Is the Jury Out on Jürgen?
Jürgen Klinsmann was supposed to be the savior of American soccer.
His predecessor, Bob Bradley, did an okay job.
Bradley then followed up that “achievement” by having his USMNT blow a two goals lead against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
For this résumé, Bobby was Given das Boot.
Klinsmann, who'd been linked to the job in previous years, was hired shortly after to be the architect of rebuilding men’s soccer in America.
Whereas the post-Bob Arenas USMNT had been fairly mediocre, Klinsmann was seen as the man who was going to elevate them to new heights in the world soccer community.
And in the early years, Klinsmann did just that.
The USA won the first half of the Gold Cup in 2013 against Panama, ironically enough in a game where Klinsmann was forced to watch the game in a stadium suite.
Dude had been suspended in the semi-finals for “throwing the ball in a violent manner” in the game's waning minutes.
In the 2014 World Cup, the German legend was able to achieve his greatest success.
That's when he guided his team out of the Group of Death, which included Ghana, Portugal, and his former squad, Germany.
Unfortunately, Klinsmann was able to get the Americans no further than their 2010 campaign, as the team fell to Belgium in the next round in extra time.
Curse you, Wondo.
Whereas the 2014 World Cup performance was seen as a sign that the Americans were improving under Klinsmann, the Round of 16 exit would prove to be the high-water mark for USA Men’s soccer in coming years.
In the 2015 Gold Cup, where the team could've clinched a potential 2017 Confederations Cup appearance, it came up flaccid in a 2-1 loss to Jamaica in the semi-finals.
No matter. The Americans could still clinch a 2017 bid by beating Mexico in a 2013-champ vs 2015-champ October match. But it was not to be, on home field no less, in a 1-0 loss to Mexico.
2016 has yet to see better days for the USA, starting with its failure to qualify for the upcoming Rio Olympics.
Their first match of the 100th Copa América didn’t fare much better, as the USA fell to Columbia, 2-0, in another disappointing game.
Following the loss, USSSA prez Sunil Gulati gave a cryptic answer to whether or not Klinsmann would be around for the CONCACAF qualifiers in September. In so few words, Gulati answered that he would wait until the final two group stage games are played before he assess the status of the team.
It’s possible and probable that those words rang strong with Klinsmann and the team, as a few hours later, they walloped Costa Rica, 4-0.
It’s been almost a full five years since Klinsmann was hired as the UMSNT coach. There have been enough games played and rosters built to support arguments for keeping or canning Klinsmann.
That's why it seems so odd that the USA’s possible final game against Panama could decide his fate.
The decision of what to do should not be made hastily, based on the results of an exhibition tournament.
Then again, a firing now would give Jürgy’s replacement enough time to adjust the roster for the second half of the CONCACAF qualifiers.