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Jurgen Klinsmann’s up-and-down career as manager of the United States men’s national soccer team has officially ended after five tumultuous years, with the USMNT announcing his dismissal Monday. Klinsmann arrived in 2011 after the team’s performance fell off late in Bob Bradley’s tenure as coach, and the German made significant gains early on: The U.S.’s Elo rating rose from 1714 (34th-best in the world) when Klinsmann took over to a high of 1858 (ninth in the world) after the team tied Portugal 2-2 in the 2014 World Cup. But ever since then, it’s been mostly downhill for the Stars and Stripes, culminating in a 33rd-place Elo ranking after the U.S. lost 4-0 to Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier last week.
In that sense, Klinsmann left the U.S. in basically the same state in which he found it. However, his stint as coach was always about more than just on-field results; he was also supposed to overhaul America’s talent base and install a more competitive playing style. And in those categories — essentially wearing the “technical director” hat, rather than that of “head coach” — Klinsmann acquitted himself more ably, a shift personified by 18-year-old rising star Christian Pulisic. Such improvements never sustained themselves on the pitch for Klinsmann — at least not in conjunction with his at-times bizarre tactical experimentation — and that’s why he’s no longer the U.S.’s coach. But his successor will probably be picking up the team in a better place than Klinsmann did back in 2011, despite what the rankings may say.Share on Facebook