Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Klinsmann out

Five years with Jurgen Klinsmann of the US National Team ended with Klinsmann being fired. In World Cup qualification USA is last after defeats to Mexico 1-2 at home, and a 4-0 trashing by Costa Rica.
Klinsmann was hired amid great expectations, and despite some improvements, I think it has been disappointing, given the potential of the US. It all seemed to start well with a victory in the 2013 Gold Cup and World Cup qualification. In the World Cup they made it to the last 16, but it was not impressive at all, and having watched US in other tournaments, this team was not impressive: they rode on a defensive wave, that was only strengthened by a great goalkeeper. But when it counted, against Belgium in particular, US looked without ideas.
In 2015 USA only made it to fourth of the Gold Cup, losing to Jamaica and Panama. At this point USA seemed like a side that arrogantly thought they were too good for CONCACAF, but obviously were far below the big boys. A semifinal spot at the 2015 Copa America Centenario did nothing to take away this impression when USA lost 4-0 to Argentina.
The last defeats are just a confirmation of how far USA is from its potential. Klinsmann's replacement is Bruce Arena, who also coached USA from 1998 to 2006, which was plausibly the period of most advances for US football, most memorably illustrated by their 2002 World Cup quarterfinal, where they fully had the quality to be among the 8 best in the world.
Bruce Arena has been away for a while, but he has the quality to take US back up from the last spot in World Cup qualifiers.

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