Jurgen Klinsmann has been fired as manager of the U.S. men’s national team, this after losing to Mexico and Costa Rica in a pair of World Cup qualifiers.
“I thought they would give him until March, but they pulled the trigger now and it makes sense,” CBSSports.com soccer writer Roger Gonzalez said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They’ve got four months until their next important game so they can bring in a new coach and get set up and have a little time to get things organized. But I would have kept him on. I think he’s done more good than bad. I’m in the minority, though, with that. It’s a bit of a surprising move, but it’s one that many felt they needed to do.”
The U.S. lost to Mexico, 2-1, in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 11, before falling 4-0 to Costa Rica four days later.
“These two results, I think they just jumped the gun,” Gonzalez said. “There’s eight games to go in the next round of qualifying. Mexico only won two games when they qualified for the 2014 World Cup in this round, so it just seems like a quick decision and they want to move on. Klinsmann is a guy who knows so much about the game, and he’s been in the U.S. for a long time as well. But they just wanted to make the move. I don’t quite agree with it, but they want to change, they want to get some results and it hasn’t been impressive lately.”
The key word being “lately.”
“He got the team to the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup when nobody thought they would get out of the group,” Gonzalez pointed out. “And then finishing fourth at the Copa America – if you lose to Argentina and Messi in the semifinals, you weren’t expected to win there. So to get to the semifinals in the most important tournament in the western hemisphere – for me, that’s enough to stay on and let him keep being the coach.”
Klinsmann, 52, had served as the U.S. men’s coach since 2011. He excited countless soccer fans across America when he took the job, but eventually, the honeymoon period ended.
“There’s no doubt that he rubbed some people the wrong way,” Gonzalez said. “There was a bit of friction there and it just got into an uncomfortable situation leading back to leaving Landon Donovan of the roster. That was a move that rubbed people the wrong way. It just felt like a move that’s been building for a little while.”
Bruce Arena is reportedly in the mix to replace Klinsmann, but the next coach – whoever it is – will be given a tall task, including, first and foremost, satisfying an impatient fan base.
“There’s still a long way to go,” Gonzalez said. “I think the expectations are very unrealistic. Some people want the U.S. to be able to go into the World Cup and reach the semifinals and become a world power. We’re a long ways away from ever seeing that.”