Jurgen Klinsmann is the coach that American sports need

Colin Ritsick

We’re Americans. We can do anything – and no one can tell us different. And if they do, then they’re not American. We are the kings of confidence and the authors of arrogance. We don’t negotiate with terrorists and we don’t take kindly to foreigners running their mouth about what we can and cannot do.

So it surprised me to learn that US Men’s Soccer Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was not fired on the spot earlier this month when he said “We cannot win this World Cup.” Excuse me? I know you’re from out of town, but that’s not how we roll.

“We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet. For us, we have to play the game of our lives seven times to win the tournament,” Klinsmann said.

His statement received no shortage of outcry from Americans in response. Mike Wilbon, of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, said on-air that the 49-year-old coach needed to “Get the hell out. Get out of America!”

Wilbon’s thoughts were echoed all over the country. Not because anybody actually thinks Klinsmann is wrong and that we can win, but because admitting defeat before the game starts is not the American way.

That’s the mentality we’ve built here in the states. If you don’t believe anything is possible, then you don’t belong in the land of opportunity.

I mean, who is this guy anyway?

He’s the coach that American sports desperately needs.

Let me repeat that: Jurgen Klinsmann is the coach that American sports desperately needs because he is everything that modern professional sports in the USA is not.

In a world where coaches and players of the Charlotte Bobcats or the Jacksonville Jaguars say that their team is good enough to win the championship, Klinsmann is the type of coach willing to tell the world his team is not good enough yet because it is the truth.

In a world where a gimpy Kobe Bryant gets offered a two-year max contract worth $50 million, and no one knows if he’ll actually be healthy again, Klinsmann is the type of coach who will look a national sports hero like Landon Donovan in the eyes and tell him he’s just not good enough anymore.

In a world where the post-game press conference has turned into a comedy act (see Gregg Popovich), Klinsmann is the type of coach that answers questions honestly, so that the American people can learn more about his team and their vision.

In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, ESPN televised a series of shows documenting the team as they went from a 30-man roster to the final 23-man roster. In those few weeks, I learned more about soccer and the USMNT than I’ve ever known before. And a large reason is because of how candid Klinsmann is.

And if you still for some reason can’t get behind the energetic head coach, perhaps the fact that he threw a sucker-punch to the Mexican groin will help.

After the team’s 2-2 draw with Portugal, which felt more like a loss, Klinsmann was asked if his team would play for a tie with Germany in order for them both to advance.

“The US is known to give all they have in every single game. Otherwise Mexico wouldn’t be here,” Klinsmann said.

He is referring to the qualifying match against Panama, in which USA, which had already claimed its spot in the World Cup, came back to win 3-2 on two stoppage time goals. This forced a playoff between Mexico and New Zealand, and thus, is why Mexico is still in the tournament.

It wasn’t like he called Mexico a dirty name, but it was the kind of comment you just don’t hear from many professional coaches anymore. Everyone is too afraid of the media backlash to say anything remotely controversial – even if it’s the truth.

He wasn’t raised in our politically correct world of sports, so he has no problem speaking politically incorrect. And that’s exactly why Klinsmann is the coach that American sports needs.