While Jurgen Klinsmann's time at the helm of the U.S. national team started to go sour in since the 2014 World Cup, the fired coach leaves behind some successes. Klinsmann's struggles have been well documented, but here is a look at some of the best things he did for the USMNT.
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Get out of a tough World Cup group
This has been perhaps the biggest talking point when looking Klinsmann's success. The Americans got out of a tough group and into the knockout round of the World Cup, where they held on until extra time. It's that performance that earned Klinsmann a spot on the shortlist for FIFA's 2014 coaches of the year.
This accomplishment is the subject of some debate. After all, while some dubbed it the “Group of Death” it wasn't really so deadly. Ghana's team was going through internal struggles, Portugal with an injured Cristiano Ronaldo played well below their level, and the match against Germany was in a strange monsoon that everyone just wanted to get out of without injury. When they got to the round of 16 against Belgium, it took a historic performance from Tim Howard to keep the USMNT in the match. But even still, the Americans were one finished chance away from the quarterfinals of a World Cup.
Discovered and called-in quality dual-nationals
While Abby Wambach may not be the biggest fan of it, Klinsmann's ability to find and cap-tie dual internationals has been one of the best assets he has brought to the program.
The most prominent one is probably Fabian Johnson, the German-born defender/midfielder who has been widely regarded as one of the USMNT's best players over the past few years. He played exclusively for Germany from the U-17 to U-21 levels, but made the jump to the USMNT under Klinsmann.
Although Julian Green fell off after the 2014 World Cup, he did score a goal in the toughest match the USMNT had in Brazil, and lately he has been in form at Bayern Munich that has him looking like a good USMNT option again. German-born Green was heavily persuaded by Klinsmann to join the team and it's unclear where he'd be without Klinsmann.
Aron Johannson had played for Iceland's youth national team and was called in for Iceland's senior squad during World Cup qualifying, but was not cap-tied due to a groin injury. Klinsmann scouted him in 2013 and he joined the USMNT later that year. He has faced bout of injury since the 2014 World Cup, but if he can get back on track, there's reason to think he'll be important for the USMNT.
It's fair to say, specifically in the case of German-American dual-nationals, that many of the players choosing the USMNT did so because they wouldn't be able to break into the other country's national team. But Klinsmann has gone to great lengths to identify eligible players and bringing them into the fold.
Believed in Bobby Wood when no one else did
These days, Wood is known as the striker who has been holding his own in the Bundesliga. But when Klinsmann started giving him call-ups in 2013, the decision was met with befuddlement from many fans and pundits. He was playing in the fourth tier of German soccer and he wasn't exactly looking like a star-in-the-making for the USMNT.
But by last year, Wood seemed to be turning a corner and whatever glimmer Klinsmann saw in the young Hawaiian was starting to show. After a stellar season in Germany's second tier, Wood made the jump to the Bundesliga – and he also made the jump to a starter on the USMNT. The partnership he has built with Jozy Altidore has looked strong and he could very well continue to be a starter in the months and years to come.
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Gave Jordan Morris his first call-up
Klinsmann was never shy about taking risks on players. Whether they were in college, the NASL or an obscure club, Klinsmann was open-minded. And it was ostensibly that approach that led the manager to bring Morris into the fold while he was still only in college at Stanford. Morris earned his first call-up in 2014 as the first collegiate player to join the USMNT in years. The following year, Morris scored his first goal against Mexico.
It's hard to quantify the effect Morris' time with the national team has had on the young player, but in his debut professional season with the Seattle Sounders this year, he has set records as a rookie and has been the team's leading goal-scorer. And now thanks to Klinsmann, he looks like an important depth piece on the international level.
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Set the team's longest win streak
When Klinsmann's contract was extended in 2013 before the World Cup even started, some people felt that move was premature. Maybe, in retrospect, it was, but the fact is, Klinsmann had guided the USMNT through a historically good 2013. He led the Americans to 12 straight wins, the longest winning streak the team has ever had, and they won their World Cup qualifying group with relative ease.
Getty ImagesRobert Cianflone