After flying through the qualifying stages, the United States Men’s National Team had fans going into the World Cup with high hopes.
Then, the draw happened.
The United States was put into the same group as perennial superpower Germany, Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal and
Ghana, the African powerhouse that had knocked the United States out of the past two World Cups. This was dubbed as the “Group of Death,” and for good reason.
With only two teams able to advance from each group, quality teams will be left out of the bracket stage. To put this into perspective, all four of these teams made it to the knockout round in 2010, with Ghana making the quarterfinals and Germany winning third place.
The United States will have a tall order ahead of them over the next few weeks as they try to survive this group. They’ll open up with their least formidable opponent, Ghana, on June 16. The Black Stars, as they are called, are led by midfielder Sulley Muntari who is a prolific goal scorer and great on the counterattack, as well as three-time World Cup veteran striker Asamoah Gyan. This team is fast and will catch the United States off guard if they push too far forward.
The next match for the Americans will be on June 22 against Portugal. Portugal has arguably the best player in the world on their roster, Cristiano Ronaldo, alongside forward Nani and steady defender Fabio Coentrao.
Portugal, however, struggled a bit in qualifying. If the United States can control the attack, they might be able to get a result and possibly even a win out of this match.
The final group stage match will be against Germany, who did not struggle at all with their qualifying matches. The Germans went undefeated, winning nine matches and drawing one en route to winning their group and automatically qualifying for Brazil. They should be considered the favorites to win the group and go far into the knockout round.
With three tough opponents lined up, the United States stands with a team mixed of old and new. The epitome of the new is head coach Jurgen Klinnsman, who will be coaching the American World Cup team for the first time, although he does have prior managing experience with the Germans.
The American defense is fairly new and inconsistent, with three players making their World Cup debuts.
The midfield has some more experience and is a much stronger point for the Americans. It will be a strange midfield without mainstay Landon Donovan, but this midfield is very creative and will create a lot of chances for the two forwards, the strongest part of the team.
To make it out of the “Group of Death” would be surpassing most fans’ expectations. They’ll have to make the most out of their first two matches and hope Germany bulldozes the rest of the group. As the United States’ luck in the past couple of World Cups has gone, they’ll probably lose the first two matches and somehow beat Germany.