And so criticism of Juergen Klinsmann has been heard, and answered. Sunil Gulati told Doug McIntyre that whatever it takes to get fired from the US men's national team, Klinsmann hasn't done it yet.
It's useful at this point to remember how immune to criticism Gulati is, never mind Klinsmann. Sunil was re-elected as Lord Protector of US Soccer by a razor-thin margin of god-damned unanimous. His constituency - which, let us remind ourselves, is not actually soccer fans - either adores him or can't be bothered to oppose him. Not even Grant Wahl could be moved to mount a satire campaign against him. Sunil is guaranteed to keep his job longer than Sepp Blatter, for that matter.
(I don't see much possibility of federal investigations forcing Gulati to resign in disgrace. Most of the CONCACAF and FIFA crimes concern matters either explicitly outside USSF purview, or matters where the USSF was actually the victim. Stop me if I've told you this one, but, if the FBI has been secretly building a case against Sunil Gulati and Dan Flynn all this time, they've gone about it a bizarre and complicated way. It's as if the FBI managed to force Barack Obama, Joe Biden and John Kerry to resign, but only as a side effect of a stalled investigation against Terry McAuliffe.)
Gulati, according to McIntyre, went beyond the comparison of how Bob Bradley and Juergen Klinsmann did in Gold Cups:
This goes well beyond Klinsmann doing exactly what Bob Bradley was fired for. This is saying Klinsmann won't be fired if he fails to qualify for a tournament that Bob Bradley finished second in. Whatever measurement we want to use to compare Bradley with Klinsmann is, officially, irrelevant, as far as Gulati is concerned. And Sunil is the only one whose concern matters.
This has implications on how we as fans - or at least, I as fan - support the national team going forward.
But first, let's address the fact that for five years, under Sunil Gulati's watch, the US men's national team had an interim coach. Not just a second choice - an interim. After Klinsmann rejected Gulati for the first time in 2006, Sunil just settled for Bradley until Klinsmann could be convinced.
Yes, it was silly of Bradley not to win the World Cup in 2010, or at least not to have made it to the semifinals. In retrospect, though, nothing else would have been good enough. These aren't assumptions any more - the two coaches were held to very different standards. Even if Klinsmann had been an undisputed success, putting the US men's national team on hold for five years strikes me as a significant breach of duty. This should have been a campaign issue for Gulati last year, and it certainly should have been a campaign issue in 2010.
Unless one buys the premises that the sort of deep, fundamental, structural changes that Klinsmann is currently alleged to be performing were (a) incapable of being performed by anyone else, (b) worth paying $2.6 million to have him perform , but at the same time (iii) something that could wait five years.
This is the sort of leadership that can only be mitigated by either landing a World Cup to host, or hand-picking and patiently waiting for the one man who can lead the USMNT to the World Cup semifinals. (To my knowledge, no one is giving credit to Gulati for the Women's World Cup win, or the ticker-tape parade afterwards, and I see no reason to be the first.) Instead of being remembered for presiding over a period of unprecedented US national team popularity, he will be remembered for a waste of time and opportunity bordering on the scandalous.
But that's all old stuff now. Let's concentrate on the future.
Well, not the Confederations Cup playoff, because a little bird told me that didn't matter.
Which is good, because based on comparative performances against Jamaica, Mexico is a white-hot favorite.
Despite not having a coach. How about that.
There's a hard truth we must face, for those of us who are US men's national team fans, as opposed to Klinsmann fans. The success of the team is going to be the success of the man - and brother, will he let us know it. And if he won't, his amen choir certainly will. He's even won over Brian Straus. I'm old enough to remember when Straus put out a hit piece that all but inspired the US to win the Hex. Now Straus is another rhinoceros. (Ionesco reference. I felt it was classier than yet another Kool-Aid joke.)
It was all fun and games cheering against the US in the Gold Cup, because I thought we were going to win anyway. But the whole point of that was to cheer for Klinsmann to be dumped. If that's not going to happen, then we might as well support the team.
I've got a feeling they're gonna need it.