Jurgen Klinsmann spoke with Reuters recently and stressed patience after his team’s disappointing start to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. He said:
"When things go slightly wrong, there are some people who come out and are ready to chop your head off.
In the long run, that’s going to make the development of the team difficult. It’s important to stay calm and be patient.
There are definitely issues to be addressed but there is no reason to exaggerate them or panic.”
Since CONCACAF adopted the current format for qualifying ahead of the 1998 World Cup, the USMNT has never started the final round with two losses. Only one team that began with two losses has qualified for the World Cup, Trinidad and Tobago finished fourth in the Hex in ahead of the 2006 World Cup and earned their ticket to Germany via the continental playoffs.
Klinsmann told Reuters that the team would bounce back and earn at least 15 points from the remaining 24 available, which he feels would be enough to ensure qualification. No team that has earned 17 points in the Hex has failed to qualify, but 15 has typically been enough to get in.
He said that perspective is needed from his critics.
"It’s important to put this in the right perspective. We lost the two opening games and played the two best teams right away. We have eight more games to get the points needed to qualify. We’ve always reacted strongly when things were nerve-wracking.
This team is always capable of reacting. We’ll correct this with the two games in March (against Honduras and Panama) and we’ll take one game at a time from there to get our points. I’m 1,000 percent sure we’ll qualify."
Klinsmann feels that the Copa America Centenario was a “seminal moment for U.S. soccer.”
"We had a maturing process at the Copa America that was outstanding. We wanted to have younger players becoming more powerful and confident and got that. There is a real dynamic going on with players like Bobby Wood, John Brooks, Jordan Morris and Christian Pulisic."
He also told a gala dinner in Berlin that he has the support of President Barack Obama. It remains to be seen if he has the support of U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who has only said that he would not make a quick decision on the direction of the program after the home loss to Mexico.