Former USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann feels the team could have made the last four of the 2018 World Cup – had they qualified.
Klinsmann lost his job early in qualifying for Russia after losses to Mexico and Costa Rica, and USA never fully recovered. A 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in their final match mean the Americans will miss a World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Jurgen Klinsmann feels the USA could have made the World Cup semis – had they qualified
Klinsmann was sacked as USA manager in 2018 qualifying, with the team later missing out
Klinsmann told Yahoo Sports: ‘I realistically saw a group growing into the World Cup 2018 that could go into a semi-final.
‘The World Cup has nothing to do with the four years prior to that. It’s a completely new chapter.
‘Whenever I played in a World Cup or European Championship, it gave me so much energy. I don’t know why. I could have had a **** season before that tournament, and suddenly that tournament brought me to life. Whatever happened the last couple of months before didn’t matter.’
Klinsmann managed USA in Brazil 2014, where they impressed by reaching the last 16
Klinsmann managed the USA at the 2014 tournament in Brazil where they impressed, getting out of a group containing Germany, Ghana and Portugal before losing in extra-time to Belgium in the last 16.
As examples of teams who have thrived at World Cups after struggling in qualifying, Klinsmann pointed to his own experiences with Germany in 1990.
He said: ‘We almost didn’t qualify for Italy in 1990. We had to win our last game against Wales, and I still remember that Mark Hughes missed a 100-percent chance two minutes before the end of the game.
‘He had a free header and he put it over the bar. If he puts that in, we’re not going to Italy. Then we won the World Cup.’
Klinsmann pointed to Germany in 1990, which nearly failed to qualify before being champions