Prior to the United States‘ World Cup qualifying game against Costa Rica this past weekend, grumblings were starting to surface that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had lost the squad. Sporting News ran a story with interviews from anonymous players and team personnel, all of whom seemed to say they disliked the coach in one way or another.
There was even talk of Klinsmann being fired if he did not get favorable results in their two contests against Costa Rica and Mexico. This about the coach who was the supposed savior of a team talented enough to go beyond the group stage at the 2014 World Cup, but who was lost under the leadership of previous coach Bob Bradley.
If you ask me, the weekend could not have gone any better. The USMNT pulled off a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in a massive snow storm. The game was a spectacle to watch on TV, and Clint Dempsey‘s rebound was enough to secure victory after a poor defeat to Honduras in the CONCACAF opener.
They then went to Mexico and took on their rivals to the south. USA has won just once before in Azteca, and that was in a friendly. In World Cup qualifiers, the US rarely come away with points when playing in Mexico City. Backup keeper Brad Guzan had a masterful performance in place of the injured Tim Howard. It seems the US is always able to find and develop great keepers for their roster, and Guzan could take over the team after the 2014 games.
That said, Mexico squandered a few great chances. On the surface, a tie would indicate an evenly played match, but this was not the case at all. Mexico dominated possession and chances from start to finish, holding a whopping 17-1 shots-on-goal advantage. However, the United States’ back line never made it easy on El Tri. In place of the normal starters, young defenders Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler stepped up in a big way.
The stars of this game for the USMNT were that back line and Guzan, but it’s hard to ignore the struggles of the offense when Klinsmann was brought in for his offensive prowess. He seems to not know what he wants at times, having started a different starting lineup in every single contest he’s coached. He often changes tactics despite practicing another tactic in the week before games and cannot settle on one form of attack.
The weekend will put the talk of Klinsmann being fired to rest, but don’t be surprised if it comes up again. The draw puts the US (1-1-1) in third place behind Panama and Costa Rica. They couldn’t ask to be in a better place after playing these two contests without many of their premier players, but the seat under Klinsmann’s chair is still warm and only just cooling a bit after a successful weekend.