Jurgen Klinsmann will remain as United States coach - Sunil Gulati
ST. LOUIS -- U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati acknowledged on Friday that both the U.S. men's national team and manager Jurgen Klinsmann are going through a difficult period. But he added that Klinsmann will remain the coach going forward, though nothing is guaranteed.
"We expect to qualify, I expect Jurgen to be the coach," said Gulati during a roundtable with reporters. "But I don't think anyone can honestly say, regardless of what happens, this is what we're going to do. Whether it's picking the team captain, the right-back, or the coach. No matter what happens, it's unrealistic.
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"I haven't figured out the right way to give the right level of support to the coach, that actually has credibility, without outright saying things that won't be accurate. No one has got that kind of job security. Not me, not [USSF CEO Dan Flynn], not the players."
"My guess is that he's got the best won-loss percentage we've ever had, or it's close. We got out of the toughest group at the World Cup. We won 12 games in a row," Gulati continued.
"There's more attention around this sport than there's ever been. Part of that is controversy, part of that is his personality. All of those are positives, and we're going through a bad spell. That happens."
Gulati and Flynn held a series of meetings with Klinsmann following the U.S. team's CONCACAF Cup defeat to Mexico in early October. One meeting in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26 lasted well over two hours. During that meeting, Gulati indicated that the three individuals had some frank discussions, though he declined to get into specifics.
"This has been a tough period for sure, the hardest period since Jurgen has been coach, both in terms of results and in terms of the public questioning of what he's doing, what we're doing," said Gulati. "That's normal. When you've got the worst results, that's when you get the most questions."
The U.S. is suffering through a 1-4-1 record that includes three defeats to CONCACAF opposition on home soil. More worryingly, the U.S. has been badly outplayed in those matches. Gulati admitted the run concerns him.
"Is it different if it's 0-0 and you lose a game on a bad penalty kick call or somebody slips or if you lose 5-0? The answer is, 'Of course it is,'" he said.
"The result is the same, but if we had dominated Jamaica and lost the game on a free kick and a controversial call and so on, that's different than getting outshot. That raises more concerns of course."
Gulati also said that published reports that Klinsmann has had some responsibilities taken away from him and that they've been handed over to U.S. Soccer chief commercial officer Jay Berhalter are "incorrect."
"[Klinsmann's responsibilities] haven't changed at all, never changed," said Gulati. "So we're clear, there's lots of people that work in our program. He's an important executive in our organization. And so a lot of what gets done or decided, gets operationalized by someone other than Jurgen.
"It's not as if Jurgen is meeting with all the development academy coaches five times a year. Jay's got some responsibilities in there along with others; Tony Lepore and many others. And there may have been a miscommunication on one or two things, but that's it, no change."