Honduras vs. USA: Jurgen Klinsmann's Struggles Shouldn't Surprise USMNT Fans
It's not time to push the panic button for the United States Men's National Team.
After producing uninspiring results in the third round of 2014 World Cup qualifying, the U.S. started out the fourth round with a 2-1 loss to Honduras in San Pedro Sula. There's still a lot of time to turn things around, so there's no need to over-exaggerate the situation.
Although the results are a bit disheartening, no fan should be shocked that Klinsmann continues to struggle with the tactical aspect of the job.
With Germany, he was bolstered by having Joachim Low as his No. 2. He thus proved very successful as the national team coach.
When Klinsmann went to Bayern Munich, he needed to focus much more on the tactical side of the game and foundered as a result. He didn't even last the entire season.
This is a man whose tactical failings Sunil Gulati and every U.S. fan should've been completely aware of when he was first hired in 2011.
To be fair to Klinsmann, though, this World Cup was bound to be a bit of a transitional period. No matter who coaches, this team is going to go through a major rough patch.
The best players on the team will be at or near their early 30s by the time the 2014 World Cup rolls around, and the back four was looking at a major reshuffle. The 2010 World Cup was the physical peak for many of the players that had helped rebuild the squad from the disaster of 2006.
In addition, should the team actually qualify, a path to the knockout stage at the World Cup is unlikely to come any easier than it did in 2010. England was in a down period and joined Slovenia and Algeria, which aren't exactly world-beaters, to fill out Group C.
Fans need to come to grips with the fact that the United States is not the same team from the World Cup, and the odds are much smaller for the team to make it to the tournament next year.
Things like America's dominance in CONCACAF qualifying and getting the better of Mexico quite often from 2000 through 2009 were taken for granted. It was just assumed that the U.S. was an automatic qualifier and would always beat Mexico on American soil.
Those kinds of things don't last forever.
The one man that is benefiting the most from the United States' struggles is Bob Bradley. Only now is he earning the credit for being able to consistently deliver results on the road in CONCACAF qualifying and besting Mexico time and again.
Bradley's time as head coach takes on a much greater sense of accomplishment when compared to Klinsmann's.
Much like with Bradley, it could be years before Klinsmann's true impact on this team is felt, albeit in a very different way.
Probably the biggest issue facing U.S. soccer is the fact that the youth program is in a bit of a shambles. Fortunately, the German has shown an affinity for building up from the bottom and reinvigorating the youth system.
Klinsmann has tried very hard to repair some of the issues the United States is facing in that area. With that in mind, it could be three or four years, likely long after the German's departure, before the results start showing up.
The next national team coach, hopefully much more tactically astute, will be able to reap the benefits and possibly make a run to the knockout stage of the World Cup.
In the present, though, the U.S. is unsurprisingly in a dogfight to qualify for the World Cup. While Klinsmann deserves to shoulder some of the blame, this was an unavoidable reckoning point for U.S. soccer.
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