With some time to reflect on the US national team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann recently offered his thoughts on what it means in the larger picture.
"[Soccer in the United States has] been set back by several years," Klinsmann said to German newspaper Kicker, in quotes translated by ESPN. "That was a huge disappointment. The qualification really was never in doubt, but then the lads had a blackout versus Trinidad and Tobago. They only needed a point, were too sure of that and underestimated that final match."
Many Americans were taken aback at Klinsmann's assertion that qualifying for 2018 Russia "really was never in doubt," considering when he was dismissed as coach in November 2016, the USMNT were in last place of the Hexagonal round of Concacaf qualifying. While that was only two rounds into a 10-game cycle, that difficult start, which featured losses to Mexico and Costa Rica, were compounded by a loss to Costa Rica later in the Hex, as well as the decisive loss in Trinidad & Tobago under the following head coach, Bruce Arena.
For the record: after the first two Hex games, SPI had USMNT at 54% to qualify for the World Cup. To me, that's doubt. https://t.co/ntMGhqFPKG— Paul Carr (@PaulCarrTM) April 16, 2018
Klinsmann did credit the growth of soccer in the US and MLS reaching a state of sustainability.
"By now, MLS has caught up in the infrastructure. What happened in U.S. soccer in the past 20 years, that is a bit like a fairy tale. It still needs patience, but the league's getting stronger with every year," he said.