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U.S. Soccer Lands In 'Group Of Death' At 2014 World Cup With Germany, Ghana And Portugal

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ASSOCIATED PRESS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Welcome to the "Group Of Death."

When the draw for the 2014 World Cup took place on Friday in Brazil, the U.S. men's national soccer team landed in the formidable Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. That group includes the two teams who handed the U.S. tournament-ending losses in the last three World Cups and a third squad that includes Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Well, I kind of had it in my stomach that we were going to get Germany," U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann told Jeremy Schaap of ESPN after the draw. "I wanted actually Brazil in the opening game but obviously it's one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw. Having Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo and Ghana who has a history with the United States, it couldn't get any more difficult or any bigger. But that's what a World Cup is about. It's a real challenge and we'll take it. We'll take it on and hopefully we're going to surprise some people."

With Germany holding the No. 2 spot in the FIFA rankings and Portugal rated as the world's fifth best team, Group G is the only quartet containing two teams in the FIFA Top 5. Only two other groups (B, D) even have two teams ranked in the FIFA Top 10 when the draw took place. The United States was slotted at No. 14 and Ghana at No. 24 in the rankings released on Nov. 28.

Before the draw, U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan had a message for possible opponents: Beware.

By the time the draw was complete on Friday, it was the United States players and fans who had reason to be weary. As U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan surmised, the U.S. men's national team landed in a "Group Of Death."

Guzan directed that pre-draw Twitter message at Christian Benteke of Belgium and Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands, both club teammates at Aston Villa. Apparently it should have been sent to Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Following the draw, Kuzan seemed to strike a more measured tone.

Not only will the United States side face a dangerous trio of opponents in the Group Stage but it will also have to cope with the most grueling travel schedule. The travel ahead of the Klinsmann's team tallies 9,000 miles, according to The Associated Press.

June 16: U.S. vs. Ghana in Natal

June 22: U.S. vs. Portugal in Manaus

June 26: U.S. vs. Germany in Recife

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