There’s always a rush to make a change. Change washes away the bad. Change offers a sense of hope. Change more directly allows for a reset.
But change made in haste can have negative consequences.
Such is the dilemma facing Sunil Gulati and U.S. Soccer with Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. Men’s National Team’s head coach. Since their heartbreaking loss to Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, it’s been a roller coaster ride for the U.S. men.
A failure to win the 2015 Gold Cup. Falling to Mexico on U.S. soil when a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia was on the line. A strong performance and top-four finish in the 2016 Copa America. Qualification for the Hexagonal. It’s been anything but smooth sailing for the boys in red, white and blue.
Now, U.S. Soccer and Klinsmann are at a critical crossroads. Following the 4-0 defeat to Costa Rica in the team’s second match of the Hex, the United States men have put themselves in a tough spot, but one that can be overcome, regarding World Cup qualification.
But things need to change.
With the Costa Rica debacle and 2-1 home loss to Mexico four days prior, there are a bevy of problems needing to be addressed. Klinsmann’s tactics against El Tri were head scratching and the move to a back three against Javier Hernandez and a potent Mexican attack made little sense. He rectified that decision in-game, but only after the Americans went down a goal. There are also other moves we could dissect, but the list could get to be a bit cumbersome.
While there is enough blame pointed at Klinsmann, the players must also be held accountable. The defensive efforts of John Brooks (who had been playing well) and Timmy Chandler were abysmal. First touches and passing throughout were brutal. It was as if the team forgot the term “play to feet.” Spacing was equally as bad. And I’m not too sure what was happening at midfield.
With all that said, decisions are now needed. I’ve never been on the “Fire Klinsmann” bandwagon. I feel coaches are removed too quickly and not given ample time to develop their program. It’s one of negatives of professional soccer. I also agree with Klinsmann on several hot button issues including the need for promotion/relegation in U.S. soccer’s professional landscape, and his feelings on the benefits of young Americans playing professionally in Europe’s top leagues.
That said, he’s been at the helm of the U.S. men’s ship since 2011, and now there are some leaks. If there was ever a time to make a coaching change, this is it. We won’t see the boys back on the pitch together until March. I’m guessing Gulati has some candidates in mind. Who they are is unknown.
But after five years and a largely downward trend with the U.S. men over the past two years, a change at the top appears to be needed.