Two matches into the Jurgen Klinsmann era and there is already a somewhat palpable sense of panic. Whether it's from people who felt Bob Bradley was unfairly sacked or just from people who remain skeptical of Klinsmann's stated goals of turning the United States into a more attractive, free-flowing team, the loss to Costa Rica on Friday has kicked off a new round of hand-wringing.
Maybe I'm reading too much into the reaction in certain social media circles, but Friday's loss really seems to have come as a bit of a stomach punch. Sure, the U.S. was heavily favored, but let's keep in mind that this was friendly.
More than the fact that this was a meaningless game, is the reality that Klinsmann has more important things to worry about than results at this very moment. Klinsmann has stated that he wants to change the culture of U.S. soccer. He wants to embrace more of a Latin influence; to encourage quick passing and a fast-moving offense; to aim for a higher goal that continental supremacy.
Maybe Klinsmann is guilty of hubris, but this is what he was brought in to do. It's fair to say that a team coached by Bradley probably could have gotten a better result against Costa Rica -- although it's worth noting that Bradley's teams had gone winless against Los Ticos in their past five meetings. -- but what would that have proved? We know the U.S. is capable of being the best team in CONCACAF, but clearly that was not enough for Bradley to keep his job.
What we did see on Friday was a team that is at least trying to change its identity. For the first 35 minutes, especially, we saw a team that was attack-minded and actually played some pretty exciting football. True, they didn't finish their chances, but that's hardly something new for this team.
We saw some players who have been overlooked by Bradley get extended looks from Klinsmann. Sure, Michael Orozco-Fiscal and Edgar Castillo, in particular, looked uneven, but guys like Brek Shea and Jose Francisco Torres showed some serious promise.
We saw a team that was, at the very least, interesting.
At some point, Klinsmann is going to have to be judged by more than that. His time as U.S. coach will be deemed a failure or success by the number of wins his teams pile up, not how good or bad they look doing it. But the U.S. does not start playing meaningful matches until June 2012. Let's start worrying about results then.