Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (4E Sports) – United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann reiterated that it is not realistic to expect his team to win the World Cup, adding that he no longer sees the Americans as overmatched.
“You have to be realistic. Every year we are getting stronger,” Klinsmann said. “We don’t look at ourselves as underdogs. We are not. We are going to take the game to Ghana and they will take it to us and it will be an exciting game and then we go from there.”
“For us now talking about winning a World Cup, it is just not realistic. If it is American or not, you can correct me,” added Klinsmann.
The Americans open their World Cup campaign Monday with a 6 p.m. match against Ghana in Natal in Group G, which also features Portugal and Germany.
Klinsmann said performance expectations for countries like Brazil and Germany are completely different than those of the United States at the World Cup level.
“The whole country (Brazil) will now be in the stadiums to watch their Selecao. They expect the title,” he said. “If you coach Germany they expect a title. There is not discussion how far you can go, your goals.”
Landon Donovan, who missed the cut for the U.S. 23-man roster during training camp last month, said he disagreed with Klinsmann’s philosophy and cited the rallying cry of the US supporters’ group.
“This will come as a surprise to nobody, but I disagree with Jurgen,” said Donovan, who earlier joined ESPN as an analyst for the World Cup.. “I believe it and I think all of America believes we can do it.
“I agree with the American Outlaws — ‘We believe that we will win,” the veteran striker added.
Donovan also said the Americans’ 4-3 win over a second-tier Germany squad in a friendly a year ago proved they can compete against the world’s best teams.
U.S. and Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron also disagreed with Klinsmann’s comments.
“Let the doubters doubt. That’s why Americans are Americans,” he said. “We like to be the underdogs and challenge big things. The sky is the limit for us,” he said.
Earlier, ESPN announced that Donovan will join its team for the network’s upcoming coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“Adding Landon to our ESPN roster just before the World Cup is a coup because he knows the United States team better than anyone having played such a huge role in its success, especially at this event,” said ESPN senior vice president Jed Drake in a statement.
Donovan will make his debut Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET for ESPN’s two-hour World Cup preview.