The word of the season is despair. After a stunning loss to Jamaica at home and early exit this summer in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the United States Men’s Soccer Team woes continued into the fall with another shocking defeat in the newly billed “CONCACAF Cup” against rival Mexico in extra time. Adding insult to injury, the team had another embarrassing home loss in a friendly to Costa Rica a few days later. Naturally, passionate American fans are calling for Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s head. What happened to the magic wonder team that defeated the Netherlands and Germany? 2015 started off with so much promise, but in retrospect it looks like a failure.
Where does the US go from here? Are things so bad that they need to start fearing how a World Cup run is going to end before it starts? Is Klinsmann’s time up? Some questions surrounding the team are easily answered, others not so much. Having signed Klinsmann to a massive contract after the 2014 World Cup success, short of failing to qualify for 2018 Russia, Klinsmann looks like he is here to stay, good or bad. From a publicity standpoint this could be beneficial given his media celebrity, but negative given the poor press the team will keep generating if it continues to lose under his regime.
In recent news, former Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera entertained the idea of a move to the USMNT if the call was given to him. While this is all speculation, it does highlight the uncomfortable fact that the country’s confidence in Klinsmann is increasingly dwindling. The even more recent U.S. Women’s National Team visit to the White House serves as a reminder of just how far behind the men’s team stands in terms of world power.
When the U.S ended a 40 year drought to qualify for the World Cup in 1990 it was the start of a promising era. Since that year, the team has qualified for all six subsequent World Cups, and even hosted one in 1994. The coaching carousel has changed many times in that period with no coach appearing in more than two consecutive World Cups. Klinsmann would like to be the next coach behind Bruce Arena to accomplish that feat. But first, he needs his team to qualify for one. The U.S. missing the 2018 World Cup stands to severely damage all the progress made in American soccer’s popularity and reputation in the past 15 years. There is faith in this team that reached a high point with Tim Howard’s performance against Belgium last year. But that faith is hanging by a very small thread. If Klinsmann’s team does not qualify in 2018, he stands a lot more to lose than just his job.