ARLINGTON, Texas – Jurgen Klinsmann was appropriately contrite. Whether his remorse will be enough to spare the United States national team boss from suspension still remains to be seen.
According to Klinsmann, he didn’t intend to show up referee Walter Quesada in the dying moments of Wednesday’s Gold Cup semifinal at Cowboys Stadium as he vehemently protested what he considered unnecessarily rough play. But that didn’t stop Quesada from asking the German to leave the field of play in the 88th minute of the US’ 3-1 victory against Honduras.
“It was just a reaction out of frustration because fouls had added up throughout the last half an hour,” Klinsmann said. “… I just kind of overboiled it. Obviously, you shouldn’t then throw the ball or hit it on the ground. I apologize for that reaction, but it was not meant against the referee, against nobody. It was just frustration because you feel the health of your player [is in jeopardy] in that moment. I apologize for that.”
But no matter how many times he says sorry, Klinsmann’s fate now rests in the hands of the CONCACAF Disciplinary Committee. Only they can spare the German from the unenviable fate of watching Sunday’s final against Panama at Soldier Field from a luxury box.
According to a CONCACAF spokesman, a decision will come via a public statement in the next 24 to 48 hours. Until then, though, Klinsmann will be in limbo, forced to contemplate the possibility of being separated from his team when it matters most.
He was particularly incensed by a two-man tackle from behind on captain DaMarcus Beasley, who said the Hondurans began dishing out kicks off the ball as the game slipped away and appreciated the animated show of support from his head coach.
“Rightly so, he sticks up for us. He sticks up for his players,” Beasley said. “I don’t have [a] complaint about that, but hopefully CONCACAF sees that it wasn’t too malicious and he can be on the sideline with us on Sunday.”
Should Klinsmann be handed a suspension by the region’s governing body, assistant coach Martin Vasquez would presumably be next in line to lead a US team that will almost certainly enter the final with the favorite tag.
Nobody in the American camp wants to see that, though, considering the circumstances and what’s at stake.
“That would not be good for us. We’re very hopeful that that’s not the case,” Landon Donovan, who scored twice and assisted on a third, said. “It’s not automatic that he’s out for the final, so we’ll hope that [he’s not suspended]. You never want to see a player or coach suspended for a final. Hopefully whoever reviews that takes that into consideration. I’m sure he’s remorseful for what he did. Sometimes that happens in a game. We’ve all made those decisions at times. Hopefully it doesn’t affect us.”
Beasley shared his long-time teammate’s concern, but felt confident the US could overcome the loss of their charismatic head coach should it come to that.
Would it be ideal? Of course not, but as Beasley noted, Klinsmann’s vision is already firmly implanted and this US team certainly doesn’t need its hand held for 90 minutes – Gold Cup final or not.
“He’ll be there with us [no matter what], but at the same time, we can’t let that affect us. We have to go out and play our game,” he said. “He gives us the tactics, but at the same time, we know how to play football, we know how he wants us to play. It’s going to be a loss if he’s not on the sideline, but he’ll be with us in spirit if he’s not there, and I’m sure he’ll be cheering us on no matter where he’s sitting.”