Klinsmann f ired as US coach, Arena favoured
JURGEN KLINSMANN was fired as coach of the US football team yesterday, six days after a 4-0 loss at Costa Rica dropped the Americans to 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying.
Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is the favourite to succeed Klinsmann. Arena coached the national team from 1998 to 2006.
Qualifying resumes when the US hosts Honduras on March 24 and play four days later at Panama.
“While we remain confident that we have quality players to help us advance to Russia 2018, the form and growth of the team up to this point left us convinced that we need to go in a different direction,” US Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “With the next qualifying match in late March, we have several months to refocus the group and determine the best way forward to ensure a successful journey to qualify for our eighth consecutive World Cup.”
A former German star forward who has lived mostly in southern California since retiring as a player in 1998, Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley in July 2011 and led the team to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup title and the second round of the 2014 World Cup, where the Americans lost to Belgium in extra time.
But the US was knocked out by Jamaica in last year’s Gold Cup semi-finals and lost to Mexico in a play-off for a Confederations Cup berth. The team rebounded to reach the Copa America semi-finals before losing to Argentina 4-0. But this month Mexico beat the Americans 2-1 at Columbus, Ohio, in the first home qualifying loss for the US since 2001.
And last week, the Americans were routed in Costa Rica, dropping to 0-2 in the hexagonal, as the final round of World Cup qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean is known.
While there is time to recover, given the top three teams qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia and the fourth-place finisher advances to a play-off against Asia’s No. 5 team, players seemed confused by Klinsmann’s tactics, such as a 3-4-1-2 formation.
“Today, we made the difficult decision of parting ways with Jurgen Klinsmann,” Gulati said. “There were considerable achievements along the way ... but there were also lesser publicised efforts behind the scenes. He challenged everyone in the US. Soccer community to think about things in new ways, and thanks to his efforts we have grown as an organization and expect there will be benefits from his work for years to come.”
Arena was inducted into the US National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010. As US coach, he led the Americans to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals in the team’s best finish since 1930.