USMNT: Lowest of the lows in post-World Cup 2014 era

It's easy to divide Jurgen Klinsmann's tenure as U.S. men's national team coach into before and after the 2014 World Cup. The USA's record (W-L-T) before Brazil 2014 in official competition: 17-3-2. Since then: 10-8-3. We'll concentrate on losses within Concacaf in the last year and a half for the new lows.

World Cup 2018 qualifying
Nov. 15, 2016

Klinsmann termed the loss to Ticos "the defeat that hurts the most in my five years." It wasn't the first time the USA has lost to Costa Rica in San Jose -- it was the ninth straight loss in World Cup qualifying -- but coming on the heels of the 2-1 loss at home to Mexico it left the USA in last place in the Hexagonal after two games.

Klinsmann tried to put a positive spin on the loss to his players. "'The last cycle we lost here too,'" he told them "'so we gave away these three points here as well.' We didn’t give away the three points at home against Mexico, so now we are three points behind what we did in the last cycle, and we won the group with 22 points at the end of the day."

What hurt the most wasn't dropping the three points but the reaction of the players after falling behind late in the first half. Even Klinsmann termed the result "embarrassing."

2015 Gold Cup semifinal
July 22, 2015

For a year after the USA exited the World Cup in Brazil, Klinsmann built up the Gold Cup as the next big test for the USA, and it exited in the semifinals to Jamaica to which it had never lost in 13 previous games at home.

There were already signs of trouble during the group stage when the USA was outshot, 50-20, by Honduras, Panama and Haiti. Jamaica went again on goals off set pieces -- the first a throw-in, the second a free kick -- which should have raised alarm bells about the USA's defending.

But Klinsmann didn't help matters by insisting on harping about the refereeing, specifically the handball called on goalkeeper Brad Guzan for handling the ball outside the penalty area.

2015 Confederations Cup
Oct. 10, 2015

The loss to Jamaica set up a one-off game against Mexico -- the winner of the 2013 Gold Cup against the winner of the 2015 Gold Cup -- for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Most teams don't put a lot of importance in the World Cup dress rehearsal but Klinsmann made a big deal of qualifying for the tournament next summer in Russia.

The Concacaf Cup was a big money maker for Concacaf and U.S. Soccer with a crowd of  93,723 fans at the Rose Bowl, and the USA took Mexico to overtime but El Tri was clearly the better team.

World Cup 2018 qualifying
March 25 2016

The first signs of trouble in 2016 came with a 2-0 loss to Guatemala at Guatemala City's Mateo Flores, where the USA had not lost since 1988.

All the problems that have plagued the USA in 2016 were on display: conceding early goals and goals off set pieces -- the first off a corner kick in seventh minute and the second following a long goal kick in the 15th minute.

5. USA 1 MEXICO 2.

World Cup 2018 qualifying
Nov. 11, 2016

Forget the streak of four Dos a Cero wins. The USA had not lost to Mexico at home in World Cup qualifying since 1972 before Friday's  loss in Columbus.

The match did not begin well as Mexico ripped apart Klinsmann's 3-4-3 and could have been ahead 3-0 after 25 minutes with a little luck. The USA recovered and created a ton of chances of its own in the second half before losing on Rafael Marquez's goal in the 89th minute.

But remarks from Klinsmann and U.S. captain Michael Bradley after the game suggested a chasm had opened within the team from which it is still reeling.

37 comments about "USMNT: Lowest of the lows in post-World Cup 2014 era".
  1. Delroy Wallace, November 17, 2016 at 7:43 a.m.

    Dose anyone believe the quality of the squad is anywhere near the quality of Mexico or Costa Rica? Face it, the squad is not good.

  2. Bret Newman replied, November 17, 2016 at 8:52 a.m.

    Yes Delroy, the quality is there. How a team plays, makes a hell of a difference. I remember how bad Mexico was playing during the qualification for 2010 and 2014. A coach with a good system can change a teams fortunes. The USMNT is definitely talented up front. The midfield is pretty good, but the backfield need some work. With a new coach, a few change of players, and the USMNT will be winning almost all there qualifying games. Don't forget, we were better than Mexico, once we switched to the 4-4-2. CR is better than Mexico.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, November 18, 2016 at 10:24 a.m.

    Dose anyone believe the quality of the squad is anywhere near the quality of Mexico or Costa Rica? Yes. Yes it is. Stop making excuses for this failure of a coach.

  4. Mark Buckley, November 17, 2016 at 7:53 a.m.

    Please get rid of JK.

  5. David Trapp, November 17, 2016 at 8:45 a.m.

    My contention is that it is the primary job of a good coach to ensure that the players come together and form a cohesive unit that will ultimately be successful in their endeavors. I've said all along that Klinnsman is not that person. I have been proven right time after time after time. Perhaps, just possibly, it is time for a new direction, a new leader. That leader is definitely NOT JK.

  6. Bret Newman, November 17, 2016 at 9 a.m.

    I think it would be a good safe move, to hire Bruce Arena now. I know he's not a sexy pick, but we can't take chances, now that we are already 2 games into the WCQ round. Bruce Arena is a solid coach, and I would hire him for this WC cycle. Lots of other prominent National Teams have hired past coaches for a 2nd time, or more.

  7. Gus Keri, November 17, 2016 at 9:36 a.m.

    You wrote: "The USA's record (W-L-T) before Brazil 2014 in official competition: 17-3-2. Since then: 10-8-3." We can read it as such: "The USA's record (W-L-T) before Landon Donovan's expulsion from the USMNT, in official competition: 17-3-2. Since then: 10-8-3."

  8. Goal Goal, November 17, 2016 at 10:15 a.m.

    A successful coach is a person who takes what they have and plays the game adapting to the strong points of the players. JK came from an atmosphere where players as a whole were exceptional so he has no idea on how to play to the strength or weakness of the players he is working with. He has proved that over and over. His decision making is deplorable and he has proved that over and over again.

  9. Philip Carragher, November 17, 2016 at 10:20 a.m.

    I have a difficult time believing in player quality when our youth system is bad. Since we don't develop quality players in a quantity that seems reasonable for the huge participation numbers and dollars spent, my view about USMT player quality is skewed. Probably too negative. Maybe we did field a talented team for these past two games, but I keep replaying the visual of Bradley not dishing off to Wood (I believe it was Wood) in the Mexico match. That, to me, was the quintessential vignette exemplifying the depth of our shortcomings: a failure to finish plus a failure to connect. Maybe I'm crazy, but we don't teach connecting and most certainly don’t teach or treat finishing properly at the youth level. We seem to do ok with teaching defense from the "destructive" perspective but we sorely miss on the creative aspect of the game. I've seen many kids with tremendous scoring personalities ruined by bad coaching. On top of that, most kids don't really know how to connect when I see them at the U14 level to say nothing of their lack of proper technique (mostly due to either never being taught or not partipating in a system that reinforces it). I'd like to know how involved Klinsmann is with youth development because it is broken. And this includes the DA. U.S. soccer is a derivative of international soccer. We don't demonstrate an understanding of the "beautiful game". Getting rid of Klinsmann and manipulating the USMT to be more competitive only provides a temporary fix.

  10. Bill Wilson, November 17, 2016 at 10:54 a.m.

    We need to to stop restating the obvious...that US Soccer development is bad. I think this is pretty common knowledge and has been for awhile. There are a number of initiatives underway to try and change this, a lot of it being driven by a younger generation of coaches and players. Read the series Liviu Bird did on earlier this year to see some of this. Despite your dismissal of the Academy programs, millions of dollars are spent now by MLS clubs every year on youth development all the way down to 8-9 year olds. The reality is that this issue is like turning around an Aircraft Carrier and is going to take time before it bears fruit, if it this is even possible in this country (and I think the jury is still out on that). There are thousands of school coaches, club coaching directors and trainers and others who earn a living coaching youth players. They are not going to go quietly if deemed to be unqualified dinosaurs and told to move on. Retraining them is a massive job. Parents in this country also have a completely different perspective on the role of soccer in their kids lives than in many foreign countries. This will not easily be changed either. It is time to stop going on and on about tired topics like pay for play and what if LeBron played soccer and start advancing the discussion on this topic beyond anecdotes.

  11. s@cc@r f@n, November 17, 2016 at 11:33 a.m.

    Have 3 sons, two played soccer, one a distance runner. All great runners by nature. A professional soccer player from Guatemala (US citizen) saw them playing AYSO. Told me one was a natural goalie the other a midfielder. Paid him to TRAIN them twice a week for 5 years outside of youth play. Goalie got college scholarship but is only 5'11" and despite great skills gets overlooked (I think strictly on size). Other son drafted to MLS after All American and going to try out in Europe soon. Bottom line - MLS draftee spent 4 hours/week working on SKILLS - passing, touch, chesting ball, heading, free kicks, penalty kicks. etc. Played 5 years on left side of field (demanded by this coach) although a natural right - so now he plays with both feet. Obviously my son had a lot of natural drive to become a professional player BUT would be no where now without this skill set. Without a TRUE coach to establish proper technique at age 7 he could not have become the player he is. Final, most telling point - when my son is under great pressure playing back line he rarely makes a technical mistake because he only knows how to dribble and touch the ball properly. When you get a kid at 10-14 you can change his technique but under great pressure people revert to their bad habits. Got to get them very young and teach them right.

  12. Wooden Ships replied, November 17, 2016 at 12:28 p.m.

    Good comments s@cc@r f@n. players have to learn touch-dribbling while young. In your case you used somebody to do it privately, in the 60's St. Louis is was free play and with older players and through osmosis. Yes, we had great clubs, with very experienced coaches, former pros from the US and other countries, volunteer coaches. But, time spent with the ball outside of training was a difference maker. Touch, technique, imagination, guile, happened while having fun playing. We were free to play and dare.

  13. Philip Carragher, November 17, 2016 at 12:25 p.m.

    Parents and players devoting enormous time and money deserve to know the truth about the false promises many soccer organizations perpetrate on them. Otherwise, those promises should stop and they should be presented with a realistic picture of what they can expect going forward. Maybe this Brussels organization can effect healthy change in this illusory bubble known as U.S. youth soccer that families keep pouring precious resources into, but that is a long way off. Who is going to disabuse them of their misconceptions while this multi-year, maybe-we'll-see-some-changes occur process takes place? Instead, they'll keep funding a system under false pretenses.

  14. Bill Wilson replied, November 17, 2016 at 4:04 p.m.

    The overwhelming majority of parents want their kids to play soccer to get some physical activity and to learn how to work as part of a team among other life skills. They don't care about false promises because they don't have false hopes that their kid will get a professional contract. These are the people paying the bills for these leagues and coaches. Wishful thinking that they are suddenly going to turn themselves into Ajax's youth system are just that. Most of these parents, paying the bill, don't care about US Soccer's development pool. US Soccer and MLS are developing their own programs to get around this blunt reality with their Academy system and programs. These programs are still in their infancy, and by the way, get rid of the pay for play that everybody is so wound up about. The people making money off the current system aren't going away because US Soccer or you tell them to fess up and admit they are clueless, especially because as far as they are concerned, it isn't their job anyway. What specifically else would you do other than complain about how screwed up the system is?

  15. Kevin Leahy, November 17, 2016 at 1:44 p.m.

    Most of the U.S. roster plays @ a higher level than the Costa Rican players professionally. If that does not reflect on the coach who, does it reflect on?

  16. Ric Fonseca replied, November 17, 2016 at 2:22 p.m.

    Don't agree that "Most of the US roseter plays @ a higher level than the Costa Rican players professionally...(sic)" and I ask you KL, the CR players were and are by far, superior that our USMNT players with few exceptions, so I don;t know how you arrive at this conclusive statement.

  17. Gio Araya replied, November 18, 2016 at 9:35 a.m.

    you could not be more wrong than that.. CR and Mexico have better players than we do.. it is fact.. lets face it... the coach is responsible but skills are hard to teach and our players are lacking of them..

  18. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, November 18, 2016 at 10:26 a.m.

    Before we make CR out to be Argentina or Germany etc., let's remember that a few months ago we beat them 4-0. They are not any better than we are.

  19. Gio Araya replied, November 18, 2016 at 11:36 a.m.

    yes.. we did and that was great, we made it to the semifinals in Centenario.. but did you watch that game against CR in the cup? it was a weird game.. to be honest we did not deserve a 4-0. They were the stronger side during many minutes.. It is like saying we are better than Mexico just because the 2-0 in Ohio story.. Many teams are not Germany nor Brazil, but that does not mean we are better than them.. lets focus and put out feet on the ground.

  20. Ric Fonseca, November 17, 2016 at 2:26 p.m.

    Also, as many comments have pointed out, the problem lies with our so called youth developmental programs, its infernal pay-for-play mentality, the vaunted academy system, etc., etc., Also some have even said that while JK was hired to fix our player developement system, for crying out loud, did many of you expect him to change a thirty year (1970-2000) youth developmental system in a mere five years (the length he's been with US Soccer???) His vision of US player development ys myopic at best, but certainly lacking a helluva lot at worst. SIGI SCHMID for Mens USNT Coach.

  21. Goal Goal, November 17, 2016 at 4:41 p.m.

    Bill Wilson the MLS Academies(some) may be implementing Euro style but I will guarantee you that all of them aren't. Then the problem further grows when the kids get to the National Team Camps where the coaching goes against everything US Soccer is demanding as it pertains to ball control, build from the back etc. All these coaches are looking for is how fast can we get the ball to the goal no matter how ugly it is. Thus when our kids get involved with international competition they are in trouble because they don't know what the hell to do with the ball when they are under pressure. Then you see the big kick over the top hoping the big fast guys get to the ball before the defense does. Might work once or twice but in the long run we are left standing in the dust. The kids that can handle the ball are left on the sidelines while brute strength battles with no results. Why can't US Soccer see this?

  22. Wooden Ships replied, November 17, 2016 at 6:22 p.m.

    Case in point, Jozy.

  23. Bill Wilson replied, November 17, 2016 at 11:27 p.m.

    We have 350 million people in this country and thousands of independent soccer clubs, thousands of schools and hundreds of colleges spanning thousands of miles. Each of these programs have their own agendas because the money to fund their program comes from different sources, most of whom could care less about US Soccer's desire to develop players. I don't see anybody stepping up with untold millions of dollars to get all of these programs, especially the colleges, on the same agenda. The only place we have a chance to make a difference in addressing these difficiencies is with the MLS Academies. If the French coaching system being used in many Academies produces better players than our current system, than the clubs who don't adopt this program will fall behind. Eventually this system will produce players who the National teams can use to play the technically based systems they want to adopt. At least that is the theory. Until this is new program is either proved or disproved, complaining about how everything sucks, moaning about pay for play, inability to play under pressure, etc. is a waste of time. What else would you do differently? Waving a magic wand and assuming all of these disparate organizations with different agendas are going to do what you or anybody other than the people paying their salaries tell them to do is not an answer.

  24. Andrew Kear, November 17, 2016 at 8:40 p.m.

    If the US does not win their next match Klinsmann is almost certainly gone. The next USMNT game will be the most important in Klinsmann's career. If he loses he will have been fired for the third time in his career. Arena is going to have his work cut out for him. Can you imagine the US being 0-3 in the Hex. The Klinsmann era has made this possible.

    Hopefully, the US will win. Will the mad tinker survive again?

  25. Wooden Ships, November 17, 2016 at 8:43 p.m.

    Heard both MB and JA lamenting after the Tuesday debacle. Needing to look in a mirror, isn't that rich? Thinking and speaking in cliches, talking points. Do you also need a safe space? Weak. They should have nothing to say. Time to move on from these two.

  26. Bob Ashpole replied, November 18, 2016 at 12:36 a.m.

    WS the issue is not whether you like MB's and JA's performance. The issue is would the team be better with them or with someone else. I think you are being particularly harsh on JA. He has done everything that JK has asked him too. Is it his fault that JK starts him when he is not 100%. I was surprised that he started Tuesday. It is asking a lot of even a young player coming back from injury, much less a 35-year-old.

  27. Wooden Ships replied, November 18, 2016 at 7:53 a.m.

    Bob, did you mean JJ? I've never had a problem with JJ's hustle. MB and Jozy yes. MB is also the Klinsmann era Captain, he is not and has not filled that role by example. This isn't the first time that both have publicly stated their misgivings for not playing well and how we all need to reflect upon on performance. They've become imposters. As I've commented before, good careers but now like JK, to believe any of them is to be naive. As for having them or not, that's easy, how many really good matches have they had?

  28. Bob Ashpole replied, November 18, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

    Yes, my mistake. Duh.

  29. Philip Carragher, November 18, 2016 at 9:23 a.m.

    BW-in response to your question about "what to do?", you are correct that a meaningful change is difficult, multi-faceted, and expensive. My Reader's Digest version: look to the change that U.S. Hockey undertook and the tremendous success they are having developing young players. If you ever get a chance to watch one of the top youth hockey teams play (like The Mission in the Chicago area), you'll be surprised at the Barcelona-type movement on ice. A thing of beauty. US Hockey developed and adopted ADM: Athlete Development Model designed to put the child-athlete first. Imagine that? I'll include a link to a well done video explaining their general approach. One other note: Southampton FC, known for having a strong player development system, appointed a hockey coach/player as its chairman in 2014.

  30. Bill Wilson replied, November 18, 2016 at 2:05 p.m.

    I believe this is a good idea, but youth hockey is a much more controllable universe than soccer. There are no where near as many vested interests as in soccer. Again, a top down mandated system will not work in soccer. It is up to the MLS clubs.

  31. Bob Ashpole replied, November 19, 2016 at 1:55 a.m.

    Bill, to say that you must have never lived in hockey country where kids start playing at 2. I was born in Port Huron, MI, home of the North American Silver Stick Championships. Hockey is really big in Canada and northern USA. I believe Canada youth hockey took the lead on long term athlete development. At least their model is what the other youth sport organizations are using including US youth soccer.

  32. David V, November 18, 2016 at 1:32 p.m.

    Look, if we aren't focusing on long-term greatness (like being a real World Cup contender)... then simply drop all the older guys and play all younger ones now for the next five years, they will have a better success that way (as a 2nd tier team, because that's what they are now, and will be if you don't focus on long-term greatness); all this other stuff is seeing if you can move from a 70th percentile team, to a 72nd percentile team in the world.

  33. Bob Ashpole replied, November 19, 2016 at 2:03 a.m.

    David there are 209 national men's teams currently on the FIFA rankings. The USA is well inside the top 20%. The top 20 teams in in the top 10%. Realistically every countries goal is to be competitive. To win the world cup requires depth. It isn't about the best 11, once you get out of the group stage it is about the best 23 players, especially the field players. I don't recall anyone having to go to their 3rd keeper, but the other players are often needed.

  34. beautiful game, November 19, 2016 at 12:23 a.m.

    Christian Vieri remarked several days ago that players don't play for the coach. They play for themselves and the shirt(s) they wear. It's the passion, persistence, and will to win that carries the team. The players on the pitch must take responsibility for their own actions.

  35. Dennis Mueller replied, November 21, 2016 at 10:19 a.m.

    I w Nowozeniuk: You could argue that Vieri was using that to disguise his own coaching failure in the MLS playoffs.

  36. K Michael, November 21, 2016 at 10:50 a.m.

    As a country, despite sporadic, regional outbreaks of quality, soccer in the USA began taking itself seriously in 1994. Our sport has made a load of progress since then. MLS now has a development academy system in place that is only partially pay-to-play. MLS attendance is consistently growing; heck, there are several second/third division teams with solid fan bases. TV revenue is growing steadily. It has been less than 8 years since a kid can watch live his favorite teams/players from around the world; whose parents can now easily buy him/her their favorite player's jersey. its been in only in the last 5-8 years that kids actually play tons of footie at recess, in their backyards, etc. Again, I'm talking about at-large (I get that that happens in certain areas, neighborhoods already) unstructured play. Our very first generation of organic players are signing pro contracts as teenagers. Our high school

  37. aaron dutch, November 21, 2016 at 7:41 p.m.

    Costa Rica is far better team then we are, its not even close. They are the class of the region. They Champions League level starters & stars. We have never had one in our history. They organize and play as players at a much higher level. Our ability to just keep possession, much less our football IQ is very average. Can Arena get us in to the World Cup sure, and will we get blasted, sure. What has changed in 20 years?

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