Jurgen Klinsmann’s run as US Men’s National Team manager is over. The US Soccer Federation announced Monday it fired Klinsmann following back to back defeats in World Cup Qualifying to Mexico and Costa Rica. Klinsmann was hired back in July, 2011 to replace Bob Bradley.
Klinsmann’s appointment more than five years ago was met with much fanfare. Rumors had US Soccer after Klinsmann for years. Supporters of the move pointed to Klinsmann’s positive effect on the German youth system and his surprise third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup as the coach of the German national team. However, warning signs were always there. Philip Lahm very publicly criticized Klinsmann’s lack of tactical nous during his as the coach of Bayern Munich and rumors persisted that top assistant Joachim Low was the true mastermind behind Germany’s 2006 World Cup run. One win from Klinsmann’s first six games in charge of the USMNT did little to alleviate those concerns.
The highlight of the Klinsmann era came at the 2014 World Cup, when the US advanced out of the “Group of Death” before falling to Belgium in the Round of 16. Klinsmann also led the US to victories over Italy, The Netherlands and Germany on European soil, the first ever win over Mexico in Estadio Azteca, a Gold Cup title in 2013 and a fourth place finish at the 2016 Copa America. But there were too many head-scratching failures that offset the bright spots. Klinsmann controversially left US legend Landon Donovan off the 2014 World Cup roster, a move that was widely criticized. The US crashed out of the 2015 Gold Cup, failing to reach the final for only the third time in tournament history. Even the fourth-place finish at the Copa America was marred by a blowout loss to Argentina on home soil in the semifinal and uninspiring losses to Columbia in both the group stage and third place match.
Losses to Mexico last Friday and Costa Rica Tuesday were seemingly the last straw for US soccer brass. The 2-1 defeat to Mexico was the first time the US lost to Mexico in Columbus, snapping the famous “Dos a Cero” streak. When a 4-0 meltdown against Costa Rica followed, it was enough for Sunil Gulati to make a change.
Gulati and the Federation will want to name Klinsmann’s successor quickly and give them as much time as possible to plan for the remaining eight Hex games. Several reliable outlets have reported LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena has already been contacted and lined up as a replacement.