Klins­mann ques­tioned as U.S. slumps

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Ron­ald Blum

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA >> Look­ing a bit shocked, Jur­gen Klins­mann called it a “bit­ter mo­ment” four times in 14 min­utes and also a “bit­ter pill to swal­low” dur­ing his post-match news con­fer­ence. He de­scribed the 4-0 wipe­out in a World Cup qual­i­fier against Costa Rica as “the de­feat that hurts most” dur­ing his fiveyear ten­ure as U.S. coach. Time for a new leader? Out­side the room, U.S. Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion Pres­i­dent Su­nil Gu­lati ex­pressed pa­tience.

“We don’t make any de­ci­sions right after games,” Gu­lati said. “We’ll think about what hap­pened to­day and talk with Jur­gen and look at the sit­u­a­tion.”

The U.S. is 0-2 in the fi­nal round of World Cup qual­i­fy­ing for the first time fol­low­ing a 2-1 home loss to Mex­ico last week and its ninth straight de­feat in a qual­i­fier at Costa Rica. Given a rare op­por­tu­nity to coach a na­tional team for a sec­ond World Cup cy­cle, Klins­mann is un­der re­newed scru­tiny by crit­ics who claim his reign has gone stale.

“I ob­vi­ously un­der­stand that when you lose two games and es­pe­cially two World Cup qual­i­fiers right after each other, that there will be a lot of your com­ments,” he told re­porters after the match. “That is just part of the job.”

A World Cup cham­pion with West Ger­many in 1990 and the coach who led Ger­many to the 2006 semi­fi­nals at home, Klins­mann re­placed Bob Bradley after a poor U.S. per­for­mance in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where Mex­ico beat the Amer­i­cans 4-2 in the fi­nal.

Klins­mann coached the U.S to the 2013 Gold Cup ti­tle and the sec­ond round of the 2014 World Cup, where the Amer­i­cans lost to Bel­gium in ex­tra time, but the U.S. was up­set by Ja­maica in the 2015 Gold Cup semi­fi­nals and lost a play­off to Mex­ico for a Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup berth, spark­ing skep­ti­cism of per­son­nel de­ci­sions and tac­tics.

Play im­proved again at this year’s Copa Amer­ica, where vic­to­ries over Paraguay and Ecuador ad­vanced the U.S. to the semi­fi­nals — and a 4-0 loss to Lionel Messi and Ar­gentina.

Then came the start of the hexag­o­nal, as the fi­nal round of the North and Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean re­gion is known, and it could not have gone much worse.

“When you lose 4-nil, there are is­sues, ab­so­lutely,” Klins­mann said.

Soc­cer pow­ers tra­di­tion­ally have lit­tle tol­er­ance for de­feat.

When Mex­ico lost a World Cup qual­i­fier at home against Hon­duras in Septem­ber 2013, coach Jose Manuel De la Torre was fired about 4 ½ hours after the fi­nal whis­tle and re­placed by Luis Fer­nando Tena. When El Tri lost a few days later in the United States, Tena was re­placed within 48 hours by Vic­tor Manuel Vucetich. Two games later, Vucetich was sup­planted by Miguel Her­rera.

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