Under Jurgen Klinsmann, an Olympic bronze medalist, the U.S. men’s soccer program missed both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
It marked the first time in 48 years that the U.S. men failed to qualify for back-to-back Games.
And while Klinsmann’s ouster from U.S. Soccer on Monday was more tied to the senior national team (versus the U-23 Olympic qualifying teams), the German had made it clear during his time as technical director (since 2013) that qualifying for the Olympics was a goal.
Earlier in his tenure, Klinsmann hired the U-23 coach at the helm of the 2012 Olympic qualifying failure, Caleb Porter.
As a player, Klinsmann was a member of the 1988 West German Olympic team that won bronze in Seoul (pictured atop).
Klinsmann was 24 years old when he scored a hat trick in a 4-0 win over Zambia in the quarterfinals (highlights here). Zambia had shocked Italy 4-0 earlier in the tournament.
West Germany went on to lose to Brazil in the semifinals. Brazil’s roster included the great Romario, whose late equalizer helped force the Brazil-West Germany match to a penalty shootout. Klinsmann’s penalty kick struck the post (watch here). West Germany beat Italy in the bronze-medal match.
Two years later, Klinsmann and West Germany won the World Cup.
If the 1988 tournament was played under today’s Olympic rules, Klinsmann might not have been on the team. The Seoul Olympics were the last Games before the 23-and-under rule was instituted.
This year, Olympic soccer rosters were made up of players born on or after Jan. 1, 1993, with three over-age exceptions per team.Follow @nzaccardi