On Monday, Klinsmann was fired
The firing represents the first time since 1989 that U.S. Soccer has changed coaches in the middle of a World Cup qualifying cycle. The Arena returns as expected, it will be from a successful nine-year tenure as coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy, the second team that he has led to multiple M.L.S. championships.
The arena would have some time to meet his new team and orchestrate the initial steps of his attempted revival. The Americans’ next scheduled games are two more World Cup qualifiers, home to Honduras and away to Panama, in March.
On Thursday, Jurgen Klinsmann, the coach of the United States national men’s soccer team, dined with President Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, a number of Nobel laureates and a couple of astronauts at a gala in Berlin. The sausages were “excellent,” he said.
On Friday, Klinsmann returned to his home in California and was bemused by the criticism he was receiving in the news media for two recent losses by his team, which had damaged – but not erased – its chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. On Sunday, Klinsmann aggressively defended his record as coach in an interview, saying that he was “very comfortable” in his position and was not especially concerned about being removed.
On Monday, Klinsmann was fired.
The announcement, which was made by U.S. Soccer, the federation that oversees the sport in this country, came shortly after Sunil Gulati and Dan Flynn, two of the federation’s top executives, met with Klinsmann at a hotel in the Los Angeles area. U.S. Soccer did not immediately name Klinsmann’s replacement, though it is expected that Bruce Arena – a Major League Soccer veteran who led the national team from 1998 to 2006 – will take the job through the end of the current World Cup cycle.
“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,” Gulati, the U.S. Soccer president, said in a statement. He is expected to elaborate on the thinking behind Klinsmann’s dismissal during a conference call with the news media on Tuesday afternoon.
Klinsmann did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Despite Klinsmann’s confidence in his role, his firing was not a surprise. The United States sustained two painful losses in its opening games of the final round of regional World Cup qualifying this month, starting with a 2-1 loss to Mexico, which was the Americans’ first defeat in a home World Cup qualifier in 15 years. Then came a 4-0 thrashing at Costa Rica last Tuesday in which Klinsmann’s team looked alternately disorganized, dispirited and – perhaps most damningly – uninterested.
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