PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Jurgen Klinsmann’s job as U.S. national men’s football coach is safe for the time being, despite a disappointing fourth place finish in the Gold Cup, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said.
A 2-1 semi-final loss to Jamaica and a 3-2 penalty defeat on Saturday to Panama in the third-place match left the U.S. squad in fourth. Only a 2000 quarter-final penalties loss to Colombia kept this from being their worst showing ever in the biennial regional football tournament.
But Gulati said there was no thought of dumping Klinsmann.
“We don’t make judgments based on one game,” Gulati said. “It’s obviously a disappointment. I wouldn’t call it a step back.
“There’s no panic. It’s a big disappointment. We move on,” Gulati added.
It was four years ago when a runner-up showing in the Gold Cup cost Bob Bradley his job and led to Klinsmann’s hiring. The German’s run has been praised, including a last-16 World Cup effort at Brazil last year and away wins last month over the Dutch and Germans.
“Progress is not linear,” Gulati said. “There are bumps along the way. This is clearly a bump. We’re making progress in certain areas, less so in others.”
Klinsmann has the team focused on September friendlies against Brazil and Peru and an October playoff with either Mexico or Jamaica for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup, a warm-up event in Russia for the 2018 World Cup.
“We look toward September to build things in order to be prepared for the playoff in October,” Klinsmann said. “The goal is always to go further in the next World Cup than we did in Brazil.
“This is a work in progress that here and there will give us some setbacks, some situations where you make a step back maybe and hopefully make two forward. This team will grow, this team will get better.”
It will need to improve because the bar has been raised for regional World Cup qualifying. Costa Rica reached the last eight in last year’s World Cup while Jamaica and Panama, teams that only beat the Americans once before, humbled them this week.
“It shows you also how competitive this region is,” Klinsmann said. “Nations that maybe weren’t regarded as high before the tournament earned a lot of respect, like Haiti for example, or especially Jamaica being in the final.”
Veteran defender DaMarcus Beasley says the U.S. will bounce back.
“We have to pick ourselves up and move forward and obviously take the criticism,” he said. “But this is just going to make us a stronger team. There are a lot of young guys that will grow. This is giving them a taste of what it’s going to be like come qualifying time. I’m 100 percent sure we will be ready for it.”
Klinsmann said referee inconsistency that aroused the ire of Costa Rica and Panama in the event was an issue even for his side.
“Every time you go on the field you don’t know what happens with the refs,” said Klinsmann. “This feeling was there from the beginning of the tournament where you always wonder what will happen. It kind of overshadowed everything that went on, really.”