Jurgen Klinsmann has high hopes for U.S. soccer, but he’s also a realist.
Klinsmann, the head coach of the U.S. men’s national team, said the Americans can’t win the 2014 FIFA World Cup, according to the New York Times.
“We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet,” Klinsmann told Sam Borden in December. “For us, we have to play the game of our lives seven times to win the tournament.”
After taking charge of Team USA in July 2011, Klinsmann skillfully guided the Americans through World Cup qualifying and established his squad as the leading power in the CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean).
But regional preeminence means little at the World Cup. FIFA drew the United States into the “Group of Death” (along with Ghana, Portugal and Germany) last December, and it would be a triumph for the Americans to progress to the knockout rounds.
The U.S. then would have to win four more games against increasingly difficult opponents in order to win the World Cup, and Klinsmann won’t lie to himself about the chances of that happening.
When Klinsmann says “we are not at that level yet,” he means the players he has at his disposal. Americans are slowly increasing their stature in domestic and foreign leagues, but none rank among the leading players in the world or play for clubs that compete in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League or Copa Libertadores — the domains of the world’s best players and teams.
Klinsmann’s quote, which appeared in an article published Wednesday, is making headlines only because the World Cup starts soon. His words were as true in December as they are now, much like how the truth hurt as badly in December as it does now.
Photo via Twitter/@GoalUSA