Like many hopeful USA fans, I went to bed last night praying to Sir Ian Darke, Tim Howard’s beard, and Brek Shea’s hair for a favorable draw. Twelve hours later and it feels like Sepp Blatter took an asteroid-sized dump on America.
What happened, you ask? You can check out the groups here, but prepare those around you for the inevitable shrieking in agony as you compare Group G and what could have been – Group E. USA drew its personal group of death in Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. More on that later, but suffice to say that the amount of history and talent in this group is both terrifying for US fans and drool-worthy for soccer fans.
Highlights from the other groups:
- Group B is also vying for official “Group of Death” fame, featuring Spain, Netherlands, Chile, and Australia. Sorry Aussies.
- Thanks to the US, Mexico backed into World Cup qualification, and their chances of advancing look better than the Yanks, with a weak group other than Brazil. The Brazil vs. Mexico match on June 17th will be an unbelievable atmosphere, mark that one on your calendar if you’re planning a trip.
- Group D has the wonderfully hilarious Luis Suarez vs. England. An even better matchup? Luis Suarez vs. British media.
- Argentina faces an easy path to the knockout round, with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, and Nigeria. After Messi’s stellar performance in qualifying, this could finally be the year to silence the skeptics and bring his incredible talent to the international stage.
So what’s in store for the US as they face their personal nightmare? Let’s take a look.
Germany: Ah Deutschland. I have to admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for German fans after the hilarious encounter we had with them during Germany vs. Ghana in South Africa. See video below for our combined rendition of the German anthem and Take Me Out To The Ballgame. But while the tailgate before USA vs. Germany will be epic, the matchup itself is terrifying. Germany is one of the strongest teams at the World Cup, and the US win over the German B-squad in June shouldn’t give Americans false hope for a similar result. Klinsmann facing off against his former team only adds to the excitement here, and this match is an absolute must-see for all soccer fans.
Portugal: Is there a better image than a tough USA team from the Costa Rica snow game vs. pretty boy Cristiano Ronaldo? Portugal had a dismal performance in qualifying, until Ronaldo lit it up in the playoff against Sweden. The good news is that the US can beat Portugal as long as they can contain Ronaldo, their sole key player. The bad news? He’s lightning fast and I can’t think of anyone who can mark him. The Brazil crowd will be on America’s side for this one though, thanks to Ronaldo being universally hated and potential Brazil-Portugal colonization revenge. Either way, I can’t wait to see Tim Howard go mental as soon as Ronaldo starts diving. I have a feeling the Yanks are gonna get physical with this one.
Ghana: They knocked us out in 2006, they knocked us out in 2010, and they even knocked out former USA coach Bob Bradley from 2014 qualification – Ghana has our number. It’s on team USA to get past the history and realize that they’re a completely different team now with brand new leadership. Ghana is beatable, and it’s time to reverse history. This is the ultimate revenge game.
You can read more about my experience watching all four of these teams in South Africa during the last World Cup.
The US is traveling the most out of any team during the group round, and even if they manage to advance, they would most likely face Belgium in the Round of 16. But while all these factors seem insurmountable, the US is coming off an incredible year in 2013. Klinsmann has revitalized this team and there’s an energy amongst the players that we haven’t seen in a long time. Combine that with a favorable schedule within the group, playing Germany last when they may be resting – there is hope. USA making a knockout stage run would be the storyline of the Cup.
Repeat after me – usa…USA…U! S! A!