Let’s be honest, U.S. Soccer fans, media, players and Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t expect to be in this situation. After the U.S. was defeated 2-1 in Honduras for their first World Cup “hexagonal” round qualifier, doubts began surface on whether Klinsmann was going to be able to survive qualifiers. Now those doubts have become full-fledged spoken fears.
When Klinsmann named his 23-man roster on Monday, it showed a large gap in experience due to a slew of injuries and illnesses that include Tim Howard, Fabian Johnson, Edgar Castillo, Timmy Chandler, Danny Williams, Jose Torres and Steve Cherundolo. This meant that the U.S. would be severely undermanned for their two crucial qualifiers Friday versus Costa Rica in Colorado and next Tuesday versus Mexico in the Azteca. As if the pressure couldn’t have already been severe for Klinsmann, veteran Sporting News reporter Brian Straus released an in-depth reporter of former and current U.S. Soccer players that anounmonously critizied Klinsmann’s tactics, communication and interactions with players.
The radar on Klinsmann exponentially increased after the report was released, and the media continued to analyze further on whether Klinsmann had lost control of the program altogether.
Klinsmann did have a players come to defend his abilities, including Carlos Bocanegra (who was left off from the roster) and Michael Bradley. ESPN’s Roger Bennett offered some context to panicing fans with a little history lesson on U.S. Soccer, but it is obvious that Klinsmann will be heavily judged based off the next two matches—whether he deserves it or not.
There is only one option for the U.S. National Team to quiet this European-like tidal wave of controversy. Win and advance. Taking root from Jimmy V’s NC State Wolfpack montra, all that fans and media expect is for the U.S. to win and advance to a World Cup. CONCACAF qualifying has never been a pretty journey for U.S. Soccer, so it’s time to stop talking and win. Both players and coaches alike need to fight and crawl for every point available. Forget style and a development revolution, Klinsmann’s battle is with Costa Rica and Mexico. It’s time to shut up and win.
The United States Men’s National Team play their second match in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying “hexagonal” round this Friday versus Costa Rica at 10pm ET on ESPN.