Having coached the German National Team and Bayern Munich, Jurgen Klinsmann has overseen some of the most talented soccer players in the world. So he’s pretty good at judging top talent when he sees it. This being the case, what he recently said about the US Men’s National Team may dishearten American fans. Moreover, it might make those who’ve already engaged in 2014 US World Cup betting a little sick to hear. However, the following words that he told the New York Times come across truthfully:
We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet. For us, we have to play the game of our lives seven times to win the tournament. Realistically, it is not possible.
A Long-Term Plan
As the NY Times article points out, soccer fans are not quite like NFL enthusiasts, where they expect success immediately. Instead, national teams are content to build a program over time, rather than sacrifice the future for quick success.
This is a big reason why Klinsmann chose to keep several younger, unknown players on his roster. He even cut Landon Donovan, the team’s all-time leader in goals and assists, to clear up some more space on the 23-man roster. For many, this proved to be an unpopular move because Donovan is not only considered a US soccer hero, but his skills were also regarded as good enough for a USMNT spot.
With a guaranteed contract on through the 2018 World Cup, Klinsmann has plenty of time to let his vision slowly unfold. The German’s aim is to get the younger players some experience while trying to win a match or too. But in Klinsmann’s eyes, the former is the ultimate goal here.
Evaluating USA’s Chances at the 2014 World Cup
Perhaps another reason why the head coach doesn’t foresee immediate success for this team is because of their group play draw. The US is lumped in with Germany, Ghana and Portugal in what some have called this year’s “Group of Death.” Germany and Portugal especially stick out because they both sit in the top 3 of FIFA’s rankings.
Most predict that these two countries will be advancing out of the pool. Even Ghana could prove to be a difficult matchup for USA since they’ve given the red, white and blue plenty of fits in the past. So Klinsmann’s admission that they can’t win the World Cup is likely accurate, because they probably won’t even advance to the knockout round.
The USMNT might take solace in getting three ties at the 2014 World Cup. Of course, this doesn’t mean they have no chance to move on to the knockout stage. But like Klinsmann, US fans should temper their expectations this time around.