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Report: Klinsmann firing cost U.S. Soccer $6.2 million

While nobody can argue that the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann and return of Bruce Arena as U.S. Men’s National Team head coach has been anything but a success on the field, U.S. Soccer’s checkbook is certainly feeling a bit of pain.

According to a document from the 2017 USSF Annual General Meeting, firing Klinsmann cost the federation about $6.2 million. The document, the first paragraph of which was shared by U.S. Women’s National Team interim executive director Becca Roux via Twitter, accounts the $6.2 million charge as “a one-time non-cash accounting charge of ($6.2M) related to the MNT coaching staff changes.”

The report also notes several other interesting financial details of 2017 for U.S. Soccer. While MNT viewership rose a staggering 176% from 2012, the Women’s team managed a 10% increase overall, but a 25% increase in the (Fiscal Year) 2016 World Cup as compared to the 2012 edition. Additionally, the MNT drew in over 34 million in total viewers from the Copa America, an average of 5.7 million per match, with the semifinal against Argentina attracting over 8 million, more than any non-World Cup, non-Mexico match in U.S. history.

The report also details social media growth and top stories from the past year, including the advancement of the MNT to the Copa America semifinals, and Abby Wambach’s World Cup celebration. The federation also revealed a profit of $4.3 million, in addition to the $46 million generated by the Copa America, leading to an overall, non-operating surplus of $44 million, after taking into account the $6.2 million payout to Klinsmann and staff.


  1. i think the main reason for everyone’s chronic disappointment is that ultimately whoever the coach is the united states remains mediocre at this game. americans hate mediocre and don’t yet understand how to get better from the bottom up. the reasons for our stunted growth are too great to list but are they are cultural and it is not fair to rest our hopes (for greatness when clearly to reach that would require incessant overachieving) on, for example, arena or klinsmann, or any coach for that matter.

    • This has been my argument for YEARS!!! It’s not uncommon for coaches to be scapegoats but this debate over whether or not JK was our savior or not is all a straw mans argument. Jurgen was NEVER goin to turn us into Brazil/Germany/etc. my eye test says we have better YNT talent (even if not better results). We have several 17 year olds signing for big top flight German clubs. We had the highest transfer fee for an American player in Europe recently (a JK player none the less). We had a young raw fullback bought by tottenham……directly because of jurgen.

      So if you think we are not getting better just because we aren’t the best then I kindly choose to believe YOU are the problem.

    • this is an awful strawman argument that i’ve seen too often around here. most observers were not expecting klinsmann to single-handedly turn us into a *great* team (brasil or germany, as dloa states). they simply expected him to validate the amount of money and control he was given.

      we’ve seen historic (if ultimately meaningless) highs under klinsmann (win % in a calendar year), but also historic lows (failure at 2015 gold cup). he made some (imho) positive changes to our youth system, but he lost the usmnt locker room, which is fatal on a national team.

      and the quantitative increase of our youth at european clubs may or may not have anything to do with klinsmann: my opinion is that we would still have seen this without klinsmann, but i can understand why people think otherwise.

      bottom line? i can see why you would be defending klinsmann, because you’re using the same line he consistently used: americans are just too ignorant to know (a) how awful we are, (b) what it will take to improve, and (c) that the process will take time. by and large, it’s false–we know all those things; no wonder the players were done with him.

      • I’m not sure why people bring Klinsmann’s salary into the discussion? US Socer is not a government organization we as tax payers do not fund it so USSF has the right to pay managers whatever they want.

        Second I’m not sure why people get their undies in a bunch about JK supposedly insulting US fans. Bradley and Arena also talk about how US fans don’t know what they are talking about, they are just more subtle about it because they know the language better being native English speakers.

      • no, it’s not my money, but it matters because i care about american soccer, and they don’t have unlimited funds. i wouldn’t want dc united to pay 10 mil (random number) to benny olsen either, because it wouldn’t be good for the organization, and i care about it.

        and maybe you’re right on the second point, but i don’t remember arena and bradley insulting fans like klinsmann did. even if they did it once or twice, it certainly wasn’t their m.o. when they got criticized. in any case, “other managers do it” isn’t a very good defense.

  2. The criticism that Klinsmann cost US Soccer money is the weakest of all criticisms. The $44M surplus did not happen in a vacuum. Like him or not, Klinsmann increased fan interest. And like him or not, Klinsmann took the team to the Copa America Semi Finals.

    US Soccer could afford to fire Klinsmann precisely because he had helped them earn so much money.

    “MNT viewership rose a staggering 176% from 2012”

    “The federation also revealed a profit of $4.3 million, in addition to the $46 million generated by the Copa America, leading to an overall, non-operating surplus of $44 million, after taking into account the $6.2 million payout to Klinsmann and staff.”

    • Good points. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I would suppose that the farther a team goes, the more money it gets. Thus, by getting the US to the semi-finals of the Centenario, Klinsmann might have generated enough extra money for his own buyout. Now that’s irony.

  3. 6.2 is the cost of doing business, especially in a growing US soccer market place. The spending strength of the US soccer market is a major global economic impact. The projected revenue growth in US market is growing at a dramatic pace including all leagues and WC action. Consider when Mexico plays a friendly it is generally in the US. Another mover and shaker influence of the US market is a believe 75% of the World Cup tickets purchased are in the US(don’t quote me on this but I remember seeing this in the Wall St Journal prior to the last WC).

    On the negative side the overall US leadership has its flaws. Especially, in the woman’s game with over exposing the team and players with so many unneeded friendlies and mini tournaments. Often needlessly pulling players away from their NWSL teams. NWSL could use all the help they can get but taking the top players for friendlies hurts the league. Granted the friendlies are pay days for the woman and often exceeds their NWSL pay check. Timing and planning helps everyone!

    For the men why do the men continue the play in friendlies and even qualifiers in under sold stadiums? The team and fans would much rather play in a sold out partisan soccer specific stadiums, then patchwork pitches with a quarter filled stadiums.

    Everyone is patting Arena on the back for a tie but crucial point for a WC qualifier. It was one game in the long road to Russia. It is unfair too compare JK to Arena. However, a measurement of a coach and management in any sport is when the coach can take the same players and get better results. Arena essentially took the same player pool and ran the same formation as JK did in Columbus and got a result in Mexico City.

    • (a) Yeah, it is out of context if you don’t factor in the countervailing economic losses if you save the millions in buy out but then lose the present (and future) value of being in Russia……broadcast rights, ticket sales, shirt sales, etc. etc. And I emphasize “future” because it’s a snowball effect where reliable qualification makes the future more valuable too.
      (b) They had an 8 figure surplus and a 7 figure problem, push the ejector seat and you’re still in the black.
      (c) Money isn’t everything, I’d rather be in than out. My Houston Dynamo have become cheap money hoarders who have one of the lowest payrolls in MLS. But if we make the playoffs this season it would be the first time in 4 years. It’s pro sports and I’d rather spend and win than save and lose, regardless how it accounts out.

      • Put differently, the anti- argument is more of a businessperson’s argument. The soccer fans were generally in favor and presumably from even a business perspective would be like, we have more than enough cushion, and do it as long as it doesn’t bankrupt us.

  4. I haven’t wanted to admit it, as I suspect a lot of US fans haven’t wanted to, but Mexico has better players. Their team play is outstanding and their passing unfailingly crisp and accurate. The US is getting closer, but there is still a noticeable gap. I thought it was instructive that when Pulisic was making a run toward the Mexican third, Herrera caught him from behind and took the ball away from our best and one of our fastest players. The Mexican youth teams that won championships are beginning to pay dividends, especially when combined with the holdover players like Chicharito, Marquez, Layun, Herrera, the dos Santos brothers, and Vela, etc. All except for Marquez are in the prime of their careers.The US can beat teams below Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia in South America and can hold their own with a lot of European teams. On their best days the US is maybe in the mid teens among world teams, more often in the high teens to lower 20’s. Any evaluation of coaching should start with this as the base or core. The US over achieved in the last WC and has somewhat under achieved since. For now, all the coaches can do is improve the team a bit at the margins and get the team to where it belongs in the order of things, which is second best in CONCACAF and able to get out of its group in most WC’s with a possible quarterfinal match with a good draw and luck. Much of our success in the World Cup depends on the luck of the draw for the group stages.

    • I don’t disagree, Mexico had better players last game, but it doesn’t matter.

      What matters is who wins. We could go off on side tangents about pay-to-play or others things….and how that is killing US soccer from progressing.

      Mexico always makes the WCup final 16.

      The US is a team that should advance to the sweet 16 and teams that progress further in the WCup should be praised. Teams that don’t, looked down on. Arena had one of each. Tie breaker coming up. JK hit in the middle once and a lot of people wanted more.

      • It doesn’t matter that Mexico has better players? While the better team doesn’t always win, it wins more often than the team that isn’t as good. so, of course it matters. I have played a little chess and was thinking about how in chess if you have a better position, you have more good moves available. Similarly, if you have better players on your athletic team, you have more options and a better chance of winning.

  5. The only thing that remains is to fire the incompetent fool thst extended the contract before the last WC had even been played. There were warning signs already, and our generally disoriented play in the WC only confirmed the lack of improvement, if not regression, achieved under him. There was certainly NOTHING to warrant a contract extension.

    • Memory check. At the conclusion of 2014 WC qualifying, the US won the competition with the most points the US has ever scored in the Hex. Mexico was the team just barely hanging on, having to win a playoff to get into the WC. People have argued whether the 2014 group was the group of death. Well, Germany won the whole thing, Portugal won the next European championship with basically the same players, and Ghana finished as 2nd in the African Cup of Nations either 1 or 2 years later (can’t remember which). From February, 2012 to September, 2013, the US won 12 games in a row and their record in 2013 was the best ever in team history over an entire year.

      • Flaw in your argument is we had always qualified and done ok 1/2 the time at the finals, the sales pitch was, I am the guy who will take you further. If he’s reupped based on quali without having to show finals quality and improvement, you didn’t actually make him fulfill the sales pitch, and merely evaluated him and the team same metrics as always.

        Also, I was not a fan of the Spurs gambit he played to encourage the early re-sign, because it came before the “goal” he brought us in to reach, and it should have signaled that we were as much a “cash cow” as we were really the lab for his ideas. It’s fine that he was an Ayn Rand type trying to “get his,” but the timing was distasteful. If the idea was he’d make us a semi-finalist it deteriorated into something else. To me he lost his own compass because at some point improved global standing from consistent regional and world results went out the window. By Brazil the flowing passing soccer was gone. But he already had the new deal.

      • much like our last world cup group, those things all sound better than they are.

        you don’t get bonus points for winning the hex—you’re either in or out, and as mexico showed, it doesn’t matter once you get to the tournament.

        likewise, a win streak, in itself, also counts for nothing (especially if you’re counting friendlies); the 2013 gold cup was good, but paled considerably when we lost the confed playoff after being dumped out of the 2015 gold cup.

        and one last note on our “group of death”: ghana was in turmoil, ronaldo was injured and pepe was pepe, and, well, germany was good. our group was a textbook example of “good on paper”.

      • A lot of these arguments are fatuous. I was responding to the contention that US soccer should not have extended Klinsmann’s contract when they did. Based on results at the time, it made sense. When the team is setting historical records for itself, Nate Dollars, then it looks like the coach is doing a good job, especially in relation to past coaches.

      • “When the team is setting historical records for itself, Nate Dollars, then it looks like the coach is doing a good job, especially in relation to past coaches.”

        sure—to the casual fan. i guess i just expected more from sunil and the ussf. the imperative voice laid it out pretty well: the fact that they not only extended his contract when they did, but gave him the technical director position as well, spoke more to their panic than to his performance.

    • 100% correct. That fool SHOULD pay for a terrible decision. BTW, its the same fool that hired and continues to employ Jill Ellis. Not everybody can mess up two teams.

      While I wanted Klinsmann gone, Im not convinced Arena is the correct choice. Im already seeing signs of the same problems that got him fired last time. I really don’t think hes changed but time will tell

      • Yeah, my concern with Arena is he ran that crap selection and tactics out there for TnT first half that looked and played like a Klinsmann team. Now, I’d kind of like to know if he really preferred the Mexico unit and was just trying to send a B Team out to beat TnT. But after getting two results his first two games playing a ragtag bunch that seemed more “his people,” reverting to Klinsmann’s favorites when people got healthy made me wonder. TnT was no better than Klinsmann would do. The other results, I see change back to tough on defense and counter. So which are we?

  6. US Soccer got shafted and until we stop rewarding Mediocrity we will continue to be on the short end of the stick

    Jurgen Klinsmann 2012 to 2016

    Friendlies – 51 games
    27 wins 10 draws 14 loses

    Competition – 47 games
    28 wins 6 draws 13 loses

    record against opponents ranked in the top 20 of Fifa’s world rankings – two victories, eight losses, two draws and a minus-10 goal differential – was the worst in modern national team history

    And this costed the US federation about $6.2 million??? wow

    • The 44 million dollar surplus seems to indicate we can afford it. If the US was accepting mediocrity they would have continued to employ him. Buyout clauses are the norm in any manager situation at that level, Bradley was paid after his firing as well it’s how the world works.

      • Johnnyrazor it doesnt matter if we can afford it or not. We got shafted. We should not have need been in that position as far as “negotiating terms” in the first place….deliver or you’re out. After 2+ years Klinsmann’s firing was already LONG over due (as nothing changed!!!) hence he should have been done a lot sooner. 4+ years without any positive results, technical structure or tactical identity change…so the ones allowing it to go on that long….and paying stacks for NOTHING….were accepting mediocrity. Germany knew what was good in 2+ years

      • No manager at that level is going to sign a contract without a buyout clause. Not Arena, not Bradley, not Kreis or anyone.

  7. This shows much of an idiot Gulati really is. “Not my president! I didn’t vote Sunsil!”

    Instead invest more on “male” side, USSF focus more “chick” side. the Males bring the money into US Soccer, not chicks! Yet, there’s no plan for male under 23’s USNT & failing twice in a row for Olimpics, this should be prime focus & invest more male youth teams. Also, USNT failed in Gold CUp 2015, USNT playing like garbage & losing to the “green rats” at home twice in row.

  8. Soccer. While MNT viewership rose a staggering 176% from 2012, the Women’s team managed a 10% increase overall

    The federation also revealed a profit of $4.3 million, in addition to the $46 million generated by the Copa America, leading to an overall, non-operating surplus of $44 million, after taking into account the $6.2 million payout to Klinsmann and staff.


    • I am all for equal pay.

      But it doesn’t make sense….woman don’t watch soccer. I have huge soccer women in my life, they don’t watch, they play, they coach, they don’t watch.

      I watch, but I don’t watch enough for 172% increase. So where is the money coming from, should men be paid less to make it equal? Serious question, even though it doesn’t seem serious, because it is so insane.

  9. Any coach must be able to perceive his or her role correctly to be successful. There are 2 baisic roles for a coach to play. One is to perceive himself as the Captain of a liner on a voyage to success.( Bradleys mistake in England) . The other is to realize that for the moment he is captain of a ferry whose job is to simply get the boat across the river for now , like Arena must do. So all this talk about style of play at this moment is nonsense. Once we get across the river to the World Cup, We can worry a little about style. This also takes quite a bit of preparation and can take more than a year.

    • Amen, and the problem this cycle is JK lost touch in terms of tactics, selection, recruitment/ scouting, and pushing aside older players, of what was necessary for the practical, milk run part of the job.

      Also, if you want the “American Player” to be more technical, that is more of a U-10-upwards effort as opposed to senior team downwards. The players on the senior side take decades to reach the senior team. If you want senior players to exhibit new qualities that needs to start with kids. Other than manipulating the pool by picking players more the “type” you wish you had — his calls of the flawed Kljestan comes to mind — you have the hand you are dealt. If based on athleticism and size we have historically played a disciplined team game, that’s what your pool will be trained to do. If you want another “type,” that’s a start with 5 or 10 year olds type change, not a senior head coach change.

      • It’s fairly obvious that JK completely changed the youth program in the US….. so a 17 year old kid soon to be playin for a German club would have been 11 when he was hired….

        Jurgen 100% took out program forward. He started to perhaps plateau and thus he was let go. Being fired doesn’t necessitate being a terrible coach….

  10. patience, rob. arena can’t make the player pool better, but imo he sure gets more out of it and i think we all like the

  11. The saddest aspect of the Klinsmann saga is that we didn’t really grow as a soccer nation. An example of that is people calling Arena a genius for his decision to bunker and counter against Mexico. We were supposed to demand better than that after Jurgen.

    • I wasn’t a huge fan of picking Arena to replace Jurgen either, but you can’t complain about the tactics against Mexico. It’s one thing to bunker and never get on the ball or have any quality chances. But we had as many if not more quality chances than Mexico. Possession can be one of the most deceptive sports in the sport. Look at chances. The fact is, Atletico often uses this strategy, Leicester one the league using this tactic, and Jose Moreno whereever he goes plays his boring defensive and counter tactics. But you know what, when done right, it works.

      • I try to give Rob the benefit of the doubt when he isn’t outright trolling. While the tactics of the other night were effective Rob’s comment is also correct. We still don’t have the players to go technically toe to toe with Mexico on the road. Mexico does not bunker when they come to Columbus. Also, please do not blame the altitude it’s not like RSL and Colorado are unbeatable at home. Mexico currently has better players.

      • Johnny, I’m not sure if we do/don’t have the players to not bunker and counter against Mexico. But in that particular game we certainly didn’t. I mean, you add Brooks, FJ, Dempsey/Altidore, to the mix and we could go toe to toe with them on any field any time. Not that we would always win, but still… it can be done. I give you Confed Cup as the example of having the talent to go toe to toe (that was also a pretty hostile crowd).

        Now, growth as a team? We shall see, but I feel like I am seeing the team play real soccer sometimes… That was never the case before.

      • In the 2014 cycle, this is exactly what the US did- get results. Give credit where credit is due, Klinsman did a fine job and the team came within one Wondo wiff of beating Belgium (a team with 5x the value of players) and making it to the quarterfinals. Not a fan of coaches for multiple cycles, but he deserves criticism for his results in the 2018 cycle and I understand his firing. But don’t overlook a good performance in the Copa (in S. America) and also some nice wins over top European teams, albeit in friendlies. He also helped advance the careers of several young Americans like Jordan Morris, Deandre Yedlin and Bobby Wood. His tenure should not be looked at as a failure. Any objective evaluation would agree.

      • Appreciate the viewpoint Danny K,

        I try to be objective and I don’t disagree with what you are saying.

        What about the leadership aspect? He was constantly berating you and me. Americans don’t understand soccer mentality.

        IMHO, we can’t have that as the head. We need to progress as a soccer nation which will lead to the US as a winner. Not just follow some mediocre coach who thinks he is the savior of a country.

    • Rob, if you don’t think we’ve grown leaps and bounds as a soccer nation since 2011, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you. The depth of the pool, the level of interest, the professional league, and a plethora of other items have come along way in 2017. Some of that has nothing to do with Klinsmann, but he deserves credit here and there as well.

      As for Arena as ‘genius’ for bunker ball, that’s on the media and analysts. If you don’t like that brand of sycophantic behavior, just tune out the writers who indulge in it. The market will react accordingly.

      • Curious why no one admits that JK’s 3 DM lineups in Brazil were bunker jobs. So he would sell development and change and then at Brazil used the same tactics Arena is being chastised for. The real issue is mid cycle this time he bought his own sales pitch and was trying to play open game plans and tactics, in games that counted, and not getting results doing it.

        I also find misleading the way “bunker” gets defined. When the team has been quite good — 2002, Algeria 2010, etc. — we play team defense and counter-punch, yes, but it’s more of a Leicester style ball on the ground speed attack. Part of Klinsi’s problem is as Dempsey aged he was heading in the direction of a Jozy led crossing attack which is less technical and lower percentage. What we need is the other team sucks up, our defense olds, and the equivalent of Donovoan and Beasley (Pulisic, Wood, Nagbe) make them pay for it. People are hinting that’s ugly ball, but it’s usually a pretty and incisive counter. What’s ugly is when it devolves into bunker and cross, which is something else and a different tactic with a different target player selection.

        But acting like counter and run is the same as bunker and cross is bull. We can play a fast, sharp passing attack while playing team defense and countering.

    • That is what you do when you are playing a team with superior overall technical ability…especially in their fortress. If we opened up, we would have gotten smoked. Can you not see that?

    • Jurgen could not, in a 6 year run, turn us into Chile under Bielsa. We just don’t have the horses to do this.

      I will say that I was impressed by some skilled passing by the US in the Mexico game. There were a few very nice interchanges between Nagbe, Bradley (yes even Bradley) and others on the right side where the US was pressed, passed through the pressing with short passes, and kept possession. In the past, The US would pass to the outside midfielder, pass to the center, pass back to the fullback and hoof it up to Jozy – or even more common – out of bounds. It was nice to see a lack of panic, an element of thought, and even better an element of control that I haven’t seen in the US team in a number of years, including under JK.

      Now, I can’t say that this possession is because of Bruce or because of JK; but to say the team hasn’t improved is hyperbolic.


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