World Cup: Jurgen Klinsmann defends controversial "we cannot win" comments

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A recent story published in The New York Times has drawn plenty of attention to the US national team for all the wrong reasons.

In the Wednesday article, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was attributed to a quote from December in which he said, among other things, “We cannot win this World Cup because we are not at that level yet” regarding the sport in America.

Klinsmann expressed disappointment with what he perceives as people taking his comments out of context at a press conference Friday at EverBank Field, the site of Saturday’s “Send-off Series” match against Nigeria.

He clarified himself by stating how unrealistic it would be for fans to take him seriously if he claimed the team would simply roll into Brazil and win seven straight matches to claim the trophy.

“The realistic expectation is that we want to get through the group, and then we’re going to hit one after another. We want to go as far as we can,” Klinsmann said. “But it’s also realistic, when that was now a half-year ago, to say that we’re not the favorites to win the World Cup.

"We’re not coming in with the arrogance to say we’re going to win the World Cup. We know that we’re in a phase of trying to improve and getting better, and we want to do well.”

He went on to explain what he sees as the differences between sports in Europe and America, using goalkeeper Tim Howard as an example of someone who understands the high level of expectations that come along with playing overseas.

“When we talk about American-based players here, they don’t have that same level of accountability, and maybe also responsibility that players have overseas, or in a so-called soccer-driven nation,” Klinsmann said.

“We constantly try to connect and [tell] the players that they are responsible for everything they do and not to take everything for granted for what you did in the past.”