Every four years millions of people set their eyes on one of the grandest stages in all of sports, the World Cup. For the United States winning this tournament would be considered by many to be a grand upset. The U.S. men’s team enters the 2014 World Cup having never placed better than third in a Cup, and heads to Brazil as the world’s 14th ranked team.
Many changes have been implemented in the U.S. program since the last World Cup in 2010 that included the hiring of current head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann has completely overhauled the American team since being hired in July of 2011. Since then Jürgen and the team won the prized CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013, knocked off four time world champion Italy, defeated the world’s second ranked team Germany, and took down Mexico on their side of the border for the first time in team history.
Eyebrows were raised earlier this summer when Klinsmann chose to leave the U.S. all time leading scorer Landon Donovan off of the World Cup roster. Klinsmann said it was one of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make.
“He has done an amazing job the last 10 days he was here, he has done everything right. It has been not easy. These are very close decisions. It’s not a decision against a player, in this case Landon. It’s a decision for another player. We coaches had the feeling over the last few days. We had an inkling a little bit. We sensed it was the right time now.”
The Landon-less U.S. team will take on Ghana in the first matchup of their World Cup run. The U.S. will be playing for revenge on June 16th in the opener after being knocked out of the last two World Cups by this familiar foe. Ghana eliminated the Stars and Stripes in 2006 with a 2-1 victory and again in 2010 when they ousted the U.S. in the round of 16.
America will also have to contend with traditional world powers Germany and Portugal if they wish to advance from group G. The U.S. will take on Portugal on June 22nd and wrap up group play with a showdown against Germany on June 26th.
For the rest the world, the field stacks up as shown below:
Group A: #3 Brazil, #18 Croatia, #20 Mexico, #56 Cameroon
Group B: #1 Spain, #15 Netherlands, #14 Chile, #62 Australia
Group C: #8 Colombia, #12 Greece, #23 Cote D’Ivoire, #46 Japan
Group D: #7 Uruguay, #28 Costa Rica, #10 England, #9 Italy
Group E: #6 Switzerland, #26 Ecuador, #17 France, #33 Honduras
Group F: #5 Argentina, #21 Bosnia and Herzegovina, #43 Iran, #44 Nigeria
Group G: #2 Germany, #4 Portugal, #37 Ghana, #13 USA
Group H: #11 Belgium, #22 Algeria, #19 Russia, #57 Korea Republic
*Numbers are teams world ranking according to the International Federation of Association Football.