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With the United States’ first World Cup game just eight days away, manager Jurgen Klinsmann is making sure that even the most optimistic of fans do not get too excited.
The German, who took over as the USA manager back in 2011, said this to The New York Times European sports correspondent, Sam Borden, back in December, “We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet.”
Klinsmann should know what it takes to win a World Cup, he was an important part of the West Germany team that won the 1990 World Cup, and was in charge when Germany finished third in 2006.
While it would be hard for any knowledgeable soccer fan to disagree with Klinsmann, his bluntness in terms of his team’s ability may not go over well. Klinsmann has recently taking heat for leaving Landon Donovan off the USA roster, and is now shattering any optimism fans may have had coming into the World Cup.
There are plenty of theories as to why Klinsmann would openly say that his team could not win the tournament. Pardon the Interruption’s Tony Kornheiser thinks it is possible he is lowering the team’s expectations for his own benefit. Another possibility is that Klinsmann hopes his comments will motivate his team to prove him wrong.
Some supporters will obviously be upset at Klinsmann’s lack of faith in his team. However, is there anything wrong with being realistic? In a sports culture where every team believes each season is a “championship or bust,” Klinsmann is trying to make people understand that having a few solid performances against some of the world’s best teams would show progress. One just has to look at history to know that it is an extreme long shot for the United States to win the World Cup. The best the USA has ever finished was third, and that was in 1930.
The farthest the USA has made it in the World Cup in recent memory was in 2002, when they were defeated by Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals. Making it out of the group stages this time around would be a great accomplishment for the USA, let alone a trip to the quarterfinals.
Klinsmann is under contract to coach the USA until 2018, the year of the next World Cup. The energetic manager still has plans to help change the philosophy and culture of U.S. soccer. Klinsmann’s brutal honesty may just be his way of telling USA supporters, “not yet.”
Image courtesy of INFevents.com