18 November, 2016
When a team falls apart so quickly and so completely it's generally not the players who are at fault. For U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati to resist the temptation to pull the trigger, he will have to buy into some of the good, or less bad, news.
Less than five months after taking the U.S.to the semifinals of the Copa America Centenario, Klinsmann was badly outcoached by Mexico's Juan Carlos Osorio in one World Cup qualifier, then watched helplessly as his team was badly outplayed on the road by Costa Rica, 4-0, on Tuesday. The result? A 2-1 loss at home in a stadium that became synonymous with dominant wins over Mexico in Columbus, Ohio.
The U.S. looked flat and uninspiring in a 4-0 loss to Costa Rica that has the Americans still searching for their first point in the Hexagonal. No team has ever qualified to a World Cup in the Concacaf zone after losing their first two games.
By then the US was a shadow of its usual self as the reality of losing back-to-back qualifiers to begin the Hexagonal final round in the CONCACAF region for the first time sunk in. The loss left Jurgen Klinsmann's side moored at the bottom of the qualifying table without a point from two matches.
Two goals from the hosts in the first 15 minutes put the USA into a hole and the American attack failed to create good chances against a bunkering defense.
There is always things that you say you could have done differently. The team selection is another, I think the public is fairly well-convinced now that (captain and centre forward) Kenwyne Jones does not have a place on the starting team.
If it's going to be done, now is the time.
The USMNT has completed its first two hexagonal qualifiers.
Listen, I remember some of those lean years between 1950 and 1990 (close to the end of the USA's time in the global soccer desert) when the US did not only miss out on the greatest show on earth, but were routed and embarrassed by Mexico on a regular basis. Even though it's early in the campaign, we've taken a good step.
The Ticos were eventually rewarded for their hard work in the 44th minute and, not surprisingly, the American defense helped set it up with John Brooks giving the ball away in the US half.
Assessing the face-plant of the last week can not be viewed through the lens of a single game, Lalas preached. Players don't feel comfortable. He cited needing more family time (he and his wife have two small children) and may not get called back in the future, at least as long as Klinsmann's at the helm. But after such an embarrassing performance on Tuesday, Klinsmann may not be the one tasked with making things right. Gulati would not be drawn into a coaching discussion. Lalas said prior to the Mexico loss, he was asked to weigh in on the hypothetical nature of a possible 0-2 start.
Ditto for Brian Dunseth.
"I am not auditioning for the national team job, I'm not publicly advocating that Jurgen be relieved of his duties as the national team coach", he said. "I can't even remember the last time I saw a team that disconnected".
But the USA looked as if it has lost its way Tuesday. And now the wait.
In other matches, Mexico drew 0-0 with Panama in a dismal match in the isthmus.
The difficulty in rebounding from a setback at global level is that there is a limited amount of time for coaches and players to spend together.