Commentary

Gulati: Two losses were final straw for Klinsmann

Ten days after saying he expected Jurgen Klinsmann would be the USA's head coach through the Hexagonal, like every previous national team coach, Sunil Gulati fired him.

What changed?

In a conference call with the media on Tuesday with new national team coach Bruce Arena, Gulati said, "None of us expected the two results we got."

Speaking like the Columbia economics professor he has been for many years, Gulati added, "These last two games were obviously important data points, because of the importance of the games, where they were played, and the results."

But he insisted the losses to Mexico (2-1) and Costa Rica (4-0) were only part of the story.

"Really, starting at the [2015] Gold Cup, we've had some very up-and-down results," Gulati added. "The Gold Cup was a big disappointment for everyone - for Jurgen, for the players, for our fans. We had a chance for a reprieve against Mexico, didn't get that done in Los Angeles. And then had an upswing at Copa America, where after a bad start, we won three consecutive games and got to the semifinals. Then, of course, finished with a disappointing game against Argentina, and that last one [loss] against Colombia. So all of those things are part of the evaluation. It's not just those. It's the most recent results. It's talking with people in and around the team, which we do on a pretty regular basis."

Gulati and U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynnflew to Los Angeles and met with Klinsmann on Monday morning to advise him of the decision that was made after consultation with the U.S. Soccer board of directors on Sunday night.

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He would not say what would happen to the rest of Klinsmann's staff -- notably, top assistant Andi Herzog, who served as U-23 coach during the failed Olympic qualifying bid -- but he added that Arena would pick his staff over the next few weeks. No decision on a technical director has been made, but Gulati said Tab Ramos, another Klinsmann assistant and the U-20 men's head coach, already handled many of the responsibilities as youth technical director.

Gulati praised Klinsmann for his big-picture skills, on "the seriousness of how players approach the game and their craft" and how "he was elevated the program around the world." He also noted how Klinsmann brought young players into the team: Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood or Jordan Morris.

But he tied the program back to the future, noting the work that Bob Bradley and Arena had done before Klinsmann.

"He came into a program that had a very solid foundation in my view," said Gulati. "In his own way, he’s built on that and Bruce will continue that process.”

16 comments about "Gulati: Two losses were final straw for Klinsmann".
  1. Nalin Carney, November 22, 2016 at 4:53 p.m.

    Hip .... Hip..... Hooray. Butt the way I see it is that BA will now pick up where BB left off. I do not beleive that JK was any help to the program at all. Good Luck to the entire team.

  2. R2 Dad, November 22, 2016 at 5:41 p.m.

    Sunil couldn't hold his nerve because we're two games into the hex and if we didn't qualify (with JK) it would be his neck. If we don't qualify with BA, Sunil is off the hook. "I tried my best but BA failed us". What a weasel--good thing this qualification round is all about him. Never mind we have never failed to qualify from the hex. I guess all the JK haters are now satisfied? Let's scrounge up every MLS scrub we can find with an excellent work rate and run around like headless chickens because Murica! Everyone ready for Arenaball?

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, November 22, 2016 at 6:34 p.m.

    You are being unfair. I credit everyone including JK with doing their best. The trickle of young players being picked up by big European clubs has more to do with lack of EU passports than lack of talented young players. I for one am not going to suggest that youngsters change their citizenship so they can develop in Europe before they turn 18. You malign MLS, but the truth is that good training opportunities exist in the US now. Not a lot and not everywhere, but there are far more opportunities now than 20 years ago. Not just in MLS and DA clubs, but at other clubs as well. Go back another 20-some years and vast areas of the country had no organized soccer at all. MLS was an extremely important step as is a women's professional league because it raised the level of soccer throughout the entire pyramid.

  4. Arthur Axelbank, November 22, 2016 at 6:39 p.m.

    The US Soccer Board of Directors and all the people who have been calling for JK's dismissal are shortsighted and naïve. The US is a long way from being a world contender, but not due to any fault of Klinsmann's! In fact we still do not have the talent, the infrastructure, or the general interest required. (Remember, most of our elite young athletes have always typically gravitated to the more typical American sports!) Furthermore, the fact is, Klinsmann brought us along reasonably well considering the skimpy talent pool he has had to work with. He had the credibility on the world stage that no American-born soccer coach can have at this point. And finally, changing horses midstream is extremely risky. It is highly unlikely that coach Arena will step in mid-Hex and do any better. Too bad for us...

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, November 22, 2016 at 7:06 p.m.

    Really? Has an EPL team offered their manager job to JK? I am one of those you call shortsighted and naive. I have great respect for JK. He was a great player and is a great choice for technical director, where his strengths lie. His weakness is game management. I am sure he is a far better coach than I am, but that is not the point. His time at Bayern was not successful as determined by the poeple who count, the ones that hire and fire the managers. Nevertheless he has my respect for being hired and giving the job his best effort. I don't think anyone questions his determination and effort.

  6. Bob Ashpole, November 22, 2016 at 6:52 p.m.

    Kudos to the LA Galaxy for making Bruce available.

  7. Allan Lindh, November 22, 2016 at 8:23 p.m.

    When he threw a kissy fit and left LD off the WC team he should have been fired on the spot. With LD on the team, we would have had a better chance against Belgium, who we almost beat as it was. Arena will at least be a steady hand, and more emotionally stable. We're still just in the top 25 in the World, should just have the talent to sneak into the WC, altho the loss of Tim Howard is a real blow.

  8. Kevin Leahy, November 22, 2016 at 8:27 p.m.

    aaxel, I don't expect to win the World Cup but, I do expect us to qualify. There is enough talent to do that, in this confederation. Klinsmann did not have this team going in the right direction and it is, that simple. The individuals starting on quality teams in other leagues and getting whipped by Costa Rica like that, is bad. It is bad when the players have to tell the coach during injury time that, the team shape is not working against Mexico, It, is a problem!!! If he was good enough to be fired by Bayern Munich, he is good enough to be fired by the U.S.

  9. beautiful game, November 22, 2016 at 11:01 p.m.

    Anyone who does due diligence on JK would not hire him. He was a solid international and club player, but not so as a coach.

  10. Buk Rogers, November 23, 2016 at 10:28 a.m.

    Cheering for JK's dismissal...Wow. Since when does going backwards aid in the progression of the USMNT? Since when does returning to a coach with less success than JK forecast a brighter future? It probably is time for a change, but be mindful and realistic in your expectations.

  11. Andrew Kear replied, November 27, 2016 at 10:52 a.m.

    Klinsmann had far more historic loses than either Bradley and Arena. Besides, Klinsmann never finished second in the Confederation Cup (beating Spain) like Bradley or got the World Cup semis like Arena. Those two coach took the US further than it ever went before. They are part of US soccer's golden age. In those days the US sometime found itself ranked anywhere from 5th to 17th in the world. Klinsmann was the first US coach to really significantly regress US soccer. There are no excuse for some of the USMNT loses in the last 18 months. In fact it has been a nightmare.

  12. Buk Rogers, November 23, 2016 at 10:31 a.m.

    Expecting senior players lacking in creativity and absent of high technical ability to consistently challenge the middle - top ranked countries in the world is CRAZY. We must focus on identifying these young players across the US and on not coaching these skills out of them at 13.

  13. R2 Dad replied, November 23, 2016 at 12:41 p.m.

    Kofi, it's not so much wringing the creativity out of the players as much as it is playing them out of position (from what I have seen). The two most creative youth players, who should be AMs, are either playing at centerback or riding the pine because they are "too small". It's not the DA players that lack creativity, it's the coaches that lack the huevos to play these kids in their natural positions.

  14. Philip Carragher replied, November 24, 2016 at 1:42 p.m.

    I agree with Kofi that we somehow find a way to take kids with natural scoring abilities and drum that out of them. Goal scorers need to be handled differently than the other field players but many coaches miss that. Is it because there are few coaches who themselves were goal scorers? Most coaches I run across were not, mostly mids, defenders, and goalies.

  15. Julio Moreira, November 23, 2016 at 12:23 p.m.

    For the good of soccer in the USA, SUNIL GULATTI resign now, before you're thrown out.

  16. Right Winger, November 27, 2016 at 1:18 p.m.

    The final straw for JK per Gulati was two loses in a row. Was Gulati part of the two loses?

    Help me here.

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