If you follow the US Men’s National Team and give a shit about the World Cup, you’ve probably heard the Jurgen quote from December (seriously, it was 7 fucking months ago when he first said this) that the USA realistically does not have a chance of winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In typical American fashion, ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports, countless blogs, and other media outlets jumped all over the quote. They claimed Jurgen doesn’t have faith in his team, reiterating the American sentiment that everyone is a winner and anyone who participates deserves a ribbon. FOH. It’s not that Jurgen doesn’t have faith in his team, he’s just pulling a Jedi mind-trick.
Vegas gives the USMNT a 200/1 chance to win the World Cup this year, and with good reason. Brazil (the home country) is a strong favorite, and the powerhouse teams of Argentina and Spain aren’t far behind. Not to mention Germany, who is in Group G alongside the USA, is a 5/1 favorite to win it all as well. If you look at the rosters of these National teams, you’ll find just about all of the players play on the best club teams in Europe and South America. Jurgen isn’t going to blow smoke up the American public’s ass and tell everyone a squad that boasts the top MLS talent and a few international role players can take home the cup. Arrogance is one of the main reasons the world hates Americans, and Klinsmann is doing his best not to perpetuate that stereotype.
The biggest misconception of the “US can’t win” quote by the media is a lack of confidence in the USMNT. Klinsmann isn’t setting foot on the pitch thinking “we’re gonna lose”. Such an attitude would be severely detrimental to a team and most likely result in mutiny by the players. Our boys have been playing stellar football lately, and even though we were given a shit draw with the group of death, there’s no reason we can’t win at least one game and move on to the round of 16.
The reason I describe the “we can’t realistically win” statement as a Jedi mind-trick is simple. By telling everyone the USMNT can’t win the World Cup, Klinsmann is lowering expectations and relieving pressure from his players. While telling the world that Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley aren’t the droids you’re looking for, perhaps Portugal will overlook them as they slip in a few goals in Manaus on the way to an incredible upset.
The odds may be stacked against the US in the 2014 World Cup, but stranger things have happened. No one thought Greece had a shot at winning the Euro Cup in 2004, but after their 1-0 victory over Portugal in the final I’m pretty sure I got a couple of free gyros that day. Don’t expect the USMNT to win the World Cup. You shouldn’t. But don’t be surprised if the Yanks are still playing footie when I head back to the states after the Group Stage in Brazil.
See you in Natal/Manaus/Recife.