Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Gulati: Fire Klinsmann Or You're Fired

After a rather uninspiring effort that saw the USMNT's winning streak against Mexico in World Cup qualifiers in Columbus come to an end, one might have thought Jurgen Klinsmann would have tried to light a fire under the team's butts for last night's match in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Unfortunately, that's what we get for thinking. If Klinsmann tried lighting a fire under his players, last night's disastrous result is just further proof that his matches are all wet.

In the worst shutout loss in a qualifier since 1957 (and the first loss in a home qualifier since 2001), the USMNT fell to Costa Rica 4-0. The sad part is that that scoreline made it seem closer than it was.

All you need to know about the state of the locker room for the USMNT can be found in this paragraph from Ives Galarcep's article on that was posted Monday:

Klinsmann called out Bradley and Jermaine Jones for not playing well enough in the first half of Friday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico, blaming their struggles for the issues faced by the U.S. team’s surprising 3-4-3 formation. Bradley issued some not-so-subtle suggestions that the team didn’t have clear ideas about how to carry out the tactics of Klinsmann’s experimental formation.
That's right. Klinsmann throws two players under the bus, saying they didn't play well enough, but one of those players says they didn't know how to carry out the coach's plans. It would help things immensely if Klinsmann didn't feel the need to tinker with the lineup all the time, rather than just finding one that works and going with it.

I used all of those words to say the USSF needs to fire Klinsmann. Today.

As much as it pains me to say this as a proud American soccer fan, the Mexican national team takes results much more seriously than we do. Since Klinsmann was hired as the manager and technical director of the USMNT on July 28, 2011, El Tri is on their sixth coach. Juan Carlos Osorio, best known in this country for his disastrous tenure at the helm of the New York Red Bulls, is the current occupant of the job, but El Tri have a lot more talent than his team in NY did.

Speaking to reporters before Friday's match against Mexico, USSF President Sunil Gulati said, "We've never changed coaches in the [middle of the final round]. No one has started the process and not finished it since 1989 and I expect that to be the case here."

Since US Soccer has so far done nothing to suggest they will terminate Jurgen Klinsmann's contract, which runs through the 2018 World Cup, there's only one thing left to do. The United States Soccer Federation's board of directors must terminate the contract of Gulati.

With Klinsmann serving as both coach and technical director, he honestly answers to no one except Gulati. With all the votes of confidence Gulati has given Klinsmann, despite the unsatisfying nature of the team's results, Gulati's shown he has absolutely no interest in making a change.

I first wrote that I thought Gulati should be fired after the Confed Cup playoff loss to Mexico last October. The following list of people I would like to see succeed Gulati hasn't changed since then and is reproduced for your perusal here.

1. Mitt Romney

People who know me really well might be a bit surprised that I would suggest 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should be given any job, much less a job running the American governing body of a sport I love, but I have a reason for it.

He's done it before. No, he hasn't been the president of the USSF before, but he has successfully run a large sports organization before.

On February 11, 1999, Romney was named president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2002. When he was given the job, the group was running hundreds of millions of dollars behind its revenue goals and there was talk of scaling back the games, possibly even moving them altogether.

We all know what happened next. The 2002 Winter Olympics were very successful and Romney can claim a share of the credit for it. Therefore, he's on this list.

2. Joe Biden

People who know me really well would be a lot less surprised I would suggest Vice President Joe Biden take over US Soccer. Honestly, there are a few reasons Biden is on this list. 

If it's one thing he's known for, Biden speaks his mind, even when it may not be the most appropriate time. You may recall, on March 23, 2010, right after introducing the president at the bill signing for the Affordable Care Act, Biden embraced President Obama and said, "This is a big [expletive] deal..."

He also strikes me as someone who hates to lose. Quite honestly, some of the results the USMNT have had in recent months, especially at the Gold Cup, would have driven him a little crazy, if he's anything like me when I watch games.

Biden is also very well-respected around the world. After Georgia's short, but disastrous war with Russia, then-Sen. Biden called the Georgian president to box his ears over the ill-advised stunt. As a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now as Vice President, Biden's used to getting his calls answered in foreign capitals.

Biden is also out of a job on January 20, 2017, so he's available soon.

3. Mark Cuban

Every list like this usually has one or more names on it that make people say, "What?!" I'm well aware Mark Cuban would be one of those.

Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, would not be scared of the amount of money that would be required to terminate Klinsmann's contract. Quite honestly, he could probably write Klinsmann a check and be done with it.

Cuban is also, and I say this with all due respect, a very sore loser. I'm sure it would be fair to say that former NBA commissioner David Stern had Cuban on speed dial for those times when Cuban felt his team had been wronged by the league's referees. I'm sure Cuban treats his coaches the same way when they fail to perform.


Honestly, it doesn't really matter to me who ends up succeeding Gulati. The important part right now is that whoever does, fires Jurgen Klinsmann. Because if Klinsmann is allowed to continue to run the USMNT into the ground, the streak of consecutive World Cups is in serious jeopardy. The USMNT is currently dead last in the Hex, behind Trinidad because of a goal differential of -5.