Jürgen Klinsmann's USMNT Tenure

Jürgen Klinsmann was recently fired as manager of the United States men's national team. After five years of service, he leaves behind more memories of frustration than glory. Let's take a look at Klinsmann's reign with the help of 13 stories that weave the German's managerial stint into a story marked by initial hope, fleeting glory and constant vexation.


July 2011: The Arrival

July 29, 2011 was the day Sunil Gulati finally got his guy. After years of trying to convince Jürgen Klinsmann to take on the role of USMNT manager, Gulati's pitch finally hit home. From that point forward, the German World Cup winner would be the leader of the national team and the federation's technical director. Klinsmann's appointment felt like the US men's soccer was poised to fast track its transition into an elite soccer nation.

Click here to read Jeff Carlisle's ESPN piece that outlines the high expectations placed on Klinsmann the moment he was named USMNT manager. 

October 2011: Jürgen's Ideology

One of the most exciting aspects of Klinsmann's appointment was his insistence that he was going to change the USMNT's style of play. There were more than a few assurances from the new manager that his team would do its best to play the ball out of the back rather than rely solely on players' athleticism. 

Click here to read Alex Hoyt's Atlantic piece where Klinsmann explains, in his own words, a few aspects of his tactical ideology.

August 2012: First Azteca Win

One of the first major breakthroughs of Klinsmann's reign was notching the national team's first ever win against arch rivals Mexico in Estadio Azteca. It was a victory 75 years in the making and gave supporters a license to believe that they now had a team that could make even more history going forward.

Click here to read Graham Parker's Guardian piece that acts as a running feed of that historic day in Mexico City.

July 2013: Gold Cup Champions

Klinsmann's lone piece of silverware as USMNT manager came via the 2013 Gold Cup. The competition wasn't the stiffest, but the team walked out of the tournament as deserved victors and sporting an 11-game win streak. It was the perfect segue going into the late stages of 2014 World Cup qualifying. 

Click here to read Greg Howard's Deadspin piece that analyzes the USMNT's blazing run through the 2013 Gold Cup.

May 2014: The Landon Donovan Saga

Klinsmann's most controversial decision came weeks before the 2014 World Cup when he omitted the USMNT's best ever player from the 23-man squad he was taking to Brazil. Despite his well-documented 2013 sabbatical, Donovan's exclusion came as a major surprise because of the wealth of World Cup experience he brought to the table. Going into the tournament, he had as many World Cup goals (5) as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie combined

Click here to read Stefan Fatsis' Slate piece that argues Klinsmann never trusted Donovan.

June 2014: The World Cup

The climax of the USMNT's World Cup run came during its first game — a thrilling 2-1 win over Ghana. An equally thrilling 2-2 draw with Portugal, followed by deserved one-goal losses to Germany and Belgium in the group stage and Round of 16, respectively, meant Klinsmann's squad regressed as the tournament moved forward. Regardless, many were left with a sense of optimism as the United States left Brazil, mostly because they achieved their primary goal: escaping the Group of Death.

Click here to read Noah Davis' Grantland piece on the Ghana victory.

October 2014: Klinsmann vs. MLS

Klinsmann was never shy when it came to sharing his views on MLS. He was an open critic of the US top flight and preferred that his national team player ply their trade in Europe's more sophisticated leagues. Klinsmann's opinion did not sit well with MLS commissioner Don Garber.

Click here to read Jorge Arangure Jr.'s VICE Sports piece that outlines Klinsmann's feud with MLS executives.

June 2015: Heavyweight Knockouts

Back-to-back wins over Germany and Holland in June 2015 marked the last true instance of overwhelming optimism surround Klinsmann's squad. Both victories were friendlies, but taking out the reigning World Cup champions and the third place finishers from Brazil is nothing to overlook.

Click here to read Brian Straus' Sports Illustrated piece that delves into the presumed confidence that the two victories instilled into Klinsmann's team.

July 2015: The Jamaica Loss

Klinsmann's USMNT was the favorite to retain the Gold Cup, but a shock semi-final loss to Jamaica left the manager egg-faced. Despite the positivity fostered from the aforementioned friendly wins against Germany and Holland, the Jamaica loss only highlighted the sobering reality that Klinsmann had done little to spark a revolution within his USMNT squad.

Click here to read Kevin McCauley's SB Nation piece that argues Klinsmann the technical director is much more beneficial to US soccer than Klinsmann the manager.

October 2015: CONCACAF Cup Ramifications

The shock Gold Cup loss vs. Jamaica meant the USMNT would have to take part in a one-game playoff against Mexico, the victors of the 2015 Gold Cup. A 3-2 extra time loss left the USMNT reeling while "Klinsmann Out" murmurs began transforming into full-fledged shouts. 

Click here to read ESPN's roundtable discussion that asks prominent figures of the US soccer community to assess the state of Jurgen Klinsmann's USMNT.

December 2015: Foreign Fondness

One of the staples of Klinsmann's tenure as USMNT manager was embracing dual-nationals. However, his preference for foreign-tested talent didn't always sit well with some member of the US soccer community, including women's national team legend Abby Wambach.

Click here to read ESPNW's story on Wambach's comments about the influx of foreign-born players on the national team.

July 2016: Copa America Centenario

There was no shame in reaching the semi-final of last summer's Copa America, but the 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Lionel Messi's Argentina further highlighted Klinsmann's tactical faults. While American players, fans and pundits alike probably weren't expecting to beat the Argentines, they were expecting a more competitive match.

Click here to read Aaron Timm's Guardian piece that explores Klinsmann's tactical shortcomings.

November 2016: End Of The Road

After five years of mixed results and no sign of tactical evolution, Klinsmann was relieved of his managerial and technical director duties, paving way for Bruce Arena's second stint as USMNT manager.

Click here to read Eric Betts' Slate piece that wishes "good riddance" to the USMNT's Klinsmann era.