Well, it wasn’t the anticipated tie with Germany that advanced USMNT to the knockout round of the 2014 World Cup. The Americans fell to the powerhouse Germans 1-0 Thursday. But Portugal’s 2-1 defeat of Ghana helped the US avoid disappointment.
Moving on in such fashion might not be the most satisfying for fans, but hey—if it’s good enough for Alabama football, which advanced to the BCS Championship Game in the 2011 and 2012 seasons despite late-season losses, it’s good enough for America.
Consider Cristiano Ronaldo the Lache Seastrunk to USMNT’s Crimson Tide.
— TheCRonaldoFan (@TheCRonaldoFan) June 26, 2014
Much like Alabama football in those seasons, USMNT was indeed one of the two best teams in its daunting group and deserving of moving on. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who adopted the Charlie Strong policy of downplaying expectations, fired back at detractors in his post-match interview in a most college football way:
The German-born Klinsmann is very much the American sportsman. “No one believed in us” is a free space on the athletic cliche bingo card. Look at former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, who lamented he’d been an afterthought his entire career, after the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him last month (and five months removed from finishing second in the 2013 Heisman voting).
Or Tim Tebow, the former 5-star high school recruit and Florida Gators star who appeared in a commercial claiming, “They” said he couldn’t play in college.
They and No One may be straw men, but they’re certainly powerful motivators whether for football or futbol. Jurgen Klinsmann successfully adopted the strategy to help navigate USMNT through the Group of Death (and no, the Group of Death doesn’t refer to the SEC West).