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Klinsmann the worst? Ranking the modern era's USMNT bosses

The wounds are still fresh, but Klinsmann's tenure wasn't a disaster. And, as Steve Davis remembers, it was far from the worst of the USMNT's recent crop.

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Perhaps in future rankings of U.S. men’s national team managers, we’ll need to create a distinction between “Bruce Arena” and “Bruce Arena 2.0,” as Sunil Gulati referred to the returning boss on Tuesday. For now, the exercise is simple enough:

While paying proper consideration to a U.S. player pool that has gradually improved, let’s look at the relative success of each modern era boss … and order them accordingly.

(No need to go further back than Bora Milutinovic; when we get into the 1980s and further back still, that was an entirely different jar of U.S. soccer pickles. The sport’s landscape and certainly the national team of past days bears little resemblance to today’s scene.) 

5. Steve Sampson

Tenure: 1995-1998

Record: 26-22-14

Legacy: When your legacy gets reduced to such a lead pipe blow of a punchline (“3-6-1”), it’s just not good. To be fair, it was a tough time to coach, a time when perhaps the quality of the player pool wasn’t rising as quickly as expectations.

Either way, France ’98 disintegrated quickly into a real clown show. Sampson was dealing with some super egos, guys who had “good” talent, although few that were truly super. He also had some real problems in the room – some of his creation, but not all.

High points? Easy: qualifying for France ’98 and that surprising fourth-place finish at Copa America 1995, including a legit 3–0 win over Argentina. Yeah, that really happened. 

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