The United States men's national team needs a win or a tie (provided Colombia doesn't lose to Costa Rica by six goals or more) against Paraguay to advance out of the group stage at the Copa America Centenario.
If they lose, then expect the drum beat of Fire-Klinsmann-Fire-Klinsmann-Fire-Klinsmann to increase in amplitude and tempo.
In fact, it's already started.
MLSSoccer.com's Matt Doyle makes it quite clear:
A US loss would be the worst of Jurgen's tenure. Paraguay haven't won away vs. Top 50 team this decade.https://t.co/9aPy6x6oXO— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) June 10, 2016
Thomas Rongen, former U.S. U-20 head coach, thinks Klinsmann should be out with a loss:
At the end of the day, if they don't make it out of group play, if they lose against Paraguay (on Saturday), I really think a change is inevitable and needs to be made.
We were even treated to a "Fire Klinsmann" banner all the way back in March when the U.S. took on Guatemala in a World Cup Qualifying match at Columbus' Mapfre Stadium:
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati -- normally not one to waver in his support of Klinsmann or create headlines -- fanned the flames by merely mentioning the potential for a head coach (and technical director) to be fired:
"We will look at everything after the end of the (Copa America)," Gulati added. "We will wait and see how the next two games go and hopefully some additional games after that.
He continued: "’We have to win games,' I said, I didn’t say Jurgen had to win games. No one has iron clad job security. Jurgen has already said, for coaches and players it is about results."
And this is before the Paraguay match has even kicked off. One can only imagine the columns, tweets, and alternative means of communications (singing telegrams? smoke signals?) that will be sent out if the U.S. fails to win or tie their third match of the Copa America Centenario.
Publicly, Klinsmann appears unconcerned:
A defeat Saturday would bring a review of Klinsmann’s job security, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said this week. Klinsmann said he was embracing that pressure.
"I love that type of situation," he said.
Love it or not, Klinsmann will face a lot of questions if his team fails to perform. The players will receive plenty of blame and calls for removal, especially the older ones who will be painted as preventing young guns from receiving their fair shot to transform the national team. But, as always, discussion will ultimately be about the coach.
There aren't more than five to ten people who know how close Klinsmann is (or isn't) to unemployment. Maybe a potential firing wouldn't be about the Copa America. Maybe it would be a belated punishment for failing to place at the 2015 Gold Cup, defeat Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, or advance to the Olympics. Maybe it would be fall out from the behind the scenes drama in U.S. Soccer that Grant Wahl wrote about in October. Maybe Klinsmann is starting to feel stale and the powers that be want a reset or a quick fix leading into the 2018 World Cup.
The takes aren't out there yet, but they've been mentally prepared and possibly pre-written, ready to be sent out tonight immediately following the referee's final whistle. They'll be generally the same ones that were published last year, with largely the same criticisms. Only this time there will be another "failure" to add to Klinsmann's résumé.
If the U.S. loses, be ready for them. If the U.S. wins, then you'll have to wait for the next disappointing loss to read them.