The case for firing Klinsmann if Mexico beats USMNT

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It’s all anyone wanted to talk about regarding the U.S. national team team for months now, and Landon Donovan’s comments on Tuesday only brought the discussion into further focus, so let’s talk about what happens to Jurgen Klinsmann if the USMNT loses to Mexico on Saturday, eh?

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The easy answer is, “He gets fired.” Of course, it’s not that simple. Let it be known that I am 100 percent against firing any coach for one result in one game, no matter the coach, the sport, or the situation. Furthermore, Klinsmann is an especially unique case as he holds both head coach and technical director titles. Firing Klinsmann the head coach would mean firing Klinsmann the technical director, as well.

If Klinsmann is to be fired following Saturday’s game against Mexico, it won’t be because he lost a single game against Mexico. It will be because he coached the USMNT to its worst-ever finish at the Gold Cup, showed no signs of learning or accepting responsibility for his mistakes, alienated and repeatedly blamed his players for said coaching errors, and lost to Mexico all in the span of three months.

Back in spring, Klinsmann called the 2015 Gold Cup the most important stretch of games during the calendar year. In fact, he did so on numerous occasions leading up to and even during the early stages of the tournament. As the tournament wore on, however, that rhetoric disappeared and in its place phrases like “experimenting with young players” and “building for the future” were born while more experienced players who had won previous editions of the Gold Cup — Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Benny Feilhaber, to name three examples — sat either at home or on the bench as the Yanks lost to Jamaica in the semifinals and Panama in the third-place game.

[ MORE: Klinsmann calls USA-Mexico one of world’s best rivalries ]

Klinsmann made qualifying for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup his no. 1 goal  this year, yet took a largely inexperienced squad to the Gold Cup, and failed. If the USMNT loses to Mexico on Saturday, Klinsmann’s bunch will have exhausted all options to get into the Confederations Cup, and failed again.

As Donovan pointed out on Tuesday, saying what so many have been saying for months now, he should answer to someone for that. It’s far from “sour grapes” from the player infamously cut from last summer’s World Cup team; it’s a veteran of the game, an American soccer legend, and someone who cares about the game going forward, speaking truth about the harsh reality of top-level soccer.

Around the world, if a player plays poorly and a player has a bad string of results, they get dropped from the team.

Jurgen said many times he wants our players to feel pressure — so if they lose a game they can’t go to the grocery store the next day. If they lose a game, they are getting hammered in the press.

The reality is that now, anywhere else in the world, if this coach had those results, and they lose this game against Mexico, they’d be fired.

Unfortunately, the four-year contract extension handed to Klinsmann prior to the 2014 World Cup — an unheard of practice in the international game — means answering for his shortcomings will likely amount to a friendly lecture from U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and a full-tooth, grinning “We’ll get ’em next time” rallying cry.

The standard defense of Klinsmann has long been one of two things: 1) “He’s trying to build a new program for the future and that takes time,” while ignoring that results still matter in the present tense; 2) “He doesn’t have good enough players because MLS isn’t good enough,” while ignoring that 10 players from the USMNT’s 23-man World Cup — a tournament at which the congregation of Klinsmann swears the USMNT did so well to get out of the “group of death” —  including seven key contributors, came from MLS.

[ MORE: How will the USMNT line up vs. Mexico? ]

Klinsmann has held exactly two other managerial job during his post-playing career — Germany and Bayern Munich — neither of which for a period longer than 24 months following a series of substandard results, by their respective measures. Is it really a surprise he’s failed to deliver on his grandiose plans through 50 months on the job?

In the end, the USMNT’s shortcomings under Klinsmann have often been due to self-inflicted handicaps that left the squad and/or lineup ill-prepared to achieve the kind of results he was hired to deliver. Never before has a USMNT head coach been armed with such compensation, such control over the entire system and such depth within the player pool, which also means that never before has — or, should have — a USMNT head coach been held to such a standard.

If Klinsmann merely achieves the same as those who came before him, that’s a clear failure to deliver his stated objectives. He won’t be fired even with an embarrassing defeat on Saturday, which means he has three more years to show us that both he and his USMNT can be better than they have been for the last four.

VIDEO: Kei Kamara scores superb bicycle kick goal against Sporting KC

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Kei Kamara has scored plenty of goals at Children’s Mercy Park, but none like his bicycle kick goal on Saturday.

The 35-year-old, now in his 16th season, showcased his penchant for scoring right before halftime against his former team. The goal makes 12 for the Colorado Rapids’ forward this season, placing him within the top 10 of the league and two begin his 14-goal season last year.

Overall, Kamara is fifth in the all-time MLS scoring list with 124 goals, second among active players behind San Jose Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski.

Enjoy a superb goal from a superb goalscoerer.

La Liga Roundup: Messi, Barcelona stunned by inspired Granada (video)

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Granada’s shocking 2-0 win over Barcelona and subsequent rise to the top of the table headlines Saturday’s La Liga action.

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Granada 2-0 Barcelona

Not even Lionel Messi, who made his season debut on Saturday, was able to save Barcelona against a red-hot Granada.

Granada, who are off to their best start in their 88 years of existence, had a perfect night in front of their supporters, convincingly getting past a Barcelona that dominated possession, but lacked the offensive ingenuity needed to score.

Barcelona’s defense wasn’t noteworthily robust, either.

Two minutes in, the newly promoted side scored through a headed goal from Ramon Azeez, following a defensive turnover from Junior Firpo.

Unable to record a shot on target in the first half and looking to wakeup a dormant attack, Barcelona brought on wonderkid Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi at halftime. Despite the duo connecting on several occasion and generating a shot on target, it wasn’t enough to get past Rui Silva.

In the 66th minute, following video review, substitute Alvaro Badillo converted from the spot, handing Granada their third win of the season.

Atop of La Liga, Granada set their sights on Real Valladolid, while Barcelona, who are off to their worst league start in 25 years, host Villarreal at Camp Nou.

Atletico Madrid  0-0 Celta Vigo

For a second consecutive week, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid dropped points, drawing with Celta Vigo 0-0 at Wanda Metropolitano.

Tied with league leaders Granada and Sevilla with 10 points, the alarm bells are far from going off in Madrid. However, as Saturday’s performance showed, los Colchoneros are having trouble finishing chances this season, despite fielding an attack with the likes of Joao Felix, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata.

In five games, Atletico have managed to score only five goals, six fewer than leaders Granada. Against Celta, Atletico registered 20 shots, five on target, but were unable to crack a stellar Ruben Blanco, who registered five saves.

Leveled with Granada and Sevilla, Atletico Madrid look to get back into winning ways as they take on RCD Mallorca. Elsewhere, Celta Vigo, who have won win after five games, host Espanyol next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Villarreal 2-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-0 Eibar

Almeyda, Wondolowski sent off in Quakes’ fall against Atlanta (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Melodrama took center stage in Atlanta United’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, as Matias Almeyda, Chris Wondolowski and Cristian Espinoza were all sent off on Saturday. Josef Martinez, six games away from tying Lionel Messi’s world record for most consecutive goals, left the field in 79th minute following an injury, ending his MLS-record run at 15 games. Playing with 10 players from the 34th minute onwards, the Quakes held on to the draw up until the 90th minute. Unmarked inside the box, Emerson Hyndman rocketed the ball past Daniel Vega, who recorded nine saves throughout the night. In stoppage time, Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez was rewarded for his stellar performance with a goal of his own. With a game at hand, Eastern Conference leaders, NYCFC, are three points ahead Frank De Boer‘s side. The Quakes, on the other hand, have internal fires to put out as they have lost six of their last eight, and are only a point above the red line with three games to play.

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Great run by Espinoza, greater ball by Vega  — Daniel Vega and Cristian Espinoza were players that San Jose were desperately missing last season. This sequence says it all.

 

90′ — Emerson Hyndman wins it for the Five Stripes   — Hyndman, with no one near him, seals three points for the home side.

 

90′ + 2 — Martinez takes advantage of broken San Jose  — Martinez’s goal was only salt in San Jose’s fresh wound.

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Man of the match: Gonzalo “Pity”  Martinez

Goalscorers: Meram (4′), Guzan (27′ – OG), Hyndman (90′), Martinez (90′ + 2)

FIFA sees no obstacles for women to attend games in Iran

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ZURICH — Soccer’s governing body FIFA says an inspection visit to Iran has shown “no noteworthy operational obstacles” to lifting the country’s 40-year ban and letting women attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

After meeting government and soccer officials in Tehran this week, FIFA says it will work with Iran’s soccer body to also open domestic league games to female fans.

FIFA wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums which breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a soccer stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

Ahead of Iran hosting Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10, FIFA says the visit on Thursday focused on “international relations, security and ticketing matters.”

Iranian officials were told of FIFA’s “firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely” with tickets sold to as many who wanted to attend.