Team USA World Cup coach Jurgen Klinsmann will never be confused with Joe Namath.
Namath famously and brashly guaranteed victory for the underdog Jets before Super Bowl III.
Before the World Cup, Klinsmann said the Americans had no shot at winning, saying "it is just not realistic." Last week, he changed Team USA's flights so that the team would return the day after the World Cup final. But the fact that he had once planned to come home sooner was evidence enough that he wasn't thinking championship from the outset.
Heading into the USA's win-or-go-home game against Belgium, Klinsmann was at it again. Usually, coaches wait until after a loss to complain about the officiating. Klinsmann beat the rush by complaining about the Algerian referee assigned to the Americans' second-round match a day before the USA's game, which begins at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Djamel Haimoudi will work the game.
On Monday, Klinsmann said Haimoudi's presence gives the Belgium players an advantage because he speaks French and will be better able to communicate with the Belgians. The referee also comes from a nation that was eliminated by the US at the 2010 tournament.
"Well, we hope it's not a concern," Klinsmann said at a news conference. "Is it a good feeling? No."
Nothing like offering a pre-emptive reason for losing before you even play. Of course, this ploy is an effort to make sure the ref doesn't show favoritism. It just comes off as excuse-making to insulate criticism in case of a loss. Klinsmann isn't one to raise expectations.
Belgian coach Marc Wilmots spoke for most Americans when he brushed off Klinsmann's comments.
"If we start going into this, it is looking for excuses ahead of the match," Wilmots said. "So to us, if it happens, too bad. We will shut up and return and try to get qualified again. This is football."
Klinsmann, who has mastered the art of passive-aggressive commentary, tried to cover cover himself by praising the referee's overall skills. "We know that he did already two games so far, and he did them very well, so we wish that he continues his refereeing the perfect way he's done so far," Klinsmann said.
But in case he doesn't, we now know why.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
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