Jurgen Klinsmann

Arena returns, replaces Klinsmann as USMNT coach

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USATSI

Arena returns, replaces Klinsmann as USMNT coach

NEW YORK -- Bruce Arena is returning to coach the U.S. national soccer team, a decade after he was fired.

The winningest coach in American national team history, Arena took over Tuesday, one day after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. The 65-year-old Arena starts work Dec. 1.

With the U.S. 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, the U.S. Soccer Federation wants to spark a turnaround when the playoffs resume March 24 with a home game against Honduras.

"His experience at the international level, understanding of the requirements needed to lead a team through World Cup qualifying, and proven ability to build a successful team were all aspects we felt were vital for the next coach," USSF President Sunil Gulati, who fired Arena in 2006, said in a statement. "I know Bruce will be fully committed to preparing the players for the next eight qualifying games and earning a berth to an eighth straight FIFA World Cup."

Arena first took over as national team coach after the 1998 World Cup and led the U.S. to a 71-30-29 record.

"I'm looking forward to working with a strong group of players that understand the challenge in front of them after the first two games," Arena said in a statement. "Working as a team, I'm confident that we'll take the right steps forward to qualify"

A wisecracking Brooklynite known for blunt talk and sarcasm, he coached the University of Virginia from 1978-95, then led D.C. United to titles in Major League Soccer's first two seasons before losing in the 1998 final. He guided the Americans to the team's best World Cup finish since 1930, a 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2002 quarterfinals.

He was let go after the team's first-round elimination by Ghana in 2006. Arena coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS from July 2006 to November 2007, then was hired the following August by the Galaxy. He led the team to MLS titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Arena was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010.

US soccer's issues go way beyond finding the right coach

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USATSI

US soccer's issues go way beyond finding the right coach

Jurgen Klinsmann’s long national nightmare is finally over. The United States Men’s National Soccer Team’s, on the other hand, remains.
 
Nothing, and I mean nothing, feels better to a soccer fan than to have his or her team win a championship, but firing the coach is always a photo-finish second. Since the USMNT has never really won enough to be an arm-waving factor on the international stage, firing the coach is really the optimal outcome any fan can envision.
 
And Klinsmann, the German who was going to revolutionize the development and cultivation of the sport in America (a job that frankly has already been done by all the ready access to the best soccer in the world on a daily basis) won too infrequently to be as dismissive of the established order as he was. So, he served the soccer establishment by becoming the new severed head.
 
Yay decapitation!
 
But here’s where the firing (for which we have no opinion one way or another, since it is like arguing against evolution to an anthropologist, or opposing yeast to a baker) misses the point: The name most often linked to the job is Bruce Arena, a guy who already had it and was fired for the same reason that Klinsmann got whacked – because he couldn’t jump the United States ahead of the line in the established national order of football powers, that’s why.
 
The U.S. isn’t in the place it’s in internationally because the players aren’t sufficiently “coached up,” but because the structural issues with U.S. soccer (as well as U.S. Soccer, the suit-and-snoot component of the sport) are well beyond anyone’s ability to fix comprehensively, and especially not quickly. The game is more profitable than ever, but butts in seats doesn’t mean the same as goals in nets.
 
There is this ongoing and very fanciful notion that the United States should be far higher on the list of global soccer powers, which is fine except for the fact that nobody can ever explain where they should be ranked. First? Fourth? Sixth? Thirteenth? Ahead of Germany? Ahead of France? Ahead of Scotland? Ahead of Narnia?
 
Nobody knows, which is why the answer that is most often expressed by the most passionate U.S. soccer fans when asked “Where should they be?” is “better than they are,” a properly amorphous standard for always firing whoever the coach is at any given time.
 
If there is a problem with the product on the field, it is largely that the available American talent is in a fallow period right now, a phenomenon that happens to all but the most elite soccer-playing countries. The U.S. is not deep with impact players right now (though Christian Pulisic might be the realest deal in recent history), and it has never been deep with inventive ones.
 
But Klinsmann allowed people to think he could fix that while he got up to speed with in-game tactical developments – in layman’s terms, the X’s and O’s. He did neither, in the one case because the U.S. still hasn’t figured out how to identify, harness, grow and inspire its supply of potential players (it is still too heavily dependent on children of affluent parents and a coaching structure that has not found, taught or nurtured genius), and in the other because he has never been a tactical wizard – or even a tactical pixie, as far as that goes.
 
In any event, Klinsmann’s firing changes little of real substance, but as a temporary feel-good measure, it works wonders, as all firings do. Unless the U.S. is suddenly going to hire Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti or Diego Simeone at the height of their transformative powers, it is hard to see how Klinsmann’s absence will make the product look any different than his presence did. This is just new coasters on old deck chairs.
 
Now if they want to find a way to clone Pulisic and send the formula down the food chain to find more like him, now that would be worth your enthusiastic response. But we don’t want to ruin your fun, so go with “Jurgen Klinsmann is out, so drink up everyone” if you must.  
 
The hangover will come later, like it always does.

US Men's National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann fired

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AP

US Men's National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann fired

NEW YORK -- Jurgen Klinsmann was fired as coach of the U.S. soccer team Monday, six days after a 4-0 loss at Costa Rica dropped the Americans to 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is the favorite to succeed Klinsmann, and his hiring could be announced as early as Tuesday. Arena coached the national team from 1998 to 2006.

Qualifying resumes when the U.S. hosts Honduras on March 24 and plays four days later at Panama.

"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," U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. "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."

A former German star forward who has lived mostly in Southern California since retiring as a player in 1998, Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley in July 2011 and led the team to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup title and the second round of the 2014 World Cup, where the Americans lost to Belgium in extra time.

The USSF announced in December 2013 a four-year contract extension through 2018, but the successful World Cup was followed by poor performances. The U.S. was knocked out by Jamaica in last year's Gold Cup semifinals and lost to Mexico in a playoff for a Confederations Cup berth. The team rebounded to reach this year's Copa America semifinals before losing to Argentina 4-0. But this month Mexico beat the Americans 2-1 at Columbus, Ohio, in the first home qualifying loss for the U.S. since 2001.

And last week, the Americans were routed in Costa Rica, their largest margin of defeat in qualifying since 1980. They dropped to 0-2 for the first time in the hexagonal, as the final round of World Cup qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean is known.

While there is time to recover, given the top three teams qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia and the fourth-place finisher advances to a playoff against Asia's No. 5 team, players seemed confused by Klinsmann's tactics, such as a 3-4-1-2 formation used at the start against the Mexicans.

"Today we made the difficult decision of parting ways with Jurgen Klinsmann," Gulati said. "There were considerable achievements along the way ... but there were also lesser publicized efforts behind the scenes. He challenged everyone in the U.S. 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."

The U.S. had not changed coaches in the middle of qualifying since the USSF made the position a full-time job and hired Bob Gansler in 1989 to replace Lothar Osiander, who also at the time was a waiter at a San Francisco restaurant.

Klinsmann made controversial decisions, such as dropping Landon Donovan from the 2014 World Cup roster while taking along relatively inexperienced players such as John Brooks, Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin. Brooks and Green were among five German-Americans on the 23-man U.S. World Cup roster, which drew criticism from some in the American soccer community.

He coached the team to a 55-27-16 record, including a U.S.-record 12-game winning streak and victories in exhibitions at Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. He has worked in the past year to integrate more young players into the lineup, such as teen midfield sensation Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris.

Arena, a 65-year-old wisecracking Brooklynite known for blunt talk, was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010. He coached the University of Virginia from 1978-95, then coached D.C. United to titles in Major League Soccer's first two seasons before losing in the 1998 final. As U.S. coach, he led the Americans to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals in the team's best finish since 1930.

He was let go after the team's first-round elimination in 2006. Gulati unsuccessfully courted Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup with West Germany and the 1996 European Championship with Germany, then coached his nation to the 2006 World Cup semifinals.

When Gulati and Klinsmann couldn't reach an agreement, the USSF hired Bradley, who coached the team to the second round of the 2010 World Cup. A year later, the Americans stumbled in the Gold Cup, and Klinsmann replaced Bradley.

Arena coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS from July 2006 to November 2007, then was hired the following August by the Galaxy. He led the team to MLS titles in 2011, '12 and '14.