That could not have gone worse.
FIFA held the official World Cup Draw on Friday. There were so many countless possibilities and different combinations that could have been to determine who plays who in June, but the absolute shortest straw was pulled by the U.S. men’s national team. But there is a way out of this.
The group contains: three-time champion Germany; the best team from Africa in nemesis Ghana; and Portugal, led by one of the best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. I keep hearing people saying, “You have to beat the best to be the best,” and I agree. There is no way the USA would ever win a World Cup if they can’t beat the likes of these types of opponents. So, bring it on Germany, Ghana, and Portugal. Show us your worst.
What truly hurts the U.S. here is their travel distance. Of all the teams in the World Cup, the Yanks will have to travel the furthest at nearly 9.000 miles in total. That means trips to Natal and Recife, places with somewhat cooler temperatures in Brazil, and the worst of all venues, Manaus: hot, humid and undesirable.
It’s going to be a difficult group, no doubt. It is the dreaded”Group of Death”.
Don’t lose hope though fellow USMNT fans, there are some bright spots. First and foremost, let’s just imagine what it would be like to get a win in any of these matches — every game has a subplot that enhances the intensity.
U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann played and coached for Germany. He was one of Germany’s greatest players during his time on the field. In 2006, he coached the team to a third place finish. A win against Germany is realistically the least likely to happen, but how great it would be to see the smile on Klinsmann’s face after that one? Heartwarming.
The Portugal game is the U.S.’s most essential matchup. A win here could make all the difference to advancing or going home. Ronaldo will be trying to outpace the U.S. players, bombing forward like he always does, looking for a header to slam into the net. But the he’ll also be battling the heat and humidity of Manaus. This is where America shows what they are made of.
And then the game against Ghana. Great googly-moogly, do I want to beat Ghana. For those of you who don’t know, Ghana were in the same group as the U.S. in 2006 and they played a game where the winner advanced to the next round; Ghana won. Then in 2010, when the teams met up in the Round of 16, Ghana won with 93rd minute goal. There’s will be a feeling of deep, deep resentment if this match doesn’t end in a win.
Do you want to know what keeps me from total despair? The MLS players on the team will be able to handle the travel; they do it every week when they travel across one of the most spread out soccer leagues in the world. There is no better team in the world that can handle this situation.
No matter how this will play out, soak it up. The World Cup is the greatest sporting event. It comes once every four years, and only 32 countries earn the opportunity to be in it. The road to the World Cup is just as much fun as the actual tournament. You already have hope and fear for these games, imagine what it will be like in June.