Jurgen Klinsmann says he was fired for losing 2 games, which is crazy
Jurgen Klinsmann was fired as United States manager in November, but has been quiet ever since. This week, he finally spoke up, saying that he wasn't surprised that U.S. Soccer fired him after losses to Mexico and Costa Rica to open the final round of World Cup qualifying.
"No, I was not surprised. I can read people. I can read statements. I can read between the lines," Klinsmann told the LA Times. "The fact will remain we were let go because we lost two games."
Now that's a pretty spectacular quote, in large part because the first part of it contradicts the second part of it.
Klinsmann wasn't fired because the U.S. lost two games. Those losses were the confirmation U.S. Soccer needed to make the move, but if he did read the statement and read between the lines, he'd have seen that the federation has growing increasingly unhappy with his leadership and had spent months reconsidering the direction of the team.
The U.S. were generally underwhelming since the 2014 World Cup. They lost friendlies and World Cup qualifiers. They had arguably their worst Gold Cup ever, too. And throughout that, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati's support for Klinsmann softened some. While he expressed support, it was not the blanket, unquestioned support that it was at the beginning of Klinsmann's reign.
Gulati said that he had noticed Klinsmann's tendency to blame others for the team's struggles and had discussed it with the manager. At the Copa America Centenario, he said that the results over the previous 18 months hadn't been good enough. All the while, he continued to say that they wouldn't make any decisions based off one or two results, but that things needed to get better.
Then came the losses to Mexico and Costa Rica, after which Gulati said that they would talk to Klinsmann and evaluate everything. That was what he had said before other losses, saying they wanted to talk and consider the whole picture. But this time around U.S. Soccer acted -- they fired Klinsmann.
Now Klinsmann can say it was a matter of results -- two results. But that's simply not true. The losses to Mexico and Costa Rica obviously played a role, and being in danger of missing the World Cup put U.S. Soccer in a position where they needed to be confident about the direction of the program -- but it wasn't two losses. Like Klinsmann said, you could read statements and read between the lines. His job was in danger because of a lot of losses, all since the 2014 World Cup, and across pretty much every competition. The losses to Mexico and Costa Rica were just the latest.