Practical hopes for Klinsmann
NATAL, Brazil (AP) – Jurgen Klinsmann speaks with pragmatism. He books his airline tickets with hope.
The United States coach caused a stir in the lead-up to football’s championship when he said that “I think for us now, talking about winning a World Cup is just not realistic”.
But on the eve of the Americans’ opener against Ghana, he revealed this: “I booked my flight after the final”.
The U.S. have never advanced after starting with a loss, and they are grouped with the 37th-ranked Black Stars along with No. 2 Germany and No. 4 Portugal.
A two-day downpour has flooded some streets in this northeastern Brazilian beach town. While the skies started to clear a bit yesterday, the forecast was unsettled for today’s game, when the Americans try to avenge losses to Ghana that knocked them out of the past two World Cups.
Klinsmann sounded just like the U.S. Postal Service.
“It’s raining. If it’s snowing. If it’s – what else? – thunder or lightning … field wet, field dry, heat, humidity, whatever,” he said Sunday, “we’re not worried about that stuff at all.”
A total of 3.11 inches of rain fell Friday and 2.95 more Saturday, and by late Saturday night cars had to navigate at least 18 inches of standing water. Natal’s City Hall declared a flood alert and evacuated dozens of residents as a precaution in the Mae Luiza neighbourhood in the city’s west.
Still, the field appeared firm during workouts yesterday at the new Arena das Dunas.
The forecast calls for a temperature of about 27 Celsius, high humidity – Natal is 400 miles south of the equator – and a slight chance of showers.
“The weather is what it is, and as players that’s not something we can control,” midfielder Michael Bradley said. “You get to this point, you’re not worried about little details, about whether the wind is blowing, whether the sun is out.”
Ghana beat the Americans by identical 2-1 scores in the final group-stage game at Germany in 2006 and in the second round at South Africa four years ago. The U.S., appearing at their seventh straight World Cup and tenth overall, have never lost to a team three straight times in the tournament.
“This is just an awesome moment, because that’s the biggest stage you can have, where you kind of want to show that you improved, and nothing better than against the team that beat you the last two World Cups,” Klinsmann said. “So this, as we mentioned before, is like start the whole World Cup with a final.”