Despite being drawn in the World Cup’s ‘Group of Death’ with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann believes that it’s realistic that his side can advance to the knockout phase.
Speaking ahead of the team’s final warm-up game against Nigeria, Klinsmann said: ‘The realistic expectation is we want to get through that group and then we’re going to hit one after another.
‘We want to go as far as we can, but it’s also realistic, as it was half a year ago or five years ago, that we’re not coming here to win the World Cup.’
Klinsmann’s comments come after the German received harsh criticism from the US press and fans for an interview with the New York Times, in which he stated that ‘it is not possible’ for the Americans to win the World Cup in 2014.
‘We’re not coming with the arrogance of saying we’re going to win the World Cup. We know that,’ he said. ‘We’re in a phase of trying to improve and get better and better and we want to do well.
‘Getting out of the group gives you so much confidence, but you can’t now tell the general public or the fans that we’re going to win the World Cup by going seven wins in a row because that’s just unrealistic.’
Since being appointed as the coach in 2011, Klinsmann has lead the USA to 2013 Gold Cup success and safely through qualifying for Brazil, signing a contract extension until 2018 after the World Cup draw last December.
However, the former Tottenham Hotspur striker has come under recent scrutiny for his controversial decision to leave star forward Landon Donovan out of his final 23-man squad, as well as for picking raw and untested options Julian Green, John Anthony Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin.
These are the type of decisions which have fuelled the narrative that Klinsmann has an eye on the 2018 tournament instead of Brazil, as implausible as it is to suggest his side will merely roll over this summer.
Nevertheless, despite the sizeable task they face making it out of Group G, there could be genuine calls for the manager to go should the USA flop dramatically on the world’s biggest stage.