United States faces brutal World Cup group

Published 11:00 pm Friday, December 6, 2013

There are 187 days until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil begins. United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will need every one to prepare his team.

During the World Cup draw on Friday, the United States was placed in to group G with Germany, Ghana and Portugal.

America finds itself in the “Group of Death” for the second time in the past three tournaments despite finishing first in CONCACAF qualifying.

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The four teams have an average FIFA world ranking of 11.25. Germany is currently the ranked second in the world, Portugal is fifth, America is fourteenth, and Ghana is twenty-fourth.

No other group has two teams ranked in the top five of the world.

There are a number of story lines in the group to watch out for when the World Cup comes around this upcoming June.

The United States will have a chance to get a little revenge on a Ghana side that has knocked America out of the last two tournaments. In 2006, Ghana downed the US 2-1 in group play to prevent the Americans from advancing to the knockout round. In 2010, the Ghanaians once again beat the United States 2-1, this time in the Round of 16 to eliminate the Yankees from the tournament.

Jurgen Klinsmann will have the opportunity to face his old country for the first time in a competitive match since taking over as head coach of the American team. Klinsmann coached the German national team to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He won the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 European Championship as a player on West Germany.

The United States last played Germany in a friendly match earlier this year. Playing against a team comprised of mainly substitutes, the United States defeated Germany 4-3.

The United States will also be forced to test itself against Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the top players in the world. Ronaldo willed the Portuguese national team in to the tournament, recording all four of Portugal’s goals in a 4-3 aggregate victory over Sweden in the World Cup Qualifying UEFA Playoff.

Heading in to the tournament, the United States still faces questions about player selection. Despite qualifying first out of the CONCACAF region, the American defensive line looked shaky at times. As of now, no defender has distinguished himself sufficiently to warrant a guaranteed spot on the roster.

The United States National Team also faces questions in attack. Forward Jozy Altidore had a blistering qualifying campaign, but, since moving to Sunderland in the English Premier League, he has only scored two goals. His striking partner Clint Dempsey transferred from English club Tottenham to the Seattle Sounders of MLS. It has yet to be seen how the drop in competition will affect Dempsey.

The United States has one scheduled tune up game before the World Cup on Feb. 1 against South Korea in Carson, Cal. This will represent the last time American players will be able to distinguish themselves to Klinsmann in order to be named to the 23-man squad that will compete in Brazil.

America’s first game in the World Cup is against Ghana on June 16 in Natal, Brazil.