Jur-gone!

> Klins­mann fired as US coach

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

FOR­MER Ger­many player and coach Jur­gen Klins­mann (pix) was fired yes­ter­day as coach of the United States af­ter los­ing two 2018 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing matches. The 52-year-old, who won the World Cup as a player with Ger­many in 1990, had been in charge of the US since 2011. US Soccer Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Su­nil Gu­lati an­nounced the “dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion” with­out nam­ing a re­place­ment. The United States does not face an­other World Cup qual­i­fier un­til March. “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,” Gu­lati said. “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.” Klins­mann went 55-27 with 16 drawn in a coach­ing ten­ure that be­gan on July 29, 2011, when Gu­lati named him to re­place sacked Bob Bradley on a team where Bradley’s son Michael was a star mid­fielder. “We want to thank Jur­gen for his hard work and com­mit­ment dur­ing th­ese last five years,” Gu­lati said. “He took pride in hav­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of steer­ing the pro­gram and there were con­sid­er­able achieve­ments along the way.” Klins­mann guided the Amer­i­cans on a team record 12-match win streak in 2013 and his 16 tri­umphs and .761 win % that year set US cal­en­dar-year records. But the Amer­i­cans were a dis­ap­point­ing fourth in the 2015 Gold Cup and also lost a play­off to Mex­ico for a berth in the 2017 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup.

In a New York Times story pub­lished Mon­day, Klins­mann dis­missed much of the crit­i­cism as “a lot of talk from peo­ple who don’t un­der­stand foot­ball or the team” while say­ing crit­ics were “ig­nor­ing the facts” and “be­ing dis­re­spect­ful.”

Klins­mann has tin­kered with line­ups and for­ma­tions but dis­missed calls his moves hurt the squad, say­ing “we are coach­ing a team through a tran­si­tional phase.”

Gu­lati ad­dressed the fu­ture of US Soccer, which many fans saw as bleak un­der Klins­mann’s guid­ance, say­ing “we look for­ward to con­tin­ued progress.”

Bruce Arena, a five-time Ma­jor League Soccer cham­pion coach now with the Los An­ge­les Galaxy, is thought to be a prime can­di­date to re­place Klins­mann. The 65-year-old Amer­i­can coached the US team to the 2002 World Cup quar­ter­fi­nals and guided a 2006 US lineup that ex­ited in the group stages.

Un­der Klins­mann in 2014, the Amer­i­cans matched their 2010 World Cup show­ing by reach­ing the last 16 at Brazil af­ter Klins­mann left long-time US striker Lan­don Dono­van off the ros­ter.

“Never want to see some­one lose their job,” Dono­van tweeted Mon­day. “I have no doubt that this tal­ented group of play­ers will qual­ify for Rus­sia ‘18.”

Gu­lati sang Klins­mann’s praises even as he swung the axe, say­ing the Ger­man leg­end’s legacy will have a long-term im­pact on the squad.

“Many are aware of the his­toric vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing lead­ing us out of the Group of Death to the round of 16 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but there were also lesser pub­li­cised ef­forts be­hind the scenes,” Gu­lati said.

Eight US matches re­main in the North Amer­i­can (CONCACAF) “hexag­o­nal” roundrobin qual­i­fy­ing, the next be­ing at home to Hon­duras on March 24 and four days later at Panama.

The three top teams in the six-na­tion field ad­vance to the World Cup while the fourth faces a play­off against an Asian team for one of the last berths in Rus­sia. – AFP

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