Not for England: Jurgen Klinsmann's 10 worst USMNT moments
Please note: This feature was originally published on FourFourTwo USA
Where does the United States men’s national team’s debacle in Costa Rica on Tuesday rank among Jurgen Klinsmann’s woes? At the top, obviously, but just as the entire Klinsmann tenure has been a slow burn, so has the accumulation of his worst moments as U.S. coach and technical director. Toward the front end of his time in charge? Not so bad. Now, in the middle of cycle No. 2? The horror moments are piling up.
We’ll get to the Costa Rican capitulation in a moment. Before that, though, let’s walk through a greatest hits, of sorts, that make the 4-0 loss in San Jose a potential last straw.
10. Olympic/Confederations Cup promises
This isn’t a singular moment; rather, it’s three: The two times the U.S. failed to qualify for the Olympics, and the inability to qualify for the last Confederations Cup.
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In the big picture, these things shouldn’t matter that much. As Germany showed for years before its run to this summer’s Olympic final, you don’t need the Olympics to develop talent. And the Confederations Cup? It’s an honor; it’s fun, but you’re not going to find a compelling correlation between Confederations Cup success and results at other tournaments.
What really stands out about ...
- the U.S. U-23s failing to make it out of their Olympic qualifying group in 2012;
- the U.S. U-23s again failing to qualify for the Olympics before 2016; and,
- the senior team missing out on the 2017 Confederations Cup by losing a one-off to Mexico …
… is the inability to accomplish achievable goals. Should the Olympics or the Confederations Cup be a big deal for any program? Absolutely not, but Klinsmann made them priorities. They were goals, and Klinsmann, even if he wasn’t on the sidelines for the U-23s, failed to meet those goals.
9. Losing at Guatemala
It’s a bit dismissive of Guatemala, a team that’s improving, to characterize the U.S.’s early-2016 qualifying loss in Guatemala City as a huge failure. In the context of the U.S.’ history, though -- as well as in the way the game actually unfolded -- the 2-0 defeat as a massive disappointment.
What was expected to be a tough but winnable game turned early when Rafael Morales gave the home team a lead in the seventh minute. Eight minutes later, Guatemala doubled its edge through its creaking 36-year-old sniper, Carlos Ruiz. A meek push toward narrowing the margin fell well short, and the U.S. lost to Guatemala for the first time since 1983.
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