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Jurgen Klinsmann reflects on USMNT dismissal, looks ahead to future


Like many, Jurgen Klinsmann was left stunned by what happened in Trinidad & Tobago last summer. In his eyes, it was a “shock and a disaster”.

Now, several months later, Klinsmann has taken some time to reflect on a tenure that still remains much-discussed in American soccer circles and, from afar, the former U.S. Men’s National Team boss offered some insight into what he believes should be next for the USMNT.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Klinsmann says the team was “on track” to make the World Cup despite losing to Costa Rica and Mexico in the opening games of the Hexagonal round. The former USMNT boss says the team would have responded to those two defeats and, ultimately, gotten the job done.

He didn’t get the chance, as Klinsmann was dismissed in favor of Bruce Arena as the U.S. went into a different direction that ultimately ended with no Russia 2018.

“You build a new skeleton between World Cups and we hadn’t built the skeleton yet,” Klinsmann told SI. “When we lost two games, we were still building the skeleton. Sorry we lost two games! Then [the Federation] became emotional. … But they made their decision, so no problem.”

“They have their reasons, they are your bosses so you have to accept that,” he says. “It was an amazing ride. Were there some bumps in the process? Absolutely, some losses. Absolutely. But it didn’t take me long [to move on] because I knew why certain things happened. … You analyze it, discuss it and move on. One door closes and three more open.”

In hindsight, Klinsmann says he would have stepped away in 2014 had he known his leash was so short. He fully expected to close out the 2018 cycle, but wasn’t given the chance after the two difficult results.

Now, watching from afar, Klinsmann is mulling over his options. The manager told SI that, if he were to jump back into the national team scene, he would want to do so at a country with a chance of winning the World Cup. Klinsmann says he has “turned down opportunities where it would have just been getting out of the group stage, because if I [coach another national team], I want to put my stamp on it”.

As for the U.S., Klinsmann says it “will not be easy” to reach that level. The German-born manager says you need a “spine of seven to eight other players on the level of [midfielder Christian] Pulisic playing at high-caliber clubs in Europe”, and, while that is entirely possible given the current group, a lot will need to fall the USMNT’s way for what he calls “Generation Pulisic”.

“You cannot put a deadline on it,” he said. “People think if you do this and then this, then we win the next World Cup? No, it doesn’t work that way, because the other countries are also advancing.”

Klinsmann, though, has no regrets when it comes to his tenure, even if it didn’t end the way he’d hoped.

“If I want to get the most out of [the national team], to help it make future steps, if I want them to go to another level as a program and a federation? Then I would do everything the same way.”

“Always later you know it better.”


  1. All I can think of is that speech Maradona gave to reporters when Argentina almost didn’t qualify. That’s basically what Klinsmann is telling the media and all of the commenters on here.

  2. Easy to see Klinsmann was a great motivator for a bit, but it became old and recycled after a while. He clearly lacked tactical planning which he had with Lowe. Wins in friendlies are only so much. Arena was just another train wreck in his own right as well. It’s over, done with, time to recover and hopefully move on to better if it is possible.

  3. I’m totally baffled by people who think Klinsmann was a good manager. USMNT was losing and looked like crap, as soon as Arena took over they went on a winning streak. coincidence?
    yes Arena lost in Trinidad but if Klinsmann had been coach they would have been eliminated before they even got to the last game.
    fuck off back to Germany Jurgen.

    • Even going back to qualifying for 2014 I had concerns about JK. We lost to Canada twice in friendlies leading up the first round of qualifying. What if we didn’t have a snow storm in Denver against Costa Rica? I recall that Ives tore me a new one when I doubted JK after the Snow Classico, but I still think JK got very leading up to 2014.

  4. My question is once the dust settles and a new manager is hired , does this group have enough talent to compete internationally. I don’t believe MLS players can take us to the promised land. International soccer is a daily dog fight and MLS doesn’t have the American talent nor environment to produce players capable surviving that fight.

    • I agree that our USMNT players simply may not be good enough. Under JK it seemed to me that he wanted better individual players, rather than focusing on a team effort.

      Our teams have always been better as a collective than the individual players. Individuals have always stepped up. That includes Donovan and Beasley in 2002, McBride in 2006, Donovan and MB90 in 2010, and Jermaine Jones in 2014.

      i think qualifying for 2018 was too early to put the burden on Pulisic, and both JK and Arena did – particularly due to Dempsey’s injuries/status.

      Nonetheless, there is a lot of blame that can be placed. JK made questionable tactical moves for the first two games, and Arena crapped the bed for T&T. i think the team was just tired of being moved around put in different places by JK without some semblance of plan – either short-term or long-term.

  5. and i believe dos a cero also died under klinsman as well as losing for possibly the first time at crew stadium, yes?

    • but i guess if you’re a foreigner and you Don’t feel any pride in dos a cero or crew stadium being our home fortress for a long time then no problem, right?

      • Dos a cero, while fun is merely coincidence. Fairy tales are neat… We could be pimps from Oakland or cowboys from Arizona but it’s not Halloween. Grow up Peter Pan.

      • Remember when everyone praised Arena as a genius for drawing at Azteca when Jurgen had won there and gotten a draw. Or when Jurgen being able to add, knew he only needed 1 point at Trinidad so he played a defensive formation got the point and qualified for the Hex and everyone criticized him. It was exactly like that time Arena played the same lineup who had played three days before on a hot humid night on a soggy field in a formation that left huge amounts of space for TnT to counter-attack into but we won and qualified for the World Cup anyway oh wait no we gave up two early goals and will be watching Panama in the world cup.

    • It’s hard to believe people are defending Klinsmann (I would say the same thing for Arena, but he doesn’t have any defenders). He had completely lost the team and had already held on to the job for much longer than he ever should have based on an accumulation of poor performances, poor results, mismanagement and a complete lack of accountability.

  6. Klinsmann says the team was “on track” to make the World Cup……well lets see

    1st home World Cup qualifying loss to Mexico since 1972
    1st loss to Guatemala since 1988
    Worst team the USMNT has lost to since the advent of the FIFA World Rankings
    Worst Gold Cup since 2000
    1st ever losses to Jamaica
    1st 3-game home losing streak since 1997
    1st 4-game home winless streak vs. CONCACAF teams since 1965

    “The former USMNT boss says the team would have responded to those two defeats and, ultimately, gotten the job done”…..hahahahaha Says the coach with a record breaking winless streak hahahahahaha, not to mention having lost control of the locker room and team comradery

    “…..he would have stepped away in 2014 had he known his leash was so short.”
    Jürgen Klinsmann
    Years at the Helm: 2011–2016
    No. of matches: 98
    No. of wins: 55
    No. of draws: 15
    No. of loses: 28
    Winning percentage: 63.78%
    Goals scored in 98 games: 178
    Goals allowed in 98 games: 109
    (Jürgen Klinsmann, if we knew you would have delivered a record like that WE WOULD HAVE PUSHED YOU AWAY HAHAHAHAHA 😀 )

    • It was time to go but…

      (*managers with 10 or more matches would be 6 games but the manager in 1968 played a rough schedule of Bermuda 2 Canada 2 Israel 2 and Haiti 3 times to average 2.44 goals and 2.44 goals against in 9 matches)

      55 wins 2nd most all-time
      Winning % 2nd best all-time
      1.82 Goals per game best all-time
      1.11 goals per game against tied for 2nd best all-time
      0.71 Goal differential per game 2nd best all-time

      Wikipedia gives 1/2 point for a draw towards winning percentage if you take it straight matches won it goes

      Klinsmann .561% (.5612)
      Arena .561% (.5608)

      World Cup W-D-L Wiki% Winning % (WC Place)
      Arena 2-2-4 .375% (.25%) (8th and 25th)
      Bradley1-2-1 .500%(.25%) (12th)
      Klinsmann 1-1-2 .375% (.25%) (12th)

      As far as on track to qualify the idea for almost all teams who attempt to qualify is win at home draw on the road that would have given the US 16 points. That was Arena’s strategy and would have qualified the US. The strategy broke down when Arena was outcoached at home against CR and treated TNT as a testimonial since he didn’t think CR and Mexico would lose. It’s an incredibly arrogant statement but not totally off the wall. As for the team had quit on him, the last time we thought that was true was before the Snow Classico in 2013. Klinsmann then went 16-2-2 in his next 20 matches easily winning the hex and the 2013 Gold Cup so there is some chance that he’s right that they would have turned it around. He should have left after 2014 or before the Copa America, but his statements although arrogant are not insane.

      • In fewer words Arena was not the answer, JK was a far superior option. With JK we had a chance, failure was inevitable under Arena. A lot of us here knew we were doomed the second they brought Bruce back.

    • Klinsmann won’t have any trouble getting another job if he wants because when foreigners look at his record what they see is that he got the US to qualify first out the Hex in 2013, got the US out of the toughest WC group and took a superior Belgium time to an extra period. Only people in North America care about the Gold Cup, most people would put much greater emphasis on the US making the semifinals of the Centenario, better than any other team from CONCACAF. BTW, at one point Bruce Arena said the only thing important was qualifying for the WC and then getting as far as possible there. We will never know if Klinsmann could have gotten us to qualify, but we do know that Arena didn’t, finishing ahead of only T&T. I don’t think Klinsmann could have done any worse than that.

      • GP: I was going to post a very similar comment. The only one who comes out of this fiasco looking half decent is JK, at least in the eyes of outsiders and future employers. The rest of the world sees the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the world cup as confirmation that Americans just aren’t very good at soccer, but that JK was able to squeeze some decent performances out of him.

        Arena can write all the books he wants and try to spin his legacy, but (1) most of the world doesn’t know who he is and (2) he was never going to be considered for overseas jobs. Ultimately, the blame falls on the players. Yeah, you can be pissed at the formation, not changing the lineup after the game against Panama 3 days before (which we crushed 4-0 btw) and not believe in what the coach is telling you. But if you can step up against T&T’s B team and manage a tie when a world cup qualification is hanging by a thread, that’s on you first and foremost.

    • @whammmm @gary page

      obviously we’ll never know for certain, but i believe klinsmann absolutely would’ve done worse than arena did. not qualifying is not qualifying, but the players were done with klinsmann, and if ussf had stuck with him, we wouldn’t have even had anything to play for by the time of the t&t game.

    • whammm – There is plenty of evidence to suggest that he very well could have done worse than Arena did. The 2015 Gold Cup and the first two games of the hex being the most obvious…

      • Think logically here Donny… Bruce didn’t qualify for the World Cup. That IS the worst you can do. So no, JK could have done no worse.

      • whammmmy – JK had 0 points through 20% of the hex. At the rate he was going, we would have never had a chance to qualify, much less only need a point in the final game (or not have the top two teams lose) to go through. This wasn’t a binary situation where it was qualify or don’t; this was a series of games that used an accumulated point system to determine who advanced. Klinsmann easily could have done worse than Arena (and, based on the evidence at the time of his firing, that would have been likely).

      • No don, you are speculating. All we know is Arena didn’t qualify for the World Cup. missing out by 1 point or 9, we didn’t qualify under Arena. Sure you can assume all you want. Maybe our veterans got complacent with the old “let’s just try really hard” mentality and couldn’t hack it under the pressure of a guy who knows exactly what it takes to succeed at the highest levels?

      • whammm – Klinsmann got 0 pts from two games for an average of 0 pts/game. Arena got 12 pts from 8 games for an average of 1.5 pts/game. I’m not speculating on why this happened or why that happened like you are with your hypothesis about the players’ “mentality.”
        Why are you defending Klinsmann? He was a shit coach and got shit results. He was let go LONG after he should have been after being given a longer leash than just about any other federation would have given. This is not to say that Arena did a great job. He has been crucified, and deservedly so.
        But how in the hell does this make you look back on Klinsmann’s five years of shitty soccer and some of our worst results ever for a modern era US team (especially post Brazil) and want to sign up for more of that?

    • @TheFrenchOne

      “The only one who comes out of this fiasco looking half decent is JK”

      the only reason klinsmann comes out of it looking half decent is because we didn’t get a point against t&t, mexico didn’t get a point against honduras, and costa rica didn’t get a point against panama. if any of those swings, all anyone still remembers that we ended up a mess under klinsmann.

      really, us not making it to russia is the *only* thing that saved klinsmann’s rep; it sure wasn’t his performance.

  7. Klinsmann should have never been fired and replaced by dinosaur xenophone Arena. No way the old veterans become so complacent under Klinsmann. No way he favors Omar “1+ huge mistakes per game” Gonzales. Also, Mckennie and other younger, hungrier players would have gotten a chance under him in qualifying and that would have brought enough energy to put the US over the top.

    • Haha, are you serious?! Did you not see how complacent the veterans had become under Klinsmann?!?! Did you not see the Costa Rica butt whooping they received?


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