Kansas City, Kan. • In the end there wasn’t much nail-biting, because as the big green board dubbed “Road to Brazil” began to fill up at Sporting Park, the reality that the United States would end up with one of its most difficult draws in the history of the U.S. men’s national team was becoming more evident.
Once the miniature soccer ball was opened from the center and the paper roll was unraveled showing the U.S. to be in undoubtedly the toughest group in the 2014 FIFA World Cup next summer in Brazil, a gathering of U.S. hopefuls — including Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando — just laughed.
The United States will be part of Group G next summer as the No. 4 seed against Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Which means facing one of the more talented sides in the world in the Germans, superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and a Ghana side that has topped the Americans in back-to-back World Cups.
“Any player would want to play against these teams and test themselves against them on the greatest stage there is,” Beckerman said. “No reason to fear it. [We need to] really go into it with a belief that you can do it.”
Rimando kept it simple in his explanation of the draw.
“We definitely have a tough group, but again, in the World Cup you’re going to play the teams that deserve to be there. It’s going to be tough, for sure,” he said.
Asked if he agrees with the general assessment that this is the U.S.’s second “Group of Death” in three cycles, Rimando said with a smile, “I don’t know.”
The Americans also will face the longest travel schedule of any World Cup team in Brazil as the team will travel nearly 9,000 miles just in group play. The U.S. will play Ghana on June 16 in Natal, followed by a June 22 match against Ronaldo and Portugal in the Amazon in Manaus. The U.S. will close group play against the Germans on June 26 in Recife, a match that will pit head coach Jurgen Klinsmann against his home country and former team.
“We have to wait and see what happens with how we do, but it’s going to be difficult, like I said, I still think if we have the quality, if we play our best ball, we can get out of the group,” U.S. captain Clint Dempsey said.
RSL forward Alvaro Saborio was on hand to watch the draw and looked on as Costa Rica was drawn into a quite difficult Group D with top seed Uruguay, England and Italy.
“They’re some of the best national teams there and we’re going to be playing against them, so we’ve got to make sure we’re all good and all in good condition to go face off,” Saborio said.
2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil