Jurgen Klinsmann will lead the U.S. into Azteca for an important World Cup qualifier against Mexico. But just how important is this match for the man in charge?
Leading up to the Costa Rica match last week, there were definite concerns about the Klinsmann era.
After a rough start to qualifying, there seemed to be a feeling that perhaps Klinsmann wasn’t the right man for the U.S. job. Bleacher Report’s own Michael Cummings published an article asking if the team was in crisis.
This feeling is not going to go away because the team won a memorable match in the snow.
However, a second win in Azteca could do the trick.
When the Americans strolled into Azteca last year after the conclusion of the Olympic Games, they pulled off an incredible upset. They broke through the glass ceiling, so to speak.
The U.S. is even more depleted this go-around.
No Landon Donovan. No Tim Howard. No Steve Cherundolo. No Carlos Bocanegra. And that is to name just the stand-out players missing.
If Klinsmann can take this patchwork group to a victory at Azteca, it would speak highly of the work he has been able to accomplish at the helm of the U.S. men’s national team. It would show that he has been able to make the squad deeper and more competitive away from home soil. That should not go overlooked.
Without the core leaders of the team on the roster, it is easy to cast this match aside. It is easy to write it off as a loss and to make justifications that this is not a very important result for the U.S.
That is not how it should be viewed, and that is definitely not how Klinsmann is looking at this match.
It is a big opportunity to make a statement. If the U.S. shows their skill and heart, they will make a case that they don’t need those big names to be successful. They can show the world that Klinsmann is pushing the U.S. in the right direction.
This is an important match for Klinsmann as the leader of U.S. Soccer.
It is the platform he needs to showcase why he was hired in the first place. It is a match in which he can show his abilities as a coach. If he can get this group of players to perform exceptionally well at Azteca, again, it will be a feather in his cap.
The expectations are low for this match. A loss will not change the perception of the current state of U.S. Soccer, and many of the naysayers will still be talking about how perhaps this new era has been a failure.
A win, on the other hand, can shut them up.
If Klinsmann’s squad can shock Mexico, then he can prove his work is paying off and earn some favor with the fans. It makes this an important match for him as the head of the team.