This isn't the historical performance that United States Men's National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping to see from his soccer team, but it was histrical none the less.
For the first time ever in World Cup qualifying, and for the first time in general since 1988, the USMNT lost a match to Guatemala, dealing the U.S a serious blow in their hopes for qualifying for the most important tournament in soccer that takes place in Russia in 2018.
Klinsmann's lineup will be criticized, but the U.S. effort and effectiveness in general was below par all night. Guatemala scored two goals in the first 15 minutes of play and staggered the Americans. The rest of the night was dominated by U.S. giveaways and Guatemalan keeper Paulo Motta, who turned away multiple United States attempts, many of them brilliantly.
More troubling still might be Klinsmann's tiresome practice of absolving himself of any responsibility and his willingness to immediately call out his players.
"For us, obviously there's disappointment — too many mistakes, especially in the first half an hour," Klinsmann told reporters after the match. "On international level, you cannot make the mistakes that led to the two goals. You simply cannot allow that, and that's what happened."
When reporters asked why the United States was down 2-0 before 20 minutes of play, Klinsmann again pointed toward his locker room.
"That's a good question for the players," Klinsmann said. He also placed the blame on Guatemala's opening goal on a blown assignment he insisted he went over beforehand.
It's fair to wonder whether Klinsmann's style and abrasiveness, as well as his reluctance to point in his own direction when things go wrong, isn't wearing on his players. None of them would publicly call out their coach after the loss Friday night, but watching a disjointed and uninspired effort from the U.S. may have said far more than the players themselves are willing to say.
U.S. mainstay and veteran Michael Bradley preferred to focus on the players' effort and attitude, hinting the United States may have become complacent. Bradley told reporters that no one in the U.S. locker room should ever expect an easy night.
"It is never easy,” Bradley said. “No one on the inside expects it to be. For different people, they turn on the television every four years and watch World Cups and see us there and think we have a divine right to be there.
“Obviously anybody who is in it every day understands that is not the case. These nights are part of it. We will make sure the response is right, look at ourselves in the mirror in an honest way and know things were not good enough but be ready on Tuesday.”
As for Klinsmann, he has been on shaky ground before and somehow turned things around to not only reach the World Cup but also get to the knockout round. But whether he can do so again, or whether he'll get the chance if things continue to go south, is another matter. After he was finished pointing his finger at the players, he focused on what Guatemala did to win and what his side will need to do to get to Russia.
"We had to chase the game, and Guatemala defended with everyone around the box and an outstanding goalkeeper," he said. "We had enough chances. We said at halftime, 'Let's turn this around.' There were enough chances to win this game for us. But we didn't put it in, so we are the one to blame for this result. We'll take it that way, and we have to correct it next Tuesday in Columbus."