Let’s cut to it. Jurgen Klinsmann was hired because at that time, enough people were willing to bet that this man, who played at the highest levels in Europe and had moderate success as a manager there, would have just enough of that elusive secret sauce that born-and-bred American managers lacked.
I get it. I was willing to give it a go as well. I think a great deal of people were optimistic. But optimism only lasts for so long.
Yeah. Basically, Klinsmann’s record on the field was demonstrably worse, not better, than his predecessors. And attach whatever success metric you want when you tell me I’m wrong, but I kinda want to get to the World Cup Final and/or face Argentina at home without losing by a lot at some point before I die.
I want to win the Gold Cup, every time. Yeah, you read right. Every. Single. Time.
I also don’t want to have to wonder if we’re going to make it to the World Cup. It seems simple - and maybe a bit spoiled, considering a lot of us can remember not knowing that the US was even eligible - but come on. We’ve qualified for seven of them in a row, and asking this supposedly-better manager to get us to number eight is a pretty basic request.
I can see why he lasted this long, though. All conspiracy theories about Sunil Gulati aside, Klinsmann has had some positives which, taken separately, gave us glimmers of hope.
There is the play of dual nationals like Fabian Johnson, who at times has been the best player on the field for the USMNT. There are the one-off friendly victories in Holland, Germany, and the Azteca. And yeah, we finally beat Ghana.
Each of these things were nice, but they only made the overall results more painful. Each “nice” moment brought with it the uneasy, temporary cooling of anti-Klinsmann takes. It was the feeling you get from a sugar rush - you love it, and it feels great for a moment, but soon it’s gone and you’re wondering why you were tempted by its cruel, unfulfilling lies.
Worse, you’d be tempted to think that, “Well, maybe this is the turning point we’ve been waiting for. Maybe he is as smart as he says he is, and we’re the impatient, petulant ignoramuses he says we are.”
But about that. When you aren’t winning tournaments, when you trot out terrible formations then backpedal, when you leave Landon at home, shuffle the lineup like cheap playing cards, and can’t even pretend to care about a winnable Hexagonal match in San Jose, then you should not, can not (and may God help you when you) look media and fans in the eye and say that it’s someone else’s fault. Not here. Not now. Not ever.
That’s why I wanted him gone. After all the failures on the field and subsequent false hope, the thing that finally put me over the line was the implication that we don’t know squat. “Go home, America,” he seemed to say. “You don’t know what’s good for you.”
The things I don’t know about soccer outnumber the things I do know, but as our national team coach, the only thing that matters to me is winning. So if you’re not doing it, then at the very least I expect some accountability. Admit you made a mistake. Admit that you were unprepared. Admit that you think that just showing up will win our hearts. At least then I’d respect you. But this...oh this experience has been unacceptable, and I’m glad it’s finally over.
We got it out of our system, America. We danced with the cool, sweet-talking stranger, and got let down. Let’s learn from it, and try hard to never let it happen again.