The U.S. national soccer team has a tough road ahead in the World Cup, with Friday's draw placing the Americans in a group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. It's the proverbial "group of death," complete with a rematch against Ghana, the team that ousted the U.S. from the tournament in 2006 and 2010.
After their opening match on June 16, the boys in red, white, and blue will face Portugal led by 2008 FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, and cap off group play against Germany, who eliminated the Americans in 2002.
"We hit one of those real big, killer groups," U.S. head coach Juergen Klinsmann said after the draw, in a video U.S. Soccer posted to YouTube. "It couldn't get any more difficult."
Although the U.S. faces a tall order, it might not be as bad as it looks. Frankly, the Americans would have been the underdogs no matter which group they drew into, and they can rest a little easier knowing they won't have to face host country and heavy favorite Brazil in the tournament's opening round. If it plays to the level it achieved during qualifiers, the U.S. has a chance to rack up some points against a Ghana team that's weaker than it's been in years. For what it's worth, ESPN's Nate Silver puts the seedless U.S.'s odds of advancing around those of fifth-ranked Portugal's.
In fact, the U.S.'s fiercest foe might not be any particular opponent, but distance. The team faces a vicious travel schedule, having to travel more than 9,000 miles across Brazil next June.
Klinsmann, for one, has more confidence in his team than most of the news media.
"We have a point to prove, so we're going to go for it," he said.