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Jurgen Klinsmann expects USMNT to make 2018 World Cup semis

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The United States manager also tells NBCSN he felt falling in the Round of 16 was a disappointment after making it through the 'Group of Death.'

Through the buildup to the 2014 World Cup, the mantra out of the United States national team camp was "Let's get out of the 'Group of Death' and then see what happens." They did just that, only to fall to Belgium in the Round of 16.

With four full years to prepare, USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann has set a clear goal for Russia 2018: make the semifinals. This is either a remarkably bold goal or just another example of the United States' soccer inferiority complex, depending on your desired perspective.

On one hand, making the semifinals is something usually reserved for the most elite footballing countries. This year's Final Four included Germany, Argentina, Brazil and Netherlands. The 2010 edition featured Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Uruguay.

The last (and only) time the United States made it that far was in 1930. That barely counts, as it was the first-ever World Cup, featured just 13 total teams (there are now 32) and only required the USMNT to win their three-team group. The best finish in more recent times was the quarterfinals in 2002. In other words, making it to the semifinals during the modern era of the World Cup would be an unprecedented accomplishment and something only one team outside of South America and Europe has done in the past 19 tournaments.

Of course, soccer communities outside of North America and the general sporting audience inside of it are probably chuckling at the idea that this should be seen as a particularly bold statement. Fans in most decent footballing nations talk about winning the damn thing, not putting themselves in position to play for third. Even in Mexico, where they've never progressed beyond the quarterfinals (both times on their own soil, by the way), they talk about wanting to win the World Cup.

For non-soccer North American sports fans, this is just another point of derision, something they can bring up to their friends that allows them to have a good chuckle at our expense.

Getting to the semifinals would be an undeniably good achievement for the United States. But the reality is that until the United States finally turns all its economic and athletic might into a World Cup title, there are always going to be people who doubt their ability to do so. Baby steps, right?