CHICAGO – In addition to its spot in the World Cup’s daunting “Group of Death,” the U.S. men’s national soccer team is pegged as a 150-1 long shot to win the 20th playing of the world-famous tournament in Brazil, which starts later this week. Some would argue the team should remain home, saving itself the internationally televised embarrassment that will inevitably ensue. Jurgen Klinsmann, the team’s head coach, believes differently, but not for the reasons one might think.
“In normal circumstances, such a trip would be a waste of time and resources,” said Klinsmann, a former German soccer player who, as a World Cup champion, understands what it’s like to play on a team that has a chance to advance past the first round. “We were going to forfeit ahead of time, but then I received a call from headquarters saying the team had racked up millions of airline miles flying to all the qualifying matches. So we figured what the hell, let’s have some fun in Brazil with this great discount.”
The team, which will fly to Sao Paulo on Tuesday, has Executive Platinum status in the American Airlines AAdvantage program, which, in the words of U.S. forward Clint Dempsey, is an “absolutely killer frequent flyer program.”
“I’ve flown all over the world and AA definitely takes the cake,” said Dempsey. “Name me an airline with better reward packages or better customer service.”
Dempsey also said that when the U.S. gets its “doors blown off” by Germany and Portugal, No. 2 and No. 4 in the FIFA World Ranking, respectively, the blow will be lessened knowing that the U.S. soccer program saved a “boatload of money” in transit.
“Not to mention,” Dempsey continued, “those Brazilian flight attendants and free caipirinhas in first class are nothing to sneeze at. All in all, it’ll be a worthwhile trip.”
The team’s savings won’t be limited to its flight to Brazil. Once in the World Cup host nation, the U.S. team will fly approximately 9,000 miles round-trip, traveling from its training facility in Sao Paulo to its matches in Natal, Recife, and the Amazonian city of Manaus.
“I think the U.S. Soccer Federation should use the pocketed money to boost its marketing campaign to young Americans, the future of soccer,” said Klinsmann. “Or, at the very least, earmark it for my salary boost. Lord knows I need it, having coached American soccer all these years.”