I’m going to go outside my realm of focusing on hockey to give my opinion on U.S. soccer and specifically Jurgen Klinsmann. Truth be told, I know as much about the X’s and O’s of soccer as I do about the politics of Egypt. I probably couldn’t name five players off the top of my head that play for the USA soccer team. After this World Cup is over, my attention will again be diverted from soccer and I’ll check back in 4 years. What I have learned in my nearly 35 years on Earth is that success in sports doesn’t always come down to talent. Work ethic, desire, belief and even just a dream can propel the average athlete to do things they didn’t think was possible.
When I read what Jurgen Klinsmann had to say last week about his U.S. team and their odds of winning the World Cup have brought a litany of thoughts to my head. He said “For us now talking about winning a World Cup, It’s just not realistic.” In his defense that attitude might be more cultural then anything. The English Premier League will kick a team out that finishes in the bottom 3 of the standings and give a promotion to other teams to get their opportunity. This is a great way to force teams to spend money to be competitive, but can also foster acceptance of being mediocre. There are many teams that get by every year by finishing in the middle of the pack and keep their standing in the EPL.
I won’t give the comparison to the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team winning gold in Lake Placid. To win the World Cup would be an even bigger feat for the U.S. soccer team. There are a lot more teams in the World Cup and it takes more victories to accomplish that feat. This is a Herculean task and they’re playing teams that are far superior talent wise and they know how to win on the international stage. The U.S. soccer team is a virtual expansion team when it comes to competing in international games that matter. Up until Monday night, USA soccer had never even had a substitute SCORE in the World Cup.
For all of us Americans, natural or citizens that immigrated here we dream big and expect big results. I have no doubt that Klinsmann is a great coach with a tremendous soccer mind. His resume does all the talking for him and USA soccer is very blessed to have a guy like that trying to build our national team. But we don’t accept mediocrity in this country and neither should he. What he said is probably 100% true and I don’t have a problem if he thought that personally. To understand our mentality as Americans you have understand what it took for this country to gain its independence from Great Britain. We were a bunch of farmers and rebels who decided we were going to kick some ass to get the Red Coats off our turf. There was no bigger upset in our county’s history then when we chased the British away. Millions have sacrificed their lives because they had desire, belief and a relentless work ethic to make sure we would never get pushed around by anyone or accept being average. Our attitude towards sports and the teams that we love are now channeled towards wins and losses as opposed to the fear of losing their country to invaders.
I apologize for the patriotic rant, but it’s what we are and what we do in this country. This team will be hard pressed to beat Portugal or Germany, but Jurgen Klinsmann needs to shut his mouth. I hope that he accepts that our culture is one that expects big results no matter the odds. I came across a quote from Herb Brooks, the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team that sums up my feelings, “You can’t be common, the common man goes nowhere-you have to be uncommon.” No matter the outcome, I will live and die U.S.A. soccer for the next 3 weeks and then go back to hibernation for another 4 years.