PDT Sports Writer
After shocking the world by surviving group play and reaching the knockout stage in the 2010 World Cup, the US Men’s National Team seemed poised to make a serious run for the championship as late as last year. However, uncertainty now swirls around the club as the prepare to play their first match in this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Team USA surged up the World rankings in the months following their loss to Ghana in the Round of 16 in the 2010 Cup. After hiring German national Jurgen Klinsmann to lead the team in 2011, the Americans were able run off 12 straight victories in 2013 and took the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the continental championship for North and Central America as well as the Caribbean.
After officially qualifying for this year’s World Cup with a win over rival Mexico, the Stars and Stripes were ready to make another run past the group stage and into the knockout round. But the Americans’ hopes took a major hit with their drawing into Group G.
Much like the NBA’s Draft Lottery, the World Cup selects its group drawings at random. This year, the odds worked against the US, as they will face the second-ranked German team, the fourth-ranked Portuguese team and the same Ghanaian team that eliminated them in the last two World Cups. Fittingly, Group G has been labeled “The Group of Death.”
In addition, the Americans’ final roster will not include the man who has widely been considered “the face of American soccer” for the past 10 years: Landon Donovan. Donovan, who had been openly outspoken of Klinsmann, was left off of the team’s final 23-man roster. Without Donovan, the Americans will turn to forward Clint Dempsey, a native of Texas who recently returned from England to play in the MLS.
Klinsmann also made headlines earlier this week when he said he doesn’t expect the Americans to win in the upcoming World Cup.
“For us now talking about winning a World Cup, it is just not realistic,” Klinsmann said on Wednesday. “If it is American or not, you can correct me.”
With all the controversy facing them, the United States will begin this year’s World Cup on Monday where the last one ended: against Ghana. After the Black Stars scored more goals than any other team in the African Confederation throughout World Cup qualifying, the Americans will need a strong game from outstanding goaltender Tim Howard if they want to take advantage of the best matchup they will get in Group play.
The US Men’s Team will take on Ghana at 6 p.m. Monday in Natal, Brazil.
Alex Hider can be reached at 353- ext. 294 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter