard’s replacement almost got his team to the half with a clean sheet. Almost.

Montreal Impact backup Johan Venegas ruined that plan when he sullied Guzan’s clean sheet in the 44th minute after he beat Brooks to the ball when Gonzalez allowed Christian Bolanos all too much time and space to play in his cross.

Klinsmann made no changes at the half and his players did nothing with that reprieve. Bolanos, another MLS man with the Vancouver Whitecaps, made it 2-0 in the 68th minute when he powered a header past an abandoned Guzan.

U.S. midfielders Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones were unable to generate any semblance of an attack throughout, with Jones especially prone to turnovers. Some, GotSoccer included, had called for Sacha Kljestan to start this match for Jones, who had to be feeling the effects of two energetic performances after his recent return from injury.

(ISI Photos/John Dorton)

The U.S. struggled to take control or keep possession against Costa Rica.(ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Klinsmann stayed with Jones, understandably perhaps, but with the U.S. crying out for someone, anyone, to help gain some meaningful possession and complete a pass or two, Kljestan continued to sit.

When Klinsmann did finally go to the bench he removed Christian Pulisic, who with Bobby Wood had provided the few dim rays of hope for the U.S on the night.

Lynden Gooch showed some fight when he checked in for Pulisic and the Sunderland youngster could not be implicated for what was about to transpire.

Joel Campbell, who had begun the night on the Ticos bench, entered the match in the 67th minute and within 11 minutes Campbell had doubled the U.S. deficit.

Both of Campbell’s goals were gifts from the inept American defense as the U.S. did something generally unheard of from the U.S. MNT; it quit. It was not a pretty sight and afterward, Klinsmann told the press “I take responsibility and it is no problem. It is a learning experience for us.”

The U.S. defense could not cope with Costa Rica and got totally outwitted. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

The U.S. defense could not cope with Costa Rica and got totally outwitted. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

It was an unusual, perhaps unprecedented move from the U.S. manager, who has been criticized in the past for his habit of calling out his players publicly.

But it is too little and it is too late. Klinsmann took over this team in 2011 and the time for on the job training has passed. Gulati chased Klinsmann for years before he finally convinced the German legend to replace Bob Bradley, and as recently as Friday night Gulati continued to back his coach and technical director.

But Klinsmann got one thing right in Costa Rica, this is responsibility and it is time for Gulati to hold him accountable. And if Gulati won’t, then U.S. Soccer has the responsibility to find someone who will.

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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29 Responses to Is it Time for Klinsmann To Go?
Is it Time for Klinsmann To Go? avatar

  1. Marvin Miller says:

    I’ve been a supporter of Klinsmann since his hire, but I have to say something has to change. Some of it is on the players, but in sports, the coach has the ultimate accountability. I never understood the firing of Bob Bradley and I think it time to talk to him about coming back.

    • SMA says:

      While I doubt we could get BB back, I agree with you about his firing. I never really understood it either. I liked him as the coach.

  2. Carlos Medina says:

    Since the day they replaced Bradley I had hope they offered the job to Marcelo Bielsa, a specialist on these kind of teams. I still think he is the best option for he’s style and the characteristics of the team. But it’s clear that the eyes of the federation are only for europe.

  3. George Lund says:

    I have thought for a few years that we should be using some younger players. Jermaine Jones will not be able to help us should we get to Russia. I saw him play against the Chicago Fire two weeks before the game against Mexico to qualify for the Confederations Cup. He was awful, committing at least three fouls that should have resulted in yellow cards. He only received one. Then two weeks later he is playing against Mexico. Not sure what he brings to the table and what he will be able to bring in the future. He and Michael Bradley are a very poor midfield tandem. Time for new blood.

  4. Bill Binnie says:

    Keep the Coach- Please get rid of the players- No high level league wants our field players- No American field players go from MLS to EPL or Serie A- Doesn’t that tell you something- Go to Amateur matches in New York and LA and pick the best 30 players you can find and start from scratch- Reach out to our Latin, and Caribbean players- We need to get past the medicore spoiled rich white kids who are the core of US soccer today-

    • SMA says:

      You paint with too broad a brush when you say “mediocre spoiled rich white kids”…why does skin color matter? Besides, Jermaine Jones doesn’t fit that narrative.

      However, the current youth soccer structure and “pay to play” isn’t helping, either.

    • Jesse T. says:

      Agree with the looking past spoiled kids comment, but the reason why I think Klinsmann also needs to go is because he seems stuck on continuing to use the same players despite continued poor performance

    • Anon says:

      “spoiled white rich kids” – nice attitude and demographically wrong – the current MNT roster is not exactly a bastion of ‘spoiled white rich kids’ – Nor are the youth national teams – They are as diverse as this country. Your point would be better stated – we need to expand the ranks of who gets selected for those teams – but Jurgen says you can only really be considered for MNT if you played internationally – that eliminates a boatload of players (regardless of country of origin) who don’t have the economic means or don’t happen to have dual passports from even being considered – how about having more regional camps to id talent? how about connecting better with colleges to find players?
      US Soccer has money – it is just not spending it on coaching, recruitment and scouting like the Germany and Icelands of the world.

      And maybe 1 or 2 of your NY/LA players make the cut and yes, they might have parents from some other ‘football’ country, or they might be kids with passion for the game who’s parents came over with the Pilgrims.

    • Matthew Merricks says:


  5. JIM CALHOUN says:

    This team is playing uninspired, sloppy football. It is very difficult to watch. It’s time to change the coach and many of the starting players.

  6. adrian Glover says:

    The problem starts at the top and escalates down. The MLS is old has beens and the National Team try to take short cuts with non US born Players from Europe. The result is a four-nil loss to one of the smallest countries in the world with a population Far less than the City of Los Angeles. There are no quick solutions build from the bottom and the US team may be world class in 20 tears but not with Klinsmann.

    • SMA says:

      While I agree, the “Project 2020” plan hasn’t done what it was supposed to do in the 20 years since it was conceived.

    • Jesse T. says:

      But despite populations far smaller than our big cities, these small countries have something we seem to not have…a humbleness and pride for playing for their country. Maybe they just don’t take it for granted. I think they bring a serious cultural pride piece to the pitch that is the edge up.

  7. He was never going to succeed from the start – A coach from another country has yet to win the World Cup coming from another country. Those are incredible odds. Its only the power of money & influence of the USA that FIFA makes eases the route for them to qualify.
    Compare their passage to many others and the USA even now has a chance to qualify.
    Graham Ramsay

  8. Kris Spyrka says:

    A five year “learning experience”. Where do get that, and get paid a lot? I want that job!

  9. Dozer says:

    America, it’s time to wake up. The problem here is we simply do not have the class of players to compete and win a world Cup. It’s very sad, I heard Alexy Lallas last week, and how excited he was about our new and upcoming star Pulisic. And how we have such a bright future with him, and how a World Cup may be in our near future. Well, I have a message for Alexy. Being that you were a professional player, you should know this more then the general public. It takes more then one player, to make a Team, heck it takes more then a few great players to make a Team. A Team is made up of 11 individuals who play together and have an understanding through repetitive programing on the training grounds, this is all evident whenever our USMNT play any of the elite world class Nations, the result is we get embarrased,and usually out possessed and outclassed.We lack the system of play to compete, simply because it takes world class player ability to achieve. Yes any Team can have a good game and pull out an upset, but in order to win a World Cup you would need that to happen 4 times in a row, almost impossible. I, myself have played the game on a very high level as a youngster, traveled all over the world, the US way has always troubled me, we are the greatest country in the history of the World, However A World Cup is the most elusive prize for us. It’s a shame really, and it all stems from our system here in this country, I coached my sons Team for many years, and Trained my boy’s with very high level methods from around the world. We lack in our structure, and Training methods here on the youth level, and this my friends is where it stems from. Too many moms and Dad’s who have little to no experience in training, never the less playing the game on a high level to have an understanding that most spectators wouldn’t. In my own experiences that bugged me to know end, Ive had players who had great potential, stay with coaches with little to no experience, play on teams because thats where their friends play, or coaches who stink try to steal and pluck players, because they are more interested in winning instead of developing. Ive seen a lot of dysfunction on the youth level and the list goes on. We need a structure, we need Academys with some of the best coaching, and training from around the world. Not just the English, who come here from England because they couldn’t make it there. This will not help us, Ive heard how this country has been trying to change soccer for the ultimate prize, and it has not happened yet, and to be honest it never will, until we have a major overhaul of the way we approach this sport. My youth team played the game before Pele’s game with the cosmos at rendalls island, back in the 70’s. How many people remember that, well thats how long its been that our country has been trying to make leaps and bounds in soccer, and what has changed since then. Really not much, we still are no closer to the ultimate prize now then we where back then. My message to Mr Nolan, and everyone who complains about our coaching, It won’t matter if Jose Mourinho is our coach, we lack in substance, and unfortunately politics also plays a big role, because I am convinced, that we have players in this country who can do better then the starting 11, who have produced the same results year after year, and here we wait for something great to happen, and unfortunately it never will, So go ahead change the coach, bring back Bradley if you’d like. It won’t make a difference, sure we can beat Costa Rica, or Honduras, but good luck against the Germans, Italians, Argentinians, Brazilians,Spanish,and Dutch. These are the people we need to learn from, what techniques they employ with their youth, and copy it as best we can. I cannot stress the importance of programming the mind, and body starting from 5 years old. Not what Klinsman gets at 19 and 20 year olds, here he has the product of mom and dad training at those early critical years.” Good Luck to our next coach”.

  10. Spencer says:

    Yes… Klinsmann is a huge disappointment… time for change… but we also need to focus on youth development…

  11. Peter Orona says:

    I was a strong fan of Klinsmann and for change at the time he came in. The reason being is he was to position the US to compete and progress to the next level. Today, we have not progressed and have not achieve next level development. Based on results alone, the US is far behind from when Klinsmann took over. NO PROGRESS & NO STYLE of PLAY. We are the most athletic, but that does not win you games and the highest levels. All teams are athletic enough. Success is based on having a style of play and skill set within the players selected to support it. It also requires a coach with the technical knowledge and ability to bring it all together. Everyone wants to be like a European team, but the best players in Europe are South American. Even the European teams know this. The best teams are flush with South American players & coaches. The issue is not how much money or not having enough players. Costa Rica has a small budget compare to the US and a fraction of the population. The coach makes due with what he has and get the players he has, to develop and compete on the world stage. Klinsmann needs to GO, along with his entourage of players, coaches, and disciples he brought with him. Today we are struggling to qualify, when we should be looking to go deeper into the elimination rounds in the World Cup. Now, the USMNT is in the worst position to qualify then it has even been. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

  12. Dave says:

    A miserable and uninspired performance that you could see coming a mile away. Anyone who watched the Guatemaula tape know the recipe now for unhinging the U.S. team. Heavily pressure our midfield players to deny or pressure passes from the backs to them, thereby enticing the defenders to bypass the midfield with long balls. They are horrible at it and the central middies lack the touch to turn forward under even mediocre pressure. If the defenders dictate our offense, we are dead men. Under these circumstances the U.S. will then rarely have the ball, will have no attacking rhythm, and they will fall apart. Last night was difficult to watch. My wife, who knows her soccer, commented that the high school team I coach was much more satisfying to watch. Until we place better technical players in the central midfield positions, this pattern will repeat itself. Jurgen is not willing to put such players on the field, so he needs to go.

    • Jim Rife says:

      Think about this:

      How many times last night did you see the US advance the ball from goal kicks up to the 1/2 line and start an attack ?


      How many times did you see Guzan punt the ball over the 1/2 line and immediately return it to Costa Rico ?

      ’nuff said

  13. SM says:

    Jurgen is not issue. For some reason everyone in the US thinks the players we have are worthy of recognition, that the team is capable of more. Our best youth players do not look to US soccer programs for world class development, they go to places like Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich. Klinsmann is patching a busted hull on a ever sinking ship, and he hasn’t had time to steer us safe harbor cause he is in a hurricane of US soccer bureaucracy and ignorance
    (metaphorically speaking). Just be glad we still have a program and kid your youth players to the best US coaches. “If we are not striving for a World Cup then we not aiming the right direction.” (G.B.S.)

    • Peter Orona says:

      JK had five years to correct the development of players at all levels. The USMNT is worst off today – the results are the tell tell sign. This is a results oriented business.

  14. Jim Rife says:

    Here is the only way last nights game can make sense to me, if you assume Klinsmann is very knowledgeable about soccer and how soccer works – which you must assume is the case based on his ability to produce a team that has the highest level of USMNT individual talent in US history. Pulisic is 34th in the WORLD on productivity at Dortmund on some site I just saw. SO – you have to wonder if Klinsmann is purposely letting the current midfielders (Bradley, Jones, Chandler) and some of the defenders (Besler, Gonzalez) fail spectacularly to justify revamping the team. Even typing that though – you have to wonder at the timing. Anyone who thinks we can’t MISS the 2018 world cup is kidding themselves.

  15. michael says:

    My biggest complaint with Klinsmann is his insistence on playing Chandler. He is terrible. Bradley and Jones look tired. Fabien Johnson has seemed to have regressed. Nagbe needs to be back in as soon as possible. Yedlin needs to play more. Orozco needs to play less. The US has always lacked dynamic forwards, but their lack of passing and possession is bordering on embarrassing. The US has to be amongst the worst passing teams in the world.

  16. Dave says:

    Jim Rife,

    Do you think Klinsmann needs to put our putrid mid-field and defense on display to get rid of them? I’m not sure Klinsmann feels the need to justify any action, just look at how he handled Landon Donovan. He had no problem slashing him without looking back.

  17. Hugh says:

    Jergen Klinnsmann was a brilliant player in his day, but he’s not a Manager/Coach, watch him during the game, he the US’s biggest fan on the sideline, but when a team is lacking in quality players, you need a “great” coach to help them and inspire them.

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