This is the match that will have to stick in your craw for a solid four months.
The United States looked absolutely terrible from the midfield back in an embarrassing road loss to Costa Rica on Tuesday in San Jose.
Was this an unintentional tank job by the players?
No one would expect the United States men’s national team to purposely lose an important World Cup qualifier in order to get their coach fired, but perhaps the American players subconsciously did just that.
Aside from Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood, and perhaps Jozy Altidore, the United States men were woeful in the technical, poor in the tactical, and — perhaps most damning given the reputation of the team — absent in heart.
The defending was horrific, the midfield absent. A humming group of forwards was starved of the ball, and the coach removed the team’s best playmaker with 20 minutes to play.
Follow me here. Timmy Chandler was so bad, it was improbable to imagine that he regularly goes 90 for a top-half team in the Bundesliga.
Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, woof. We’ll deal with that later.
Omar Gonzalez was clumsy, and John Brooks overwhelmed. These weren’t Spring chickens. They were veterans playing like newbies.
And this is certainly not only on the players. Why wasn’t DeAndre Yedlin slotted at right back? Why wasn’t Fabian Johnson manning left back? Why did it take so long to make subs? And when they did, why was it Lynden Gooch for a Christian Pulisic was having a fine day?
It’s worth asking whether the team, known as one that would die rather than relent, mentally checked out on their coach.
Center mids fail to defy Klinsmann criticism
On Friday, Klinsmann thrice mentioned the play of Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley as at fault for the woes of the 3-4-3 formation.
On Tuesday in a 4-4-2, both went well into the second half looking subpar if not flat out poor.
Jones was ill-disciplined and positionially unaware, and Bradley looks a shell of himself. The captain is capable of the sublime, and at 29 is certainly not over the hill, but at times he was simply a passenger.
Bradley and Jones did a miserable job of linking the backs (and the ball) to Bobby Wood, Jozy Altidore, and Christian Pulisic.
Jones will be suspended for the next qualifier, in March against Honduras. We look forward to see who takes his place.
How low is too low?
It seems unlikely that Sunil Gulati and US Soccer would can Klinsmann, even given this horrible display. What that would tell us is that only missing a World Cup would be enough to inspire change.
Think about that.
No, the player pool isn’t good. But the player pool should be better than Costa Rica, and rival Mexico.
The United States is going to get out of CONCACAF and qualify for Russia, but that’s no longer suppoed to be the goal for an “emerging power”. At this point, we’d settle for “emerging average”.