It has been a mere three days since U.S. Soccer parted ways with longtime head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Though Jurgen faced a mounting wave of criticism in his final days, the former German striker led the team to a number of milestones during his tenure at the helm.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s take a break from all the #haters online and remember the good times that ole Jurgen brought to the USMNT.
Surviving the Group of Death
Heading into the 2014 World Cup the United States squad was largely overlooked and expected to quickly lose out of a particularly lethal group stage filled with the likes of Ghana, Portugal, and Germany.
Against all odds, Jurgen led an inspiring challenge to the group, beating Ghana and tying Portugal, a streak that would earn enough points to advance out of the group on onto the round of 16.
Despite losing in the round of 16 in extra time, surviving the Group of Death was a wake-up call to many docile soccer fans in America. It energized the supporters group the American Outlaws and brought many new fans to the burgeoning sport.
Focus on Youth
Since his hiring five years ago, one of Klinsmann’s most frequent messages to the American soccer public has been a call to step up our game at the youth level. Klinsmann seems to genuinely want to see the U.S. grow into a world soccer power and in his estimation that begins with a solid foundation of commitment at the youth level.
"The one common denominator you see with all the top players is a mindset of total determination they had as youth players and kept that right up to their national team careers," Klinsmann said in an interview with CNN this summer.
The U.S. soccer pyramid is still in many ways in its infancy. More attention to growing the sport at the youth, academy, and even collegiate levels is a benefit to the sport as a whole. Remember: A rising tide raises all ships.
A Gentleman’s Farewell
Despite an on-again-off-again relationship with U.S. soccer fans, Klinsmann handled his dismissal with the grace and class of a true professional.
Soon after news broke of his firing, Klinsmann posted a short video on his Facebook page thanking fans for their support and the chance to lead the national team. It was a classy move by a man that was well loved by many players, even in the final days of his tenure.
Though many felt Jurgen was not the right man to lead the USMNT to the 2018 World Cup and beyond, his level-headedness and devotion to the team will be missed.
On this Thanksgiving, we’re raising a turkey leg to the progress made over the last five years, even in spite of the challenges. Thanks for the memories, Jurgen.