It is not realistic to expect the United States to win the World Cup, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann reiterated to reporters in Brazil on Wednesday, while adding that he no longer sees the Americans as overmatched.
"You have to be realistic. Every year we are getting stronger," said Klinsmann. "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," he said, reiterating comments he made this past December to The New York Times Magazine.
The U.S. opens Monday with a 7 p.m. (6 p.m. ET) match against Ghana in Natal in Group G, which features Portugal and Germany.
Klinsmann said performance expectations for countries like Brazil and Germany are completely different than those of the United States at the World Cup level.
"The whole country (Brazil) will now be in the stadiums to watch their Selecao. They expect the title," he said. "If you coach Germany they expect a title. There is not discussion how far you can go, your goals."
U.S. and Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron said he disagreed with Klinsmann's philosophy.
"Let the doubters doubt. That's why Americans are Americans," he said. "We like to be the underdogs and challenge big things.
"The sky is the limit for us," he said. "Things happen. Miracles happen. This team might not be as talented as Spain as Brazil but they can make it farther than people thought. All 23 guys believe the same thing. We can turn heads."
The former coach for Germany said he has told his players: "This is your opportunity, embrace it," adding that the players are ready to face Ghana.
"It's a team full of individual talent, with players that can hurt you in a split second if you're not awake," he said. "That's good that way. I think for us it's a great opportunity to start the tournament with. Obviously we have been training for a month, so we are really focused."
Klinsmann also said he's happy to see Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo back on the field, but all of his focus at the moment is on the June 16 opener against Ghana.
"Those special players, that's what the fans want to see in Brazil," said Klinsmann about watching Portugal's 5-1 victory over Ireland on Tuesday, one in which Ronaldo went 65 minutes in his first action since last month's UEFA Champions League final. "Our job is to stop him once the game comes across in beautiful Manaus. We'll figure out ways to make it really miserable for him. But this is the second before the first step. The first step is Ghana."
Klinsmann took in Ghana's match 4-0 win against the Korea Republic before arriving in Brazil Tuesday morning. And the U.S. manager has talked of little else besides the Black Stars since the team met up back on May 14.
"I wanted to see [Ghana] myself and get a good impression there," he said. "We have that...We know about their strengths and we also know about their weaknesses. And we know about our strengths and what we need to improve still."
Ghana has knocked the U.S. out of the last two World Cups, beating the Americans in the final group stage game in 2006, and then repeating the feat in the round of 16 four years later.
"Now it's our job to turn this around and get those three points right from the beginning," said Klinsmann. "The respect you have to have for every opponent in this tournament is a no-brainer. Ghana is No. 1 or 2 in Africa."
As is his habit, Klinsmann was full of optimism in terms of the Americans' group stage prospects.
"Every game is the next step to a bigger goal," he said. "We are not shying away from anybody, but first we've got to make it through the group. So let's stay with our feet on the ground and say 'Let's get that group first done.' Then the sky is the limit. But before...to say that we should win the World Cup, that's just not realistic."
Cameron said the players remain optimistic.
"We've put the hard work in for the last three weeks. We leave it all on the field every single day."
What kind of anti-American statement? We can do all things through the Eagle who strengthens us....................Kidding, I get what he's saying.