Yes, that just happened. The U.S. was drawn into the Group of Death at the 2014 World Cup. American Soccer Now contributing editor Brian Sciaretta shares his initial thoughts on today's news.
WE ALL PLAYED
December 06, 2013
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with the simulators, we all knew that the odds were high for the U.S. national team to draw a difficult group at the 2014 World Cup. That being said, it is hard to imagine a more difficult scenario than the one the Americans were assigned today.
Here are three quick thoughts on Group G, featuring the United States, Ghana, Germany, and Portugal.
1. Storylines will be endless and tiresome
It is not just being put into the Group of Death, it is the group of distracting stories that will go along with it. Ghana, of course, has put the decisive nail in the coffin for the United States in each of the last two World Cups. It will be a tough game, no doubt, but beyond the actual competition on the field so much will be made of whether or not the U.S can exorcise its demons.
Then you have Germany, which is one of the tournament favorites. Needless to say you will have Jurgen Klinsmann coaching against his native country (which he lead to a World Cup trophy and coached to a third place finish in 2006). In addition, U.S. players including Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, and John Brooks all played for Germany at one point in their youth careers.
Then you have Portugal, which will bring back positive memories of the 2002 World Cup—the United States shocked Portugal, 3-2— and will also feature one of the best players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo.
2. The U.S. will have a chip on its shoulder
American teams have always played better with a chip on their shoulder. Now it will be the underdog in all three games, and that could be a benefit. Going up against Germany is daunting, but equally intimidating is going against a good team which you are expected to win (see Iran in 1998).
Part of the reason why Ghana was a difficult opponent in 2006 and 2010 is that it came on the heels of emotional games. In 2006, a nine-man U.S managed a draw against Italy to keep its chances alive. In 2010, Donovan’s heroics gave it the relief of advancing out of the group stages. In this tournament, the U.S. should be solely focused on Ghana and will know that a fantastic performance will earn a result.
The odds are against the U.S. advancing out of the group but perhaps the quality of opponents will compel the Yanks to play its best soccer.
3. In every challenge there is an opportunity
The United States has advanced out of group play before at the World Cup—in 1934, 1994, 2002, and 2010. If the squad manages to do the same this time, it will be perhaps its greatest soccer achievement ever, since it will certainly require at least two results against very good teams.
Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
That’s pretty much the way it is for the United States in Brazil. This tournament will likely be the last for Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. It will be an extraordinary challenge but one that offers the greatest-ever American players an opportunity to go out in legendary fashion.
That's what Brian thinks. What do you think? Share your early impressions below.