He is known for his upbeat personality. He smiles a lot more on the sideline than previous coaches Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley. But even he didn’t have much to smile about Wednesday.
“Obviously, it’s not what we wanted,” Klinsmann said. “We wanted to start with a positive result, and we have to fix that right away now against Costa Rica in Denver in March. But we knew it was going to be difficult. … There are no excuses. When you lose a game here, there are reasons for it. The reasons for it [Wednesday] were that too many players were underneath their usual performance. We made too many mistakes. … We gave them far too much space [Wednesday].”
He refused to blame the back line or second guess his decision to throw untested Gonzalez into such a critical game.
“We believe Omar is ready for the next step, ready for the international level,” Klinsmann said. “The only way you find that out is to give him a chance and throw him in the cold water. Overall he has done well. … It takes time to develop. But the back line wasn’t the reason we lost that game.”
He suggested the midfield was equally to blame. He wound up using substitutes Maurice Edu, Graham Zusi and Sacha Kljestan in the second half, looking for a spark. “We didn’t find our passing flow, we didn’t combine well enough, we didn’t hold the ball well enough,” he said.
Despite the loss, there is reason for optimism. You may have forgotten that in 2002, the United States was in danger of not qualifying after consecutive losses to Costa Rica, Mexico and Honduras, leaving it in fourth place with two qualifiers left. The team survived, and went on to the World Cup quarterfinals. Perhaps, this story will have a happy ending, too.