The recently fired German may not have delivered on all of his self-sponsored hype, but he made a lasting impact on the USMNT.
Late in the musical Hamilton, George Washington delivers a line about the importance self-imposing a term limit on his Presidency: If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on / It outlives me when I’m gone. It’s a powerful sentiment, a delineation between the individual and their contributions as an integral part of generational, organizational growth. A perfect leader for one moment in history may not be right for the next. Not everyone is a wartime consigliere.
While the current U.S. President-Elect may not be a fan of Hamilton (or term limits?), the current U.S. Soccer President, Sunil Gulati, apparently sides with Washington, firing Jurgen Klinsmann after a dismal start to the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying, bringing an end to his five-year term as U.S. Men’s National Team head coach (as well as his role as technical director for U.S. Soccer).
In reality, of course, Klinsmann’s employment was contractual, and it feels as though some people have been calling for the termination of that contract since the moment it was inked. But the volume reached deafening levels in the wake of a 4–0 defeat at Costa Rica. By any metric, that’s a disastrous result, especially after the myth-shattering loss to a (really good) Mexican side in (*gasp*) Columbus. Sometimes two goals becomes four; such is the nature of blowout defeats. Other times, blowouts are an indicator that players quit on their coach. Only the players in that locker room know for sure.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides to the blistering pace of this current Information Era (and the deluge of terrifying, cry-yourself-to-sleep, hateful rhetoric that comes with it) is that it can be really easy to forget what happened five hours ago, let alone five years ago. It is vital, though, not to overlook the contributions of the now-deposed manager during his tenure.
To do so would be detrimental to the future of the program and the overall development of U.S. Soccer during that time. How does a complete rhetorical teardown and dismissal of the previous regime benefit the USMNT going forward? How do you build something meaningful over the course of generations if every leader starts from scratch?