It wasn’t pretty. Actually it was pretty ugly. But now we have had two days to let the dust settle and dicuss what should happen next. If you missed USA vs. Mexico, here is a brief recap:
The US losing to Mexico obviously stings but the ramifications definitely run deeper than just disappointment. This was a big test for Jurgen Klinsmann, which he failed.
Klinsmann has been under fire since last week when US soccer legend Landon Donovan expressed that he believed the German manager should be canned if the US lost to El Tri. That has to be taken with a grain of salt, because it is no secret that Donovan and Klinsmann have never been on the same page.
Donovan’s provocations are probably a bit premature but the path for Klinsmann to leave is clear. He has burned a lot of bridges in his time as the US national team manager.
However, Klinsmann has thick skin and made it clear that he doesn’t care what the critics say. In a New York Times article, he is quoted, “Everybody can express his opinion, and not everybody likes you, and that’s totally fine. I’m not here to be liked. I’m trying to do a good job.”
That should let you know that Klinsmann hasn’t lost his focus. As much as he is abrasive with his words and often times questionable in his decision making, he is the right man for the job. At least until 2018. He is clearly dedicated to improving this American squad and he is trying to make do with the best of what he has.
People questioned his decision to play Brad Guzan over Tim Howard on Saturday but the reality is that the situation was a lose-lose for him. Had he played Howard and he had struggled, then everyone would have wondered why Guzan, who has played for the last several months in Howard’s place, did not get the nod. Choosing Guzan made sense though. He had been playing consistently for the last few months for the US. Howard would probably be a little rusty coming off an extended absence with the national team and that was not a chance that Klinsmann could afford to take in such a pivotal game.
Many want Klinsmann gone because they feel he is out of touch with the fans and he just isn’t a very likable guy. America is in the midst of a rough stretch right now with the loss to Jamaica in the Gold Cup and now missing out on the Confederations Cup with the loss to Mexico.
That shouldn’t erase everything that Klinsmann has done up to this point. Klinsmann is still the most successful national team manager in the US to date. He is only one win behind Bob Bradley all time and his winning percentage is the best ever by any one to coach more than five games. He could easily surpass Bradley by the end of this year with games remaining against Costa Rica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago left on the schedule.
It might not be the popular decision but it is the right one. The US needs to let Jurgen Klinsmann run this team through the 2018 World Cup and then they can reevaluate. Firing Klinsmann now just would not accomplish what US fans want.
Klinsmann actually has found a couple of youngsters that could be crucial players in the near future. Bobby Wood once again showed he was ready to play in his most recent appearance. He scored the equalizer in extra time against Mexico on Saturday and he is starting to become a reliable source of goals. In 2015, Wood has five caps and has scored in three of them.
Ventura Alvarado is another of those young players that brought into the fold. He deserves even more credit here. Alvarado was not a part of the US youth system but Klinsmann managed to flesh him out and in 2015, Alvarado has 12 caps. He had none prior to 2015. Neither of them have been transcendent but they are players that Klinsmann has been found of that seem to be paying off so far.
There is some potential here for the US to get better but in order for that to happen there must be some consistency. I don’t always agree with Klinsmann’s selections or philosophy as a manager, but until further notice, he should be the man running the show for America.
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Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Chris McGlynn