Klins­mann fired as U.S. Soccer coach

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

Af­ter a home loss to Mex­ico and a 4-0 rout at Costa Rica, U.S. Soccer fired coach Jur­gen Klins­mann Mon­day. LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is likely to take over.

NEW YORK >> Jur­gen Klins­mann was fired as coach of the U.S. soccer team Mon­day, 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 fa­vorite to suc­ceed Klins­mann, and his hir­ing could be an­nounced as early as Tues­day. Arena coached the na­tional team from 1998 to 2006.

Qual­i­fy­ing re­sumes when the U.S. hosts Hon­duras on March 24 and plays 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,” U.S. 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.

The USSF an­nounced in De­cem­ber 2013 a four-year con­tract ex­ten­sion through 2018, but the suc­cess­ful World Cup was fol­lowed by poor per­for­mances. The U.S. was knocked out by Ja­maica in last year’s Gold Cup semi­fi­nals and lost to Mex­ico in a play­off for a Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup berth. The team re­bounded to reach this year’s Copa Amer­ica semi­fi­nals 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 U.S. since 2001.

And last week, the Amer­i­cans were routed in Costa Rica, their largest mar­gin of de­feat in qual­i­fy­ing since 1980. They dropped to 0-2 for the first time 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 play­off against Asia’s No. 5 team, play­ers seemed con­fused by Klins­mann’s tactics, such as a 3-4-1-2 for­ma­tion used at the start against the Mex­i­cans.

“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 pub­li­cized ef­forts be­hind the scenes. He chal­lenged ev­ery­one in the U.S. 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.”

The U.S. had not changed coaches in the mid­dle of qual­i­fy­ing since the USSF made the po­si­tion a full-time job and hired Bob Gansler in 1989 to re­place Lothar Osian­der, who also at the time was a waiter at a San Fran­cisco restau­rant.

Klins­mann made con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sions, such as drop­ping Lan­don Dono­van from the 2014 World Cup ros­ter while tak­ing along rel­a­tively in­ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers such as John Brooks, Ju­lian Green and DeAn­dre Yedlin. Brooks and Green were among five Ger­man-Amer­i­cans on the 23-man U.S. World Cup ros­ter, which drew crit­i­cism from some in the Amer­i­can soccer com­mu­nity.

He coached the team to a 55-2716 record, in­clud­ing a U.S.-record 12-game win­ning streak and vic­to­ries in ex­hi­bi­tions at Italy, Ger­many and the Nether­lands. He has worked in the past year to in­te­grate more young play­ers into the lineup, such as teen mid­field sen­sa­tion Chris­tian Pulisic, Bobby Wood and Jor­dan Mor­ris.

Arena, a 65-year-old wise­crack­ing Brook­lynite known for blunt talk, was in­ducted into the U.S. Na­tional Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010. He coached the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia from 1978-95, then coached D.C. United to ti­tles in Ma­jor League Soccer’s first two sea­sons be­fore los­ing in the 1998 fi­nal. As U.S. coach, he led the Amer­i­cans to the 2002 World Cup quar­ter­fi­nals in the team’s best fin­ish since 1930.

He was let go af­ter the team’s first-round elim­i­na­tion in 2006. Gu­lati un­suc­cess­fully courted Klins­mann, who won the 1990 World Cup with West Ger­many and the 1996 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship with Ger­many, then coached his na­tion to the 2006 World Cup semi­fi­nals.

When Gu­lati and Klins­mann couldn’t reach an agree­ment, the USSF hired Bradley, who coached the team to the sec­ond round of the 2010 World Cup. A year later, the Amer­i­cans stum­bled in the Gold Cup, and Klins­mann re­placed Bradley.

Arena coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS from July 2006 to Novem­ber 2007, then was hired the fol­low­ing Au­gust by the Galaxy. He led the team to MLS ti­tles in 2011, ‘12 and ‘14.

MARTIN MEISSNER — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Juer­gen Klins­mann was fired as coach of the U.S. soccer team on Mon­day six days af­ter a 4-0 loss at Costa Rica dropped the Amer­i­cans to 0-2 in the fi­nal round of World Cup qual­i­fy­ing.

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