Football: No pity for sacked Klinsmann

Americans grew increasingly frustrated with German; LA Galaxy's Arena poised to step in

Jurgen Klinsmann.
Jurgen Klinsmann.

NEW YORK • The end came on Monday, in a terse press release from US Soccer, with a couple of nice quotes tacked on.

Jurgen Klinsmann, hired to great acclaim in 2011, was sacked as coach of the United States national football team.

Two consecutive qualifying losses to Mexico and Costa Rica have left the Americans in jeopardy of missing the World Cup Finals for the first time since 1986, and that proved too much for US Soccer president Sunil Gulati to stomach.

It is thought that the Los Angeles Galaxy coach, Bruce Arena, 65, will return to the job he held from 1998-2006. Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes and US assistant coach Tab Ramos are also reportedly in the mix.

Many American fans are likely to cheer Klinsmann's departure.

The sunny former Germany star had charmed many five years ago when he promised to raise the level of the players.

But early this year, his act had grown tired - many fans saw a man who refused to accept blame for mistakes and many of his players seemed to quit on him.

  • 55-27-16

    Jurgen Klinsmann has the second-best record (55 wins, 27 draws, 16 defeats) as United States coach, behind only his likely successor Bruce Arena.

The volatile politics in the US also played a role, even though many fans will not admit it.

As the recent presidential race signalled an inward turn for the country, many fans became distressed with Klinsmann's perceived focus on German-American players.

Their discontent was vocalised when one of the biggest stars in the women's game, Abby Wambach, criticised the immigrant members of the squad.

As a result, in the past year, every misstep Klinsmann, 52, made was magnified.

One prominent blogger maintained a list that purported to make the case that the manager was the worst in American history.

In fact, Klinsmann finishes with the second-best record (55-27-16) as coach, behind only Arena. John Kowalski, who coached only two games in 1991, cannot really be counted.

Klinsmann is hardly blameless, of course. He alienated a good number of players with his tactics and selections.

His treatment of Landon Donovan in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup was particularly tawdry. His development work was mediocre - his hand-picked coaches blew two chances to qualify for the Olympics, and the entire development pyramid can fairly be called a mess.

On the plus side, he led the US to wins over top teams like Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. His team finished a respectable fourth at this year's Copa Centenario and also won the 2013 Gold Cup.

He also greatly expanded the player pool, with teen star Christian Pulisic just the latest gem to be unearthed before the Borussia Dortmund forward could have his head turned by Croatia.

If Arena returns as expected, he will have some time to meet his new team and orchestrate the initial steps of his attempted revival.

The Americans' next scheduled games are two more World Cup qualifiers, home to Honduras and away to Panama, in March.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'No pity for sacked Klinsmann'. Subscribe