One long week after the United States Men’s National Team lost 4-0 to Costa Rica, head coach and technical director Jurgen Klinsmann has been let go.
A polarizing figure in American soccer, Klinsmann was brought in to rebuild the USMNT from the ground up, revamping the US’s development system and bringing an attacking mindset to the men’s side. While the jury remains out on his effect on the youth system — he spent much of his tenure sparring with the other driving force behind recent changes in the US development system: MLS — Klinsmann never quite figured out how to play the stylish game that he promised back in 2010.
Criticisms of Klinsmann come in many flavors, but one of the most consistently heard in Portland has been that he has misused Darlington Nagbe, giving the Portland Timbers midfielder spotty minutes in a series of ever-changing formations. This all seemed to come to a head in October when Nagbe turned down a call up to the USMNT for a pair of friendlies. Some reported that Nagbe was turning down the call up to spend more time with his family, while others said that Nagbe was fed up with Klinsmann, who had allegedly told him to improve his athleticism and close-control, and that he needed to move to Europe to improve his game.
Now, with Klinsmann out of the picture, could Nagbe find himself back in the discussion for the US?
The short answer is undoubtedly yes.
Klinsmann himself was already laying out the welcome mat for Nagbe before his departure, saying in a recent interview that he will get called up up again, and any coach could certainly find a use for a player of Nagbe’s skill and athleticism.
Currently it looks like Bruce Arena is the best bet to take over the US through the 2018 World Cup and the current LA Galaxy head coach is certainly a pragmatist who can assemble a team in short order, meaning that Nagbe’s recent hiatus from the USMNT likely will not be held against him.
In fact, Arena’s Galaxy sides have generally excelled on the break, something that Nagbe is among the best facilitators of in MLS, and that quality could see him upgraded from a potential bench player to someone who could challenge for a regular place in the side. Nagbe has always been a difficult player to pin down, particularly when it comes to his attacking contributions, so nothing is guaranteed as Arena — or whoever takes over for Klinsmann — looks to salvage the US’s chances of making the World Cup, but he has every possibility to making that happen.
What do you think about Klinsmann’s firing? Will Nagbe make it back into the USMNT for this World Cup cycle? Should he? Let us know in the comments.