Former USMNT Coach Jurgen Klinsmann Says State of Team Is 'Very Sad'

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2020

Hertha Berlin's German head coach Jurgen Klinsmann reacts prior to the German first division Bundesliga football match Hertha Berlin v Borussia Moenchengladbach in Berlin, Germany, on December 21, 2019. (Photo by Odd Andersen / AFP) / RESTRICTIONS: DFL REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND/OR QUASI-VIDEO (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
ODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

Former U.S. men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has commented on the state of the Stars and Stripes, saying it leaves him "very sad" to see the side go through such a rough spell.

In an interview with ESPN FC, the Hertha Berlin manager talked about the infamous loss to Trinidad & Tobago in 2017 that saw them miss out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the effects it had on the program:

"So what happened now the last two or three years is very sad. It's really sad because the team belonged [in] Russia. They belonged in the World Cup. The qualification was pretty much done, and then it happened, the big disaster in Trinidad which no one could ever have imagined.

"So this threw back the whole national team program for many years because now there is a lack of belief, there is a lack of enthusiasm, there is a lack of leadership. So it's a very difficult job now that Gregg Berhalter has on his hands to rebuild an entire program when we were actually in a good place.

"As I said, I'd take that team in Russia to the final eight, maybe even the final four because there was a building block there and there was a plan for it, and the plan got interrupted and it got even more interrupted when the U.S. didn't qualify for Russia.

"So hopefully they get it back on track, and I keep my fingers crossed for Gregg that he gets all the support he needs to get it on the right track."

Bruce Arena replaced Klinsmann in 2016, with the team at the bottom of the qualification table at the time.

Arena got the team in a position to qualify, needing a draw against the Soca Warriors on the final matchday to advance to the World Cup. The Americans lost 2-1 in one of the worst days in team history, however:

Arena resigned shortly after, and Gregg Berhalter was selected as his replacement after a lengthy search. The team had an inconsistent run during 2019, losing to Mexico in the Gold Cup final and winning the Nations League Group A.

Klinsmann spent more than five years in charge of the team, achieving some remarkable success in that span. The Stars and Stripes won the 2013 Gold Cup, and during the 2014 World Cup, they qualified from the "Group of Death" ahead of Portugal and Ghana and behind Germany.

In the round of 16, they pushed Belgium all the way but eventually lost in extra time:

The USMNT also finished fourth at the 2016 Copa America.

Klinsmann returned to coaching in November 2019, taking over Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin. The team has yet to taste defeat since he took charge and have climbed out of the relegation zone.

Klinsmann also spoke about USMNT star and Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic, urging fans to be patient with the 21-year-old.  

The former Borussia Dortmund star is the biggest star in American football right now, but he has struggled for consistency since joining the Blues. He hasn't scored since the 2-2 draw against Valencia in November.

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