USMNT: Klinsmann's U.S. future hangs by a thread

The USA suffered its worst defeat in World Cup qualifying in 36 years when it dropped a 4-0 decision at Costa Rica. It left the USA in last place after two games in the Hexagonal. Losing to the Ticos was not unexpected -- after all, the USA lost its eight previous qualifiers in San Jose -- but the manner of the defeat was embarrassing.

1. Tico brilliance and shambolic U.S. defending.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he expected an "angry" reaction from his players after the 2-1 loss to Mexico in Columbus on Friday. What he got was an effort that was anything but.

The USA, though, almost got into halftime at 0-0 when everything went wrong. A series of casual passes from Michael Bradley to Jermaine Jones to John Brooks led to a turnover with the U.S. defense all out of shape. Cristian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps) collected a ball in the corner and Omar Gonzalez gave him all the time in the world to pick out another MLS player Johan Venegas (Montreal Impact) at the near post, where he beat Brooks to the ball and headed it past Brad Guzan, who had kept the USA in the game with early stops on Venegas and Bryan Ruiz.

It all went downhill in the second half as the Ticos added three goals in the space of 10 minutes. There was more individual brilliance from the Ticos -- Ruiz with a pass to Bolanos for the second goal and Joel Campbell off the bench for the final two goals -- but plenty of shambolic defending.

Timmy Chandler failed to cut off Ruiz's cross on Bolanos' header, Brooks lost the ball and was nutmegged by Campbell on the third goal, and Omar Gonzalezkept Campbell onside to break through for the fourth goal after turnovers by Brooks and Chandler.

2. History of the Hex: perfect at home, big results away.

All is not lost in the Hexagonal despite the two defeats. Trinidad & Tobago lost its first two games in the 2005 Hexagonal and qualified for the World Cup. As U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati pointed out after Tuesday's game, Mexico won only two of 10 games in the 2013 Hexagonal and also qualified after finishing fourth in the Hexagonal and winning a playoff against New Zealand. (What should be noted is that El Tri got a break as Panama won one game and Jamaica went winless.)

Hexagonal after 2 games:
2016: 0 points (1-2 vs. Mexico, 0-4 at Costa Rica)
2013: 3 points (1-2 at Honduras, 1-0 vs. Costa Rica)
2009: 4 points (2-0 vs. Mexico, 2-2 at El Salvador)
2005: 3 points (2-1 at Trinidad & Tobago, at 1-2 Mexico)
2001: 6 points (2-0 vs. Mexico, 2-1 at Honduras)
1997: 4 points (0-0 at Jamaica, 3-0 vs. Canada)

Indeed, the history of the Hexagonal has been that of the USA churning out results and other seemingly formidable Concacaf teams collapsing around it. As bad as the loss to Costa Rica was, Friday's 2-1 loss to Mexico -- its first defeat to El Tri at home in the Hex -- is the result that puts the USA behind the eight ball. The USA won 14 of 15 games at home in the last three Hexagonals. (The lone draw -- 2-2 against Costa Rica in 2009 -- came after the USA had already qualified.)

The USA has always managed to get big Hex wins on the road: 2-1 at Honduras in the second game in 2001, 2-1 at Trinidad & Tobago in the opening game in 2005, 3-2 at Honduras to clinch in 2009 and a late 2-1 win at Jamaica that started it on a run of three straight wins that broke open the Hex in 2013.

The USA will need a victory at Honduras on Matchday 8 to match Panama's 1-0 win in San Pedro Sula on Friday afternoon and probably have to take at least four of six points against the Canaleros, whose point on Tuesday night against Mexico was one more than the USA earned against El Tri. The opening results have reduced the USA's margin for error and eliminated its ability to depend on other teams to collapse.

3. All bets are off after back-to-back defeats.

All this speculation about what results the USA will need is getting ahead of the game. Will Klinsmann be around to coach the team?

Before Friday's game against Mexico, Gulati said he expected Klinsmann would remain in charge. U.S. Soccer has never changed coaches during the Hexagonal, Gulati noted, and the last time there was a coaching change during qualifying was in 1989 when Bob Gansler was appointed the full-time coach. Lothar Osiander, his part-time predecessor, worked at Graziano's, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco's Financial District. In 1969, Phil Woosnam stepped down for a two-game series against Haiti to take over as NASL commissioner and try to save the league -- which he did -- and was replaced by Englishman Gordon Jago.

All bets are off about Klinsmann's future after the opening two games of the Hexagonal -- even if they were against, as Gulati noted, against Concacaf's two best teams. It was bad enough that the USA lost at home to Mexico -- in a match that Klinsmann introduced and then quickly abandoned a new 3-5-2 formation and ended with yet again another game lost on a goal off a corner kick -- but he didn't get any reaction out of his team after the defeat.

In qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, the USA responded after every defeat -- one in the semifinal round and two in the Hexagonal -- with a win in the next game. It did the same thing after losing to Guatemala, 2-0, in March. Four days later, the USA crushed the Chapines, 4-0.

Once before this year, Klinsmann's future seemed to hang in the balance. The USA opened the Copa Centenario with a 2-0 loss to Colombia and hours before the second game, Gulati told reporters that results mattered. The USA went out and beat Costa Rica, 4-0, and ended up finishing fourth at the Copa Centenario, the best performance by a Concacaf team.

The USA not only didn't get a result after the loss to Mexico but worse -- it collapsed in the second half against Costa Rica. Klinsmann said the loss was "a bitter pill to swallow" and "definitely the defeat that hurts the most in my five years," suggesting he understood the magnitude of the setback and the precarious nature of his position.

47 comments about "USMNT: Klinsmann's U.S. future hangs by a thread".
  1. Gary Levitt, November 16, 2016 at 7:38 a.m.

    1. JK is accountable and has 'lost the locker room'
    2. CONCACAF sides have now caught up with the physicality of the USA along with their technical superiority.
    3. JK puts out the same lineup in San Jose as he did in Columbus AFTER being quoted that changes will be made as every qualifier dictates tactical and personnel changes.
    4. Always a silver lining: JK will be dismissed

  2. Luis Gonzalez replied, November 16, 2016 at 11:30 a.m.

    Brooks, Jones, Johnson, Chandler were all born and raised in Germany; do we really need to go to Germany to find players that can play badly??!!

    Let's give players that were born and raised in the USA, the opportunity to serve a cross out of bounds (Chandler) or get nutmegged in each half (Brooks).

  3. Dan Eckert, November 16, 2016 at 7:43 a.m.

    Gary - hopefully Christmas will come early.

  4. trebor gt, November 16, 2016 at 7:52 a.m.

    Totally agree Gary - the other CONCACAF teams have indeed caught up. There is a very real chance we're missing 2018.

  5. Mark Buckley, November 16, 2016 at 8:10 a.m.

    JK must go, our players are clearly inferior and so they need to be Managed and Coached! When Jose gets fired by Man U, hire him. At least he knows how to park the bus.

  6. David V, November 16, 2016 at 8:50 a.m.

    We keep talking about Firing JK, this should have been done years ago. Get rid of him already

  7. Kevin Leahy, November 16, 2016 at 8:51 a.m.

    My heart sank when I saw the score line this morning. I believe JK's time should be done but, it would not give me any pleasure considering the hole the team is in. If you get rid of him now it, may have to be temporary fix. It is obvious to me that, JK has trust issues with some of his roster. You hear good thing about Yedlin from England and Klestjan played played well for the team earlier yet, pretty much shut out. What kind of consistent play have they gotten from Chandler? Jones plays one competitive game in four months and he is the guy? If it were an American coach at a lesser salary, he would already be done!

  8. David V, November 16, 2016 at 9:09 a.m.

    David V
    commented on: November 15, 2016 at 9:05 p.m.

    in 2018 Altidore will decline, he's had a poor career, it's time to admit he never lived up to the expectations...USA has many, many problems which will keep them a 2nd tier national team for at least another generation... BUT if you played a bunch of young players now, and did that for 5-7 years, they would be close to the top in the 2nd tier in 4-6 years. PS... JK is long overdue to be gone he's a big zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  9. Bret Newman, November 16, 2016 at 9:29 a.m.

    Odds on favorite to replace Coack K is Bruce Arena. Yes, I know everybody is all excited about that (lol). But he's probably the best choice for a safe quick fix. At least we know he can coach. I'm confident the team will play more cohesive, and play a lot better defending. Klinsmann never had the USMNT paying attention to detail, on defending. Now let's bring Benny back too!

  10. Georges Carraha, November 16, 2016 at 9:41 a.m.

    Jurgen Klopp has my vote! The US needs a Coach that will bring Total Soccer to its program. Unless you can press and counter-press effectively, you will not find success against great teams today.
    We are miles behind world soccer! It is time to wake-up!

  11. Bob Ashpole replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:18 p.m.

    Georges, national team coaches have to work with the players available. They don't develop them. The changes you are talking about need to start with an emphasis on fundamentals at the youth level.

  12. John Gallagher, November 16, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    Watching that game reminds me of the US 10-15yrs ago. Like the old days...hope yet disappointment, we have a massive talent pool and this is the best we can put together blah blah blah. It comes down to poor choices by leadership. I ask, is there really a fitness measure that puts current US soccer Athletes on the field vs new fresh talent. Because it certainly is not skill or smartness. I find it hard to believe our best is out is stale- players, coaches and top leadership.

  13. Adrian Gonzalez replied, November 19, 2016 at 1:59 a.m.

    Yup, all of the above.

  14. David V, November 16, 2016 at 10:03 a.m.

    OHN BROOKS is the BEST EXAMPLE of why you (read: USA at all levels of play) can't have an American Football (England Football) mentality of Athleticism, strength, size, speed over skillful and tactically smart soccer players... sure, if you can wrap all of those in with skill and tactical intelligence, that would be good, but the US first picks (at all levels, including most of your youth teams out there)... the US first picks the type of players that would be good for American Football (and England Football) over what would be good for REAL Football ... Wake UP Americans!!!

  15. Adrian Gonzalez replied, November 19, 2016 at 2:02 a.m.

    Absolutely correct ! Will not change, especially when they are the ones that can afford to "Pay to play" at the higher levels. The best player in the world is 5'7". I am so tired of this.

  16. David V, November 16, 2016 at 10:06 a.m.

    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG... MAHONEY in his article is WRONG!!!! the MAHONEY and broad AMERICAN comments and the JK garbage and the pathetic 2014 US showing, it's all wrong... you espouse a magical formula that will make your 2nd tier mediocre group into a world class power by some "magical run" that somehow makes magic at one tournament, and defies all odds (read: GET BIG TIME LUCKY, like 10,000 to 1 shot) ... this is the mode of desperates hoping to change the inevitable... in reality it's a YOUTH PROBLEM... it's pick-up games in the street, it's an organic problem, It's an AMERICAN soccer mentality that values find-the-best-American-Football-type-players-and-make-them-our-hope-for-soccer instead of recognizing and placing a value on SOCCER talent/Skill/Guile/Trickery/Intelligence... you can't fix this for at least a generation... the culture has to change and you need kids playing on the street and in the playgrounds every day after school, on the weekends, at recess (add that to the structured coaching, and then we'll have something to talk about)... it WON'T happen until then ... it WON'T

  17. Luis Gonzalez replied, November 16, 2016 at 11:35 a.m.

    David, you're so right!! The USSF establishment still looks at England as the model for player development, despite the fact that England has been irrelevant in world soccer for 40 years. USSF needs to look at what is being done in South America, it's the only way for us to get better.

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:27 p.m.

    David, you are so wrong. The problem is selecting youth based on physical maturity rather than talent. Strength, power, and athleticism are necessary qualities of professional soccer players, but the temporary advantages of physical mature youth are not talent. This is compounded by an overemphasis on team tactics and winning matches at the expense of fundamentals.

  19. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 7:19 p.m.

    Wrong again you are Bob. of course you stated a half truth about developmental differences in youth... at his peak, I'd take Andres Iniesta over *any* US player ever... pick your best USA physical specimen, I don't know who it is, pick a mid JJ, go ahead, tell me you'd pick JJ over Iniesta... I dare ya :-) Or Xavi, I just dare ya... or Santi Cazorla... go on, I dare ya... or David Silva, come on, let me hear it, I dare ya.... just playing with you, I know you're not out of your mind

  20. Adrian Gonzalez replied, November 19, 2016 at 2:03 a.m.


  21. Adrian Gonzalez replied, November 19, 2016 at 2:07 a.m.

    David, Jake, thumbs up !

  22. Edgar Soudek, November 16, 2016 at 10:09 a.m.

    I am NOT just NOW chiming in negatively about Klinsmann - all my previous comments(since his spiteful dismissal of Landon Donovan from the nat'l team)I have asked for his resignation or replacement. I agree with Mr. Newman about Bruce Arena - but his(or any other coach's) job will be long and arduous after the ruin Klinsmann has left behind!
    It will be like re-building a bombed-out city after WWII!!!!

  23. ROBERT BOND, November 16, 2016 at 10:47 a.m.

    need a better keeper-i vote for Tarbell...

  24. Wooden Ships replied, November 17, 2016 at 12:42 p.m.

    Horvath is our best at this time. Not a weakness in his game.

  25. Delroy Wallace, November 16, 2016 at 12:02 p.m.

    The players are not good enough ! Period!

  26. Doug Broadie, November 16, 2016 at 12:27 p.m.

    I've read all your comments and agree with most of them starting with Gary. I've said that the problem is coaching at the youth level and the college level. They all want Big, Fast and Physical. As the Tico's pointed out, that takes you only so far. I look at Iceland and they now have 2000 A level coaches and they teach from early ages to now. The problem is money. In the poor areas of Brazil and Argentina, the best players are found. All these kids that have extreme talent from our poor areas are now guards the NBA and wide receivers in the NFL. How are we going to get enough money into soccer so that these kids will play soccer to make money like the NFL and NBA. Until that happens, we will have the same problem down the road that we have now.

  27. Andrew Kear replied, November 16, 2016 at 12:57 p.m.

    Football and Basketball players don't really have the right build for soccer. The old argument that are best athlete aren't playing soccer is no longer valid.

    For thing that is certain bad coaching in any sport will ruin a team. I don't care if we are talking about Football, Baseball, or soccer.

  28. Bob Ashpole replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:39 p.m.

    Really Andrew? For basketball you are ignoring the soccer keeper position. In football you are thinking about professional lineman. Think of all the high school and college players too small for the pros. Think about the other positions like defensive halfback, safeties, cornerbacks, tailbacks, wide receivers, and halfbacks. Most professional soccer players have the mesomorph body type.

  29. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:48 p.m.

    Bob... too much "American" mentality on you... this has been a downfall to US Soccer. Andrew, you make good points.

  30. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:55 p.m.

    Doug: Good comments. But I will point out another problem... the "AMERICAN PARENT" HAS BEEN SOLD A BILL OF GOODS... COLLEGE SOCCER IS NOT THE GOAL... from the world stage and making it as a world champion, going to play college soccer is not the goal, it's a failure. (I'm not saying college players haven't got relative skills to their peers.) 99x out of 100, you have no chance in college soccer to be a pro, and it's the end of the line for you. American soccer parents are ignorant of soccer, and they think playing in college is similar to playing BBall or American Football in college. Now the soccer clubs have been doing a marketing push to elite players for playing soccer in college. If you add up all the $ to play elite soccer over the years, and compare that to college scholarship $, there's no big pay off... in most cases, had you bankrolled that $, you'd have more than you would with a Soccer scholarship.

  31. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 7:25 p.m.

    Bob/Jake: and of course Rivelino, tosao, Jairzinho, Zico... all of them... Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Cazorla, David Silva, Xabi Alonso, Ardiles, Cruyff, Gerd Muller, Garrincha... Bob, the problem is that you're American thinking is too American Football (or England Football) or Basketball, etc.

  32. Bob Ashpole replied, November 16, 2016 at 10:26 p.m.

    The discussion was about body type. Now you are changing the subject to skill. You are just trolling. You don't want a serious discussion.

  33. Adrian Gonzalez replied, November 19, 2016 at 2:14 a.m.

    David V, Absolutely right about college soccer. Should not be the goal. I just went through all of this with my son and his team. Many of them not getting significant playing time in college. Their club team was so much more fun to watch. Absolutely no payoff for 99% of those chasing that dream. Get the grades and get an academic scholarship, better chance there.

  34. Andrew Kear, November 16, 2016 at 12:53 p.m.

    Gulati should been taken to task for letting Klinsmann tinker with a perfectly decent national team. Now Klinsmann is on the cusp of unraveling all the good work that has been done in the last quarter century in US soccer.


  35. Bob Ashpole replied, November 16, 2016 at 1:43 p.m.

    I agree Andrew. Under JK we went from usually finishing on top of Concacaf to struggling for fourth. Instead of taking the team forward, he has taken the MNT backward to 1989.

  36. Ric Fonseca, November 16, 2016 at 3:18 p.m.

    Son of a gun!!! Just read the comments above and I couldn't agree more, though there are some that are a bit off the wall, all be it are spot on. As to what now, today's LA Times piece by Kevin Baxter points out that perhaps Bruce Arena will be considered, however, because for his twin position with the LAG as GM and HC, would he fire himself as HC and still be the GM, so that he can take over the USMNT? I don't think so. How about Sigi Schmid? Here's a guy that knows the whole and complete US Soccer scenario, and thus could be considered as the complete US MNT HC; but because of his friendship and relation with the current HC-JK, it could "taint" him being appointed. He lives in the LA area, I've known him since his arrival to UCLA as a skinny MF /FB player, a hard worker, and his rapid ascencion to the UCLA job then the pros, that and being an assistant to Bora for WC USA, and then stings with three MLS teams, LAG, Sounders, and Coumbus, well then pilgrims out there, he is the right choice. So Gulati, ought to look no further, here's a guy who, in danger of sounding redundant, KNOWS the complete US Soccer scene, youth, scholastic, collegiate US MNT AC, and MLS pro coach, just what in Carmen San Diego is Gulati waiting for???

  37. David V replied, November 16, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

    Please NO SIGI... read this, and/or scroll down (search within page) for "Sigi" and watch the youtube video...

  38. Lonaka K, November 16, 2016 at 3:46 p.m.

    This has got to be the worst coaching staff ever put together. Seems like the Assistance have no input into JK or the input that they are giving him is poor. Also in five years you would think that he could fine "soccer player". What I see out there are a bunch of robots. They don't think outside of the box, have no creativity and have no element of surprise with a pass, dribbling or shot on goal. Their play is very predictable.

  39. Eugene Lysak, November 16, 2016 at 3:56 p.m.

    I am naturalized American who has followed soccer for 50+ years. I also had 2 sons who went through US Youth system in a State where soccer is used for college entry

    All comments raised in this forum are valid but omit several inherent factors.

    1) in all leading US sports players are mostly developed in stereotyped fashion - whether teams (football, basketball) or individual (golf, tennis). i.e., there is 15-30 seconds action followed by lengthy "artificial" stoppages used to coaching but players losing focus (football play calling or basketball time outs and stoppages - commercial before the game ends) while in soccer game it is up to a player for 45 minutes or so to make 90% of decisions what to do by himself.

    2) If a global sport in a populous country (30+ million - Uruguay 66 years ago is an exception) has not a national (emotional) stature that country is extremely unlikely to win the World Cup. Men's Soccer in US is 4th ranked!

    3) While 70% of US population is white in US sports ratio is reversed - where is the white "middle" America attention. Raising awareness of soccer in this group is crucial together with sending young players to Continental Europe (even minor leagues) not England will develop more rounded players.

    US (Men) Soccer has to find way to develop its own identity (style) and convert large number of population to care about World Cup triumph

  40. Glenn Maddock, November 16, 2016 at 4:12 p.m.

    What's remarkable to me is average MLS players are beating our very talented national team. We have as much talent as we've ever had, but not the chemistry and results to prove it. Have we really made any progress since 2002? It feels like we've wasted 15 years. What's also amazing to me is how quickly our Concacaf neighbors rebuild. They have a bad year or two, and boom, they are back on top. We've never done that. It has to be a combo of system and coaching.

  41. Bob Ashpole replied, November 16, 2016 at 10:34 p.m.

    Good point. All discussion about expections and the FIFA rankings are off target. It wasn't Germany that beat us 4-0 Tuesday.

  42. cony konstin, November 16, 2016 at 8:05 p.m.

    Another reason we need 600,000 Futsal courts. We need radical change. We need new leadership. We need a 21st century master plan. We need to create the USONIAN WAY.... Lets not go backwards. We need to forwards but that takes innovation and getting rid of the status quo.... The US needs a soccer REVOLUTION.....

  43. Richard Broad, November 17, 2016 at 6:18 p.m.

    Individual matches are all about the coaching. Players Play----and determine game results, more than any other factor. However, the coach sets the tone and direction for the entire program. Where is this country now, as compared to 6 years ago, with FAR more young American athletes playing soccer? What is being done to develop this talent? You shouldn't judge the National Team coach on one or two matches but you can judge him on the overall progress (or lack thereof).

  44. Gio Araya replied, November 18, 2016 at 10:03 a.m.

    JK should be gone by now.. but it is just a start.. we need to try different players in key positions.. if our players dont have that many skills.. we can still play as a team.. Germany has no extraordinary players like messi, neymar, suarez, ronaldo, bale.. you name it, but they have a great TEAM.. if you have a TEAM where the names are not that important and also you have a couple of player that make a difference then you can dream.. that is what CR and Mexico are doing.. I think we will make it to the world cup, but what after that?? The U.S. rarely has imposed its game on a non-CONCACAF opponent and that cannot be undone over night, more progress needs to be made at the youth level.

  45. Eddie Rockwell, November 18, 2016 at 4:07 p.m.

    Look a couple guys down the coaching bench and you will always find Tab Ramos. Awesome player, knows the system, knows the players, knows US Soccer, give him a shot!

  46. Goal Goal, November 19, 2016 at 9:55 p.m.

    In any other country after that last game the coach would have resigned. If not he would have been fired. Period!

  47. Goal Goal, November 20, 2016 at 11:25 a.m.

    JK was a great player and I don't think the question is whether he is a good coach or not. The fact is he can't consistently motivate the team and it appears from the last two games they aren't self motivated. Which is a shame when you are. Playing for your country. US SOCCER needs to make a decision quickly.

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