BOZICH | Jurgen Klinsmann -- the anti-Howard Schnellenberger/ Ke - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Jurgen Klinsmann -- the anti-Howard Schnellenberger/ Kevin Ollie

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U. S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has tried to lower World Cup expectations. U. S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has tried to lower World Cup expectations.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Apparently Jurgen Klinsmann has never met Kevin Ollie. Or watched video of the Miracle Mets. He’s definitely never listened to Al Michaels.

Jurgen Klinsmann does not believe in miracles. The guy is as joyous as a parking ticket. He makes Lou Holtz sound like Norman Vincent Peale.

Don’t invest your summer vacation money in the U. S. soccer team winning the championship in 2014, even at 250-to-1.

Who says? Klinsmann, the American coach says.

I believe that, “It’s just not realistic,” is one of several ways that Klinsmann has phrased it.

The Americans join the international fun Monday at 6 p.m. when they play Ghana in Brazil. With a sales pitch like Klinsmann’s, who will be able to resist watching?

Hey, Eric, do you want to find a sports bar and watch the Americans? Hurry. I don’t want to miss a minute. The coach says it’s hopeless.

You’d rather play in poison ivy? I don’t blame you.

OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Klinsmann is a former World Cup star from Germany. He’s in charge of this U.S. team as well as the one that will compete in 2018. He’s trying to create a new culture. He carries a different (read European) outlook on World Cup competition. He’s building toward a legit push for greatness in four more years.

I’ll also say this: Klinsmann is right.

It’s just not realistic to predict that the U.S. is going to win the 2014 World Cup. Stick with Brazil, Argentina, Italy or Germany. They’re the safe bets.

According to the wise guys, the Americans will deserve a parade if they are one of the two teams that advance from their rugged Group G, which also includes Germany, Portugal and Ghana.

But sports aren’t supposed to be realistic, coach. After watching Connecticut lose to Louisville, 81-48, in the final regular season game at the KFC Yum! Center, it was not realistic to expect UConn to win the NCAA men’s basketball title.

But Kevin Ollie got the Huskies there.

That’s why people watch, wave flags, paint their faces, chant, scream, cry, roar and obsess. There are already enough moments in our lives that are realistic. Sports are the opening to the escape hatch.

Soccer is not one of my primary loves. But I can sense that the American sports culture is growing in its embrace of the game – nationally and locally.

There’s more domestic television coverage of the MLS and European leagues. It’s everywhere across the dial – and on Twitter.

The next time you’re near the University of Louisville campus take a detour along South Floyd Street. You’ll be amazed at the soccer palace that U of L is building for the nationally ranked program that Ken Lolla has built.

A minor league professional team, Louisville City FC, will soon be sharing Slugger Field with the Bats in downtown Louisville.

Soccer nuts might appreciate Klinsmann’s way of dealing with expectations. But comments like this one are not the way to recruit more fans into the soccer tent.

“We cannot win this World Cup because we are not at this level yet,” Klinsmann told the New York Times.

Knute Rockne couldn’t have said it any better.

Remember when Howard Schnellenberger came to town nearly three decades ago to make Louisville relevant in college football? The program was parked in old Cardinal Stadium and scheduling August practices around the Kentucky State Fair. Nobody considered Louisville a legitimate national football program.

Except Schnellenberger.

He started selling.

Not one time did Schnellenberger say, “it’s just not realistic,” for Louisville to talk about winning a national championship.

You remember his signature quote. It continues to resonate. Schnellenberger said that Louisville was on a collision course with a national championship – and the only variable was time.

That’s a motivator.

Nearly 30 years later, Louisville is still chasing that national title. But the Cardinals have upgraded all the way to the Atlantic Coast Conference, while building a new football stadium, expanding it once and studying the likelihood of expanding it a second time. None of those developments were realistic when Schnellenberger arrived.

Howard Schnellenberger, Kevin Ollie and Al Michaels believed in miracles. Even if Jurgen Klinsmann does not.

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