Should USA Soccer fire Jurgen Klinsmann?

jurgen-klinsmannThe US Men’s National Team suffered an embarrassing and surprising 2-1 defeat at the hands of Jamaica in the Gold Cup. The FIFA rankings, although not always accurate, say everything in this case, with USA ranked 34th and Jamaica ranked 76th. Of course, an upset loss in a big tournament is not enough by itself to question US soccer, specifically Jurgen Klinsmann’s leadership. However, the reason WHY they lost may fall back on the coach along with other lackluster results.

Sure, USA has turned out some spectacular performances in friendlies recently. But those are friendlies, soccer’s definition of an exhibition game where players/strategies are experimented with. This was a serious tournament where the more-talented Americans played like the inferior team in virtually every way.

Jamaica did what they always do: try to play disciplined, defensive soccer while using their speed on extremely quick counterstrikes. Pretty much any top soccer team would have been ready for their strategy – although Jamaica should be given credit for how well they executed it. But execution or not, the Americans kept over-pursuing offensive chances and getting caught off-guard when Jamaica would force a turnover and start their counterstrike. This was not a flaw with the players, it was a flaw with Klinsmann’s approach to managing the game.

usa-jamaica-gold-cupKlinsmann’s managerial strategy wasn’t the only problem here because, once again, his odd approach to constantly tinkering with lineups created a dilemma. It’s fine to test different strategies on the road to the 2018 World Cup in hopes of finding the winning combination. But at some point every key player on the team needs to know exactly what their role is when it matters most. The Gold Cup semifinals game mattered greatly, yet several players were once again shifted around and used in a variety of ways, leading to another uncohesive performance.

His choice of players leaves something to be desired as well, like midfielder Kyle Beckerman, who has seen his best years pass by. The 33-year-old consistently looked slow while resorting to a number of fouls that finally got him benched by Klinsmann. It was a big factor in the game and one that allowed Jamaica to work their strategy to perfection.

Will Klinsmann be fired following this humiliating home loss to Jamaica? The likely answer is no, because he’s done some good things as well. He’s definitely been a factor in improving the USA soccer developmental structure, which was abysmal at best before his arrival. Now it’s looking more and more like America might be able to turn out quality talent on their own. DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes and Perry Kitchen are excellent examples of this fact.

Meanwhile, Klinsmann has also done an excellent job of recruiting players who, through FIFA rules, are eligible to compete for multiple countries. Fabian Johnson, Aron Johannsson, Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks are all products are of this effort.

But if the USA soccer program wants to make a cold and calculated decision on what’s best for the USMNT, then there’s probably a better manager available in the way of in-game management and match preparation. From an overall standpoint, Klinsmann has definitely done a solid job up until now. However, it may be time to go another direction with regard to taking the USMNT to another level.

2018 World Cup Betting: Klinsmann eyes Final Four

usa-czech-republic-soccerThe US Men’s National Team has officially begun their journey to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They defeated the Czech Republic in Prague last night by a score of 1-0. Alejandro Bedoya scored a goal in the 39th minute to propel the US to victory. ‘”It just shows that the States has a deeper pool,” said Bedoya. “There’s a bunch of great, young, talented players coming through.”

America had better have some young, talented players coming through if they’re to meet head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s lofty goals. As many soccer fans know, USA made it out of the “Group of Death” in this summer’s World Cup. They finished second behind Germany in pool play, while Portugal and Ghana were sent home. However, the Americans’ dreams ended in the Round of 16 with a 2-1 loss to Belgium.

“Once you get out of the most difficult group in the World Cup, you should go further than just Round of 16,’’ Klinsmann told the Boston Globe. “This is our goal going toward Russia, not to stop at the Round of 16, maybe not to stop at the quarterfinal, to say clearly, listen: We have four years to prepare for this cycle. Our goal is going into a semifinal in a World Cup. And that means a lot of work, a lot of competition, a lot of grind.”

jurgen-klinsmannWith four years before the Russian-hosted 2018 World Cup, Klinsmann has plenty of time to prepare younger players. Much has already been made about budding stars like Julian Green, the 19-year-old who scored against Belgium, and John Brooks, the 21-year-old defender who scored the go-ahead goal in a victory over Ghana. However, there were some new faces in the lineup against the Czechs.

18-year-old midfielder Emerson Hyndman made his first national appearance, as did 21-year-old forward Joe Gyau and 23-year-old defender Greg Garza. Klinsmann spoke about the youth movement by saying, “It was important to see what is coming through in our talent pool. For 65, 70 minutes, it went really well.”

One player who was noticeably absent from the starting lineup was Tim Howard. The famed goalkeeper has decided to take a well-deserved year off from international play. However, even at age 35, many expect him to be manning the net for USA when the 2018 World Cup arrives.