Jurgen Klinsmann is no longer the coach of the U.S. men’s national team, the federation announced Monday in a news release that reverberated around the soccer world.
The decision, to borrow from the phrase I used to describe the ouster of longtime Sounders coach Sigi Schmid back in July, is both predictable and unfathomable.
As recently as two weeks ago, before the home loss to Mexico that opened this stage of World Cup qualifying, Klinsmann seemed untouchable. He has long been Sunil Gulati’s pet project, after all, and the USSF president said prior to the Mexico match that he expected Klinsmann to see out this World Cup cycle.
The 2-1 defeat to El Tri at the USMNT’s longtime fortress in Columbus was disheartening but not fatal. The 4-0 humiliation in Costa Rica was something else altogether.
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A defining trait of Klinsmann’s tenure — to my eyes, an unfortunate one — has been his willingness to throw his own players under the bus: Alejandro Bedoya, Fabian Johnson and Michael Bradley, to name a few. It was hard to escape the sinking feeling that those lingering resentments came to a head last Tuesday, that the players had quit on him.
Which brings us to Monday’s shock announcement. Multiple outlets are reporting that Bruce Arena is Klinsmann’s most likely successor — which might not be the sexiest of hires, but as a short-term stop-gap, would make a lot of sense.
The United States has eight games left within which to climb out of its early hole. That is plenty of time, but it also leaves very little room for error. Going with a steady hand in the L.A. Galaxy’s Arena, a five-time MLS Cup winner who coached the USMNT at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, is the safe choice.
Much changes in two years, but if I’m Gulati, my first call for a long-term replacement is FC Dallas’ Oscar Pareja. The Colombian actually embodies many of the principles…