“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” — Whoever invented that saying must have not been a member of the American soccer community. Despite being fired over four months ago, it seems like nearly every discussion revolving around the United States men’s national team involves comparing every result to what Jurgen Klinsmann did or didn’t do in his time in charge. Only four matches into the post-Klinsmann era and the debate is getting very old. It’s human nature to keep bringing up the past, but there comes a point when it’s time to let it go and that time is now.
After the U.S. completely dominated Honduras in the first competitive match of Bruce Arena’s second spell as manager, the anti-Klinsmann faithful celebrated like the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 500 years.
So as expected, USA dominated Honduras at home in a WCQ. Great result, we badly needed. Would that have happened under Klinsmann? No.— Shawn Frazier (@FrazaFraz20) March 25, 2017
A few days later when they held Panama to a pragmatic and overall sloppy draw away from home, the pro-Klinsmann crowd treated it as a feather in their cap and a slight against the current regime.
if Jurgen Klinsmann barely drew a weak panama side, landon donovan and most of you would rip him. but bruce arena's the "savior" LoL. #usmnt— Dominic Waffle (@DominicWaffle) March 29, 2017
The American soccer fanbase has slowly but surely devolved into something that closely resembles that of a political election campaign that never comes to a conclusion. His supporters will always believe that he wasn’t given a fair shake, while his opposers will continue to point out his shortcomings as a manager. While that debate will never truly die, the current results of the USMNT shouldn’t be tied to it.
The German legend was brought in to be the savior of the entire program. Arena’s arrival as his replacement was a band-aid on an oozing wound. While Jurgen was brought in as a beacon of hope for the future, Arena’s job is completely short-sighted with one stated goal, to qualify for the World Cup. In his introductory press conference he didn’t throw on a cape, jump on a desk, and promise the most beautiful soccer the world has ever seen. His main goal is to get the U.S. to Russia and save the program from utter embarrassment. After that happens, then who the hell knows what the long-term plan is?
It’s completely unfair and irrational to compare every single result that the USMNT gets while Arena is in charge to what Klinsmann would or wouldn’t have done. Whether it’s a “Champagne Football” type of performance that leaves the world in awe of our soccer brilliance or a slogfest in Central America that leaves you questioning why you watch this dumb sport in the first place, it’s completely irrelevant to what Klinsmann did in his time in charge.
Once this cycle is over and U.S. Soccer turns the program over to their long-term successor (*cough* please God, Oscar Pareja *cough*), then you can make the comparisons to what Klinsmann brought to the table. As far as Bruce Arena is concerned, he’s a mercenary hired to save face for the program that was embarrassed at the start of the Hex. Once his job is over, feel free to over-analyze and compare the next “Chosen One” with the guy who was given the keys six years ago and stalled the car on the highway.
Of course, this post won’t do anything but start yet another shouting match between the two parties, but I had to try. Jurgen Klinsmann is gone and it’s time to stop blaming him or idolizing him. To his credit, despite all the negativity aimed at him before his firing, he’s been nothing but classy about the decision. It’s time everyone else follows suit and moves on.