(Associated Press)

The United States faces an uphill battle at this year’s World Cup. Stuck in a group that includes European powers Germany and Portugal, the Americans may very well struggle to get out of the opening round, much less make any noise in the knockout round. Everyone knows this.

U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann knows it, too, and was blunt about his team’s chances in a New York Times Magazine story by Sam Borden.

“We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet,” Klinsmann told me over lunch in December. “For us, we have to play the game of our lives seven times to win the tournament.”
He leaned back in his chair on the terrace at a Newport Beach restaurant, not far from where he lives in Southern California. Then he shrugged and said, “Realistically, it is not possible.”

It’s not like Klinsmann is going out on a limb here. As Borden writes in his story, Klinsmann is trying to build the program into a global contender for the long haul, and this year’s World Cup is just one step toward that goal. But such candor — pessimistic candor — is a rarity from American coaches these days. It will be interesting to see how Klinsmann’s team responds.

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Jurgen Klinsmann knocks Kobe Bryant to explain why he left Landon Donovan off the team

Ronaldo is nursing thigh and knee injuries

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