Jurgen Klinsmann says football in the United States has "been set back by several years" as a consequence of the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"That was a huge disappointment. The qualification really was never in doubt, but then the lads had a blackout versus Trinidad and Tobago," Klinsmann told German newspaper kicker, per ESPN UK. "They only needed a point, were too sure of that and underestimated that final match."

Sacked in November 2016 after an underwhelming start to CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which included defeats to rival Mexico and Costa Rica, Klinsmann has been critical of his successor Bruce Arena's tactical approach. Arena was dismissed as a result of the World Cup miss, and with Dave Sarachan at the helm on an interim basis, Klinsmann offers, "despite that low point, the football (in the U.S.) is still on the rise."

"Sure, there are a lot of things to catch up on: in the youth academies, in the universities, in cross-linking the pieces," Klinsmann continued. "But MLS is stable after 20 years."

Klinsmann maintains that the shock CONCACAF qualifying gaffe has hurt the development of the game domestically, but that the burgeoning quality of MLS can only help the growth of football in the United States.

"By now, MLS has caught up in the infrastructure. What happened in U.S. soccer in the past 20 years, that is a bit like a fairy tale. It still needs patience, but the league's getting stronger with every year."

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