The USMNT’s blowout loss to Costa Rica last night was bad. Really, really bad.
The odds were indeed stacked against them; the USA had just come off a shock loss to Mexico in Columbus on Friday, and have to date never won away at Costa Rica. The result wasn’t wholly unexpected. But the margin of defeat, combined with a questionable team selection and a shockingly poor performance, has thrown the USMNT and its fans into crisis.
The defensive line (rightfully) bears most of the blame for such a historically bad performance. Poor organization and lax judgment led to mistakes like this:
And, of course, this:
The USMNT's loss— their heaviest in World Cup qualifying since 1980— leaves them 0 for 2 in the final round of CONCACAF WCQ and sitting in the bottom of the Hex. There is now a very real possibility that the USA won't be going to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It would be the first time they failed to qualify since 1986.
While the players should bear the brunt of the blame for their performance last night— John Brooks in particular had a shockingly poor night— eyes are now being cast squarely in the manager's direction. The call for Jürgen Klinsmann to be fired as USMNT head coach, previously taken up by a vocal plurality, has now seemingly reached broad consensus. There's a palpable sense that whatever Klinsmann is trying to do to make the USA a genuine powerhouse in international soccer simply isn't working.
There are very compelling reasons to let Klinsmann go. And indeed, if he were the manager for a major European team— say, Germany— he likely would have been let go some time ago. Yet despite Sunil Gulati's comments that he would “talk with Jürgen and look at the situation,” the frustration from USMNT fans stems in part from the perception that Klinsmann's job is probably safe. Barring some significant closed-door maneuvering, it's entirely possible that JK won't be in serious danger unless and until the United States officially fail to qualify for 2018.
The next international break is in March. Whatever happens, this is going to be a very long winter.