Jurgen Klinsmann Has Lost The Locker Room And Must Go
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When Jurgen Klinsmann was first appointed USMNT boss five years ago, people expected him to come over and shake things up. It was widely understood that he was not some kind of miracle worker, however, there was a clear expectation that his pedigree would motivate players and that he’d introduce a stylish flair into the team by nurturing the next generation — undoubtedly the most talented crop of footballers this country had ever seen.
There was certainly a hope that after finally hiring a big name coach, Klinsmann could take the national team to the next level. Fast forward to Tuesday night and it’s clear that none of those expectations have been met. The USA suffered an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Costa Rica, wherein they were outplayed and outcoached from the start.
Klinsmann switched back to a standard 4-4-2 for Costa Rica after beginning with a disastrous 3-4-3 against Mexico. Although he made the right decision by making the formation change, he made some awful decisions in his team selection. John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez are very tall and physical center backs, but both are lacking in pace and reactions. The partnership had no chance of containing the speedy Costa Ricans on the night.
Matt Besler was put in at left back, and, being a natural center back, there were many times throughout the match when he stayed in defense instead of overlapping like a natural fullback - making the formation look like a 3-5-2 again. Timmy Chandler was favored ahead of DeAndre Yedlin for the right back spot, and the Eintracht Frankfurt defender put in another dreadful performance in a USA shirt.
The aging Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley were again paired in central midfield, and neither of them showed up for the game, apart from turning the ball over to the opposition. It was ridiculous to see Jones start in both matches as he’s only just returned after missing four months of action with a knee injury.
The team looked lost out there, as if they didn’t have a game plan or it had been too confusing to understand. The players failed to connect with each other and easily gave up when they were being outplayed all over the pitch. Klinsmann admitted after the game that “This is the defeat that hurts the most.” It was almost certainly the worst performance in his tenure.
USA falls to Costa Rica, 4-0, in World Cup qualifier.The only other time Costa Rica scored 4 goals vs USA was in a 1959 friendly. pic.twitter.com/lc9tVHM7HO
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 16, 2016
This isn’t the only reason why he needs to be sacked, this is just the final straw. It’s already been five years on the job, yet the team still lacks an identity. Players don’t seem to know their roles during games, the best starting eleven isn’t starting in important matches, and, above all, it appears as though he has finally lost the locker room.
Sure, there were some good accomplishments during his time in charge, particularly when he guided the team to the knockout round of the 2014 World Cup and a fourth place finish at the Copa America Centenario.
However, defeats to Jamaica in the 2015 Gold Cup, Guatemala in the fourth round of World Cup qualifying and Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, which prevented the chance to enter the Confederations Cup in 2017, still hurt.
There are positive traits the USMNT is known for around the world, such as the fighting spirit, the never give up attitude, being organized and being tough enough to frustrate opponents. All of these attributes are starting to disappear under Klinsmann, and not playing a true playmaker in the last two games is also a puzzling decision from the former Germany manager.
During the Costa Rica game, especially in the second half, the fighting spirit was gone. It’s almost as if the players no longer wanted to play for him, and the worst part is that he didn’t even try to motivate the players or send out instructions from the sidelines by the time they were two goals down. He appeared to have given up before the players had.
Despite sitting bottom in the Hex after two games, this isn’t the end of the world. There are eight more games to go, and it only gets easier from here. But they need a manager who is not only tactically aware of what his players can do but who can also motivate them to perform their best.
One unexpected defeat and things suddenly become extremely volatile for the States. It’s quite obvious that the USMNT does not have the best players in the world, but they certainly aren’t bad enough to be getting embarrassed by the likes of Costa Rica. The Klinsmann experiment has to be over at this point, before he brings the team down to a terrible new low — missing the World Cup entirely.
There is plenty of time to prepare as the next qualifying games don’t come until March. Right now is the perfect chance to go through a coaching change, before it’s too late.