Don't Kill The Mellinger

In support of Jurgen Klinsmann and honesty

United States men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann
United States men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann AP

The truth is always supposed to be a valid defense except, it seems, if you’re a German-born coach of the U.S. men’s World Cup team.

You’ve certainly heard the line by now. Jurgen Klinsmann first dropped it in December for a New York Times piece that ran this month, and has since repeated it in press conferences. Obviously, this has angered Americans:

“You have to be realistic. Every year we are getting stronger. 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.”

What if it’s the truth?

Does that not matter?

Can we not handle the truth?

Do people really think, with any level of intellectual honesty, that Klinsmann’s words have diminished the team’s chances of winning this World Cup?

Or are they just upset that it’s now harder to dream?

Klinsmann’s words have somehow become the story around the USMNT, and that’s unfortunate. I keep waiting to hear the backlash against the backlash, because in 2014 that seems to be the way things usually happen, but I’m still waiting.

I’m still waiting for someone to appreciate hearing the truth, to point out that, hey, we haven’t even made the semifinals since 1930, which means the old man might have a point, so maybe we should all just chill out a bit and enjoy the tournament.

There is some bias in what I’m about to say because of what I do for a living, but: we need more honesty in sports and life, not less.

What Klinsmann said isn’t even controversial. It’s akin to if Theo Epstein told reporters this spring that it was unrealistic to expect the Cubs to win the World Series this year. Why is this a story?

Klinsmann was telling the truth, and he’s been chastised for it by an American fan base that’s coming off as some combination of delusional and way too sensitive.

Why can’t we appreciate the honesty?

Why can’t we appreciate the words now, with the knowledge that it’ll mean more when we’re at the point where Americans can realistically think they can win the World Cup?

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365 or send email to Follow him on Twitter @mellinger.