The USMNT fell 2-0 to Guatemala Friday night and could end whatever hopes the Americans have of getting into the 2018 World Cup. It’s time to blame everyone, including Klinsmann, as usual.
And just like that, the United States Men’s National Team hit rock bottom – or for some, the eighth circle of hell.
The Americans’ 2-0 loss to Guatemala in the first of two matches against Los Chapines in World Cup qualifying was easily the worst performance by Jurgen Klinsmann’s side since he took over as the head coach. The USMNT gave up two quick goals within the first 30 minutes of play and couldn’t find the back of the net in the chances they created in the second half, losing in Guatemala City Friday night.
For what it’s worth, the United States hasn’t lost to Guatemala since 1988.
“Too many mistakes, especially in the first half hour,” Klinsmann said after the match. “On international level you cannon make the mistakes that led to the two goals. You simply cannot allow that.”
The Americans had very little to almost no possession throughout the night while Guatemala continued to pressure an American defensive third that saw a few players play out of position. One of which being midfielder Mix Diskerud who is normally an attacking midfielder further up the pitch but was asked to play in the back half Friday night. He was responsible for allowing Rafael Morales to score in the seventh minute, capping off a series of corner kicks that was sparked by a misplayed back pass by goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The entire defensive side of the midfield was responsible for allowing Los Chapines to score on a goal kick that saw the ball and Carlos Ruiz cut straight through, leaving Howard in a one-on-one situation that he ultimately lost.
The misuse of his players was the first mistake by Klinsmann Friday night. Asking Diskerud to play a holding midfield position which he isn’t very familiar was a mistake, along with playing Tim Howard in net. Considering the fact that Howard was benched by Everton this season, his form was mediocre at best. That’s not to say that Brad Guzan, who’s struggled a bit for Aston Villa as well, would’ve been the better choice – Guzan will get the start in the net in a potentially do-or-die scenario against Guatemala in Columbus, Ohio Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2, UniMas).
#USMNT‘s SPI projections to reach the Hex, based on Tuesday result, independent of TRI-VIN game:
Win: 92% ?
Draw: 59% ?
Loss: 10% ?
— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 26, 2016
“It was a lack of focus, concentration and wrong decisions,” he added. “We have to take responsibility for it, every one of us – coaches, players – and move on and get it done on Tuesday.”
Luckily, if anyone can call it that, Klinsmann’s decision to sub in Darlington Nagbe, Gyasi Zardes and Jozy Altidore – yes, even Altidore – gave the U.S. some sort of spark, even though they couldn’t find the back of the net against Guatemala keeper Paulo Motta, who had a stellar night between the posts.
But where does the USMNT go from here? Following an embarrassing, 2-0 loss against a team that the program hasn’t lost to since the Reagan administration, the United States cannot go any lower than the current eighth level of hell that they’re in… right?
The worst part is that there’s no easy way out. U.S. soccer has invested in Klinsmann both financially and control-wise to a point where the only way to get Klinsmann out is to have him leave on his own terms.
I’m not worried about qualifying (’02/’14) but I’m worried about “progression” and if you are NOT then what planet are you on?! #USMNT
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) March 26, 2016
As it stands, the one thing holding back the USMNT is Klinsmann himself. His attitude of getting his players to play “how he wants them to play” has gone mute, along with his poor decisions to play an entire midfield way out of position in a key World Cup qualifying match (let alone a CONCACAF match on the road), and to continue to bar certain players from his roster is slowly and surely driving the program deep into its grave.
Even though the USMNT isn’t as talented as the rest of the world’s big national teams (Spain, Italy, Germany, etc.), they have more than enough talent to handle CONCACAF. Right now, however, they’re arguably the worst team in the region, a complete 180-degree turn from the cloud-nine they were on following their 2014 World Cup run: the failure that was the 2015 Gold Cup and the potential failure that could be Copa America Centenario this summer that the US is hosting. Should the US miss out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it’ll be the first time the Americans won’t be in the sport’s biggest tournament since 1986, the last year of the USMNT’s 36-year absence from 1950-1986.
The Americans have been a staple of sort in the FIFA World Cup since 1990.
They say that after reaching rock-bottom, that one can only go up. The USMNT can only hope that holds true for them, and quickly, because World Cup qualifiers matter.