Coach Andi Herzog failed to qualify the U.S. U-23 men’s national team for the 2016 Olympic Games.
It’s not the first time the Austrian has failed to qualify a team for a major tournament.
His first head-coaching job came in 2009 with Austria’s U-21s, who didn’t make it to the 2011 U-21 European Championship.
Herzog, Austria’s most capped player, started his coaching career as Austria’s assistant coach, a position he held for two years before taking over the U-21s. Their campaign to qualify for the 2013 U-21 European Championship under Herzog started with five points from five games – dooming them again in qualification.
So how did a man with such a meager coaching resume from a soccer minnow nation end up coaching the U.S. team that desperately needed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics after having failed four years earlier?
That, of course, is a ridiculously rhetorical question because you already know the answer: Jurgen Klinsmann.
Herzog was hired in 2011 by his former Bayern Munich teammate as assistant coach for the national team.
Klinsmann has made no secret of the fact that he turned down the U.S. coaching job in 2006 and 2010 because the U.S. Soccer Federation didn’t meet his demands of control far beyond coaching the national team. In 2011, Klinsmann was finally satisfied with the USSF’s offer. And in December 2013, he got a four-year contract extension at some $3 million a year and the added role of Technical Director -- even more power over American soccer.
In July 2014, Herzog got a four-year contract renewal, and Klinsmann put him in charge of the Olympic campaign.
On Tuesday, we saw how that turned out. Herzog’s team melted down in a 2-1 loss to Colombia in Texas, with two players red-carded – and it could have easily been four.
A disgraceful performance from the players, but how can one expect disciplined players from an undisciplined coach? Herzog himself was ejected during the USA’s loss to Honduras last October in Utah in the game the USA should have won to clinch an Olympic berth on its own turf in its own region.
But Herzog failed. And failed again against Colombia.
The Federation has allowed Klinsmann to hire whomever he wants, which has included minor league German coach Matthias Hamann and Klinsmann’s former Germany coach Berti Vogts, an admirable man in many respects, but unsuccessful with all four of the national teams he coached outside of Germany.
In the Herzog case, the German press reported it as Klinsmann hiring his “kumpel” -- his buddy.
If you’re paid a hell of a lot of money to be in charge of a major organization, and you hire a buddy for a very important job at a high salary, and it doesn’t work out, you’ve lost a whole lot of credibility.