Jürgen Klinsmann, the U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach, has held a frankness in his assessment of the twenty-three-man squad competing on behalf of the United States in the 2014 FIFA World Cup that has stirred the ire and the outrage of spectators and fans. Why would you support a team that doesn’t really look like they’ll be able to do much, especially if you’re not a soccer fan in the first place? Shouldn’t the coach have at least a rooting interest in the team? Was Michael Wilbon right?
The answers, by the way, are ‘national pride,’ ‘yes,’ and ‘Michael Wilbon is very rarely correct, and now is not one of those times.’ Klinsmann is keeping his team’s expectations reasonable, and the pragmatic nature of his answers — that the U.S. team has no business talking about whether or not they could win the whole thing when they’re hardly a lock to make it into the second round of the tournament — has to be underscored by the fact that he has been on the winning side of the FIFA tournament as a player, and that he’s actually got a historic precedent for his comments.
One of the greatest moments in U.S. World Cup History happened back in 1950, when Team USA was facing an English team that was so much better than them on paper that the U.S. coach compared his squad to lambs at the slaughter. Assuming that the statute of limitations on spoilers for sporting events expires after fifty years, the U.S. team would wind up winning the game one to nil. That’s zero, in World Cup talk. So not only does Klinsmann have a reference point when it comes to U.S. World Cup coaches disparaging their teams openly to the press, but the last time it happened, we ended up winning the whole thing. Well played, Jürgen, well played.