It’s an odd year for the USMNT isn’t it? Love for the beautiful game is at an all-time high here in the United States and although the majority of us know that getting out of our group alone is a daunting task, we still have that belief deep down that we can not only get out of the group, but that we can challenge for the World Cup.
Yes, that’s right when we chant “I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win”, that isn’t a glass half full face that we put on knowing full well we don’t stand a chance. It’s a battle cry that says “we are the Yanks and we mean business, whether we’re ranked #1 or #100”. That’s how we are and how we’ve always been.
Still though, it is absolutely crazy to me that after all the years that I have followed and loved US Soccer (and I am talking back to when I was a little kid), I have never seen so much excitement for the USMNT only to see it met with a load of negativity from the German coach who steers the ship. “It’s not realistic for the USA to win the World Cup”….those are the words from our coach. After one of the best campaigns in US Soccer history and a newfound energy from supporters around the country, the man responsible for a good portion of it still backs those statements made months ago.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, so I will save the Nationality issue for another day. However, every day that goes by I still question exactly what Klinsmann is trying to gain with such comments. Is this a way of taking the pressure off his squad? Many of them are newbies to the World Cup, so perhaps he feels if the pressure is off that his men will go back to their roots and just enjoy playing soccer without worries. Maybe that’s not it though; maybe he thinks that it will light a fire under the boys. If you look back to his “squabble” with Clint Dempsey a while back, it did seem to light a fire under Deuce that has continued to burn pretty bright. It could be either of those things or it could just be the obvious….Klinsmann is simply being realistic.
I come from a European family and my family members who moved here from Europe tend to have this same sort of attitude. It’s bizarre to me, because although I grew up with them and was raised by them, the fact that I am American has always trumped this outlook and regardless of the situation or how much the odds are stacked against me or the team I support, I never lose hope. I am not saying it’s a bad thing to be realistic, it’s just insane that after the last five to ten years, where the sport has seen its greatest growth spurt in America, that we end up with this odd cloud hanging over us. I don’t know if it’s a dark one or how much rain it’s loaded with, but it’s a cloud nonetheless. Every time I start to get excited for the USMNT, I can see Klinsmann in the back of my mind, shaking his head saying “nope, nooooope, not going to happen” and it kills me.
When it all comes down to it though, I KNOW that I am obsessing over Klinsmann way too much. Truth is, he has assembled an exciting team that has given us a lot to cheer about even if he himself is not quite ready to go all in. And in the end does it even matter what he says to the media anyways? It only really matters how it affects the players and from what I have seen, they still believe they can win and are proud as ever to represent the Red, White and Blue.
Today was the first full day of World Cup matches and the Netherlands pulled off a spectacular 5-1 win over reigning World Champions, Spain. That’s all it takes. One game that jacks the goal differential way up and sends a group in a spin. No matter how daunting the task may be, the number of variables that could inevitably make the path easier or harder for the USA remains to be seen and all the analyzing in the world will more than likely end up being useless, including my own.
What I do know though, is that we are a crazy bunch here in the US. We are the best at some sports and huge underdogs in others, but it’s hard to find one that we don’t participate in. Winning the World Cup is probably one of the hardest things to do in the world of sports and looking back at the history of it, you’ll be hard pressed to find a true dark horse who ended up winning it all, but we are different, we are Americans.
Throughout history we have won battle after battle mostly because we forgot that we weren't supposed to.
I believe that we will win.