DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? U. S. WORLD CUP COACH DOES NOT

Jurgen Klinsmann, the coach of the U. S. men’s national team, has pronounced that his charges cannot win this World Cup, soccer’s Holy Grail. He has said it and keeps saying it

By Mary Cunningham

Jurgen Klinsmann is right.

It’s an extreme long shot for the Sons of Uncle Sam to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They’ll be lucky to get out of Group G, the “Group of Death” featuring Germany, Portugal, and Ghana, the Americans’ opening opponent on Monday.

But Klinsmann’s declaration of Teutonic pragmatism is as off base as a penalty kick airmailed into the 30th row. It’s an unnecessary slap in the face to US soccer fans and a failing on his part to understand one of his most important duties as overseer of U. S. Soccer — the promoting and proselytizing of the sport.

Klinsmann is essentially telling those who want to minimize, marginalize, and ignore soccer that they should go right ahead doing so because the United States has nothing to see here. He is taking all the air out of the balloon before we even get to see how high it can float.

There is a segment of the American sporting public that ignorant of a sport will become emotionally invested in it simply out of sheer patriotism. Do you think the average sports fan really lives and dies with slopestyle events outside of the Winter Olympics?

At a time when the U. S. Soccer Federation is still trying to grow the game, its primary ambassador is reminding everyone that the product is not at an elite level or worth getting emotionally invested in. It’s terrible form.

The hardcore U. S. soccer fan is smart enough to realize that the Yanks aren’t going to win the 32-team tournament in Brazil, that the club lacks the world-class talent of Brazil, Spain, Argentina, and Germany. They know that only eight countries have won the tournament.

But they don’t need to be insultingly beaten over the head with the unfortunate truth by their own coach.

Can you imagine the late Herb Brooks, coach of the gold medal-winning U. S. men’s hockey team, carrying this attitude into the 1980 Winter Olympics?

Do you believe in miracles? Nein, if you’re Klinsmann.

Spare me the idea that there is some grand nobility in Klinsmann’s uncommon frankness, that he is an exemplar for coaching candor. Klinsmann’s brutal honesty should not be contrasted with Patriots coach Bill Belichick not revealing injury information, or any of the other now acceptable coaching fibs.

Klinsmann’s comments are self-serving.

Klinsmann is setting it up so that if the U. S. team doesn’t advance out of group play, it will remain a reflection of the state of US Soccer, not on the man brought in to save it. If the United States does exceed (lowered) expectations, Klinsmann can be hailed as a genius.

There is part of Klinsmann that appears to bask in belittling all that has come before him with US Soccer. He has made his disdain for U. S. college soccer and his disregard for the domestic professional product, Major League Soccer, quite clear.

It’s even worse that Klinsmann obstinately stood by his comments Wednesday in Brazil. “For us now talking about winning a World Cup, it is not realistic. If it is American or not, you can correct me,” he said.

 

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