Saturday night was the low point for the U.S. men’s national team.
With a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup on the line, the U.S. wilted against Mexico in the Rose Bowl. Yes, the Americans twice erased one-goal deficits, but they were always chasing the game and in the end, rightly fell 3-2, losing out on a chance for an important warm-up tournament for the 2018 World Cup, and ending any sort of high from last year’s World Cup run.
There is plenty of blame to go around for this disaster of a team that has struggled for the past couple of months. But no one person deserves more of the blame than Jurgen Klinsmann. Yes, the man that was supposed to “save” U.S. soccer has now run it’s course … right off of a cliff.
And now it’s time for Sunil Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, to cut ties with Klinsmann and move on before this becomes even more of a disaster for the Americans.
First off, I must say that I like Klinsmann and I like how he came in and tried to shake things up. He took on MLS and challenged the establishment. I wanted this to work so bad. But Saturday night was the final straw and now I’ve joined the “dark side.”
While some have blamed the players rather than Klinsmann, one has to look at those players, who Klinsmann himself called up to the national team. He’s the one that had aging Demarcus Beasley, who was actually good, Clint Dempsey and that whole back line that’s been incredibly flimsy. Meanwhile, superb players like Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nyguen — players that have the talent and can make an impact — are left at their respective MLS clubs. That’s not a player problem; that’s a management problem.
And that’s tainted his entire tenure. He’s given the shaft to MLS players for overseas and dual-national players. Yes, MLS isn’t as good a league as the Premiere League and the Bundesliga, but it’s still a quality league with quality players, which makes those decisions even more baffling.
That and his ability to not be able to pick a consistent back line should cost him his job. Since the end of last year’s World Cup, the Americans failed to figure out a regular back four. Instead, it was a revolving door with no one able to develop a working, solid relationship with other players. That’s literally the most important part of playing that position and Klinsmann couldn’t even facilitate that. That’s inexcusable.
As for who should replace him, I admit that I don’t have a 100 percent solid answer. But as much as it pains me to see him leave Frisco, I would love to see FC Dallas manager Oscar Pareja get a shot. No, he hasn’t won anything big. But in just his second year leading FC Dallas, he has the Hoops competing game in and game out with less talent than most of the Western Conference contenders. That, and he’s built up the FC Dallas youth program to be one of, if not the strongest youth programs in the country. And with the U-23 team struggling to qualify for the Olympics for the second-straight cycle, that help could come none too fast.
But at the moment, the focus should be squarely on Klinsmann and the hopeful end of his time at the helm of the U.S. national team. It was a really nice experiment and it result in some nice moments, but now is the time to move on.