Klinsmann coy on U.S. Cup chances

NATAL, Brazil -- Just four days ago, United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann raised eyebrows across the country when he said that his U.S. team winning this World Cup "is just not realistic."

- Ghana's Ayew: No way Ghana can lose
- Klinsmann: Winning is not realistic
- Nani expects strong U.S. side
- Palmer: Do the U.S. stand a chance?
- Bradley: Heat, travel doesn't bother U.S.

But a day before the Americans open their tournament, he appeared to backtrack from that stance.

"I booked my flight after the final," Klinsmann said Sunday at the United States' prematch news conference at Arena das Dunas in this coastal, northeastern city.

The U.S. opens Monday with a 6 p.m. ET match against Ghana in Natal in Group G, which also features Portugal and Germany.

Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup as a star striker on West Germany's team and coached a unified German squad to the tournament semifinals as the host country in 2006, said his goals with the U.S. are no different than they were with Die Mannschaft -- three-time world champs and a legitimate title contender at every World Cup.

"We come in with the same effort, the same drive, the same energy and ambition to do well. And we want to do really well," Klinsmann said. "That's why we worked more than four weeks on our preparation. We timed it the right way to give the players the confidence they need to beat Ghana tomorrow.

"This is Step 1, then comes Portugal and then comes Germany. And then we'll see. ... Expectations in the United States are very high."

Klinsmann said he has been impressed by CONCACAF's good start at the World Cup with opening-match victories by Mexico and Costa Rica and says his team is aiming to push the region's success further.

"It's exciting to see Mexico win, to see Costa Rica win. ... We want them to do well because we are all representing CONCACAF," Klinsmann said. "We want to follow up on that."

The U.S. team's runs at the previous two World Cups have ended with losses to Ghana.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.