A humbling 4-0 defeat at Costa Rica last week proved to be the final straw for Jurgen Klinsmann’s five-year reign as coach of the United States men’s soccer team. U.S. Soccer announced on Monday that Klinsmann had been fired from his role, both as coach and technical director of the program.
The U.S. has begun the final round of World Cup qualifying with back-to-back defeats, having also suffered a loss to Mexico in Columbus, Ohio.
“Today we made the difficult decision of parting ways with Jurgen Klinsmann, our head coach of the U.S. men’s national team and technical director,” read a statement from U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.
“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.”
While the U.S. has four months before it resumes World Cup qualifying with what are now crucial matches against Honduras and Panama, a change of coach in the midst of the Hexagonal is far from ideal and hasn’t happened since 1989. And that could well influence who is picked to take over from Klinsmann.
Arena’s experience with the national team, having coached the U.S. between 1998 and 2006, encompassing two World Cups, makes him an obvious leading candidate to take the position. Indeed, reports suggest he is already in talks to step into the breach. Arena is widely regarded as the best American coach in history and is currently in charge of the LA Galaxy, where he has won three MLS Cups. While he isn’t a shrinking violet when it comes to falling in line with authority figures and Gulati has dispensed with his services once before, the situation looks tailor-made for the 65-year-old.
Klinsmann fired. Source: Bruce Arena set to take over. Could be announced as soon as tomorrow.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2016
A former U.S. international, Vermes has guided Sporting Kansas City to an MLS Cup and a U.S. Open Cup in his seven years in charge. The 50-year-old is well regarded in U.S. soccer circles and has achieved impressive consistency, guiding Sporting KC to the playoffs in each of the last six seasons.
If the U.S. Soccer Federation opts to go for another foreign coach, then Pareja could be the top choice. The Colombian has guided a young FC Dallas team to second and first in the Supporters Shield standings over the last two seasons and would be a popular choice if the U.S. is brave enough to look to the future in the midst of a scenario when wins are immediately required.
Another well-respected young coach, Kreis has long been tipped as a future U.S. national team boss. A disappointing single season in charge of New York City FC in the first year as an expansion franchise has done little to harm the reputation of the 43-year-old who took over at Orlando City in July. Still, Kreis may have to wait for his chance with his country.