Klinsmann Dashes US Chances of Winning World Cup
By Vincent Paul Hidalgo | June 12, 2014 11:31 AM EST
It is rare for a coach to be candid about the chances of his team.
Jurgen Klinnsman, the coach of the United States team to the FIFA World CUP, dashed the hopes of fans and players alike by declaring yet again not to expect the national team to lift soccer's penultimate trophy sometime in July.
Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the U.S. men's national soccer team, speaks to the media during a news conference in New York City, May 30, 2014.
''I think for us now, talking about winning a World Cup is just not realistic,'' the American coach said Wednesday during his first news conference in Brazil before the tournament. ''First, we've got to make it through the group. So let's stay with our feet on the ground and say let's get that group first done, and then the sky is the limit.''
ESPN.com reports that the Americans are expected to experience rough sailing in their group. They are set to face Ghana first, who eliminated the team in the previous two world tournaments. Renowned star Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal are up next on the calendar while a final match against the world's second ranked team, Germany looms in the final match in the grouping.
This is not the first time that Klinsmann has been brutally frank on the chances of team USA. Last weekend, he was already quoted by the New York Time Magazine as stating in a December interview that "''we cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet.'' Klinsmann was a former national player for Germany in 1990 and coached the German national team to the 2006 semifinals.
This early, his views were already quashed by former players and analysts.
''This will come as a surprise to nobody, but I don't agree with Jurgen,'' said Langdon Donovan, the star forward cut by Klinsmann from the team last month. He added that former American defender Alexi Lalas, an ESPN broadcaster, shared his views as did several other fan groups of the team.
''As someone who has been in that locker room and has sat next to the players ... we agree with the American Outlaws: We believe that we will win,'' Donovan said. ''And I think that's the way Americans think. I think that's the sentiment.''
Klinsmann's players have also given their two cents on the candid remarks of their coach.
23-year-old midfielder Mix Diskerud took Klinsmann's remarks as a challenge. ''That's an opportunity for us to prove him wrong,'' he said.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya thought there was nothing to debate about but he related that there is widespread dismissal of his team's chances when it comes to the World Cup.
''People still have around the world a little bit of a prejudice maybe or something that America is still growing in the soccer world,'' Bedoya said. ''They still poke fun maybe that we call it soccer and not football.''
''Look, we haven't won a World Cup before, so you can't go into the World Cup saying, 'Oh, we have to do what we've done in the past,''' forward Jozy Altidore said. ''You come here obviously with that dream in the back of your mind. Let's not be silly. At the same time you have to be realistic and understand there are some teams that maybe are a bit more favored than we are obviously to win the tournament.''
Though Klinsmann downplayed the chances and expectations for his team, he still maintained that they will push with a fervor and determination to rise above and deliver the unexpected.
''I think we are every year making another step forward,'' Klinsmann said. ''We always now approach games where we say we don't look at ourselves as an underdog, even if a lot of people want to put us as the underdog. In this very difficult group, we're not. We're going to go in there and take the game to Ghana and they will take it to us, and then we'll go back and forth and hopefully the people see an exciting game and us as a winner at the end of the day. And then we go from there.''
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