Klinsmann questioned as U.S. slumps
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.