The criticism for one Jurgen Klinsmann has come swift and often following the USMNT 2-1 road defeat against Jamaica in World Cup qualifying in Kingston, Jamaica. The pressure going into the return leg fixture against Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio, was of monumental proportion. Questions regarding if the Jurgen Klinsmann era had already run its course started to surface in what has barely been a years journey in being the USMNT head coach. Now that the USMNT survived the return home leg fixture and defeated Jamaica 1-0 and now sit at the top of the group, I am curious to see what the headlines will read in regard to Klinsmann and the former German talisman’s plan and vision going forward.
That said, is the criticism missing the point? Maybe it is not about Klinsmann’s tactics or strategy or influence on the team. Maybe it is about something different, maybe even something bigger.
Is the USMNT now forever victimized by the growing success of Major League Soccer (MLS) as a league? If you look at the roster Jamaica features in their current World Cup qualifying campaign, seven players play their professional soccer in MLS.
What became immediate criticism for a team and a coach after a loss could have easily become praise for a league and a changing philosophy and domestic sport landscape. Not to say that the criticism is either fair or unwarranted. Simply I am saying that there is more to see, than what we actually see and praise could have been given in conjunction with the criticism with a different kind of vision.
The pundits are potentially doing MLS as a league a severe disservice when there is much room for praise given the recent results within CONCACAF World Cup qualifying all together.
The bigger MLS grows as a league, the more difficult it is going to become to qualify for World Cups and even Gold Cups for all teams in the CONCACAF region moving forward.
What could be considered an upset in Jamaica defeating the USMNT could also be considered a changing of the tide in how soccer will forever be played in CONCACAF. The more Jermaine Taylors and JeVaughn Watsons there are playing in MLS, the better Jamaica gets in the future. The more Roger Espinozas and Boniek Garcias call MLS their professional home, the better Honduras will be in the future.
MLS is now having an influence on the way soccer is played in the region directly and indirectly. The USMNT has to overcome the influence of the league going forward. Which should be considered a win for MLS as a league.