NEW YORK: Jurgen Klinsmann has been sacked after five years as United States coach, less than a week after the embarrassment of defeats by Costa Rica and, above all, Mexico in the World Cup qualifiers.
The former Germany striker and manager led Team USA to the second round of the finals in Brazil in 2014. Since then, however, they have finished fourth in their own hosting of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2015 – their worst finish in 15 years – and fourth again in their staging of the Copa America Centenario this past summer.
They are now bottom of their six-team World Cup qualifying effort and without a point after a 2-1 home defeat to Mexico then a 4-0 thrashing by Costa Rica.
The top three teams qualify automatically for Russia while the fourth-placed side enter an inter-c0ntinental play-off against ‘lucky losers’ from Asia.
Sunil Gulati, the president of US Soccer, emphasised the priority of reviving the World Cup qualifying effort in a statement about the parting of the ways with Klinsmann.
Gulati said: “Many are aware of the historic victories, including leading us out of the Group of Death to the Round of 16 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but there were also lesser publicized efforts behind the scenes.
“He challenged everyone in the US Soccer community to think about things in new ways, and thanks to his efforts we have grown as an organization and expect there will be benefits from his work for years to come.
“While we remain confident that we have quality players to help us advance to Russia 2018, the form and growth of the team up to this point left us convinced that we need to go in a different direction.
“With the next qualifying match in late March, we have several months to refocus the group and determine the best way forward to ensure a successful journey to qualify for our eighth-consecutive World Cup.”
Klinsmann, 52, starred for Stuttgart, Internazionale, Monaco, Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Sampdoria. He scored 47 goals in 108 internationals for West Germany and Germany in an 11-year spell which included triumphs in the 1990 World Cup and 1996 European Championship.
After marrying and moving to California, Klinsmann returned to Germany in 2004 to take up his first managerial job with Germany. He revolutionised the national team set-up and stepped down after the third-place finish as hosts at the 2006 World Cup.
Joachim Low, Klinsmann’s hand-picked assistant, succeeded him with greater success.
Klinsmann returned to the US and was appointed in 2011 to do the same sort of job he had undertaken in Germany. Initially Klinsmann was a success but murmurings of discontent began after the 2014 World Cup and despite the widespread enthusiasm generated for Team USA by their campaign in Brazil.
Nothing has gone quite right since then and the recent home defeat to Mexico, days after the election of Donald Trump as President, was headline news of the wrong sort.