U.S. Soccer fired Jurgen Klinsmann on Tuesday following two straight losses in the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying. Klinsmann, who has coached the men’s national team since replacing Bob Bradley in 2011, had been under contract through the 2018 World Cup. The former Bayern Munich and Germany manager’s time with the U.S. was cut short after his side lost to Mexico 2-1 at home on Nov. 11 and fell 4-0 in Costa Rica four days later.
The U.S. had never lost its first two matches of the fifth and final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, and Klinsmann accepted the blame for his team’s poor play to open the Hex.
“I’ll take responsibility, it’s no problem at all,” Klinsmann said. “It’s also a learning point. Six months ago, we were in the semifinal of the Copa America and now we have two defeats to start the Hexagonal. That’s how fast it goes. It’s soccer. Things can turn around very quickly. It is for us now a negative moment.”
Klinsmann finished with 55 wins, 27 losses and 16 draws as the U.S. coach. In 2013, Klinsmann led the U.S. to 16 victories, including a 13-game winning streak. His U.S. side breezed through the Gold Cup unbeaten that year, outscoring opponents 20-4. Klinsmann did his job in 2014 by leading the U.S. to the knockout round of the World Cup in Brazil, but he watched his team finish fourth in the 2015 Gold Cup. After the U.S. reached the semifinals of the Copa America Centenario in June, the team hit rock bottom with its recent losses to Mexico and Costa Rica.
ESPN reports U.S. Soccer had been in contact with LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena and Sporting Kansas City boss Peter Vermes over the past 12 months. Arena, who recently signed a two-year extension with his MLS club, coached the U.S. at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
Gulati had expressed confidence in keepin Klinsmann on board through the 2018 World Cup in Russia prior to the Mexico match, but his tone changed following the defeat to Costa Rica, saying, “We’ll think about what happened today and talk with Jurgen and look at the situation.”
The next U.S. coach will have some ground to make up in the race to the World Cup.
The Stars and Stripes are currently sitting in last place in the Hexagonal standings, with upcoming matches against Honduras and Panama in March. Three of the six remaining teams in qualifying will advance to the upcoming World Cup. The fourth-place side will face a team from Asia in a two-legged playoff in November 2017.