Jurgen Klinsmann said a lot of things during his time as USMNT head coach. That was one of the few aspects of his job that he was good at – he talked a big game.
But the problem with making ambitious, long-reaching statements is that he set himself up to fail spectacularly by doing nothing to make his predictions remotely possible. And that’s partially why he was fired last November. But man, one bold Klinsmann proclamation looks really bad right now.
After the 2014 World Cup, which saw the USMNT escape the group of death and nearly steal a win against Belgium, Klinsmann laid out his blueprint and goals for the 2018 World Cup. If you’re still hurting from Tuesday’s embarrassing failure to qualify for the World Cup, well, this quote will won’t help.
Klinsmann said in 2014:
“This is our goal going towards Russia, not to stop at the Round of 16, maybe not to stop at the quarterfinal. To say clearly, listen, we have four years to prepare this cycle. Our goal is going to a semifinal in a World Cup. And that means a lot of work, a lot of competition, a lot of grind.”
At the time, there was a lot of excitement about the U.S. men’s program. They performed admirably against elite international talent in Brazil. The team beat Ghana, allowed a stoppage-time equalizer to Portugal, lost to the eventual champion Germany and was a Wondo airmail away from reaching the quarterfinal. Maybe Klinsmann was just excited. We were all excited and gave him a pass.
But then he said it again! In 2016. Months before he would get fired for failing to establish any direction tactically and organizationally, he said in a July 2016 interview with CNN:
“We set an ambitious goal for the 2018 World Cup – to reach the semifinals. And, if we start with the end goal in mind, we obviously want to win the World Cup one day. There are huge challenges, and it will take a lot of hard work. But things are definitely moving in the right direction. Our goals are challenging but achievable.”
Obviously, the USMNT’s failure to qualify wasn’t all on Klinsmann. Bruce Arena was called in to replace Klinsmann with the simple goal of reaching the World Cup, and he failed. Still, it’s hard not to cringe upon seeing Klinsmann speak about World Cup qualification as a foregone conclusion and repeatedly float a semifinal run as something fans should expect.
As tough as it is to accept, missing the World Cup was the wake-up call the USSF needed. These quotes, which aged terribly in hindsight, definitely suggested a change in mentality was needed … and needed now.
Read or Share this story: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/10/jurgen-klinsmann-2018-world-cup-usmnt-us-soccer-semifinals-bruce-arena-quotes