“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.”
Those are the words of American soccer team coach Juergen Klinsmann, when speaking to the New York Times. Klinsmann, a German, was named coach of the American team in 2011. As the World Cup starts today with the opening rounds, the majority of the world prepares to root for their team playing in Brazil. Although we as Americans are used to being the biggest and best, when it comes to soccer, that is not the case. America has been an underdog in soccer for as long as we've participated in the sport. It's difficult to compete with countries where soccer is basically the only sport played, celebrated, and even watched. We're the only country that actually calls it "soccer." Our very nomenclature puts us at a disadvantage. Maybe our German coach is right. Maybe we should just hope for a good showing this year, and use the beatings we'll recieve in the "death group" we drew as vital experience, so we can continue to improve. Maybe one day, many years from now, we'll make it to the final round, or maybe even win a World Cup for ourselves...
Maybe we can take the American spirit that is what makes this country the best country in the world, and win the whole thing. "We have to play the game of our lives seven times to win the tournament??" And? What's your point, Juergen? Don't you know the worst thing you can tell an American is "you can't?" What happened when the colonies were told they couldn't do anything about being taxed without representation? What happened when the world told two North Carolinians they couldn't fly? What happened when thousands of American men peeked over the doors of their landing craft as they sped towards the beaches of Normandy?
One thing we can't do is blame a German for this attitude. He doesn't know. How could he? The American spirit is infectious, and powerful. It's in our nature to see impossible challenges as opportunities, like when we went to the moon. Is this World Cup going to be extremely difficult? Yes. Do other countries have a leg up because they've been playing soccer longer and more seriously than America? Yes. Is comparing a soccer tournament to the discovery of flight and storming the beaches of Normandy a bit of a stretch? Possibly. Just don't count us out yet. We may not be the most experienced team this year in the World Cup, but no one can say Americans won't fight tooth and nail for every ball, every goal, and every win.
USA. USA. USA.