Editorial (November 22, 2016) – For those of you living under a rock, Jurgen Klinsmann got fired as U.S. Men’s National Team head coach and technical director. This happened off of two losses to start the CONCACAF Hexagonal that included a first ever loss to Mexico in Columbus, Ohio. My question is, why was this the final straw?
Jurgen Klinsmann Fired: Why Was This The Final Straw?
Klinsmann got fired because of the results to start the Hex and because of how they happened. He’s had a lot of habits that have driven pundits and fans crazy for years as U.S. Men’s National Team coach. These habits have yielded some crazy results and firsts (good and bad). But none of that seemed to bother USSF president Sunil Gulati. Klinsmann was his man and he was in for the long haul.
What were some of those habits? He changed lineups regularly with no real rhyme or reason. He played favorites with some players and ostracized others. In some cases, those players were good enough and needed to help the team win. Take Benny Feilhaber for the 2015 Gold Cup or Landon Donovan in the 2014 World Cup.
He also punished players based on club team decisions players made. This built up some bad blood between some players and Major League Soccer, which he regularly criticized. The two have been having spats for years.
Klinsmann was also infallible in interviews and post game press conferences. He plays Alejandro Bedoya at holding mid one game and it goes terribly? Bedoya gets subbed out at half time cause he just wasn’t cutting it. When results didn’t go well, it was his players being unable to execute. It was never his preparation or his game plan.
And then there’s all the failures at the various youth levels.
The things is, we’ve seen this for years. The run up to 2014 was wobbly at best. Then the US survives the group, put poor bench roster decisions hurt them in the knock out round. Post World Cup, it was a lot of experimentation. That was good for awhile. Then it kept happening through the 2015 Gold Cup. That tournament was a disaster.
The slide continued into the 2015 CONCACAF Cup. The team pulled off a Herculean performance in the Copa America after a terrible 2-0 loss against Columbia to start. Now we’re here after two World Cup Qualifiers.
Other than the Copa America, Klinsmann’s bad habits have been here throughout his tenure. The USMNT was still going to make the World Cup if you ask me. They’ve got too much talent and two of their three toughest games were over. In that sense, it wasn’t about the World Cup.
It was about his habits and the culture that’s metastasized for years.
This seemed obvious after the last Gold Cup. And even more obvious after the CONCACAF Cup. Gulati et. al. firing Klinsmann now is a recognition of issues that have existed for awhile. In that, it’s an acknowledgement that they should have done it sooner.
It’s a referendum on the decision to not fire him last year, if not sooner.
Furthermore, Klinsmann was Gulati’s guy for years for this job. Because he stuck with him for so long, one has to wonder if Gulati fired Klinsmann to help save his own job/legacy. In that, Gulati’s future as USSF President might be in question and rightfully so.