Jurgen Klinsmann said the United States' failure to qualify for the World Cup will set the country back for years.
Klinsmann was fired as manager of the United States in November of 2016 and replaced by Bruce Arena.
"It's been set back by several years," Klinsmann said. "That was a huge disappointment. The qualification really was never in doubt, but then the lads had a blackout versus Trinidad & Tobago. They only needed a point, were too sure of that and underestimated that final match."
Klinsmann insisted that "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 said. "But MLS is stable after 20 years. It has role-model character. It has a backbone, mostly thanks to [league founder] Phil Anschutz. He kept things together when they could have fallen apart.
"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."